Saturday, 9 July 2016 – Day 24 – Telford to Welshpool, Wales

Saturday, 9 July 2016 – Day 24 – Telford to Welshpool, Wales

(7497)  Got up and met David for a short time. Was nice to see him again and then he had commitments. About 10.15am. I set off for Vanessa’s in Welshpool, Gateway to Wales.  Was raining for awhile. Past through Ford and Wattlesborough. I stopped at the Halfway House before continuing on through Middletown and Trewin. The countryside is beautiful and green and there are hills around. Cows and sheep were wandering around along the way.

I turned off at Arddleen and arrived at Vanessa’s. After meeting Vanessa’s husband, Neil and their two sons, Will and Sam, Vanessa and I went to the nearby Powis Castle, a magnificent property with over 700 years of fascinating history.

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Powis started life as a medieval fortress, built for the Welsh Princes. It gradually changed into an impressive residence, lived in by generations of the Herbert family. The property has barely altered since the early 1900’s when the 4th Earl, George Herbert (1862-1952) and his wife Violet lived with their 3 children. Violet improved the garden which she felt had the potential to be “the most beautiful in England and Wales”. She died after a car accident in 1929. On his death in November 1952, aged 90. the 4th Earl bequeathed the castle and gardens to the National Trust. He was succeeded by his cousin, Edward Herbert (1889–1974), fifth Earl, whose widow, the Countess Powis, remained living in the dower house, and was succeeded in turn by Christian Victor Charles Herbert the sixth Earl.  Throughout 2016, Powis will be commemorating the life of Percy Herbert, Viscount Clive, (son of 4th Earl) who bravely fought in WWI from 1914-1916 when he died of wounds received at the Battle of the Somme in World War I.

The castle is known for its extensive, attractive formal gardens, terraces, parkland, deerpark and landscaped estate. On our entrance, I finally got to see deer as I have not seen any on my three visits to the UK.

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Finally seeing some deer !!!

We wandered through the beautiful rooms of the Castle including the entrance hall, bedrooms and huge library, and climbed the Grand Staircase which was commissioned between 1674 and 1687.

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Vanessa and me at Powis Castle

After a cup of coffee, we admired the beautiful 17th century terraced gardens. There were immaculate herbaceous borders and clipped yews along with flowers in the cottage garden style. We wound our way along some of the terraced gardens meeting some of the inhabitants – beautiful peacocks – until it was time to return to the car.

The Castle and its grounds were just magnificent. On our way home, we stopped off in Welshpool for fish and chips.

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Next to the fish shop there was The Mermain Inn, a 16th century timber framed building, originally with thatched roof. It has been an inn for at least 200 years.

After dinner, I left the Thomas household and had a good run back to my hotel.

Will, Sam, Vanessa and Neil

Will, Sam, Vanessa and Neil

I rang Vanessa to let her know I was back OK. and to thank her for a lovely catchup and outing to Powis Castle. (7540).

 

 

Monday and Tuesday, 4 and 5 August, 2016 – Days 19 and 20 Malta to UK

Monday and Tuesday,  4 and 5 July 2016  – Days 19 and 20 – Malta to UK

Monday, 4 July, 2016  – Day 19 – Telford 

I had my wakeup call at 4.45am. Dressed quickly and down for a cup of coffee before my transport arrived at 4.45am to take me to the Malta Airport. Arrived at the airport by 6.00am. I booked my 16.7ks case through and then wrote some postcards until it was 8.00 am when I went through Security and passport check.  Boarded flight KM116 from Malta to Gatwick. I exchanged seats so as to sit with David and Margaret who I had met and sat with on way over to Malta. We left at 8.40am and arrived at Gatwick Airport at 12.30pm.  It was a bit of a wait at the passport check and then said goodbye to David and Margaret who had waited for me to get through passport check.

I was going to get the Gatwick Express but the railway assistant told me it would be better to get an ordinary train to St Pancreas. The train was delayed by 35 minutes due to a staffing problem so I eventually arrived at St Pancreas and got a taxi to Euston Station. I thought I was in time for the 3.15pm train but my ticket was for a different company so had to change my ticket.  The woman was very obliging and did not charge me extra so I boarded the train to Wales. Had to change at Birmingham New Street station. A kind guy took my case and me to the correct station for my next train that arrived in 10 minutes. Boarded the train and arrived at the Wellington Station at about 6.10pm. Warren and Anthony picked me up and it was to their place in Wellington and then it was hello to Emily.

We chatted over a a lovely spread and was good catching up with them.  Met these lovely people in 2014 at the Birmingham Airport.

The night ended on a frustrating note as my IPad went berserk and wouldn’t let me activate it after attempting to put in a passcode so left it and went to bed at 10.30pm disappointed.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016 – Day 20 – Telford and into Wales

Up at 7.30 and after breakfast drove into Telford to pick up my hire car and brought it back to Warren’s. We all then went into the Town Centre to see about my IPad but with no success. We then called into the Coed Poeth shop for some stores and then onto the Parc Farm Holiday Park where Warren has accommodation. The park is set in the Clwydian Hills midway between Llangollen, Mould and Ruthin, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Emily has done a lot of work in the little garden.

It was then into the lovely historic market town of Ruthin (Rhuthin) via LlandyrnogIts position on the River Clwyd, between the Hiraethog Moors and the Clwydian Hills has led to many bloody battles between the English and the Welsh who fought for centuries for control of this important agricultural area. Before going in for lunch, we went into the Craft Centre – had many interesting displays and I bought a book consisting of the “Welsh Place Names” – Ruthin is mentioned and says  – Probably a corruption of rhudd, red, and din, town. So called from the colour of the soil.

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Give us a cwtch means Give us a cuddle. Still cannot understand the Welsh language.

We went into the Castle Hotel, an old coaching house and is located in St Peter’s Square. It is a Grade II listed building erected in the 18th century and named the White Lion and owned by the Myddelton family of Ruthin Castle. In c1885 it was renamed the Castle Hotel incorporating what is now the Myddleton Arms next door. Sir Hugh Myddelton, who bought this house in 1595, provided London with its first supply of fresh water.

The Castle Hotel is in a stunning location, in a town which boasts more listed buildings than any other in North Wales.  The premises have been refurbished by JD Wetherspoon in January 2012. We all had a nice lunch and I had Welsh sausages, peas and potato.

Warren, Anthony, Emily and I in the Castle Hotel in Ruthin, North Wales

Warren, Anthony, Emily and I in the Castle Hotel in Ruthin, North Wales

There was a copy of a lovely tapestry called the Wine Market that was woven in Flanders in the 15th Century. The original now hangs in the Cluny Museum in Paris.  Also in the hotel were several photographs of Charles Darwin. In August 1835, Charles Darwin, then only 22 years old, came to North Wales on a geological tour and stayed in Ruthin. He reputedly spent a night in the Castle Hotel. There was a painting of Darwin that was made 50 years later.

Before leaving Ruthin, we had a little wander and came across the “Maen Huail” which said – “On this stone the legendary King Arthur is said to have beheaded Huail, brother of Gildas the historian, his rival in love and war”.

