Llanymynech, meaning "church of the monks", is on the border of Shropshire and Powys - the border actually ran directly through The Lion pub, so that when pubs in Wales were closed on Sundays ('dry'), only two-thirds of the pub could serve alcohol. It also has the only golf course in the country to straddle two countries. But you probably don't want to know about that!
^ the village and surrounds from the quarry.
The limestone quarry is now Llanymynech Rocks nature reserve, a very pretty place that put me in mind of the beginning of Indiana Jones 3, when the scouting exhibition is going through Utah or wherever they are. It's quite a staggering site, to climb the track incline and suddenly have the eyes assaulted with the mass of jagged quarry workings, particularly on a sunny day, with the rock almost glowing and dramatically set off by the blue sky. Yes, I'm waxing lyrical.
Eternally mindful of the dangers of disused quarries, I nevertheless wandered around with unabashed awe (to the extent that, nearly five hours later, I've still got neckache from craning up to look at the rugged tors of rock... ahhh, there I go again).
I succeeded neither at finding the Roman copper mine or the hillfort, from where Caractacus was meant to have made his last stand. Instead, I found the most incongruous site I could think of, rounding the corner from scrubland and thorn bushes growing from the dislodged rock and muddy footpaths was Llanymynech Golf Course, mentioned above. All manicured green grass and flying balls, why anyone would want to play golf at such altitudes I don't know - what if you hit your ball too hard and it plunges to the bottom of the cliff? Do you halt play for the next hour or so while you try to find it again? Bleah.
Anyway, I found the whole experience of wandering the edges of the outcroppings a little vertiginous to say the least, so I wasted little time in retracing my steps into the quarry and back to the Heritage Area around the Hoffmann kiln...
^ The kilns surviving at the edge of the quarry workings.
At the foot of the incline, before the carts got to the Limeworks, there was also a Weighbridge built at Tally House, presumably to get figures for the production of lime at the Works.
Llanymynech Limeworks began on the large-scale with two massive vertical draw kilns. I've visited kilns dotted around the place that are fairly large, and indeed there is a bank of draw kilns at Minera that are fairly extensive, but these two at Llanymynech are monsters, particularly given how the entire building is just one kiln. As was usual, they are top-fed with a draw-hole at the front for slaking out the lime.
There were holes in the roof where the charcoal was fed ("charged") into the kiln, and so it was covered with a corrugated iron roof. The original roof has long gone but a new covering has been provided when the Heritage Area was created by the local authorities and CPAT. Marvellous!
I must admit, I have no idea how many lime-burning Hoffmann-style kilns there were in Britain during the industrial heyday, but now there remain just three: at Staylittle, in Yorkshire; at Minera, near Wrexham; and here at Llanymynech (as stated above, however, Llanymynech is the only one with the chimney intact).
Despite the exhausting climb to the top of the quarry, and the battering winds that threatened to blow me the entire 225m back down to sea level, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and can heartily recommend going to Llanymynech to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me!