Welsh Journals

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A TOUR IN CENTRAL WALES IN 1805 Contributed by GEOFFREY BRIGHT The following extracts from a Diary in my possession may interest members of the Radnorshire Society, especially the description of Hafod and the journey along the old coach road to Rhayader. As many of us know, until quite recently, it was an adventurous trip even in a modern well-sprung motor car, but in 1805, in a carriage, it must have been frightening. The Diarist was the Hon. Anne Rushout, daughter of John Rushout, Baron Northwick of Northwick Park, Worcestershire, and she was an inveterate traveller. Every autumn she set out in her carriage for a tour, and made interesting notes of the country, and the houses and the people she met. During the course of her long life (the Diary extends from 1791-1845), she visited the whole of the British Isles, many districts on several occasions and, as was the custom of the times, made the Grand Tour on the Continent. On this occasion she is on a tour of Central Wales, via Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Llangollen, Welshpool, Newtown, Aberystwyth, and home via Rhayader, Presteigne and Leominster, and has stayed overnight at Newtown. The spelling of the Diary has been adhered to, but the punctuation occasionally amended, to facilitate reading. Additions in square brackets have been made by way of explanation. (Footnotes added by W. H. Howse). September 20th — Set out at 7 for Landvillos [Llanidloes] 13 miles, the road beautiful the whole way, highly cultivated, and well wooded, with many Farm Houses and Cottages on the side of the Hills, tho' no Gentlemen's Houses. We kept near the Severn the whole way, break- fasted at Landvillos, where the Severn is joined by another River. There is a manufactory of Flannel carried on here, worked by water; we saw the whole process and they make very fine flannels at 6d. per yard-the carding part is very curious; the whole River was kept up by a Weir. Here the scenery is very curious; the town is but in- different and the Inn dirty, and we saw the Women washing their Linen in the River. We set out at one for Devils Bridge, the road for the first five miles beautiful afterwards we got among the hills and it was rather dreary, tho' I thought curious and amusing, called the vale of Wye. The road was good tho' hilly, the River Wye accompanying us almost the whole way. There was very little cultivation but the pretty sheep were grazing to the top of the hills. There is no house or tree to be seen, save the miserable hovels inhabited by the Shepherds, of one storey and holes made for windows, and yet we were told that many of these people were worth £ 1,000. We got to Devils Bridge, 20 miles,