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Cilgerran & the Teifi

Travelled to Cardigan the other day; lovely town.  There’s a ‘ropewalk’ on the southern edge, the start of a drovers’ trail (#1) to Cilgerran, the scene of a lively market and “one of the most important cattle fairs in Pembrokeshire”, according to Shirley Toulson.  It was held on August 10th, St Lawrence’s Day.  



(I’m becoming more & more convinced in my old age that 90% of long distance cattle-droving was done in autumn.  There would still be spring droves, but mostly of beasts bought by south-eastern graziers the previous autumn and fattened on roots, hay & grass during the intervening winter.)



The path goes through the Pentood Marsh (SN 183459), hard enough to negotiate even after Ceredigion has spent time & money on bridges & duckboards.  It’s hard to believe drovers would have taken cattle through the bog unless toll-avoidance was their number-one priority.



After Rhiwlas Cottage (SN 185446) the route becomes a pleasant forest walk and the village (ex-town) of Cilgerran is even pleasanter.  On the way into town, in one of the back alleys, we passed #2.  The chimney convinces me it was not once a barn but a drovers’ doss-house.  Note a blocked-up window just visible at the end; you can see it better in the Wikipedia article on Cilgerran – where you can also see #3, a famous picture of the market in the late 19C which has NO RELATIONSHIP AT ALL to the High Street now!



Besides a selection of old pubs, a fine church, a nice ruined castle and a busy high street, Cilgerran has the Village Stores.  This is run by the friendly & industrious Liz, whose home-made selection of hot snacks & cakes are a treat.  And her flapjacks are the best in the world.  That’s official.



And that’s where the good news stops.



We walked expectantly down to the Teifi for a walk back to Llechryd.  Chris was telling me how full of fish the river is; that President Carter used to call it the best stretch in the world for salmon and trout; that there are otters in the banks... 



...well, not since Dec. 20th 2016.  Slurry poured into the river has killed the fish and all you can hear & see is continuous brown frothy muck flowing down into Cardigan Bay.  It will take six years for the micro-organisms to grow back, many more for wildlife to return.  It’s a tragedy.  I found myself writing a poem:



In Memoriam Afon Teifi

The salmon and trout won’t be leaping

Down on the Teifi today;

There’s a line of froth steadily sweeping

Down-river to Cardigan Bay.


The raven’s still doom-prophesying

From an oak on the path to Llechryd;

But the kingfisher isn’t replying –

He’s had to go elsewhere to feed.


The banks now are lifeless and muddied,

While the noxious froth snakes in between;

Where living things hovered and scudded

Not one flash of life’s to be seen.


Otters left when the water was dirtied

And the Teifi’s death-warrant was signed;

And each otter’s holt that’s deserted

Points a finger of blame at mankind.

Cilgerran & the Teifi image 1
Outside Cardigan
Cilgerran & the Teifi image 2
Drovers' Doss-house?
Cilgerran & the Teifi image 3
Cilgerran Fair c.1890
Cilgerran & the Teifi image 4
One Farmer Did This