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From Iron to Copper – Day 2

From Iron to Copper – Day 2

Day 2

Tuesday morning. Woke. Levered eyelids open to look out of window. Another sunny day.

After breakfast we drove all of 15 minutes to Bodnant Gardens, which is managed by the National Trust, and we have been here before about 30 years ago before this web site was even thought of so no photographs from that trip. It is not an old garden having been created around 1874 and there is a house but it is private and not open to the public. Bodnant means ‘dwelling by a stream’.

The garden was gifted to the National Trust in 1949 when I was 13 years old which isn’t really relevant but I thought you’d like to know.

A map of the garden

One of the things that we came to see was the Laburnum Arch.

How’s that for a show stopper? This is very near the entrance so was an obvious first and I was lucky to get a photograph with so few people in it. The one trouble with Bodnant is that because it is world famous it is very popular and very busy.

Although the house is not open to the public it is visible.

I’d like to be able to have a look inside that conservatory.

A short way from the house we saw the occasional Rhododendron and at this time of year they seemed to be everywhere. It didn’t seem to matter where we were or which direction we looked there would be rhododendrons. This garden houses one of four National Collections of Rhododendron forrestii, named after the plant collector George Forest, so that might explain it. Bodnant raised their own Hybrid Rhododendrons of which the garden has a mere 350.

As the garden is very large, at around 80 acres, and is on a slope, there is plenty of structure to it.

Above shows the Lily Pond with the Pin Mill building on the Canal Terrace. The building was added in 1938 having been built in 1730 in Gloucestershire; it was rescued from decay by Henry Pochin, the original founder of the garden, who dismantled it, brought it to Bodnant and rebuilt it brick by brick.

We plodded onward down the slope passing numerous rhododendrons on the way and caught sight of this cheeky chappie eating the flowers!. He certainly wasn’t timid and if he eats them all he’ll end up the size and shape of a pumpkin.

We could see from the view in the next picture that we were, at last, getting near the bottom of the valley and the river. Rhododendrons? What rhododendrons? You don’t expect to see them everywhere do you? Oh! Wait!

At the bottom of the valley is the old mill and Amanda showing the way. Nobody mention rhododendrons!

The building is the old mill, a Grade II listed building, which was built around 1837 and was used to turn the wheels of the estate flourmill and then the estate sawmill. There is also a small refreshment kiosk here (it’s a long uphill walk back to the main tearooms).

So that’s the end of the garden then? You have to be kidding! There is now a greater distance to  the ‘Far End’ than we have already covered. So lets’s not waste time – just follow us. Keep up and don’t dawdle.

Off we go then and I’m not going to mention Rhododendrons.

I think that the poor chap above was just stunned by the amount of colour and in the next picture Amanda must have spotted something interesting (no it wasn’t me).

Stepping stones across the River Hiraethlyn. The disappointing part, for you, is that Amanda didn’t fall in. In walking along the valley one can walk on either side of the river and cross at any of the frequent bridges as shown below.

There are a number of lakes along the valley.

Finally we reach the ‘Far End’ BUT we now have to walk back and it’s all UP. :???:   On the way back we popped in to have a look at this – The Poem. Perched on a steep bank overlooking the mill pond this beautiful building was built by Henry Davis Pochin, the original builder of this garden, as a last resting place for his family.

After all that walking we staggered out of the exit and slumped into our car. So was that the end of our day then? Well no. It was about the middle of the afternoon so, even though we were tired, we decided to travel the short distance to Conwy.

We have been to Conwy before and there are pictures on the main web site of that visit but there some things that we hadn’t seen on that occasion. One of those was the suspension bridge built by Thomas Telford now owned and maintained by the National Trust. When we visited Conwy for the first time there was an entry fee and we thought that it wouldn’t be value for money so we gave it a miss. This time, however, we were National Trust members so could get in free. When we arrived we found that there was now no charge and the bridge was open to all.

It is an impressive bridge and very attractive so it was a worth while visit. From here we walked down to the Quay to see something else that we had heard about.

A house can’t come smaller than that surely unless you know better?

