Welsh Mines & Ancient Stones.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Bodkin House Hotel Badminton
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Saturday, July 30, 2011

Our last place to visit in Wales was a rather vague UNESCO listing of the "Blaenavon Industrial Landscape" and we were not sure what to expect other than we understood it to be about coal mining and that maybe we would have a quick look and go. Not so.

At Blaenavon a unique situation existed where all the raw materials existed for ironworks. Later in the 1850's it was here that the process of producing cheap steel was invented and the town became the centre of steel production for UK. We toured the ironworks area then went to the Big Pit museum complex to learn about coal mining.

We spent quite a few hours having a most interactive, educational and entertaining experience and now know quite a bit more about coal mining and Welsh people. The guides and assistants in this area are all ex-coal miners, with great chirpy senses of humour and love being able to show their recent history to visitors. We did a tour (for free!) that took us right down into a coal mine and through the tunnels and passageways. We had explained to us the different methods used over time from when horses and humans did all the work, to the gradual implementation of machinery to assist. Coal mining has always been labour intensive and we heard the stories of children as young as 6 starting in the mine as door openers, their job to sit in the dark for 12 hours to open and close the doors as required. 

During Margaret Thatcher's time as PM all the Welsh coal mines were closed down, causing mass unemployment for a period of time in Wales, with many having preferred the hard life of mining to unemployment.
It was much later than we had planned to finish, so we changed our plans a little. We were going to head to Cornwall (hanging out for a good authentic cornish pasty!) but instead headed to Bath, only to find all accommodation in our price bracket was booked out, being a Saturday and the high season. We drove further and further out of town, stopping at all B&B's and pubs until eventually about 40 kms away we found the perfect solution at Bodkin House, getting their last room (again!) and enjoying that very British thing of a full English Breakfast the next morning.

Our last morning on the road before we  head back to Graham and Rachel's for the night, saw us enjoy the sights of Bath in brilliant sunshine, We had been to Bath 6 years ago, but it had poured with rain the whole time, so it was lovely to see the historic city at its finest. Then we headed off to see the Avebury Stones. Similar to Stonehenge but not nearly as well known, these massive stones surround the village. We walked around the site marvelling at how the moment the Brits get some sunshine, they strip off their shirts and lay down on the grass! Bodies were sprawled out just drinking in the sunshine. We stopped at a couple of burial mound sites in the area, then set off back to London for 1 (partial) night's sleep, ready for our early flight out of Luton airport (1 hour away from where we are staying)  to take us for a 4 day visit to Malta.  

Footnote: Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, City of Bath and Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites are all UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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Karen & Jim on

Sounds like fun for you both, love the horse on the hill @ Bath. You will have to wirte a book with all your experiences, just take it from you bloggs I guess. Hope you are both well???
Toni & Mark had a little boy (8lb 2 oz) on the 2nd August, all doing great, just left the hospital at lunch time today so look out when they get home by there selves. Love to you both, J & K

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