If you could travel back in time to visit Llyn Dinas over a century ago, you would look out across a landscape quite different to what we see today.
What is now a wild-looking and mostly uninhabited landscape, was then intensively farmed and home to at least 5 families. On a calm day, you would have seen and smelt peat smoke drifting from the chimneys of simple stone dwellings tucked into the folds of the hillsides. You may also have heard, echoing across the lake’s quiet waters, the barking of dogs, the crowing of a cockerel or the sound of children at play. More likely than not, you would see figures – men, women and children – at work here and there around the lake. Cutting peat, gathering sheep, mowing bracken, milking a cow with stool and pail, digging a ditch, bark stripping… or a myriad other tasks, depending on the season and time of day.
Going anti-clockwise from the lake’s outlet, these cottages were: Tan yr Allt, Penrhyn Gwartheg, Bwlch Derw, Llyndy Isaf and Tallyn Dinas. Other cottages and squatters’ shelters – some of them poverty-stricken hovels – were tucked into the scrubby hillsides nearby.
A rare glimpse of life in these rustic dwellings can be found in an essay written for a local Eisteddfod at the turn of the last century. The wife of the sawyer that lived in Tallyn Dinas, would rise before dawn and climb up to a copper mine high on the rugged slopes of Lliwedd. With her were her two eldest sons, and together they carried packs of copper ore down to the waiting carts in the valley-bottom. After receiving a few pennies for their troubles, they returned to the cottage to make breakfast for the rest of the family and start the day’s work.
Now, just one farm looks out over the lake – Llyndy Isaf. Next to the well-proportioned 1900 farmhouse stands its ancient predecessor, now in ruins. Ken Owen has the only picture I know of which shows the old house before its abandonment. With his permission, I have scanned it and added it at the top of this post for you to get an idea of what these old houses looked like.
Pwy fydd yma ymhen can mlynedd?
What changes will happen in the next 100 years do you think?