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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.

From Iron to Copper – Day 3

From Iron to Copper – Day 3

Another morning. Another breakfast. Another sunny day. Another day trip. This is getting boring. Can I cope with all this good weather?

After breakfast we set off on a 30 minute trip to Penrhyn Castle near Bangor. This is another National Trust property and a rather unusual one at that. We arrived at the entrance without mishap and it looked a normal enough gateway.

When we caught sight of the castle it looked like a rather impressive Norman castle.

We knew, however, that this castle was built in the 19th century as a family home and not a military building at all. When we started out we were dubious that we would like a ‘fake’ norman castle but we enjoyed it very much and you will, hopefully, see why.

Penrhyn Castle was built between 1820 and 1833 for George Hay Dawkins Pennant by the famous architect Thomas Hopper. Known for his unorthodox style, Hopper opted not to follow the fashion for Gothic architecture but went against the grain choosing a neo-Norman design. Hopper’s hands-on approach also meant he oversaw the designing and building of the castle’s furniture, made by local craftsmen. In 1951 the castle came into the care of the National Trust.

Before we went inside the main building we went into the Courtyard first. The courtyard is very large and has been turned into a railway museum.

The Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum is dedicated to local narrow gauge railways. In the 19th century, Penrhyn Castle was the home of the Pennant family owners of the Penrhyn slate quarry at Bethesda. The quarry was closely associated with the development of industrial narrow-gauge railways, and in particular the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, one of the earliest industrial railways in the world. The railway ran close to Penrhyn Castle, and when the castle was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1951 a small museum of industrial railway relics was created in the stable block.

The first locomotive donated to the museum was ‘Charles’ from the Penrhyn Quarry

and this is the driver.

The rather impressive locomotive below, ‘Fire Queen’, is one of the older locomotives in the museum having been built in 1848.

This next picture shows another of the locomotives together with a gawking bystander. You can also see how they have squeezed many locomotives into this narrow gallery. The width of the gallery makes photography difficult but I managed to photograph some. Amanda is actually trying to work out how we are going to squeeze this one into our garage.

This is the actual courtyard with the locomotive gallery on the right. When we had seen enough we went through the archway at the end and walked round to the front entrance of the house.

We went into the front entrance and found ourselves in a small, short, unpretentious corridor with a door at the end. We went through that door and emerged into an entirely different space – and I mean SPACE. The first picture of the reception hall is taken from the ground floor level and the second picture from the gallery which is visible in the first.

That should give you an idea of the scale of this place. Everything is larger than life.

The main staircase is pretty amazing with just about everything featuring carved stonework. This chap must have had money to throw away.

There were some very long corridors on the upper floor like the one above which disappears off into the distance. All in all this house is extraordinary and we would quite happily visit again.

Having seen round the house we trotted off to the walled garden and on the way saw this view with lots of buttercups. Nice!

The first part of the garden is formal in design which includes this area with the pond and box hedges together with a rather strange woman who looks as though she’s about to get up to mischief of some sort.

This Azalea shrub looks spectacular.

Further down the garden it becomes informal with a natural looking pond, an observation deck and a little summer house of sorts.

That was the end of our visit to Penrhyn Castle near Bangor but it wasn’t the end of of our day. Our next destination is Anglesey; an island off the north coast of Wales.

After a short journey, which included crossing the bridge over the Menai Strait to Anglesey, we arrived at the National Trust property of Plas Newydd, parked our car and started to walk up to the house. Along the way we couldn’t help but notice this row of rather fine cedar trees with interesting fluted trunks.

The house is in a rather nice position overlooking the Menai Straits but is not as imposing as the one we have just come from but it is still bigger than ours.  :oops:

This next picture shows the Menai Straits with the bridge that we used in the distance (You can just about see the bridge on the horizon).

There is plenty of parkland but not much in the way of gardens except for the small Italianate Terrace.

As far as the house goes it is a fairly standard stately home with the usual rooms.

Lord Anglsey’s study below has been left exactly as he left it and I have to say that it does look a little on the untidy side. How on earth he could find what he wanted beats me.

From here we went back to Llandudno to prepare for yet another day.

Castle to Canal

Castle to Canal

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.

 

March through the Arch

March through the Arch

This is the arch that we are about to march through.

It was a lovely day and this is only a 40 minute drive from home so, having parked the car, here we are. We march through the arch and after a short while we turn and look back at the arch from the inside.

There's a nice flower border alongside the path and we can see that the arch is nothing more than a gateway in a wall between two towers. Admittedly the wall and towers have battlements; so is it a castle? Well, yes and no.

A little further along the path and we stop to admire this Laburnham tree and we notice some buildings ahead.

A little further along the path we round a bend and here we are.

This is Croft Castle near the village of Yarpole in Herefordshire. It may have 'castle' in its name but it's no longer a castle but a country mansion in the style of a castle. A castle was built on this site by the Croft family in the 11th centuiry but it has been considerably altered since. The outside walls date from the 15th century and there are four round towers at each corner which, although castle-like, are too slender to act as defensive structures. It is now owned by the National Trust.

There are 1500 acres of parkland. That is quite a lot of land and we didn't have time to explore it but we can always go back.

Next to the house is the Chapel of St. Michael, dating from the 13th century, which contains the tomb of Richard Croft[6] and his wife Eleanor .

We wandered round the outside until we were almost back where we started and then discovered the walled garden. It's not really that obvious and it would be a great loss to have missed it. For a walled garden it is huge. We can't remember the exact size but it must be around four acres. How something that size can feel tucked away I don't know; but it does.

There is topiary.

There is also a very large greenhouse.

And not content with those features there is a small vineyard.

An astonishing walled garden but now it's time to have a look inside methinks.

These are three of the main rooms.

I particularly liked this table where the top is comprised of pebbles sliced through and polished. Very geological and very attractive. I want one.

We really enjoyed that trip and will probably go again.