The Island in the Sky – Day 2

The Island in the Sky – Day 2

The next morning we couldn’t wait to draw the curtains and this was our view.

Oh! Were did all that fog come from? Whilst we were preparing to go down for breakfast we kept an eye on the view and it was then that we saw the island in the sky. What an astonishing view!

The view was changing over time and we realised that the fog was slowly disapating and we could see more of the island as it did so.

However breakfast awaits!

After stuffing ourselves at breakfast we prepared to go out. First we were off to the local village Llanwddyn (pronounced lanurthin) to look at the dam at this end of the lake and I must say it looks very impressive.

Looking from the dam across the lake we can see the straining tower where the water first passes through a fine metal mesh to filter or strain out material in the water. The tower stands in over 50ft deep water and is over 150ft high but much of the structure is hidden underwater and cannot be seen.

Some of the earlier fog is still hanging over the water which makes the scene that much more picturesque.

From the top of the dam part of the village shows in the early morning sun.

Then we set off on today’s adventure which means climbing up the hillside to look at the remains of a Knights Hospitaller Hospitium built in the 14th century.

The first part of the walk was through forest so we could see little but trees. When we finally left the forest we could still see a small portion of Lake Vyrnwy and some beautiful autumn colours.

We were now out in the open trying to navigate across the relatively featureless moorland.

If you look carefully at the image above you should be able to see a diagonal track starting near the left-hand edge of the horizon and sloping down into the picture. That track leads down to the Hospitium but we didn’t know that at this time.

We are much further along now and you can still see that diagonal track disappearing into the dip ahead. It turns out that what remains of the Hospitium is in among that Bracken on our left. It would be very difficult walking through that so, although it was disappointing, we gave it a miss.

We went on round to the left and down into that valley which is where that diagonal track was leading and in the valley is a small stone bridge over which that track passes. This medieval bridge is a crude but functional structure and each side is shown in the photographs below.

There was supposed to be a spring near the Hospitium and Amanda found it by wandering around until she could hear rushing water. It was rather buried in the undergrowth but the flow was very strong.

We made our way back to the car (much easier to say than to do) and as it was parked next to the lake we noticed that the change in the direction of the sunlight was now lighting up the arches in the top of the dam rather nicely.

Driving back to the hotel I spotted this nice view of the hotel so stopped to take a photograph.

We went up to our room to prepare for dinner and later I took this photograph of that same view from the window again but different lighting.

I don’t think I could ever get bored with that view.

The Island in the Sky – Day 1

The Island in the Sky – Day 1

It all started with a boot full. That is to say a car boot not a boot on the foot. “But wait” I hear you cry “Surely you’re not going on another trip so soon after the other one?”

Well, from the look of that boot,with cases, I would say we are going on another trip and, this time, it’s Lake Vyrnwy about 50 miles north of us. The navigation system estimates the journey time to be about one and a half hours. Welsh roads don’t y’ know (one car wide).

The journey proved to be fairly straightforward and we arrived at the hotel without any problems. The hotel is the large building on the hillside in the distance beyond the lake. Just in case you wondered it is all of that building.

It is a nice hotel with two separate seating areas and we had a room overlooking the lake so you’re bound to get some views from the room later on.

The sitting room above had a small balcony outside with some tables and chairs.

Our room isn’t going to be ready until later this afternoon, which we expected anyway, so we decided to drive up to the far end of the lake to have a look at a waterfall.

We parked the car and set off on our walk but hadn’t gone very far when a very friendly local decided he wanted to join us. There was no “Do you mind if I join you?” – he just joined us. Here is Amanda with our new friend.

He eventually became tired of our company and we left him behind. A little further on we spotted these mountaineering sheep on quite a steep slope.


Continuing with our walk we came up to the brow of a hill and suddenly there it was.

We were determined to get to the foot of the falls so we pressed on which involved crossing the river. Not so far to go now.

Then we could see the waterfall in all its glory.

Finally we reached the foot of the falls. The view from here wasn’t quite as good as from further back but it was a lot noisier.

It was now late afternoon so we went back to our hotel. Our room was ready so we took our luggage up and had our first look out of the window. We couldn’t really complain about that could we?

So, dinner this evening, then it’s off to bed ready to wake to a new day.

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Four

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Four

Today is our last full day in Tenby as we leave in the morning to go back home. We are going to look at the Merchants House (National Trust) in Tenby then we will explore the area around South Beach (our hotel is on North Beach).

On our way we pass through some more of Tenby’s narrow, picturesque lanes.

I had to crawl through this next one as my head wouldn’t fit in the narrow bit. Surely they can’t get any narrower than this can they?

