BeenThere-DoneThat Blog

A blog about life and travel in Great Britain

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Happy Christmas to all our visitors. Hope to see you again next year – if you can bear it.

 

Walls of water

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On Tuesday the weather forecast for Wednesday was that it would been mostly sunny until around 3:00 pm and on Wednesday morning, yesterday, it was the same; mostly sunny. So we set off for the Elan Valley to see if it was worth returning in the, hopefully, better and warmer weather next year.

It was about an hours drive from home and was sunny for most of that until we got near our destination when cloud miraculously appeared and left us with very little intermittent sun. What a surprise. Well not really as this area is known to be one of the wettest in Wales otherwise it wouldn't be what it is.

So what is it? Here's a clue:

It's a series of five reservoirs, known as Claerwen, Craig-goch, Pen-y-garreg, Garreg-ddu, and Caban-coch, which were built between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The one above, Caban-coch,  is the first dam to be reached when approaching from the nearest town – Rhayader (pronounced 'Raider') which is just 3.5 miles away.

The next picture shows the same dam, the reservoir beyond, and the rather threatening looking weather.

This link shows a map of the area which will give you an idea of where we went.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=290040&Y=265910&A=Y&Z=126

We started from the little white square near the 'Elan Village' label and went back along the white road to the B4518 where we turned left and followed that road until we reached the Y shaped junction where we turned left. Although the map appears to show that the road goes under the reservoir it doesn't – it goes across a long stone bridge with numerous arches. We just followed that road to its termination at the Claerwen Reservoir dam.

This dam was opened by the Queen in 1952.

The road continues across the dam and stops at the other side where we get some different views.

The picture above was taken from the top of the dam looking south back the way we came.

We set off back along the road we came on, as there is simply no other choice, until we came to that Y junction. where we turned left towards the Penygarreg Reservoir. 

We made a brief stop to photograph this little series of waterfalls

and continued on to the dam at Craig Goch reservoir.

You may notice that by this time, around 1:00 pm, the cloud cover is increasing making the foreground pretty gloomy. We could have driven along this reservoir until we joined the road that we had used on a previous trip through the Cambrian Mountains to Devil's Bridge and then turned right back to Rhayader but it was near lunch time so we returned the way we came to the Visitor Centre.

They had a restaurant there and we had had a brief look at the menu when we started and wanted to try some of the appetising items on offer. We parked in their car park for which we had to pay £2:00, that covers a day, but we get a discount of 10% on whatever we spend in the restaurant. 

The restaurant seems typical of this sort of establishment except that the food turned out to be anything but typical. The food was really very good and is produced on site. We both had their home made curry, chicken for me and beef for Amanda, and thoroughly enjoyed every morsel. Excellent! We would have like to have tried the cakes but we were just too full. Next time perhaps.

The photograph below was taken from where I was sitting and you may notice that through the window you should be able to see that wall of water flowing over the dam. We hoped the wall would hold out until we had finished our meal.

This trip was enough to convince us that was a lot here to see including lots of dramatic scenery and we intend to return next year in warmer weather to do a lot more exploring. It is only an hour's drive away after all.

The next day when we were back home it started to snow. Admittedly it was rather sparse and none of it settled but it was our first snow of the winter and in November. Brrrrr!

A Grave Incident

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Today was forecast to have sunny intervals. I'm hoping that at least one of those intervals will be longer than 5 seconds as we have decided to re-visit Shrewsbury using our little train.

We came out of Shrewsbury Station and up some steps on to a high level walkway which took us over the railway and down to The Dana. The Dana is an old prison dating from medieval times although the medieval building is long gone.

There has been a prison on the site since 1793, the original building being constructed by Thomas Telford, although the present prison was constructed in 1877. The name 'Dana' is still often used for the prison, as well as being the name of the road to one side of the prison and the pedestrian route that runs from near the front of the prison into the town centre via a footbridge over the station which is the route we used but in reverse.

There are prison tours available but we didn't avail ourselves of that option but opted to walk onward. We made our way down to the River Severn and walked along the riverside path away from the town centre. There was supposed to be some sort of weir further down river so we though we'd have a look at it.

