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Corris in the Dulais Valley

Time and again I have visited many places in this nation of mine. Often to do so while traveling north I have had to journey along the A487 road, for that is the road that runs north from Machynlleth the ancient capital of Wales through the narrow steep sided valley of the Dulais river. Nestling among the fir trees and slate outcrop in the valley bottom is the little sleepy village of Corris.

O I know that those of you who are fellow welshmen and know of it, will ask why I have included it in my special places. I can imagine what your question will be "what is so special about Corris? there are hundreds of places just like it in Wales". That would be a valued comment dear visitor and I shall answer you thus -

Advancing south through Corris

Many times, from the 'new' section of road hewn out of the mountainside high above, I have looked down at Corris and wondered of its times past. So it was that on a autumn morning a few years ago I decided to visit, when I did so there was a cold and heavy mist enveloping the valley.

As I stood on the 'old' road that runs through the village with my mind attuned back to the days of Owain Glyndwr, for I was to attend the dedication of a monument to him at Machynlleth later that day, it was not hard for me to 'see' the valley 'the way it was', no! not the year before or even at the turn of the century, but hundreds of years previously in the days of 'Llywelyn the Great', his grandson 'Llywelyn the Last', and Owain Glyndwr.

As the mist attempted to tighten its grip on my vision, I peered through its constraints up the valley towards my favourite mountain, Cader Idris, the 'chair of Idris' a giant skilled in poetry, philosophy and astronomy. It is said of that old sentinel, which has observed every movement that has occurred through the pass of Corris since the beginning of time, that anyone who stays the night upon it either dies, becomes mad or ends up a poet,

Suddenly from the direction of the mountain I 'heard', as I stood enveloped in that thick mist, the sound of rattling harness, the clank of metal, and the banter of men. The noise was such that it was as though I was 'hearing' an armed column advancing south towards me in that secluded place. O yes! it was so easy then, for me to understand why Corris is such a Special Place for me.

For Corris stands upon the route that was so important to those Princes of Gwynedd and Wales, for it was for them the gateway through the mountains that enabled them to march south during those years they attempted to keep this nation of mine free.

I hope that you too dear visitor may one day have the chance to stand on that 'old' road and 'hear' that very same sound that I am sure I heard, for I will remember it for the fact that during that infinite second in time a shiver ran down my spine, the like I may never have again.

Afterwards, as I stood there with my brain awash with the emotion of history, it was good, so very good, to think that perhaps, just perhaps, I had had the privilege to 'hear' through the echo's of time, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and his men as they marched south for the last time. For they were betrayed and defeated at Builth in 1282. (See section on the Princes)

Yes Corris and the Dulais valley is a very special place to me.

Corris Village

Dolch e bawb (thanks to all) even the farmer, yes a farmer where the land is that steep that the sheep have two legs shorter on one side Ha Ha, who's name I shamefully forgot to ask, for the information you gave me on my visit.

Indeed the unnamed farmer gave me the following census. It seems that in the 1860's the population of Corris was between 350 and 400 souls. However, as slate grew in popularity, so more mines opened in the valley. Such was the increase that when the 1880 census report became available it seems there were some 2000 plus souls resident in Corris. On entering the twentieth century, it seems the village had become a town and had become a busy industrious place. It boasted 14 shops, 4 chapels, 1 church, 3 banks, 2 schools, 2 public houses, 1 bakery, 1 Silver band, a Cricket team, 1 Rugby and 1 Football team.

Sadly, as has happened in many mining communities all over Wales, all these have gone and Corris has returned to being a little village in sleep mode, perhaps dreaming of its place in history.

A little street

Photograph One: One of the few remaining streets that are left in this little village in the mountains. Gone are those hurly burly days of a century ago when it was a large vibrant community. Also gone are those many slate miners who once made their weary way home to the cottages which made up the little streets.

Post Office

Photograph Two: The little red door of the Post Office which stands on what is the the old road north west from Machynlleth to the quarry. There are still customers today, but not as many as yesteryear.

It may be, just may be, that the time of slate and coal will come again and both will rise to the challenge of the world demanding their products once again. Or will those mines that have closed remain for ever shut, because of those who have governed the United Kingdom through the years who believed that the miner should be defeated at all costs. Maybe it will be Silicoses that governs the day? That most evil of disease which makes a miner go from being an active family man, to a wheezing coughing invalid with a very shortened life expectancy. Then when he is confined to his chair or bed he has to fight for compensation, which he usually doesn't get before he dies. Having seen the devastation the disease has caused to families all over Wales then I would have to say, if someone wanted to re open the mines, let the damn mines stay shut.

To all the people that I met and indeed in a special way to Corris itself Diolch yn Fawr for your hospitality. Until we meet again, Hwyl from me Ole R.D.; the Red Dragon of Wales, O yes I promise I shall be back for I believe there are still some great characters that I have not met, .

Graphics by Ole R.D. Copyright © 1999-2005 / All Rights Reserved
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