Tenby was never built to accommodate motor vehicles and, in consequence, there are sometimes traffic jams to be had. In Tenby a traffic jam might consist of only a half dozen vehicles, because of the narrow roads, and it doesn’t usually last for long. Because of those narrow roads the traffic moves very slowly anyway so it’s not a real problem.

We later passed this rather fine Victorian Post Box.

The Merchants House, run by the National Trust, is in the back alleys – that’s it facing the camera. It dates from 1500 which makes it the oldest house still standing in Tenby. The front part of the ground floor would have been used as a shop and the rear part as the kitchen.

This next picture shows the kitchen with its huge fireplace and the door to the small courtyard at the rear of the house. The courtyard is shown in the following picture.

Going up the stairs leads into the family’s living quarters. The wooden frame on the right is the banister rail around the stairwell.

On the top floor are the sleeping quarters and everyone would have slept in this room.

We left the Merchants House and walked to South Beach. I’m fairly sure that this beach is significantly longer than North Beach. Have you spotted the palm trees?

We found our way down to the beach and turned towards the town (I wasn’t prepared to walk all the way to the other end of this beach then all the way back again). We noticed this cave and went over to explore.

This was not an enormous cave but we were surprised at how far into the rock it went bearing in mind that it’s formed by the action of the sea.

Further along we noticed the section of the old town wall and tower still surviving.

There are some lovely bits of garden dotted about on the cliffs and this was one of them. Very pretty.

That picture should tell you that we have climbed up from the beach and are, once again, on the cliff top.

That was the end of our fourth day and although we are staying one more night we will be leaving first thing after breakfast and travelling home. Although we intend to call in at Dinefwr Park on our way back I had already mentioned our visit on the way here and used some of the photographs taken on our way back so there is nothing more to add.

There won’t be a ‘Day Five’ report so until next time.

Sun, Sea & Sand – Day Three

Sun, Sea & Sand – Day Three

Today is going to be an adventure. We are going to get the bus, travel to Pembroke and look at the castle. Pembroke is a small town with a very big castle.

We caught the bus in the morning and the journey turned out to be quite interesting. The journey is about 30 minutes and the bus goes partly along the main road but also diverts through a number of small villages served by even smaller roads. The bus filled these roads from side to side and it became even more interesting in the villages where there would be parked vehicles and very tight bends. We did, however, get to Pembroke and the bus stopped virtually outside the castle.

There is an entrance charge but it is certainly worth it and, having paid ours, we went in via the Gatehouse.

This gatehouse is big enough on its own to get lost in. I have not seen another castle with so many passages and spiral stairways. One can go along a passage in this gate house and spot a spiral stairway and if one ignores it there will come a point where there is a choice of passages and whichever passage one chooses there will be another spiral stairway. It was mind boggling.

Those stairs may look a bit wonky but that’s because they are a bit wonky. Notice how shiny and worn those lower steps look. We eventually found our way out into the daylight at a high level and began to realise just how big this castle was. That strange, rather incongruous, flat topped builing tucked into the wall on the left was a self-service cafe. It is partly sunken into the ground I suppose in an attempt to make it less obvious.

There is a very large map of Wales in the bailey showing where all the castles are and one can walk about on it or sit at one of the tables on the edge to consume one’s refreshments. The large round tower is the main Keep.

There are some good views of the town to be had from up here.

We did manage to finally leave the Gatehouse and walked along the wall to the tower shown below. There is a choice here of, if I remember correctly, going into the tower and eventually coming out the other side onto that further wall or going down the steps to a small landing then going up some more steps to end up in the same place as going through the tower. One can, of course go down to the ground or come up from the ground.

We were, by this time, flagging a little and so decided to go into their little cafe for lunch and, after lunch, having had some refreshments and a rest we were ready to go again (possibly a little more slowly).

In one of the halls on the side of the castle I found a small entrance door with a spiral stairway going down and this, remember, is starting at ground level. It is called Wogan Cavern ( I don’t know why ) and I counted about 55 steps down. Here is where I ended up.

It has been used for at least the past 12,000 years. The cave was a shelter for cave dwellers during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic Periods, possibly the Bronze Age, and during the Roman occupation of Britain, shown by left-behind Paleolithic stone tools, and a Roman coin hoard.

The steps back up seemed more like 155 but I did make it back. Then, being a glutton for punishment, I decided to climb the main keep.

I got about a third of the way up and decided it may possibly be too much so discretion became the better part of valour (I gave up).

That little tower peeking out from beyond the Keep is the Dungeon Tower. I say ‘little’ but it’s only a small amount shorter than the Keep but, as I’m not very bright, I decided to climb that.

No it wasn’t easy but I did actually make it and there were some pretty good views to be had.