It was time to leave Ruthin to return back to Wellington via Oswestry and arrived about 7.30 after a lovely relaxing day until the fun began trying to close Em’s account and get into Yahoo. We finally succeeded at 11.00pm and then off to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 – Day 7 – Cardiff to Telford

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 – Day 7 – Cardiff to Telford

Even though I had only 4 hours sleep I decided to get an early start for my trip heading down to Cornwall for my visit to the Eden Project. It is nestled in a huge crater. There are two massive biomes (greenhouses) that house the largest indoor rainforest in captivity and plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments.

It was raining so I set off at 7.45. I headed towards Newport (Casnewdydd) and then to Langstone and up to Chepstow (Cas-gwent).  This was a very pretty little village but once again very narrow one way streets and parking and signs hard to find. I ended up at Alvington and realised that I was too far north so back into Chepstow. I crossed over the River Severn so thought I was now heading the right way, but once more to no avail. So, it was here I had to make up my mind whether to go on or turn around and return to Telford. Decided on the latter.

I made my way to Monmouth, through Hereford, Leominster and up to Ludlow, Craven Arm, Church Stretton, and Dorrington.  The weather had cleared up but the traffic was virtually non stop at Bayston Hill.  Eventually got to  Shrewsbury  and Telford feeling absolutely physically and mentally exhausted.  It was 3.00pm and when I saw a familiar hotel I booked in, had a welcome shower, bought a takeaway and fell into bed at 8.00pm.

 

Monday and Tuesday, 20-21 June – Days 5-6 – Telford to Cardiff

Monday – Tuesday, 20 – 21 June 2016. –  Telford to Cardiff

Monday, 20 June 2016 – Day 5

Had my breakfast and got a cab to Stafford Park via the Telford train station to collect my prepaid tickets and collected my car – a nice little Fiat 500 (4594).  Left Telford in heavy rain and headed to Brignorth, Kidderminster, Tenbury Wells, Leomister, Hereford, Monmouth, Langstone and Castleton.

 I wanted to miss going into Newport.  I arrived in Cardiff (Caerdydd) at about 3.00pm.  By fluke, I came in right at the Castle. Just around the corner was the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Coleg Brenhinol Cerdd Adrama Cympu) where I was to meet up with Carson who is studying there. I met her, her mum and brother on my Scottish tour in 2014.  Seeing that I had three hours before meeting Carson, I decided to go and check where my accommodation was. I came across a Premier Inn but it was the wrong one. The nice lass wrote out instructions for me, but somehow I missed something as I seemed lost.  Saw a sign to Roath where the hotel was so I phoned but with the strong accent I found it difficult to follow but nevertheless headed in the general direction I thought was correct. Still didn’t seem right, so stopped in at a garage but the fellow there didn’t know.  A very helpful young man told me to follow him and he would get me there. It wasn’t too far away.

On arrival, saw a sign saying ” reception and parking” But it appeared to be going into a thick crop of trees. Finally, was told to go past the huge tennis complex and there behind this building was the hotel. I thought it best to cancel dinner with Carson and after booking in, I literally fell into bed.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016 – Day 6

Up after a good night’s sleep thought I had better give myself plenty of time to meet Carson at 11.00am.  As I was getting into the car, a couple who were parked next to me starting talking and told me they were very disappointed with this hotel – damp in their room and at about 4.00am, the people upstairs were kicking up a storm. They also said they had difficulty in finding the place so that made me feel a whole lot better.

I set off into Cardiff and it was only 15 minutes away so found a sneaky car park to wait for Carson.  Not long after 11.00 she came pedalling along. It was lovely seeing her.

I thought we would set off towards Swansea on the M4 via Bridgend (Peny-bont at Ogwr). We stopped for a drink and pastry before Port Talbot.  When we got to Swansea it was very busy and finding a park too difficult so we kept going on via Gowerton and Llanelli to the little village of Pwll and found a park on the roadside and headed for a cafe that had the signage “open all day” but their day ended at 3.00pm.  We wandered along a little further and went into a proper restaurant – Seagars.  As we were both hungry, we ordered a meal – Carson ordered a chicken dish and I had a nice pasta dish. The meals were quite large so no room for dessert!  So we were pleased the other cafe closed.

We drove a short distance to Burry Port. As the sun was out, we took a few photos of the marina, lighthouse and the sea. Couldn’t go for a paddle as the tie was way out.

Across the marina there is an Amelia Earhart museum but because of the late hour we didn’t go in. Wondered the significance of the museum. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic and evidently on 17 June 1928 she landed her plane in Pwll and then it was towed into Burry Port. Amelia thought she had landed in Southampton but was told “No, this is Pwll”.

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We then started our drive back to Cardiff heading north to Kidwelly (Cydwelily),

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Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin), Cross Hands and hooked up at Port Talbot and arrived back in Cardiff to where Carson had left her bike at 11.00pm. It was a long but lovely day. We said goodbye and I just had the short distance to my hotel.  I got to the garage I was at yesterday as my starting point and it was straight up Newport Road and then turn left.  Well, after driving for a bit, thought I must have gone wrong, so back to the garage and off I went again. Still no luck so by this time it was almost 2.00am!  I found a police station so knocked on the door but no one came, so upstairs I went. A police lady came to the door and asking could I use a toilet and then tell her my plight.  Don’t know whether I interrupted a meeting as there were about 12 officers in the room.  So, the police woman and another officer told me to follow them and they would escort me to the hotel.  I was so grateful and I just have no idea where I went wrong. It was now 2.45am!!!!  Once more I fell into bed absolutely exhausted but it was a lovely day but just a bit too long. Turned out to be  235 miles.  Think I had better invest in a GPS but I have been told they cannot always be relied upon. The signages are quite difficult to see as half hidden by thick foliage or just difficult to find.

 

 

Friday to Sunday, 19 – 21 June 2015 – Glyn Cieriog, Llangellen, Oswestry, Telford (Days 10-12)

Friday to Sunday, 19 – 21 June 2015 – Glyn Cieriog, Llangellen, Oswestry and Telford – (Day 10 – 12)

Up early as hardly slept and had nice breakfast. Down to Post Office and then said goodbye to Marcus, owner of the hotel and peaceful Glyn Ceiriog.

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I took the very scenic drive to another beautiful village – Llangellen.  This is one of the double LL places I just cannot say it correctly.  From a vantage point, you could look way down to Llangellan.  Very picturesque and thought I could have been in mini Switzerland.

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Was lucky enough to see a steam train in the station.

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Made my way then to Oswestry and found the lovely restaurant, Prezzo, where I met up with Vanessa and Louise who are from Hope House Hospice.  image

They shouted me the great lunch and then it was time for them to go back to work and me to get the car back to Telford.

 I made good time and found the car place but no petrol station so very expensive but didn’t want to run out of petrol.  Got a taxi to my accommodation and having a very early night after a soak in a nice bath.

Thus endeth my first week of my holiday.  Was a great start.

