Stroll through history along lead mine waterway

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12 MAY 2011NEWS RELEASE No: 14583

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Visitors to Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian can once again walk safely in the footsteps of those whose labours helped to carve out the area’s industrial heritage.

Forestry Commission Wales, which runs the centre nine miles east of Aberystwyth, has just completed repair work to a popular path which once played a vital role at a time when the Ceredigion hills were alive with the sound of industry.

FC Wales called in Dyfed Archaeological Trust to help it restore an old leat which originally carried water from Llyn Blaenmelindwr to the north of the visitor centre in order to power the lead mines at Cwmbrwyno.

Today, the man-made waterway forms an important part of the Miners and Ridge Top walks, which start and finish at the visitor centre. 

Ironically, work was needed because the leat – now popular with walkers – was becoming waterlogged in places and badly eroded.

Following discussions with Dyfed Archaeological Trust, FC Wales designed a plan to repair the earth bank and fortify the old channel with stone.

Nick Young, Conservation and Heritage Manager, said there were several leats around Nant-yr-Arian and FC Wales was determined to preserve the landscape character of the area.

“The path along the old mill leat was becoming badly eroded and waterlogged in places but we did not want to lose the leat, as they provide an important visual reminder of the industrial heritage of the area,” he said.

“With the help of Dyfed Archaeological Trust, we were able to retain the ‘look’ of the leat while enabling people to walk with dry feet on the path along which water once flowed.”

Transporting materials to repair the leat was a slow and painstaking task, as all the access routes were too narrow for large machinery.

The work, which was carried out by the local FC Wales team along with approved contractors, has made the path accessible for less able people, though it is not wheelchair friendly.

Caption: Nick Young, left, and Tom Roberts stroll along the restored leat with dogs, Meg and Meg.


A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

For more information on walking and all types of recreation at Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian, contact Recreation Ranger Tom Roberts on 01970 890453, email

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email