“ Address: Pumsaint / Llanwrda / Carmarthenshire SA19 8US / Wales „
If you think of mining in Wales you normally think of huge slag heaps and grey countryside. Think again when you think of gold mining.
Dolaucothi is a small site in terms of mining but exceptionally pretty, overlooking the Cothi Valley in mid-Wales. Workings in the mines date from Roman times but mining has taken place here as recently as the 1930s. Guided tours (approx 45 minutes) will take you through the workings of the mines and show the conditions that were endured. If you have an energetic group you may well find that your guide is prepared to take you on an extended tour which will take in parts of the mines above ground too which will really help to put the mine into context. In particular you will see evidence of the opencast mining that occurred here.
There is no other site that quite compares to Dolaucothi and, even if you've seen all you think you can see in terms of Welsh mining you won't have done so until you've been here. Compared to the slate and coal mines of North and South Wales Dolaucothi seems so very small and yet the technology that was employed here (particularly in relation to hydraulic mining) puts the larger cousins to shame.
The site is suitable for children who are old enough to walk themselves through the tunnels and stairs - it's not suitable for very young children (and at busy times those under 5 may be denied entrance). All must wear hard hats (provided)and stout shoes are pretty much a pre-requisite if you don't want to get into difficulty. Although this is true mining and the tunnels quite small in places it is not a very deep mine and shouldn't prove too problematic. It won't be suitable if you have a strong fear of enclosed spaces but equally shouldn't scare too many.
Aside from the mine itself there are other exhibitions and set-ups on the site. For the children there is gold panning and historical costumes to try on. For the engineers there is a small exhibition of the machinery used in the mines and, of course, the obligatory shop, which, in this instance also sells a good range of Welsh gold (more expensive, but rarer, than imported gold and characterised by it's reddish tint).
There is a small tea-room and provision for picnicking on site. A campsite is also available on the site with 35 pitches.
Dolaucothi will change your attitude to Welsh mining. As you leave the entrance yards and head towards the mine workings all you can see is the beautiful Cothi valley. Even the entrance to the workings is attractive and partially disguised by trees. You cannot fail to be moved by the conditions the miners worked in nor fail to marvel at the technological advances that were made in mines like these.
Dolaucothi is unique. It's awe inspiring. It shows a very different side to Welsh mining. It's part of our heritage.
Owned and maintained by the National Trust you could couple a trip to Dolaucothi with a trip to Dinefwr Park and Castle, a 12th Century Welsh Castle, deer park and historic house.
Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Pumsaint, Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire SA19 8US
2009 Admission prices
Gift Aid Admission (Standard Admission prices in brackets): £3.40 (£3.09), child £1.70 (£1.54), family (2 adults & 2 children) £8.50 (£7.72). Groups (£3). Underground tour (additional charge, inc. NT members): £3.80 (£3.45), child £1.90 (£1.72), family £9.50 (£8.63). Groups (£3)
Unique Roman gold mine set amid wooded hillsides. Guided tours of the underground workings and exhibition on gold.