Saturday and Sunday, 20 and 21 June, 2015 – In Telford – (Days 11 and 12) 

The weather has been quite changeable over the weekend.  Went up to Wellington to the market – thought I had been all around Wellington on my previous visits but missed the Market and it is huge.  Rest of the time has been nice and quiet – given me a chance to try and write this in between the internet being unpredictable and gremlins getting into the system.

Having a nice soak in the bath, dinner and early to bed as long day tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 June, 2015- Visit to Chester – (Day 9)

Thursday, 18 June, 2015. –  Visit to Chester – (Day 9)

Down for breakfast after a good night’s sleep.  Called into the gift shop and met Pauleen’s friend Gilly. Pauleen called in and we shared a yummy scone with clotted cream and fresh strawberries and coffee.image

Pauleen then took me to the pretty little Chirk railway station where I could leave the car. Waited for a half hour delayed train to Chester.  Went through Ruabon/Rhiwabon and Wrexham General/Wrecsam Cyffredinol stations and then Chester.  Chester is on the River Dee and has the most complete city wall circuit in the country.

The two miles of ancient ramparts were originally part of the defences built by the Roman Empire 2000 years ago to protect the Fortress of Deva. They were extended by the Anglo-Saxons, strengthened by the Norman invaders, battered by Cromwell’s forces during the English Civil War, restored by Georgian affluence and turned into a delightful promenade by The Victorians.

I caught a bus into the Town Centre and walked around a bit before I got on the Hop On Hop Off bus.  The tour was excellent and I saw a lot of the City’s landmarks.  There are too many to list but some included passing the beautiful gardens in Grosvenor Park, the Eastgate Clock (getting refurbished) St Mary’s Church, the Chester Cathedral, the Racecourse, the Roman Amphitheatre and past the many different homes in the different architecture.

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I decided to go on a short cruise on the River Dee and you passed many beautiful homes on the banks.

 

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Also, there were several different rowing clubs.  Was a nice break, before I got back on the bus.

Chester is a very lovely city and would like to return.  I thought I had better think about returning back to Glyn Ceiriog before it was too late.  Got to the station and had missed a train by a few minutes so had to wait an hour.  Met Beryl, so helped to fill in the time.

I arrived back at Chirk, got the car and headed back for dinner at Glyn Ceiriog.  Later on, Pauleen came up to say good bye and I then went to bed after another very enjoyable day.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015 – Travelling from Big Bear Lodge to Glyn Ceiriog – (Day 8)

Wednesday, 17 June, 2015 – Travelling from Big Bear Lodge to Glyn Ceiriog – (Day 8)

After breakfast, Gary showed me the extensions on the first floor. Is going to be a self contained cabin and looks as though it will be terrific.  I then said good bye to Gary, Cassie and little bub and left Big Bear Lodge.  I called into the little church of St Peter’s in Melverley.

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It is a timber framed church and is one of the oldest of its type in the country and has a unique feature of a font that dates back to Saxon times. On 3 May, 1992, a plaque was unveiled by the Archbishop of Wales in celebration of 1000 years of Christian worship in Melverley.

 I then headed towards Crew Green, Llandrinio, Four Crosses, Llanmynech, Pant and Oswestry. I had intended going via the little lanes through a couple of villages, but did the usual – ended up going through different villages than first planned. After I left Selattyn, I came to Golbowen across to Upper Hengeed and a pretty place, Chirk.

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Into Froncysylite, Pontfadog and finally to Glyn Ceiriog.  This is a small place so my accommodation was easily found.  I booked in and Marcus, the owner made me a coffee. Had a little wander and then chatted to some people in the hotel including Pauleen. The folk here are very friendly. Pauleen and I had dinner together but because I had a lovely dish at lunchtime I could not do the meal justice. Pauleen arranged to meet me tomorrow so we said good night and I went to bed after a relatively relaxing and enjoyable day.

 

Tuesday, 16 June, 2015 – Lake Vyrnwy, Bala Lake and Pistyll Rhaeadr Falls (Day 7)

Tuesday, 16 June 2015 – Lake Vyrnwy, Bala Lake and Pistyll Rhaeader Falls – (Day 7)

Woke up quite early so had breakfast. The sun was shining. After chatting, headed off via Llanfyllin to Lake Vyrnwy (Llyn Efyrnwy). It was a lovely drive and the lake was quite large.

 

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After a wander around a bit, I decided to head off up to another lake – Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid). Bala is Wales’ largest natural lake with the Arenig hills to the north.  I followed the edge of the  former lake until it’s end and then went over the Hirnant Pass.  This is at the southern end of the Berwyn Range and at 1800 ft (546m) it is one of the highest passes in Wales and is a wild col with dramatic views of the crags of the Aaran mountains.

This was quite a spectacular drive – the road was about as wide as a footpath. I prayed that another vehicle wasn’t coming in the opposite direction. Fortunately, only saw one hiker.  Just before Bala is the little hamlet of Rhos- y-Gwaliau.  The township of Bala was larger than I expected as at Lake Vyrnwy there weren’t many homes.  I drove into the village of Bala and went into a couple of shops before being off on my next leg.

I had a laugh as I was taking a photo when this flock of sheep came running across to me. Don’t know what they thought I had for them.

I then headed towards Llangynog through the Tanat Valley to Penybontfawr to the Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall.  This waterfall is in the Berwyn Mountains, just inside Wales, west of Oswetry and Shrewsbury.  At 240ft (80m) high it is the UK tallest single drop waterfall.   When I stopped in a shop in Bala, the man told me to pass two villages and on  a particular corner turn left.  I was so pleased he told me this as the sign was quite small and the road was quite a sharp turn and VERY NARROW. It was only a single car lane and lots of blind corners, but there were “passing possible” signs up.

After travelling several SLOW SLOW miles, I reached the waterfall. They were quite beautiful and the surroundings lovely, but I was surprised as for the amount of rain that Wales gets the falls were not more intense. Stayed and pondered at the scenery with a coffee and nice home made cake before leaving for home. Was a lovely drive through lush greenery again and beautiful wild rhodedendrums.

 

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I headed home and became quite frustrated with myself as at Four Corners, I missed a turnoff at Llandrinio and after doing a circle twice and almost to Oswestry, I decided to cut across to Knockin, Kinnerley, Edgerley and in the back way to Big Bear.

This was a wonderful day of magnificent scenery.  There were mountains, moorlands, cols, lakes, valleys, cwms, rivers and streams, forests, villages and very narrow roads. Sadly, it was too dangerous to take photos in many spectacular places.

After my dinner, tried to get on the internet, but unsuccessful so it was off to bed.

Monday, 15 June 2015 – On way from Telford to Big Bear Lodge, Melverley (Day 6)

Monday, 15 June 2015. –  On way from Telford to Big Bear Lodge, Melverley (Day 6) 

Up and had breakfast with Sue and then went and collected car – a nice little Citroen.  Set off via Shrewsbury and not thinking, drove to Whittington and Oswestry.

Wanted to find my acommodation before I set off anywhere.  When I re-read my instructions, I found the place quite easily.  It is called Big Bear Lodge and is set in a Canadian theme with each cabin named after a place in the Rockie Mountains. The Lodge is  near a little village of Melverley.