As we walked along we could hear a background noise which we decided might be the weir. Perhaps bigger than we though then! As we progressed the noise became louder and when we reached the weir we could see why. It was bigger than we thought.

I wouldn't like to go over that in a small boat.

We turned round and walked back towards the town. When we reached the footbridge shown in the next picture we went up onto it and looked down river. We could just see the change in texture of the water surface which indicated where the weir was. You can probably see it more easily in the larger version of the second picture.

We walked along the riverside until we reached the next road bridge over the river. One thing I noticed immediately was that there were trees growing out of the water like the one on the left. Amanda tells me that it is a Willow and that it is not unusual for a piece of willow to float down stream and get stuck in the mud where it promptly takes root. So now you can see the result.

I also took this next photograph of the same bridge because I rather like the effect the low sun was procucing as it shone through the arches. I imagine it's being reflected off the water.

We continued walking and eventually reached the lower edge of the large park known as The Quarry which we visited on our previous trip. The riverside walk looked really nice in the sunlight.

At the top edge of the park is St. Chads Church which I also mentioned in the blog post of our previous trip ( Sun, Signals and Sabrina ) when I wrote:

"I was hoping to get a photograph of Ebeneezer Scrooge's gravestone in the churchyard but we couldn't find it. Yes we know that Scrooge was a fictional character but the churchyard was used in the making of the film and the gravestone was left when filming was finished. It is still there somewhere."

So we walked up to St. Chads and into the graveyard and this time I found it.

On the way back into town we saw Rowley's House which was built in the late 16th century by the wool merchant Roger Rowley. It is believed to be the earliest building in Shrewsbury to use bricks as part of its construction.

That was the end of another interesting, at least to us, walk. So back home on the train for us.

If at first you don’t succeed …

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Tuesday 12th September 2017

This is another late report from an outing we did about 5 weeks ago. Unlike the previous blog post this is not accidentally late. I just haven't got around to writing it until now. In fact going on to the Blog to write this was when I spotted that my previous report hadn't been posted.

One of the local things we had on our 'to do' list was Holloway Rocks. The map in the link will give you an idea of the situation.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=330695&Y=273615&A=Y&Z=120

It is a short way from Knighton, where we now live, and short enough that we could walk from home but didn't. The roads around Stowe are only one car's width so one has to park off-road. We drove to Stowe Church, shown on the map, where we were able to park our car. It's a lovely little chuch in the middle of nowhere (Stowe has a population of 140).

We had tried this walk before, about a week ago, having set off from Stowe Church. We started off up the wrong path and having realised that we went back down again and then realised why we hadn't taken the right path. There was a van parked on the beginning of the path and although there was room to walk past it the van had blocked it from our view. We set off again on the right path. In the past year my health has deteriorated such that, sometimes, I can't walk far uphill without stopping to catch my breath which was what I was having to do here. I did push myself too hard and eventually had to sit down. After a while I began to feel faint and had to lie down. I did eventually recover but we decided to abandon that attempt.

… try, try again.

This time we started up the right path, which is fairly steep, with frequent stops for me to recover my breath and I didn't push too hard this time. I managed to get through the wooded section but by the time we reached the open I had to stop for a breather especially as the path gets steeper here.

Looking back, in the next picture, the wooded part is visible and you can see that we have gained quite a lot of height; most of it previously in the car.

On that bank to the right were a lot of Hawkbit flowers.

Inexorably upward, stop, puff, repeat and we eventually arrived at an expected junction with another path together with a pond. The path we want continues upward on the other side of the pond curving off to the right.

Having reached the high point in the photograph above we look back in the next picture to see this view. The footpath we turned out of is on the left of this path just before this path splits into two and you can see the pond on the right. The town of Knighton is visible just above the very dark triangle on the left probably better seen In the larger picture.

We have now gained more height but we are by no means near the top yet but we do have a lovely view and the sky has cleared a little which makes it even better.

We are still climbing but we are now not too far from the top.

You can see the path levelling off now and you should also be able to see the path plunging downward as it curves to the left. We have just come up that bit and the town in the distance is, of course, Knighton.

