Old mine workings near Pontrhydygroes, Ceredigion – copyright Freya The Writer
Touch the walls, feel the past reach out to you. Push away the stone, the plaster, the layers of paper upon paper and molecules of paint. Hear the voices rise from the earth, seeping between flagstones, carried on the air, drifting through the sightless windows. Feel the door’s rough grain, its paint bleached and crackled by the elements, year after year.
Step back, take it all in.
The mountains, bleak and sparse, each tree a skeletal surprise, a victory against the wind, the rain and unforgiving sun. Notice how, at one side, the roof has triumphed over the elements, sheltered by the nearby slope. Here, a solitary sheep nestles, chewing the grass, untroubled by the wind. Turn your gaze back to the roof, see the sudden break in its spine, slates snapped, shattered and tossed to the ground. Like the broken ribs of a long dead animal, the rafters are exposed, silvered by the biting wind.
Now look away. Look out into the distance.
Tear up your romantic notions of this country idyll. The industrial roots of this land burrow deep into the earth. Still your thoughts long enough to hear them skulking and slithering, grasping hold of the boulders beneath your feet. They will not be silenced – they refuse to hide. See the heaps of spoil, punctured by wooden pilings, markers of tunnels and structures abandoned long ago. Open your eyes and heart to the rusted iron carcasses resting, now dormant as the streams continue roaring ceaselessly in the valley below.
Here broods an industrial land, exhumed by man’s hand.
Here is a land of secrets, laid bare if you care to look.