Sunday 24 July 2011


Up the Black Mountain this weekend to explore the derelict lime quarries and kilns accessible east off the scenic pass between Llangadog and Brynaman. The large number of inns in the tiny village of Llangadog is explained historically by the necessity for the waggoners collecting lime to stay two nights as it took a whole day to ascend the mountain, load the lime, and then descend back to the village.

The wagons were long gone but in the 1970s I joined in the heroic efforts of this still distinctive and self-contained community to keep all the pubs open through our determined custom. But that battle has been lost as the Plough Inn and, further up the mountain, the Three Horseshoes, Pont Aber, and New Inn are all gone - but not the memories of youthful adventures in all of them (not least in the Plough where I met for the first time a raven-haired local beauty who is now Mrs Blog but was then a welder in a satanic chain factory - also long gone - on the banks of the Sawdde).

Back up the mountain you can tell it must have been hard to work the quarries at such a great height though you can imagine some small comfort which the heat from the kilns would have given in winter. Dangerous work, too, as this memorial indicates:

I've soon had enough of this bleak industrial landscape. Halfway down an enterprising trailer in the car-park enables me to add to my "Five a Day" tally (or have I misunderstood this public health message?)...