The landscape around Blaenau Ffestioniog is dominated by the legacy of slate extraction, by the bare rock faces of quarries and by towering heaps of slate scree. Slate from Blaenau was used to roof buildings all over the world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Since 1972 visitors have been able to explore some of the most spectacular remains of the industry at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns. The ‘caverns’ are actually slate mines, although in the English language (and Blaenau is a Welsh-speaking town) they were known locally as ‘quarries’. Two underground tours are available, one on a 3 ft (0.92 m) gauge railway that descends into the old workings down a steep inclined plane, the other in a train hauled by a battery electric locomotive through a tunnel excavated in 1846. A son-et-lumiere show takes place in the underground workings, one of which is 62 m high. On the surface there are demonstrations of slate splitting, and a small settlement, Pentre Llechwedd has been conserved. Its buildings include a corner shop, a smithy and Crimea House, appropriately built in 1854.
The location is part of the North West Wales Slate Landscape World Heritage Site.