Wales has a incredible underground systems made up of caves and mines. When Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle got hitched to Princes William and Harry, it was with a wedding ring made of Welsh gold. Take a look at some of the Welsh mines where gold and other metals comes from.


Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Carmarthenshire

What child (or parent) wouldn’t like a crack at panning for gold? That’s one of the big draws at the National Trust owned Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire, which were worked as recently as the 1930s. There’s also an underground tour, led by brilliantly enthusiastic local guides, who’ll explain how the Romans carved entire hillsides, and diverted water from rivers miles away, in search of the precious metal.

Clogau Gold Mine, Eryri (Snowdonia)

A second seam of gold runs from Barmouth up into the hills, and this is where the gold used for Royal wedding rings comes from. There were several gold mines here, most notably at Gwynfynydd and Clogau. They’re both closed at the moment, while clever mineralogists figure out how to extract the gold profitably, but two lovely circular walks explore the old mine workings.

scrubland with trees and sun shining through tree.
old stone building without roof and trees.

Clogau Gold Mine, Eryri (Snowdonia), North Wales

Great Orme Copper Mine, Llandudno

You can’t visit Llandudno without going up Great Orme, the gigantic limestone lump that overlooks the resort, ascending by foot, cable car or tram. But under the surface, the place is riddled with tunnels where our ancestors began mining for copper more than 4,000 years ago. More than four miles of tunnels and caverns have so far been discovered at the Great Orme copper mine, making it the world’s largest Bronze Age copper mine – all the more remarkable when you consider that the rock was nibbled out with bone and stone tools. There’s a good interpretive centre here, and interesting underground tours.

A group of people exploring the entrance to the Great Orme Mines.

Great Orme Mines entrance, Llandudno, North Wales

Copper Kingdom, Anglesey

Anglesey was once the world’s leading producer of copper, which was mined in vast quantities at Parys Mountain and exported from the nearby port of Amlwch. The Copper Kingdom heritage centre tells the story of how it all happened. Parys Mountain itself – actually, a large scarred hill that dominates the town’s southern horizon – is where the mining took place, and is a multi-coloured moonscape that’s perfect for rambling around (and as a location for sci-fi films). Although production peaked here in the 1800s, there are plans to resume mining here: there’s still plenty of zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold in them there hills.

building on harbour, with boats in foreground.
stone building on harbour.

Copper Kingdom, Anglesey

Sygun Copper Mine, Eryri (Snowdonia)

Just outside Eryri's (Snowdonia’s) prettiest village, Beddgelert, the Sygun Copper Mine was worked for thousands of years before being abandoned in 1903. You can take a self-guided audio-visual tour of the old workings, and there’s a museum and playground above ground.

mine buildings and old water wheel.
distance review of cooper mine and hills in background.
inside copper mine, with water and stalactites.

Sygun Copper Mine, Eryri (Snowdonia), North Wales

Minera Lead Mines, North Wales

The Clywedog Valley Trail follows a river that was the lifeblood of a rich industrial past. The walk starts at Minera Lead Mines, heading east towards Wrexham through a rural idyll that’s haunted with industrial remains (there were once 17 mills along the River Clywedog). The waymarked nine-mile trail passes lots of points of interest – including Bersham Ironworks - finishing on the National Trust’s Erddig estate. There’s a regular bus service to take you back to your car, although there are plenty of options for shorter, circular walks.

exterior of mine building.
ironworks, with biscuit coloured building.
waterfall and woods, during autumn.

Minera Lead Mines and Bersham Ironworks and Nant Mawr and Plas Power Woods, near Wrexham, North Wales

Bryntail Lead Mine, Mid Wales

It’s hard to believe now, but the wildest, woolliest parts of Wales were once industrialised. The picturesque ruins of Bryntail Lead Mine are a good example, standing amid the sheep-farming heartland near Llanidloes. Its position – spectacularly set at the foot of the Clywedog Dam, the tallest concrete dam in Britain – make it well worth a visit as part of a walk around the dam’s business end. The drive along Llyn Clywedog’s eastern shore also makes a spectacular short-cut to Machynlleth, which includes a viewpoint dedicated to the broadcaster Wynford Vaughan Thomas, who thought this was the finest view in Wales (and he’s got a point).

Clywedog reservoir with the remains of Bryntail Lead mines below.
mine building ruins, viewed from wooden bridge, with dam in background.

The remains of Bryntail Lead Mine below Llyn Clywedog's dam.

Cwm Elan Mine, Mid Wales

There are lots of abandoned mines up in the Cambrian Mountains, but we’re mentioning this as an excuse to visit the beautiful Elan Valley lakes. A farm worker was digging a ditch at the Cwm Elan estate when he struck a rich seam of lead. Cwm Elan Mine's substantial remains – including the ruins of the waterwheel pits, explosives magazine, smithy and two houses – are all the better for being so secluded.

A reservoir with a dam in the distance

Elan Valley, Mid Wales

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