Dinorwic Quarry and Crib Goch

dinorwic quarry mount snowdon

A key lesson learnt during this mini trip to Snowdon: Taking all of your camera gear up the side of a mountain is a dumb idea.

Apart from this key lesson learnt, this was a nice little jaunt up to the hilly north of Wales. It was also the first trip I took with the D800, which arrived the morning we left.

Day 1 involved exploring Dinorwic Quarry. Dinorwic is a former slate quarry that closed in July 1969 due to a decline of the industry. Slate is difficult to quarry with only about 1% of quarried material taken to market. From my understanding the reason for this is that dynamite is used and slate is a brittle rock. The waste material also caused issues with falls in the quarry. An enormous fall occurred in the Garret area of the quarry which was the final nail in the coffin for commercial operations. Dinorwic is the second largest slate quarry in Wales and in the world. The area is a fascinating explore, from the abandoned workhouses to the tunnelled cutaways. The views west across to Llanberis and Mount Snowdon are also stunning. And from this side of the valley the view of Crib Goch was clear, and made it very small. Which, well, it wasn’t.

Day 2 involved a climb up and across Crib Goch before proceeding to Crib y Ddysgl, before progressing around to Snowdon peak. Crib Goch is a knife-edged arête with the highest point on the arête at 923 metres (3,028 ft) above sea level. During winter the route is considered a mountaineering route and during summer it is classed as a scramble. Fortunately the weather was good when we attempted it. The route starts off at the Caffi Gorphwysfa Cafe and then heads up the pyg track before taking a savage right turn up what I called at the time Mount Doom. Now, it isnt a hard ascent, but when you bring all of your equipment instead of what you actually need then it turns into a savage workout. I almost turned back until the other offered to take some weight off my shoulder, for which I was extremely grateful. Lessons were learned. Stopping at the top of the first ascent and having lunch is one of the most epic places to eat food. You can see everything. We were also very fortunate to be there on a quiet day. I’ve seen photos of the rote packed out and it looks like a horrific experience. After you pass over Crib Goch its then onto the Crib Y Dydsgl. The climb up this peak is significantly less difficult. We stopped for some photos at the top before heading onto the Snowdon peak. Now, before I started I was conflicted about the café at the top of the mountain. When I got there I was grateful for a cup of coffee, even if I had to scramble for cash because of the card fees. The walk down was a little difficult. Im not used to having my toes jammed into the front of my shoes and half down I was ready for bed. Before making our way back into Llanberis we stopped off at Penceunant Isaf .
As with all activities of this nature please exercise caution and common sense. If the weather deteriorates on the ascent, do not continue. Even the easiest of routes up a mountain or through an abandoned quarry can be dangerous. If you do want to attempt Crib Goch go with a small group and take your time. UK Scrambles have a guide covering Crib Goch should you require extra information.
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Urban Exploration – Italy

urban exploration photography from Italy urbex

A whole bunch’o’photos from the slog around Italy. Would it stop raining? Would it stop being 40 degrees centigrade? Who built a wall where I want to drive the car? All important questions, no logical answers.

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Exploring Readings Rooftops.

urban exploration on readings rooftops at night header image

For most people a night on the town involves getting drunk at your local spoons and stumbling into a kebab shop at 2am. For some of us it means a night on the roof tops. For the past couple of weeks myself and a good buddy had been planning to have a look at a disused victorian underground reservoir simply because it looked like the Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings. This plan was cut short when we found all the access points had been sealed shut by quarter of inch thick metal plates and anti-vandal nuts. So, I gave a friend a call to see what activities he was planning for the evening, and made a detour to Reading.

I make no secret of it, I love rooftops. The challenge and risk they can present getting on to them is half of the fun of a good urban exploration experience. The photography is simply a secondary activity most of the time. Our first port of call was just outside of one the car-parks in Reading Town centre. Access via some finely constructed scaffolding made the ascent easy. The climb up did highlight that I need to find a better tripod/bag solution to free up both hands as I had to put the tripod on the boards above me, climb up the ladder, pick up tripod and repeat which made for slow movement.

We spent about an hour up here, everyone grabbing a couple of shots and just enjoying the view for what it was. We then climbed back down to ground level and quickly headed to the nearest Tescos for some food (anyone passing through Bordon….dont buy a coffee at the machine in Tesco’s….warmed up crap!). We then darted around the corner, nipped down a side access road and hit the rooftops of the main high street. We walked, climbed and scrambled the length of the roofs for about 20 minutes before finding an open rooftop work room that provided some heat and a chance to dig my down jacket out.

About a year ago, I read an article about how to use ETTR (expose to the right) to photograph the Milky Way in a light polluted environment by Justin Ng. ETTR is a technique that involves exposing a frame so that most of the tones in an image sit towards the pure white range (right hand side) of the histogram without clipping the highlights. This gives you substantially more shadow data and allows you to bring details out during post that you could not otherwise see. Whilst your image may appear overexposed, as long as you have not clipped the highlights you can use a couple of editing techniques to bring the image back to a correct exposure but have sufficient data in the file to bring out the dark and shadow tones without too much noise being created. I used this technique on the shot below with the end result of my face looking like a beacon of glowing light. Good times.

After some more running around across icy roof tops we headed over to the highest peak in Reading. My friends previous attempts at access proved to be a fine balancing act on empty barrels before clambering over the main fence on to a staircase. This time round access was easier and a bit more fun, weaving in and out of walkways and car parks before making the hefty climb up what felt like 1,000,000 steps. I stopped off on a few floors and each was the same, trashed and dismantled with most signs of previous use removed in prep for demolition.. Had I not been so tired I would have grabbed a couple of shots, but it was the shot of Reading train station from an elevation I was after. On the way out we attracted attention of a NCP carparking attendant, not that it mattered, but it did make leaving a bit more rushed.

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