Instagrammers under fire over litter at Welsh ‘Cavern of Lost Souls’ mine site

An old flooded slate mine used as a dumping ground for cars in north Wales, the eeriness of which attracts Instagram photo seekers, is in danger of being destroyed by visitors trashing the site, it has been claimed.

YouTube videos of the so-called “Cavern of Lost Souls” filmed in the Gwynedd quarry have been viewed by millions and attracted adventurous visitors to the site at the old Gaewern slate mine from where they have posted hundreds of photographs of the “car grave”.

But in their wake they have left litter and graffiti that is now ruining the site, Anthony Taylor, 42, a caver from Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, who has been involved in cleanup operations of disused mines, has told the BBC.

“They are beautiful places, and a lot of people don’t want them to be ruined,” he said. “Instagram seems to be the killer of a lot of things. People turn up, take a picture and then leave [a mess].”

The flooded cavern, part of the Gaewern slate mine that began in 1820 and continued after a merger with the nearby Braich Goch slate mine until the 1970s, employing 200 at its peak, became a dumping ground for old cars, TVs, microwaves and other rubbish.

It was rediscovered by urban explorers who posted stunning photographs of the scrap illuminated by shafts of sunlight, leading to others braving a perilous 20-metre (65ft) descent and using inflatable dinghies to cross the lake to reach the scrap.

Now Taylor and fellow volunteers have held cleanups of the site, which is on private land, including hauling out numerous discarded inflatable dinghies.

“It’s a bizarre environment, probably the one of the oddest places in the world,” Taylor said.

“How often do you see hundreds of cars underground with lights coming on to them from the sun?”

A still from the disused mine. Photograph: YouTube | Exploring With Josh

But he complained that to get there he was forced to pass an entrance littered with discarded bin bags used by visitors to keep their feet dry and spray painting on the walls that “was awful”. The graffiti got worse in the main chamber towards the cars, and rubbish found included discarded glow sticks and human faeces.

“When you get to the end, it was just a sea of boats, inflatable dinghies everywhere,” he said.

“It’s just disgusting, really sad and disheartening.

“The whole reason people want to visit a place like this is because they’ve seen it on the internet and think, ‘That’s an amazing place to go and see’, so why would you trash it?” he told the BBC.

“Something had to be done,” he said, estimating his group and another from the YouTube channel Hell on Earth removed 30 discarded dinghies in total.

“The people that go to these places, influencers they call themselves … they go because they’ve got inherent value to them. Why destroy it for everyone else?”

Taylor, who wants to educate people about the value of old mines, and fears sites like Gaewern could one day be sealed off, added: “If these things keep happening, it’s going to be lost to everyone, forever.”

The Guardian