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Met Gary, the owner who showed me to my room – “Banff.  Is in very peaceful surroundings and sheep grazing out the back and you look towards the Welsh Mountains. Everywhere is so lush and green. After settling in, i headed off via little villages – Crewgreen, Llandrinio, Four Crosses, Llansantffraid ym Mohnant, Llanfyllin, Llangadfan ,Cross Foxes Inn and to Dolgellau.

The scenery was just beautiful – ever changing. One minute on a two way road and then goes into narrow one car width, lush green hills and valleys with sheep and cattle grazing, pine forests to bare windswept, slate mountains.

I thought I had best turn around so headed back to Llangadfan and then onto Welshpool. I called into Powis Castle and Gardens but didn’t have the time to go in. They looked very impressive. I was heading to Big Bear, but missed my turnoff so was heading back to Shrewsbury. At Rowton Castle – now a hotel – I asked a chap whether I was heading the correct way. He looked at my map and said it was back to front and pointed the way I should be going. I thanked him but wasn’t confident with his directions so went with my gut feeling and was on the right road after all and arrived back to Big Bear after an interesting day.

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Had an early night as could not use the internet – too far out in the country to get a signal. It was a lovely day out in the country that is so lush and green and passed through some very pretty little villages.

ay.

Thursday, 17 July, 2014 – Day 43 – Drive from Colwyn Bay, Wales to Telford, UK

Thursday, 17 July 2014  – Day 43 – Drive from Colwyn Bay, Wales to Telford, UK

After breakfast left at 9.00 (1661) and headed out of Colwyn Bay. Via Chester outskirts, Wrexham to Oswestry and Morda to visit Hope House Hospice.  Chloe made me a cup of coffee as it was lunchtime when I arrived and it was a short while until Vanessa and Louise came into the fundraising office.  Unfortunately, it was a very quick hello to Vanessa as she had a meeting.  Louise spent some time with me and then we went down to the Lake in the grounds of  the hospice to see the upgrade from my visit last year.  It was very overgrown with reeds.  The improvements were great to see as there was a little bridge over the lake so as the children in their wheelchairs could go over, the reeds were all under control,water lilies planted and a lovely summer house was built.  All great for the children, parents and staff to enjoy.

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I left the Hospice after saying goodbye to the ladies and drove straight to Telford via Shropshire and handed the car back (1798).  Waited ages for a taxi, but finally one came and I arrived back at my hotel.  Feel as though I have shares in the hotel.

David called in for a short while but didn’t stay too long as he was quite down and was last day at school so had to go back and finish off his chores.

I had an early night after a nice time in Wales and seeing Louise and Vanessa again.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 – Day 42 – Drive in Wales – Mine, Penrhyn and Llandudo

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 – Day 42 – Drive in Wales – Mine, Penrhyn and Llandudo

(1554). After breakfast, I left the hotel at 9.30 to go to see Penrhyn Castle, however I reversed my plans and continued onto visit the Sygun copper mine.  Was an amazing drive through such diverse country – Green pastures with sheep, huge rocks, massive volcanic hills, cows and lakes.  It was a shame as it was raining so photos a bit limited. Got to the village of Beddgelert.  In the 18th century, more than 70 inhabitants of Beddgelert were employed in the nearby copper mines, a majorvindustry for duchess a small community.  Nowadays, Beddgelert, in the heart of the beautiful Snowdonia, draws visitors from all over the works and provides an excellent base for exploring the Snowdonia National Park and surrounding coastline. I finally found the mine.  This is now a historic copper mine. After it’s demise in 1903 Sygun Copper Mine was dormant until 1983 when work commenced on the unblocking and draining of the deep adit to gain access to the lower workings. Following renovation work to provide safe access, the mine re-opened at Easter 1986 enabling the general public to experience the conditions and atmosphere of a typical 18th and 19th century metalliferrous  mine, preserving a small part of the mining heritage of North Wales. I was given a helmet and my information for a self guided tour.  You start off following a tramtrack and I thought it was never going to end.  At several stops along the way, you listen to information of the place you are at in the mine.  There are many winding tunnels and large colourful chambers and caverns with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites formations and copper ore veins which contain traces of gold, silver and other precious metals. he stope or cavern follows a subsidiary ore vein, traces of which can still be seen on the roof. When the miners excavated this cavern in the 1840’s all the work was fine in candlelight. No machinery was available – only human toil – all digging and drilling using picks, shovels, hammers and chisels.  How brave these old timers were.

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You have to climb several stairs and walk along more tunnels, listening to the information. This tunnel was one of the main tramways of the mine and goes way back into the mine. it was interesting as when you came out of the mine, you were quite high in a mountain and you have a walk down to the office where you hand back your helmet.  Just a fascinating tour and have to admire these pioneers.

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Don’t know why some of the photos go out of shape but had to show me in my helmet!!!

I left the mine and headed towards Bangor and onto Penrhyn Castle – the countryside was still so lovely –  lakes and mountains and miles and miles of stoned walls again.  Never tire of driving through the Snowdania country even though today was misty rain now.

When I arrived at the Castle, it was now raining.  Penrhyn Castle, is 200 yards long with 70 roofs extending over an acre. It was built between 1820 and 1837 of Anglesey limestone. There is a lengthy history of ownership of the Castle and in 1951 the castle was conveyed via the Treasury to the National Trust, together with over 40,000 acres of the family estates.  This is a most beautiful castle – so many rooms to see.  There is the Dining Room, Drawing Room, (this was the ladies’ Room after dinner) a magnificent Library, ( the male resort after dinner)  State bedroom and Dressing Room – this suite was used by Queen Victoria in 1859, Ebony Room, and elaborate staircases. The Grand Staircase carvings in two contrasting stones, is of the highest order of craftsmanship and the most exotic design, and apparently took ten years to complete.  All of these rooms are exquisitely furnished – have to see to get the full atmosphere but one of the most beautiful castles visited on this trip.

After seeing the rooms in the castle, I went and saw the Victorian kitchens.  All setout as they used to have been operated.  All so authentic looking.  Some of these rooms reminded me of Downtown Abbey scenes!

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There is a huge Railway Museum and it is a credit to the National Trust or whoever does the maintaining of these huge beasts!  Immaculate condition.

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After leaving this beautiful Castle, I headed back towards Colwyn Bay making a detour into a seaside resort of Llandudo thinking I was going to go down to the end of the pier and have my dinner.  Because the weather had improved and was now quite sunny, I think every person in UK had come here as finding a parking spot was just impossible.  I think I drove up and down every street without any luck so decided to give up on the idea of going on the pier.  Instead, I drove along the promenade until I came to a cafe and bought fish and chips and went down on the very stony “sand” and ate them.  I then drove back to my hotel that I found easily.

Just around the corner were some lovely gardens and a war memorial.

I seem to be repeating myself every day by saying What a great/amazing day, but each day is. Even though I am visiting several castles, each one is so different and seeing other different things.

