Twll Mawr and Britain’s longest sports route

An over-optimistic interpretation of the forecast had me and Andy heading to Llanberis to find drizzle and clag down to the rooftops. A breakfast in Pete’s Eats and even a trip to the gear shop was just about enough procrastination to let the rain stop, so we headed into the Dinorwic slate quarries and down through tunnels and mining detritus into the depths of Twll Mawr – The Big Hole.

Emerging at the bottom of the hole you arrive in a sci-fi film set with rock towering all around. The very earth grumbles with the buried machinery of the pump storage station, and the skryking of the peregrines is the only other sound to break the silence.

Famous as the home of The Quarryman, a bunch of Britain’s longest sports routes have recently been established here. We picked ‘Tan y Ddraig’ or Dragon Fire – the longest at 180 metres.

Andy mopped his way up the first rather damp pitch,

but things gradually improved as height was gained, and we zigged and zagged before a couple of traversing pitches

found us beneath the “stunning well-positioned technical arête“. 35m of very thin 7a climbing. Tough!

The last pitch was a fun but wildly exposed arete with great views down the previous five pitches into the depths.


A grand day out prized from the jaws of the weather.

2 responses to “Twll Mawr and Britain’s longest sports route

  1. Dom,

    Looks brill and BIG. That arete pitch looks very thin. Back in 2012 on our last visit to Llanberis we walked up into quarries for a look. Seemed that access had been severely restricted by First Hydro with big new fences and warning signs which was very disappointing as I wanted to take kids through tunnels etc. So, has some new agreement been negotiated with BMC or are climbers going under radar/guerilla climbing?

    • Quite an atmospheric spot! There’s been a lot of new activity in Dinorwic which seems to be at least tolerated – only a single regular gate to hop on the way into the bottom of the Big Hole, though it’s quite a magical mystery tour after that.

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