Friday, July 10, 2015

Free Fridays: Llanberis

I wrote about the whole ‘slate’ thing in my post about my Welsh Week.  Not satisfied with just seeing it everywhere, I decided I really must find out more about where is came from and why there’s so much of it around.   I discovered a few attractions dedicated to slate mining in North Wales, but the National Slate Museum was the only one I found with no admission charge.  

National slate museum, llanberis
National Slate Museum entrance.
National slate museum, llanberis
The Courtyard
National Slate Museum
Information panels at the National Slate Museum
National Slate Museum
Presenter and slate splitting genius.
Situated on the shores of Llanberis Lake and within the confines of Padarn Country Park, the museum has lots to offer to all ages.   From the fantastic quarry engine puffing along at the entrance way to the machinery used in the mining process sitting proudly in the open air yard within the museum walls.  

There’s a great deal of interesting information, including an introductory movie and an outstanding demonstration of slate splitting and shaping.   I knew nothing about slate and was fascinated watching a lovely Welshman using a hammer and chisel to expertly split incredibly thin slate tiles like it was the easiest thing in the world.  His sense of humour and ability to chat to the crowd while he was doing it just made it all the more enjoyable.  Watching him create a delicate love heart shape by chipping away at a block of slate was amazing.   

Seeing his intricate dragon carving was so impressive that I immediately longed for one to take pride of place in my living room.  I’m not even Welsh, but THAT’S how good it was.   Knowing me, I’d only knock it over while I was dusting, so these things are safer kept out of my reach.    

LT and I have a thing where we pick up pretty stones from beaches and carve it with the date and location that we stole it.  I’m not entirely sure why we do this, but now that we’ve started it, obviously, we can never, ever stop.  There’s every chance we’ll eventually be able to build a new house made entirely of rocks from Scottish beaches.  Now we’re in slate country, we’ll also be able to fashion our own high quality roof tiles for the new place.  Result!  

The shop at the Slate Museum had little blocks for 50p, so clearly I had to have one to add to my burgeoning collection of building materials.   It now proudly bears the name and date and is the only one in our collection that wasn’t shamelessly ‘appropriated’.  

Once you’re done picking up construction debris for your home, you can wander out of the museum and walk around the country park, marvelling at even more slate.   There are several trails, which are colour coded and easy to follow, and you can start following the route of the steam train around the lake. 
llanberis lake
Llanberis Lake

llanberis lake
Llanberis Lake with the rail track to the right.
Slate wall
Slate, slate, as far as the eye can see...
LT's handiwork
*Please note: although there is no charge for the museum or country park, I did pay £4 to leave my car in the park for a few hours while I was there.   There may be free parking in the area, but not immediately outside the entrance to the Museum. 

Suz x 

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