(1661)

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 – Day 41 – Drive from Telford to Conwy Castle, Wales

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 – Day 41 – Drive from Telford to Conwy Castle, Wales

After breakfast, David picked me up at 8.45 to collect my hire car (1435). A nice little Kia. As I wanted to get into Wales as quickly as possible, I resisted taking photos along the way. I went via Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, Chester, Colwyn Bay to Conwy.  After leaving the outskirts of Chester, the drive was exceptionally scenic – two tunnels through the nearby mountains and then the road was alongside the sea.  Also, was a huge wind farm out in the sea.

I drove straight to Conwy Castle in northwest Wales.  The castle is a gritty, dark stoned medieval fortification which has the rare ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere.  Very different from the other castles I have visited – either private homes or stately houses.

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Conwy Castle was built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales between 1283 – 1289. Constructed as part of a wider project to create the walled town of Conwy, the combined defences cost around £15,000, a huge sum for the period. In today’s money approximately £40,000. The castle was commenced in 1283 and was completed in four years in 1287. Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars.

UNESCO  considers Conwy to be one of the “finest example of late 13th and early 14th century military architecture in Europe and it is classed as a World Heritage site.

The views from the battlements are quite spectacular looking out across the mountains, town, sea and down to the roofless shell of the castle’s 125′ Great Hall.  Conwy is the classic walled town. It’s circuit of walls, over 3/4 mile long and guarded by no less than 22 towers, is one of the finest in the world.

 

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After enjoying my time wandering around the ruins and enjoying the views, I had a nice cream and then set off to Colwyn Bay to find my accommodation.  Found it after asking directions – as usual, just around the corner.  Had an early night after another good day.  (1554)

 

Friday, 21 June 2013 – 12th and last day of travelling – Holyhead to Telford

Friday, 21 June 2013 – 12th and last day of travelling – Holyhead to Telford

Left early today as wanted to go into Conwy Castle. The day wasn’t at all pleasant weatherwise, but hoped it would improve. Drove back to lovely Menai Bridge again and instead of the weather improving it was now raining

Passed by some high mountains and thick forests and then came to Conwy. I saw the very impressive castle in the distance, but it was only 8.30 and the gates didn’t open until 10.00.

2505As much as I would have liked to have stayed, I decided to continue on as I wanted to call in at Hope House and perhaps catch up with a couple from Shrewsbury on my way through to Telford. The scenery and the mountains looked quite pretty with the rainbow on them. The rain had stopped for a short while so took a few photos of the lovely picturesque town of Conwy and the exterior of the massive castle. Now I was travelling south to Betws-Y-Coed. Another very pretty little village. Went down to the shopping centre and railway station and over the road to a lovely park. Sat for awhile and then decided to indulge in a cake and coffee.

It was now to find the Swallows Falls, the highest falls in Wales. It was only a short drive and the rain had stopped. It was just a short walk to see the falls. I must admit, I was disappointed as I have seen more impressive falls in Australia and other places. Nevertheless, it was quite nice in the area and hearing the falls cascade down. There was a couple there so they offered to take a photo for me and the man kindly walked back to the spot he had already been to.

2524I left the lovely Betws-y-Coed and passed through Cerrigydrudion, Druid, Llangollen. The rain was really pelting down and driving was at a bare minimum speed so when  I got to Oswestry I decided against trying to find the place in heavy rain – disappointed – so headed onto Telford. All I could think of now was wondering whether I was going to be able to find the hire car place before 5.15 when David was going to meet me.  I was almost to where I thought I should be when I couldn’t get in the correct lane so had to drive an extra 16 miles on the motorway before I could turn around and head back again. This time, I found the place very easily. Handed the car back in and parted with 440 pounds for my mishap in Ilfracombe. I wasn’t very happy with myself. I caught a taxi to The Old Rectory and it was nice to see Adrian and Rosemary again. It was only 2.15 so put my belongings in the same room that I had previously and it wasn’t long before Rosemary brought me some of her yummy homemade cakes and a pot of coffee.She really spoilt me during my stay. I then went and unpacked my things and waited until David came to pick me up to go to dinner. It was nice to see his smiling face again. We drove to the lovely village of Bridgnorth.2531

Walked up a couple of streets and then went for a short ride on the Funicular Railway from which you got a lovely view of the picturesque village below

and then into a pub for fish and chips and a couple of beers and then he drove me back to my room.

So today was the end of my solo travelling into south west England and then south west of Wales. I really fell in love with a lot of the places especially in Wales and hope that I can return and spend more time in some of them. This was only a “whirlwind” tour as that was all my time would permit.

I sat and looked at my maps and reflected on what I had done solo – 1641 miles in a fortnight. I saw some amazing scenery, saw lots of beautiful countryside, flowers and vegetation, different sorts of houses and buildings, negotiated some very narrow lanes that were called roads, viewed many churches, ate lots of Cornish pasties, seafood and cakes and drank too much coffee, enjoyed a few ales, negotiated hundreds of steep steps in the three castles – Caernarfon being my favourite, enjoyed travelling along the coastal parts when I could, probably used up a tank of diesel by taking wrong turns, appreciated that I did not get abused when I drove up the wrong way streets on a few occasions, drove through all sorts of weather from mist, fog, drizzling rain to torrential rain but when it mattered, the sun was out especially when I went over to the Isles of Scilly and most of all met some very helpful patient folk. Was disappointed that the weather was against me when I had intended to see more of the south coast of England but made up for it by making my detours to Lizard Island, Mullion Cove, Tenby, Penbroke Castle, Conwy and Betws-Y-Coed  – too many other things to mention in detail.

It would have been a bonus if I had a travelling companion to share this wonderful experience with – especially the nights as they are quiet and lonely. I am very thankful that I arrived back in Telford safely.

If I am asked what was the highlight of this adventure – I cannot honestly answer at the moment. Will have to revisit my writings here and look at my photos again when I am down from the clouds.

Went to bed thinking about my trip and so pleased that I was able to do what I did – had a terrific car that practically drove itself, my pain patches, spray and tens machine. A few days I suffered from what I did, but it was worth it.

Was just an amazing fortnight !!!!!!! and hope I can make another journey over that way in the near future.

 

 

Thursday, 20 June 2013 – 11th day of travelling – Aberystwyth to Holyhead

Thursday, 20th June 2013 – 11th day of travelling – Aberystwyth to Holyhead

Another nice day ahead according to the forecast. When I came down in the morning, John cooked me breakfast. He asked me whether I heard the dogs. Not a peep – next thing they came bounding down the stairs and were being taken for their walk. John asked me where I was going that day – Heading for Holyhead. He told me to go the same road that I was on yesterday and head for Borth and I was to let him know what I thought about the view I saw as I approached the town. I set off and wondered what I would be seeing.2375

I set off on the above road heading for Borth and after a few miles, came up over a hill and there was the view that John had mentioned. It was quite breathtaking – the photos don’t do it justice. I was driving along the promenade but the tide was out so did not stop. Passed through Llancynfelyn. another pretty little village. Continued on with the usual green paddocks with sheep grazing alongside but the countryside started to get more hilly. While I was driving along, I took photos of some signs – (a) to make sure I was on the right road and (b) to see the names – most I just could not pronounce.