Finally, after crossing two large fields (fairly flat), we reach the top with its Ordnance Survey trigonometry point with Amanda trying to stop it from falling over. The next picture gives an idea of the view with sheep in the foreground and those black blobs on the left are actually cows.

So where do the rocks in Holloway Rocks come in? There isn't really much in the way of visible rocks although we passed an old quarry on the way up. Perhaps that's where the name comes from. The hill we climbed is, unsurprisingly, Stowe Hill.

Well I managed to get there even though it took me about three times a long as it would have done a year ago. Measured over the ground it was probably less than a mile but pretty steep for most of the way. I don't think that I would like to try walking it from home. That would be about 2 miles each way and although I'm fairly sure I could get there I couldn't be certain that I could get back again which would be a little embarrassing.

So did I get back from this trip? Well, I'll leave you to work that out.

Castle to Canal

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Who's a silly boy then? We did this trip at the end of July and I duly wrote it up and I thought that I had posted it on the Blog – but no, I had forgotten that important bit. As you can see I have rectified that mistake and here it is in all its glory! (Well it's only 3 months late).

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Monday 24th July 2017

The weather was borderline and unsettled but we decided to risk it. Approximately 25 miles from home is the town of Montgomery which, although the county town of Mongomeryshire, is really quite small but thoroughly delightful.

This is the town centre; virtually all of it. The view is from the churchyard and where the building on the left stops is the main road. On the other side of the main road is Broad Street, where the cars are parked, and the brick building at the back is the Town Hall

The church is quite imposing and sitting on a knoll makes it more so.

Up near the top of Broad Street is the Dragon Hotel a rather striking 17th century former coaching inn. 

There are some interesting ancient buildings in Arthur Street which runs north from the top of Broad Street.

There is a little lane running steeply uphill from near the Dragon Hotel and when you have puffed your way to the top end you will arrive at Montgomery Castle or, at least, what's left of it. There is not a lot left but what there is remaining is impressive.

The views from the castle are also impressive and it shows what a good defensive position it was.

We left Montgomery and headed further north to Welshpool. We have been here before, once for Powis Castle and another visit to ride on the little Welshpool narrow gauge railway but we hadn't actually looked round the town itself. However, before we do that, we had to have another quick look at the railway and discovered a locomotive that we hadn't seen before waitng in the station. This locomotive looked slightly smaller than the one we'd seen here previously.

We then went on to the Montgomery Canal on the otherside of Welshpool. If you look at the following link it will show a map of Welshpool that gives an idea of where these various places are. Powis Castle in the bottom left corner, Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway middle left and the Montgomery Canal roughly in the middle. Don't confuse it with the river further right which is very wiggley; the canal runs further left.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=322510&Y=307508&A=Y&Z=120

We walked across the bridge and came down to the canal at this point.

There was a further bridge or two before we arrived at the lock outside the Powysland Museum (second picture).

We went across the canal to the Powysland Museum. Next to the canal you may be able to make out the two metal sculptures of Herons on the bank with a close-up in the second picture.

I took the picture above from on the bridge shown in the picture below.

Inside the museum are a variety of interesting artifacts ranging from a stash of ancient roman coins to old kitchen equipment.

A final view of the Town Hall in High Street and we decided to call it a day.

 

Carnival Capers

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The last Saturday in August every year sees the Knighton Carnival. I realise that you will all be disappointed not to have been able to attend so we were there for you.

The various groups and floats assemble in or near the old Market Place so we went there first.

There were many colourful groups together with a lot of people milling about including the rather suspicious characters below.

This is Derek Price the official Knighton Town Crier, resplendant in all his finery, who also happens to be a neighbour of ours. Oyez, Oyez.

We then went down to the clocktower to wait for the procession. Whist we were waitng a mounted policeman appeared; something we've not seen in Knighton before. Probably there to keep the local troublemakers (Me and Amanda) in order.

Finally the procession appeared with a great variety of groups representing many different themes such as the Trojan Horse below and that's a pretty good cardboard horse. I think that most of them are self-explanatory.

The last thing in the procession was a vintage coach.

There were, as you can probaby see, a goodly number of people lining the main street and a few other places as well. Even the weather behaved itself.

See you next year then.