By this time our legs were worn down to the knees so we went back to the hotel. Another dinner, another sleep. Another day. What will the new day bring?

From Iron to Copper – Day 1

From Iron to Copper – Day 1

Day 1

Monday morning. Sunny. Leap into car. Drive north like a bat out of hell to try to get to the first destination before the sun goes in. We just make it. Cloud has started to appear but there is still plenty of sunshine.

We started this trip, after driving north for an hour and a half, with these early 18th century wrought iron gates at Chirk Castle which we thought were very impressive. They must have been very expensive to make but, I suppose, if you can afford a home like Chirk Castle then a couple of gates wouldn't make much of a dent in the family fortune.

Visitors cannot get in this way but we had to stop and have a look before we went in the visitors normal entrance.

Chirk Castle is near the town of Chirk (no surprises there then) which is halfway between Oswestry and Wrexham. The castle is now owned by the National Trust and when approaching from the car park the castle looks pretty impressive.

Chirk Castle is similar to Beaumaris Castle which suggests that building work may have started as late as 1295 and was completed in 1310. It has over 700 years of history being the last castle from this period still lived in today.

Now this is what you call an entrance. This very imposing arch leads into the courtyard in the centre of the castle.

This courtyard is enclosed on four sides and, as you may deduce, refreshments may be obtained here. That Wisteria on the left-hand wall is a sight to behold.

The interior has had extensive modifications over the centuries and it is now nothing like the medieval fortress it used to be leaving it as a very comfortable home. We could tolerate that. These are some of the rooms.

The staircase is relatively small but rather attractive as is the upper landing.

Coming out of the castle we are confronted with this view. One can see why the castle was built here.

Then we went into the garden and what a garden! There were plenty of Rhododendrons in bloom, which certainly helped to add a lot of colour, but there were plenty of other flowers and plants too.

We rather liked the little thatched summer house.

Having seen just about everything at Chirk Castle we continued our journey to Valle Crucis Abbey just a little north of Llangollen . The abbey ruins are managed by Cadw ( the welsh equivalent of English Heritage). The abbey was built in 1201 and was dissolved in 1537 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

It is an impressive ruin although it has to be said that these welsh and english abbey ruins are very much alike. However we did enjoy looking around and it is one of the best preserved abbeys in Wales.

 

We took our leave of the abbey ruins and continued our journey to our final destination.

After driving for a total of 2 hours 30 minutes (that's from home to here) we arrived at Llandudno on the north coast of Wales, which is where we were staying, and this is our hotel on the sea front.

The picture below is the view from the seaward side of the road outside our hotel,  that limestone lump on the skyline is the Great Orme,

and this is the view out of our bedrooom window – can't be bad.

We did have a mostly sunny day after all but it is now time for dinner and then to bed to be ready for whatever tomorrow brings – I have my folding umbrella to hand.

Walking in circles

Walking in circles

Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous stone circle in the world and there are other significant stone circles in this country such as Avebury, Arbor Low and the Rollright Stones but there are many others scattered around the countryside that are just as old but relatively rather insignificant.

When we were last in North Wales we noticed that on our Ordnance map of the local area there was an area marked as a ‘Stone Circle’ so we went to have a look. This entailed driving up a long, narrow lane into the middle of nowhere, but surprise, surprise there was a car park there.

Getting into the field wherein lay the stone circle meant climbing a stone wall and, luckily for us, there was a stile built into the wall. Not a type we’d come across before and it was quite, er, interesting negotiating it.

You could be forgiven for tripping over the stone circle before realising that you’d found it. It was of a reasonable diameter but the biggest stones were only knee high. You can get an idea of scale with Amanda standing next to one of the stones on the far side of the circle. I have marked some of the stones with black circles as they are not especially obvious.

We saw another similar circle, but of a smaller diameter, when we were on Froggart Edge in the Peak District. That was also marked on the Ordnance map in an area of bracken and the bracken was taller than the stones in the circle so we had to hunt for it but found it in the end. I didn’t even bother to photograph it then; perhaps I would now.

Some of these stone circles have names but a lot of them don’t. Next time you trip over something make sure it’s not a stone circle.