Passed through another pretty town of Machynlleth, the ancient capital of Wales.

 

 

 

 

 

The countryside started to change from green pastures and seeing the sea to beautiful green hills and thick forests and the road was more windy. I was heading inland and north to Dolgellau, Maentwrog, and Penrhyndeudrae and Porthmadog. Driving along here was quite spectacular and the mountains had a shade of purple on them. Very pretty. Had a short stop as there were roadworks. Continued on and came across a huge lake and an interesting building. Pulled off the road and went in to see what it was –  the Trawsfynydd power station. Satisfied my curiosity.

I continued onto Porthmadog, The Gateway to the Snowdonia National Park covering 840 square miles.  It is dominated on one side by a mountain known as ‘Moel y Gest’ 262 metres above the town. To the north and east the wide expanse of the Glaslyn estuary, renowned as a haven for migrating birds and wildlife, extends dramatically towards the Snowdonia range.

The town was quite busy – lots of shops. I didn’t go and find the nearby beach – instead went and had a bite to eat and then went down to the railway station as Porthmadog is the home of the well known Ffestiniog Railway. Posted lots of my cards and then took a drive  along the famous ‘Cob’, built to form the deep harbour from where great sailing ships carried around the world slate mined in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Cob also carries the railway initially built to carry the slate from the quarries to the harbour.

I enjoyed my time here but had to move on to my main attraction in Wales – Caernarfon Castle.

I realised I had left my adaptor behind in one of the accommodation places so stopped in at a store – no luck there but they gave me directions to a hardward store – “next to the Boots Pharmacy – you can’t miss  it”. How many times I have heard that on this trip. Anyway, I headed in the general direction and it was just by chance, I saw the sign in a little alley off the road.  Went into the car park nearby and went into the store. Very helpful man told me I needed to go upstairs and see Karen – he then decided to call her down and up I went and got my adaptor. Karen then told me to leave my car where it was and just walk the short distance to the castle. This is what I did.

When you get to the entrance of the Castle, you felt like a little ant as it towered above. Mighty Caernarfon is possibly the most famous of Wales’s castles. Its sheer scale and commanding presence easily set it apart from the rest, and to this day, still trumpet in no uncertain terms the intention of its builder Edward I.

Caernarfon Castle (Welsh:  Castell Caernarfon) is a medieval building in Gwynedd, north-west Wales. Standing at the mouth of the Seiont River, the fortress dominates the walled town – the walls were built while the castle was under construction.  There was a castle in the town of Caernarfon from the late 11th century until 1283 when King Edward I of England began replacing it with the current stone structure. Caernarfon’s symbolic status was emphasized when Edward made sure that his son, the first English Prince of Wales, was born here in 1284.

Despite Caernarfon Castle’s external appearance of being mostly complete, the interior buildings no longer survive and many of the building plans were never finished.  When the Tudor dynasty ascended to the English throne in 1485, tensions between the Welsh and English began to diminish and castles were considered less important. As a result, Caernarfon Castle was allowed to fall into a state of disrepair and was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs.

In 1969, the castle gained worldwide fame as the setting for the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales  Since 1984 the castle has been maintained by Cadw and in 1986 Caernarfon was inscribed on the World Heritage list as a historic site of outstanding universal value.2470

Started to walk about the different areas – went into the Eagle Hall (I think) to see an exhibition of when Prince Charles was invested in 1969. Seemed quite funny seeing him and the Queen looking so much younger – how time gets away.  Was quite interesting and informative.

I then headed into other parts of the Castle – up steps, across here, more steps and then got to the top of a part where you could get a great view of the City and surrounds. While going in and out of these places, I did not come across another person. Once again, I hoped I would not fall down the steep staircases and lay there injured.!!!!  Stayed up and took in the scenery before I made my descent.  It sure is a mighty monument and it astounds me just how these places were built all those years ago and are still virtually standing.

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I left the grounds of the Castle and made my way back to my car

and had a brief drive around the City of Caernarfon- once again is very pretty.

I now made my way to Menai Bridge. Another picturesque setting.

Passed through the town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch – (or Llanfairpwll, or Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, or Llanfair PG, or just Llanfair as it is known by the locals)  It is the official and longest name in the world, but is signposted as Llanfairpwll

Now try saying it – LLAN > FAIR > PWLL > GWYN > GYLL > GO > GER > YCH > WYRN > DROB > WYLL > – > LLAN > TY > SILIO > GO > GO > GOCH.  How crazy.!!!  (Certainly don’t understand the Welsh language and there are so many commencing with the LL). Such a huge name for such a tiny place as I was through it before you could blink.  Could not conveniently stop to take a photo of the sign.

I finally got to my accommodation in Holyhead. Found it by fluke – once more. As it was called The Boathouse Hotel, I hoped it was somewhere along the water’s edge and luck was on my side as there was an advertisement placard on the side of the road and I was almost there

.  Booked in, and went and sat out in the beer garden until it was time for the restaurant to open. Had a half of lobster – yum. Early to bed as was quite a long and tiring day although the drive was very picturesque and not at all stressful.  This part of Wales is just beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 – 9th day of travelling – The Mumbles to Lamphey

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 – 9th day of travelling – The Mumbles to Lamphey

Woke up this morning and the sun was shining. Set off at 9.00 after breakfast. I headed off to Cadle and hooked up on the M4 motorway again, then onto A49 to Carmarthen, west to St Clears and down to Tenby,  (Welsh: Dinbych-y-pysgod, meaning little town of the fishes or little fortress of the fish) is a walled seaside town in Pembrokeshire, South West Wales on the west side of Carmarthen Bay and a couple of notable features of Tenby include 2.5 miles (4.km) of sandy beaches, the 13th century medieval town walls, including the Five Arches barbican gatehouse. I found a park and headed towards the promenade.

Came to the walled entrance into little streets. It was a busy little part of the town. A lot of the shops looked very similar but well kept – the same with the houses – very similar but maybe the paint is a different colour.

I went on a leisurely ride in a horse and carriage and on our way through the streets we saw a house that is built into some of the actual wall of the once fortress.2275

Was funny that I saw a large store called “Joy” when it was Joy at The Mumbles who suggested I visit Tenby.

After my horse and carriage ride and giving the horse a carrot (big kid)2278I made my way back along the promenade once more. Lovely view and could see St Catherine’s Island and at low tide can be accessible from the town.

Had a nice icecream as it was quite warm by now – the lady here suggested I should include Pembroke Castle in my itinerary. Said I would look at my map and see how far it is.

2289When I got back to my car, a lady came out of her home and asked me whether I was leaving. She informed me that I was in her permitted park. This seems to be a normal practice in lots of places – the people do not have garages and need to park their cars in the street and have a permit. Thought I was lucky when I found the park but did not realise I was in this lady’s parking  spot so I apologised and promptly left. I headed for the A477 that led to Pembroke to see Pembroke Castle, birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty.