Moor and More

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August has been a dismal month. Cloudy and cool a lot of the time and you would never have guessed that it was supposed to be summer so on the very few occasions when the sun did appear we jumped at the chance to go out somewhere.

About 16 years ago around the time that this web site was started we 'discovered' Carding Mill Valley in the Long Mynd near Church Stretton and, having looked on the map, it was evident that there was a walking route shapped like a 'Y' where one could start at the bottom of the Y, walk up taking the left fork, where it divided, then walk across to the other arm of the 'Y' and walk back down to where one had started.

I've always wanted to do that walk but have never managed it until today. The weather forecast was clear skies for most, if not all, of the day. They were lying as usual. Although we had a very good amount of sun the sky was anything but cloudless. We set off for Church Stretton and were planning to come down into Church Stretton via the Burway. This is a very minor road which goes over the Long Mynd.

The picture below was taken on the way up and you may notice that on the right-hand side of the road the ground drops away suddenly. On the way up that drop is on our left and, although not vertical, the drop is very steep and you really wouldn't want to drive off the edge. The road is only one car wide so if another car comes from the opposite direction one must find a passing place and, for us being on the left, we have to take great care squeezing past so as not to go off the edge.

We did meet a car coming the other way and we survived.

We eventually arrived at the top to be greeted by a large expanse of moor with heather scattered here and there not to mention the amazing view.

I stopped to take this next picture because somewhere down in the dip is Church Stretton and the heather looked wonderful.

As we progressed downward we could see the hills around Church Stretton and there was still plenty of heather in view.

As we descended we gradually lost the heather but the hills still looked pretty impressive. In the picture below the buildings in the trees at the end of that ridge is Church Stretton and, if you remember, we are planning to walk back up here not to mention down again.

We finally made it to Church Streeton and drove into the National Trust car park in Carding Mill Valley and went into their restaurant for lunch. We both had some Pea and Mint Soup, with bread, which was very tasty and very welcome. Afterwards I had some Bread Pudding and Amanda had a Chocolate Brownie which was followed by tea for her and coffe for me.

Now we walk! surprise

The picture below shows the start of the path, near the car park, up the valley.

In the picture below we have reached the banch in the 'Y' and are going left behind that tree and, we hope, we will be coming back down the path on the right.

When we got to that junction we stopped and looked back at the view in the picture below then headed further up the valley with its interlocking spurs (Geography) in the picture after that.

We finally arrived at the little waterfall. Here we go off to the right up a near vertical climb. It is rockywhich makes it very easy because it's like going up stone steps. We managed that without incident and continued along the valley until we reached the high moorland once again although not in a car this time..

We found a pond up here and Amanda apparently found something interesting to look at. Probably she was bending down for a rest but didn't want to admit it.

We walked along the high ground until we found the start of the path down and you can see that we weren't the only walkers about. You may be able to see Church Stretton in the distance.

As we get lower there is less heather around.

More interlocking spurs in the picture below and although we are losing the heather it is still in evidence.

Finally we arrive back at the junction of the two arms of the 'Y'. Remember that little tree by the path at the bottom there?

You will have guessed that we made it back to the car otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. August is not a good time to come to a place like this as the lower parts are very popular and the children are on holiday so everyone and his dog are there but we wanted to see the heather and, guess what, heather blooms in August.

Well it took me just 16 years to achieve my ambition but I finally made it. laughyes

Nature’s Kaleidoscope

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If you don't like gardens, flowers or bright colours look away now!

This is Hergest Croft Gardens in Kington, Herefordshire. These are mostly Rhododendrons and Azaleas so you'd have to go at the right time of year to see these in blossom but wouldn't it be worth it? It certainly was to us.

There are many other plants, including rare trees, in this garden of over 70 acres and not only that but there are numerous lovely views.

This garden is only a short drive from us and we enjoyed our visit very much. So much so that Amanda decided to buy an annual ticket so that she can go again whenever she likes.

P.S. I have a confession to make. We did this trip about two months ago and I created this post soon after that but then forgot to upload it – Oops! I have now corrected that error. Sorry it's so late. blush

We drove the 2.5 miles from Pembridge to Eardisland and, as in Pembridge, we crossed the River Arrow again although, this time, it was on the far side of the village for us. The bridge dates from around 1800.