By this time we had worn our legs down to the knees and the stumps were beginning to get a little sore so we called it a day – well almost. We had realised that our bus back to Tenby goes through a small village called Lamphey and in that village are the ruins of a Bishops Palace so, of course, we had to break our return journey there.

It was about a 15 minute walk from the bus stop and after a while we saw this wall which gave us a clue as to where we were.

We had found the palace and went in.

Dating from the 14th century it provided the medieval prelates with the privileged lives of country gentlemen, enjoying the luxuries of private accommodation, a grand great hall, first-floor chamber, fishponds, fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and 144-acre park. It must have been a hard life.

There is quite a lot to see here.

We were very tired by now and we had to walk back to the bus stop so we set off for the village. We had about 15 minutes to wait until the bus arrived so I took this picture of Lamphey Church whilst we waited.

Now that is a tower and a half! The churchyard, apparently, is possibly an Iron Age enclosure comprising of a circular outer ditch surrounding a rectangular mound and the building is early medieval in origin and in existence by the late 11th century.

Then the bus arrived and we went back to end another day.

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Two

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Two

That is the view from our hotel room this morning and it’s a beautiful start to a beautiful day. This is the outside of our hotel,

this is the inside of our room

and this is part of the hotel’s gardens which go down to the beach.

We were on our way into the town once again but we weren’t going via the beach mainly because the tide is only now going out and I think our passage along the beach would be blocked by the sea until later. This next view is a short way along the road from the hotel. You can see that the tide is still relatively high and that lump of rock from yesterday is showing on the right.

On our way we went past yet another of Tenby’s interesting narrow lanes.

We were on our way to see the ancient medieval town walls. Not all of the wall remains but there are some remaining substantial sections of which this is one. Couldn’t really miss it could you?

These next two pictures show one of the old town gates – first from the outside and then from the inside.

This gate looks heavily fortified to me. I wonder who they were expecting. We soon found ourselves walking along yet another of those attractive narrow lanes.

We were heading for Castle Hill and, as it is a relatively large lump, we thought that it would be obvious but it was so well masked by the surrounding buildings that we had to resort to looking at the map. That put us on the right road.

Here you can see Amanda staggering up the hill. That doesn’t imply that I wasn’t staggering it’s just that I was staggering slightly faster than she was.

Well here we are at the top showing the only remaining tower of the medieval castle, the cannon trained at the French coast and a rather good view of the town.

Our next target was St. Catherine’s Island. It’s an island only at high tide but now the tide was out enough for us to walk across the beach to reach it. That tower on the left in the picture below is part of the old town walls.

One does have to pay a small entrance fee but we thought it would be worth it so we set off passing through this archway, a remnant of the old town wall, to reach the beach.

We paid our fee to a young lady on the beach at the foot of the stairway that gives access to the island and started up the steps.

Then along a short path.

At the end of that path we have to cross a small bridge over a chasm in the rock and Amanda couldn’t help bragging by stopping above the chasm to have her photograph taken.

We did get to the top and found this rather large Victorian fort built to counter a perceived threat of invasion by Napoleon.

We left the fort and St. Catherine’s Island and decided that that was the end of our day so we went back to the hotel.

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day One

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day One

We struck lucky with the weather on this trip although the first part of the first day was cloudy (no sun, sea or sand) but after that it was sun all day every day.

We left home at about 9.00 AM for a two and a half hour journey so decided to break it up by visiting a National Trust Property at about the one and a half hour mark.

We stopped at Dinefwr Park and, for those of you that don’t know, Dinefwr is pronounced “Din ever”. It consists of Newton House (a stately home), the ruins of a medieval castle (Dinefwr Castle) and lots of parkland which is home to a herd of deer.

As I mentioned above this morning was cloudy but I took the following picture anyway.

However we called in here again on our way home when the weather was better and I photographed it again. Which picture do you think is better?

Inside the house it didn’t matter what the weather was like outside so I carried on taking photographs.

Those rooms, as you might expect, look rather grand. The Dining Room in the top picture and the Sitting Room in the bottom picture. The interesting thing about this property is that nobody minds if you touch the furniture or walk on the carpets or even sit on the chairs.

I did go out to the back of the house where it overlooks the Deer Park and surprise, surprise I saw some deer. They were quite a long way away so even using my telephoto lens to its maximum this is the best that I could achieve. You should, at least, be able to see their antlers.

I took that photograph above from the small formal garden shown below which is at the back of the house. That is the only gardens they have here.

We also had a look at the castle both times we stopped here so as the weather was better on the way back these photographs are from then.

There is a reasonable amount to see in this castle ruin even extending to a few medieval spiral stairways which can be tricky to negotiate because the height of each tread can vary as can the width.

It is possible to see Newton House, together with some lovely views, from some of the high points of the castle so it is worth the scramble.