Pembroke Castle (Welsh:   Castell Penfro) is a medieval castle in Pembroke, West Wales.  Standing beside the River Cleddau, it underwent major restoration work in the early 20th century.   Pembroke Castle is looming above the main street of the town. It is one of the largest castles in Wales and forms one of Britain’s most impressive medieval monuments.  Pembroke Castle was the centre of government of an important lordship, a fact which is reflected in its size. However, despite appearances it was not a royal castle but a private possession, the sea of a succession of major barons all of whom played leading roles in shaping Britain’s history. And they built the castle that we see today.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied – if not continuously – for the past 2,000 years.

There were so many owners  prior to 1880 and Pembroke Castle was abandoned and allowed to decay. The Victorian antiquarian, JR Cobb took some steps to halt the castle’s decline. He leased the castle in the 1880’s from the Pryse  family, and rebuilt the Barbican Gateway,  Major General Sir Ivor Philipps KCB, DSO  acquired the castle in 1928 and started a three year extensive restoration of the castle’s walls, gatehouses and towers. Under Sir Ivor’s direction the towers which had ben destroyed by Cromwell’s gunpowder were rebuilt and the castle was generally made good .After his death a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke Town council.It remains the largest privately owned castle in Wales.

I started my tour of this magnificent monument, but was not sure which part of the castle I was in. There is the Henry VII Tower and according to tradition, Henry VII was born here in 1457.  I did go into the Great Gatehouse and on the first floor there were  exhibitions illustrating the history of the castle and was quite interesting reading some of the plaques but of course, can’t read them all in a short time.

There were so many stairs and some of the areas were gated off but I did go up to the top of the Outer Curtain Wall or the Keep. Not sure as some of the areas were connected. Anyway, it was a great view from up there and worth the climb.  Hardly saw anyone in some of the areas I went and thought to myself – hope I don’t fall as not sure how long one would be lying down be fore anyone found one.

2315Yes, I made it up to the top and met two males from Telford – where I started my journey on 10 June. Once again, I was told I should call into see Conwy Castle and Swallow Falls. When you are up in this area, you can see just how huge the castle is and how much area there is. No wonder I was feeling a little tired. There is a nice cafe here so had an icecream. Because it was such a lovely day there were quite a few people enjoying the day and some were picnicing on the grass. I came out and made a short visit to the shop where I purchased a nice book about the Pembroke Castle. Is great as it gives you so much information that you cannot take in when in the Castle.

Headed back to Lamphey where my accommodation was. Stopped in at a Jerry’s Cafe and bought a delicious hamburger and coffee. When I went to pay I asked the chap (Paul) whether he knew where North Down Farm in Lamphey was. He told me he lived in Lamphey but did not know it off hand so he googled and found it. He started to give me instructions but then said he would go and get his vehicle and take me there. We started off and then the roads were narrow in amongst fields – we had to do a u turn and finally there it was. At the road entrance, behind a fence were some cows all lined up as though they were looking at me. Quite funny. Paul then left and I thanked him as it would have been a little difficult for me to find in a hurry.

My accommodation here was at North Down Farm, a lovely place. Very peaceful. Was met by Tess who showed me my lovely room and the kitchen and made me feel very welcome. She apologised that she had to leave me as she had a meeting to go to. I made myself dinner and then it was into bed after another full yet enjoyable day. Was so nice too, that the sun was shining.

 

 

 

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Monday, 17 June 2013 – 8th day of travelling – Cardiff to The Mumbles

Monday, 17 June 2013 – 8th day of travelling – Cardiff to The Mumbles

After breakfast, walked up town to meet Florence for a cuppa. Walked once more through the beautiful gardens. It was quite funny as I was the only person going the way I was as there were hundreds of people going the opposite way to the nearby Sports Stadium- there was a cricket match being played – England v New Zealand.

Met Florence and we had a coffee in the Castle cafe and then we said goodbye and said we would certainly keep in touch. Back to my hotel  to book out via Bute Park again and the beautiful gardens.2239

Staredt my shorter journey today. Felt as though I knew some of this part of the M4 as I was on it two days ago when I got lost. Headed towards Port Talbot and Swansea. Was a good run and the sun was shining.  I didn’t stay in Swansea as wanted to get to The Mumbles in The Mumbles where my hotel was booked. Although I made these accommodation bookings ahead of time, I never know how long it is going to be for me to find the place.  I found this hotel easily and before I booked in went back up to the town and had a yummy cake and coffe.  Then back to book in. The receptionist was Joy who was a lovely and helpful lady. She was chatting and suggested I go to Tenby on my way out.

Met Conrad and Dorian (two hotel employees) and chatted in between having a nice fish meal and drink.  Then it was off to bed reasonably early again.

 

 

 

Sunday, 16 June 2013 – 7th day of travelling – In Cardiff

Sunday, 16 June 2013 – 7th day of travelling – In Cardiff

Woke up and it was misty and drizzling rain. After breakfast, strolled down to get the Hop-on-Hop-Off bus and had a good tour around the lovely city of Cardiff and Cardiff Bay –  seeing many interesting buildings and gardens – the Dr Who Exhibition, Millennium Stadium, National Museum, Norwegian Church and many more. The commentary was very good. I stayed on here going around three times as it was raining and I needed the rest before I was to join a tour of CARDIFF CASTLE at 3.00pm.

At 300pm went on a guided tour of  Cardiff Castle   (WelshCastell  Caerdydd) –  a medieaval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion. Located in the heart of the capital city is Cardiff Castle, a truly remarkable site with a history that spans over 2000 years. Roman soldiers slept here, noble knights held court here, and the Bute family, with extraordinary wealth and vision, transformed the Castle into a romantic Victorian fantasy.

The family of the Butes acquired Cardiff Castle through marriage in 1776. An ancient family, who traced their roots back to the kings of Scotland. The Butes made a vast fortune from coal mined on their Welsh estates

The Bute family first rebuilt the mansion in the 1770’s, but it was the Victorian alterations of the 3rd Marquess of Bute (1847-1900)  – he was the “richest baby in Britain” when he inherited Cardiff Castle from his father who died when Bute was only a baby.

For nearly 900 years Cardiff Castle’s Roman past remained hidden and forgotten. Its Roman origins were only discovered in 1888 when Bute decided to build a new tower on the east bank of the castle and to extend  the grounds. Bute’s workmen began to tunnel through what was assumed to be a solid earth bank; to their astonishment the substantial remains of Roman stonework appeared and the history of the castle was pushed back by hundreds of years.

The “Eccentric genius’ architect William Burges was given free rein to create the amazingly lavish and opulent interiors; each breathtaking room rich with murals, stained glass, gilding and superb craftsmanship. that make Cardiff Castle an extraordinary and outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture. Their joint vision created a feudal extravaganza of painted murals, stained glass, gilding and sculpture, all set within the framework of the Norman castle turned mansion. On our tour we went into the interior of this amazing place  -lavishly decorated inside with beautiful stained glass windows, sculpture, marquetry and stonework. –  just so extravagant and full of history.

Was a well worth tour and the guide was full of the information. The Castle interior was just beautiful.