Once again there is a free visitors car park on the main road through the village almost opposite the Dovecote and there were plenty of spaces but, unlike Pembridge, no public toilets. The Dovecote, dating from the late 17th/early 18th century is shown below and is open to the public. It functions as an information and exhibition centre for the village offering interesting historical displays and information on the area alongside a shop selling local produce. There is no entry charge.

Moving to the right of the Dovecote we can see the side of the Manor House with a front view below.

The Manor House dates from the 17th century with what appears to a a geogian extension added to the front. Turning to our left, away from the side view of the Manor House, we look back past the Dovecote towards another road bridge.

If we go into the Dovecote we see at the back of the interior a small staircase and going to the bottom of the stairs and looking up will show a small part of what we could see if we went upstairs.

Arriving upstairs we can see the whole point of the place; a huge number of nesting places for the doves and I understand that they numbered well over 600 although there are no doves there now.

Amanda is trying to asses, from the depth of water, what would happen if she fell in. In the background is the 17th century Millstream Cottage and the water is, naturally enough, the mill stream.

Dating from the early 13th century is the Church of St Mary the Virgin. Some parts such as the Chancel and South Porch were built in the 14th century. The original Tower, of probable 15th Century origin, collapsed in 1728 and was replaced by the present one in 1760. The whole church was restored in 1864.

Eardisland turned out to be very pretty little village and well worth a visit. Unlike the church we haven't been restored so we will now have to return home for a rest.

 

There is an area in Herefordshire known as the Black and White Villages and there is also a Black and White Villages Trail which is meant for motoring not walking. We last visited about 12 years ago on a day trip from Ludlow and the results from that are already on the web site. That previous visit was before the blog was started so there is no blog entry for it. This time it was a 30 minute drive from home so we were able to have a much more leisurely look round especially as we were re-visiting only two of the villages.

Both villages, Pembridge and Eardisland, are situated on the River Arrow.

Part 1.

We started in Pembridge and we had to cross the River Arrow to get into the village and this is the bridge we used. It is not very old having been built in the 19th century but is attractive nevertheless.

There is a small, free, car park with access down the roadway next to the King's House in East Street and there was plenty of room. There is a small sign, easily missed, pointing to it from the main road and there are also public toilets in the car park which had disabled facilities and were nice and clean.

The entrance to the public car park can be seen on the right. The King's House is a restaurant, not open on a Monday when we were there of course, and dates from the 15th century. This building is a sign of things to come. This next picture is in East Street looking towards West Street and showing the front corner of the King's House on the right. You should be able to see a number of black & white timber-framed buildings.

I think we'll need to do a bit of exploring don't you?

How's that for a start? The building on the right is the New Inn so called because it was new when it was built in the 17th century. Can you think of a better reason?

A market charter was granted to Pembridge in 1239 and just behind the New Inn is the early 16th century Market Hall.

Standing in the Market Square it doesn't look like a hall as it isn't enclosed but that's because the upper storey was removed at an unknown date. Pity really as it would have looked pretty impressive with an upper storey.

Although these villages are known as the black and white villages, with good reason, not all of the buildings are black and white. This next picture shows a row of black and white buildings broken by one cream washed, jettied building.

The picture above shows a timber-framed building with red brick infill and the one to its right, an early 15th century hall house known as West End Farm, has a pinkish cream wash on the walls. This was one of the earliest domestic buildings in Pembridge. The multitude of other timber-framed buildings in Pembridge date to the 15th century.

The church here is also unusual in that it has a separate bell tower which dates from the 13th century. The current church dates from the 13th century with alterations in the 14th century century.

The bell tower has to be seen to be believed. The main timbers are enormous and from the look of them they are whole trees squared off.

The church also has some very interesting interior features. There are mason's marks in the picture below – can you spot them?

There are also some medievel wall paintings. One on the wall behind the organ and one on the wall of the nave. Not in the best of condition but they are visible in spite of being around 600 years old.

Just outside the church door is a delightful view across the churchyard to the village and the hills beyond.

That is the end of part one covering Pembridge. Part two will be Eardisland.