We had some lunch here at Dinefwr then headed off to our final destination. We booked into our hotel and after sorting out our parking space (they have only 10) which we had reserved we went outside and this is the first photograph I took of Tenby from outside the hotel.

Here in Tenby at 4 o’clock we now have sea and sand but no sun yet but we set off to explore anyway. The hotel has gardens at the front that are terraced down the steeply sloping cliffs to the beach and that is where we went.

It is now 5 o’clock and look, the sun has appeared! So now, finally, we have sun, sea and sand. What a change in just an hour.

We were able to walk along the beach as the tide was out and went to have a look at that lump of rock sticking through the sand. You can see that the rock bedding is steeply inclined and, as we later discovered, that applies to most of the rock on this coast. That tiny bit of head together with a splash of red on the right-hand edge is Amanda.

We walked along the beach until we found some steps up into the town. This is a view back the way we came from town level. You can see that lump of rock that we stopped to make friends with and just to the left of it is a small cream building. Our hotel is directly above that.

It is now 5:30 PM and you may notice that the cloud is dispersing rapidly.

Now I have to ask – have you ever seen a fat seagull?

Well you have now. As you can no doubt work out it is a little cafe so we went in for some coffee and cake.

It was a nice little place and the cake was good. That’s Amanda over on the right against the wall. Having finished our refreshments we went back into the town. Want some colour? We can find you some colour!

This is just one of the many narrow lanes in Tenby. There is plenty more to see but we are calling it a day and are going back to the hotel until tomorrow.

Our trip finally comes to pass!

Our trip finally comes to pass!

Here is a “moan about weather forecasting apps” warning. I usually use two apps for weather information and, of course, they tend to contradict each other. This morning the Met Office weather app forecasts sunny intervals this morning and mostly cloudy this afternoon. The BBC weather app, however, forecasts sunny intervals all day. I think I’ll go with the BBC forecast as it’s better.

As it happened the BBC forecast was right and we had plenty of sun. We set off from home to Dore Abbey in the village of Abbeydore.

The above picture shows the parish church of Abbeydore but if you look at the picture you will see that the tower height looks about average for a parish church but if you compare it with the rest of the building you will see that the main body of the church is much higher than normal. That is because this church used to be part of Dore Abbey and is the only part of the abbey still in existance. The tower was built in 1633 but the rest of the building was built in the late 12th century.

There are some small exterior bits of the abbey remaining which are attached to the church such as the structure shown below but very little else.

Inside, because of its height, the church does look spectacular.

There are a few areas of colourful heraldic ceramic tiles like this.

There are also a few surviving wall paintings of which this is one.

We have seen all that we wanted to here so we moved on to the next location just five miles away – Grosmont Castle.

There is Amanda sneaking in without me after crossing the bridge whilst I was taking this photograph. Still she does give an idea of scale.

There isn’t a lot left in this ruin but what does exist is quite impressive. You may notice Amanda up on top of the wall near the centre of the picture. The way up is through that large dark doorway at the base of the tower.

This is the stairway one has to negotiate to get up onto the wall. It may induce a little vertigo in those of you who are that way inclined. Inside the tower isn’t so bad but once you emerge the sides are open with just that handrail to stop you falling off.

The views when you get up there are rather nice though.

It was, once again, time to move on and this time to Llanthony Priory; one of the very many abbey/priory ruins scattered about this region but pretty impressive don’t you think?.

One of the impressive things about this ruin is the landscape round about which is truly magnificent.

One of the unusual things is that there is a small hotel attached to the ruins. We weren’t staying there but we did have lunch there. When we found the Cellar Bar entrance we found ourselves at the top of some steps leading below ground and, in the bright sunlight, it looked almost too dark to see. When we got down there we found ourselves in what appeared to be a small, but bright, cellar with about 6 tables scattered about.

They had a reasonable selection of meals which turned out to be perfectly acceptable. I had Chilli Con Carne with rice and Amanda had just a bowl of chips and she said that there were plenty of chips.

After lunch it was, once again, time to move on. Finally we are now headed home via the Gospel Pass, which is the highest road pass in Wales, and I’ll give you a bit of advice. If you just want to see the Gospel Pass then go up from the Hay-on-Wye side not the Llanthony side. The road from Hay-on-Wye is narrow with passing places but not as narrow or as tricky as the road from Llantony. The Llantony road runs between banks, hedges and walls and doesn’t open out until you cross the cattle grid. The picture below was taken not long after we crossed the cattle grid and is looking back towards Llanthony.

The views from up here are really spectacular.

We came down into Hay-on-Wye and, after a quick stop for coffee, we went home.

That trip was a circular route of around 90 miles which we thought, afterward, was a bit too long for a day trip but we arrived home unscathed but tired.