I met Florence on this tour and we stayed together for the afternoon. She was absolutely wonderful. When we were talking about my debit card playing up last night she wanted to give me 150 pounds. Of course I could not take it but she insisted as she said she didn’t want to go on her tour worrying whether I had any money as she said the same thing had happened to her. I took the money but of course I will pay her back. Gives you faith in human nature. I have been really appreciative at the help that people have given me – giving way to me, giving me instructions when “lost” and not abusing me when I drove up the wrong way at times.

After the internal tour, Florence and I went up the Castle Keep and the view was well worth the climb – Florence was not fond of heights and steps were my challenge so we were both proud of ourselves that we made the effort.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute died when he was only 53 in 1900. He had transformed the castle into a Welsh Victorian Camelot – now regarded as being of international significance. Despite huge death duties on the estate, the 4th Marquess completed many of his father’s restoration projects, including the reconstruction of the Roman wall. The Bute family continued to stay at Cardiff Castle throughout the 1920s and 30s although they had sold off many of their business interests in south Wales.

Following the death of the 4th Marquess in 1947, the family decided to present the castle and much of its park as a gift to the City of Cardiff. For 25 years the castle was home to the National College of Music and Drama and since 1974 it has become one of Wales’ most popular tourist attractions.

Cardiff Castle remains a much loved city treasure at the emotional heart of the city that began to grow around the site of its castle 2000 years ago.Cardiff_Castle_360°_Panorama

Florence and I said our goodbyes and I started my walk back to my hotel.  Looked up at The Clock Tower,  which was started in 1869, was built from a dark Caephilly stone and fashioned in a robust French Gothic style by Gothic Revival architect William Burgess. It is decorated with over-life size statues of the planets, its extraordinary appearance caused a sensation when it was completed in 1874.2213

I passed The Animal Wall, alongside Cardiff Castle, is one of the most delightful and photographed historic features in Cardiff. It was designed by architect William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute and is much-loved by the people of the city.

Burges died before even the structure of the wall was completed and the carving of the animals was not begun until the late 1880s. Architect William Frame brought the Animal Wall to completion, based on the sketches by Burges. The original wall was located directly in front of the Castle and was decorated with just nine animals. Models of each animal were made for Lord Bute’s approval and two, including a “sea horse”, were rejected. The original wall was more or less completed in 1892.

Cardiff Castle was one of the main attractions on my thumbnail tour of UK and Wales. Cardiff was the only place I stayed more than one night as just wanted to see as much of the countryside as I could in the fortnight I had.

On my way home, walked through Bute Park and the beautiful Sophia Gardens.  Had my dinner at the hotel and then it was to bed after a very full but extremely interesting and enjoyable day.

 

 

 

Saturday, 15 June 2013 – 6th day of travelling – Bideford to Cardiff, Wales

Saturday, 15 June 2013 – 6th day of travelling -Bideford to Cardiff, Wales

Was up bright and early and left Bideford at 6.00 as was heading for Cardiff for my couple of nights there and I was already starting to panic  – it being such a big city. The scenery along here was just lovely – passed through Barnstaple and I then came to Ilfracombe  –  a lovely seaside resort on the North Devon coast, England with a small harbour, surrounded by cliffs

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The landmark of Hillsborough Hill dominates the harbour and is the site of an Iron Age  fortified settlement.  The 13th-century parish church, Trinity; and the St Nicholas’s Chapel (a lighthouse) on Lantern Hill, have been joined by the Damien Hirst owned statue,Verity, as points of interest. I could see this statue from the other side of the harbour so drove around to where the statue was. There wasn’t any plaque or any information letting you know the significance of the statue. I have since found out it was donated by a local Damien Hirst who sounds as though he is quite a character. He was born in Bristol 7 June 1965 and is reportedly Britain’s richest living artist. He currently lives in the area and had business interests and a restaurant in the town. Verity, a bronze statue of a pregnant woman holding a sword aloft is on a 20-year loan from Hirst and was installed in October 2012.  I still don’t really know the full story but is certainly a talking point of interest for the town.1960In the 1820s a set of four tunnels were hand carved by Welsh miners to permit access to bathing. Whereas women were constrained to a strict dress code covering up the whole body, men generally swam naked. I don’t think that happens in this present age.  I did not see any swimmers as it was rather chilly. The tunnels are still viewable and are signposted as Tunnels Beaches. I didn’t go down to the beach but I drove down closer to these tunnels and had a little mishap with the car!! Completely my fault as was probably driving on a walkway. Even though the GPS was blaring at me, I was watching my right side and not the left when I heard the awful crunch sound. Oh dear. No good worrying about it for now and after calming myself down I did manage to get out of where I was and thankfully there was no one to witness my stupidity.

I thought Ilfracombe was such a very pretty town and as usual wished I could have stayed longer.

I was driving inland now and the countryside just so green and cattle and sheep grazing. Next villages I passed through were Lynton and Lynmouth and then a steep drive down Porlock Hill  – was beautiful. Came to Porlock and then Minehead – two coastal towns –  very pleasant.

Headed to Williton and across to Bridgwater. From here I was on the M5/M49 to the border to enter into WALES. Then onto the M4 – the motorways seemed to change so often. The Second Severn is the M4 motorway bridge over the River Severn between England and Wales, inaugurated on 5 June 1996 by HRH The Prince of Wales to augment the traffic capacity of the original Severn Bridge built in 1966. The bridge marks the lower limit of the River Severn and the start of the Severn Estuary. Its location is farther to the south than the old bridge and, being more in line with the landward sides of the M4 motorway, is a shorter journey when travelling between England and South Wales. Severn_Beach_MMB_08C_Second_Severn_Crossing

This is a 6-lane bridge (has 13 toll booths) with a 6pound 20 toll. The young lad way back at Cholderton told me to keep change for a couple of toll bridges I would have to cross when I told him my itinerary. Well, something really went wrong here. I was in lane 3 – I thought that was the cash booth – To my horror I needed to be in lane 12 or 13. There was quite a queue at the time I realised this, so I had to gingerly weave my way across all the lanes from 3-12. Fortunately, people were kind and let me in and there was not one abusive person.

I continued to stay on the M4 heading towards Cardiff but there were signs for Cardiff east, west etc and I had no idea which one I needed. I just lost Cardiff off my map!!!!! I went for miles along the M4 until I came to Pencoed where I asked for directions. The lady was ever so helpful and told me I needed to be on the A58M and possibly needed Cardiff centre.  I turned around and eventually came to the centre of Cardiff.  My accommodation was in Cathedral Road so I drove along blindly until I saw a cathedral and luck was on my side – there in front of me was Cathedral Road and I found my accommodation – Beverley Hotel quite easily.  I booked in and I usually pay there and then – that way I can leave in the morning without needing anyone to book me out. I went to pay with my debit card that I was using but this time it was refused by the bank. Fortunately, I had my mastercard so had to pay with it – it worked.  I went up into my room for a short while and then had an ale and took a short walk up town to the Information Centre and there was showing how the people used to live in Cardiff but it was almost closing time so only had a brief look.

Decided to go back to the hotel as was feeling a little tired. Had my meal at the hotel and as I wasn’t driving tomorrow, had a couple of refreshing beers  and then it was off to bed after a very enjoyable day even after getting lost.