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The Other End – Day 1

The Other End – Day 1

You may remember that in posts in the recent past I have mentioned the 'Heart of Wales Line' which is the railway that runs through our town, Knighton, and that we have twice travelled to Shrewsbury on it. We decided that it was time to visit the other end of the line which is Swansea. The trip north to Shrewsbury takes less than an hour which makes a day trip feasible but the trip to Swansea takes more than three hours so we made a three night trip of it.

We took one case, with wheels, to keep luggage to a minimum and Amanda, my wife, and I set off one sunny morning and trundled down to the station to catch the 11:01 AM train to Swansea. We made sure that we were in plenty of time as there is a train only every four hours so if we missed it we'd have a long wait. This is the train in our little station and, yes, that's all of it; one whole carriage. Well there is only two of us. smiley

There were plenty of seats and we were very quickly settled. There turned out to be no refreshments available but we had come prepared with a paper bag full of lunch and one can of fizzy drink. The doors shut and we were off! Some of the stations on this line are request stops and if you are waiting on such a station you have to hold your hand out for the train to stop and if you want to get off at one of those then you should tell the ticket man and he will make sure that the driver knows to stop.

After five stations we stopped at Llandrindod Wells and sat there for twenty minutes. This was not unexpected as it is a single line all the way except in some stations, like this one, where trains can pass and we were waiting for the train coming the other way. When it arrived we continued on. This line runs through very picturesque countryside which is, of course, covered in the inevitable sheep. After travelling for around two hours we had our packed lunch and we eventually arrived in Swansea at around 2:30 PM.

We set off down High Street (trundle, trundle) passing through Castle Square on the way which, amazingly, contains the remains of a Norman castle.

There isn't a lot of it left and one cannot go inside but it is a real medieval castle and I rather like the contrast between the old and the new. We continued on (trundle, trundle) and soon arrived at our hotel – Morgan's.

A rather nice Victorian building which used to house the Port Authority but which has now been converted to an hotel. Our room was on the first floor and there is a lift for those who cannot manage stairs. The room doors have electronic locks operated using a credit card sized card, there is air conditioning in the rooms for those who want it and the rooms have good sized en-suite bathrooms.

They do have an odd eating arrangement here. Dinner, in the dining room, is served only Thursday to Saturday and on other days food is available in the bar. It is, however, a very nice bar and the food really is excellent with a reasonable number of options on the menu. We settled ourselves into our room and then went out for a look round. One has to bear in mind that the Germans flattened Swansea during the last war so there are few old buildings but we didn't see any new buildings which we disliked and, overall, Swansea has a nice atmosphere.

It was a short walk to the Marina where we found the Waterfront Museum but didn't go in as we were saving that for the day we were leaving. The museum is the building on the immediate left which incorporates a small cafe with people sitting outside at tables although there are also tables inside.. The red brick building with the small tower is an old Victorian water pumping station which has now been converted to a pub.

Looking in the opposite direction we can see boats in the marina and, in particular, two old vessels. The nearest is 'Canning', an old steam operated tug, and the further of the two is 'Helwick', an old lightship, both of which are no longer in service and have been kept as museum pieces.

Swansea is on the coast and the sea can be found a short walk south across the marina. It is on a bay called Swansea Bay, no surprises there, and there are long stretches of beach composed of fine sand, suitable for children, which run round the bay as far as Mumbles.

We were both getting a bit tired now so it was back to the hotel to prepare for an evening meal. So far we have liked what we've seen and tomorrow is another day.

A journey in reverse.

A journey in reverse.

No, I don't mean that I was walking (or driving) backwards but that a walk I have done before from Tollesbury to Salcott I was going to do the other way round and there's a reason for that.

Earlier today there was a jumble sale in Salcott, a village near us, which Amanda wanted to visit. So we both went to Salcott in her car and she went off in one direction to the village hall and I went in the other direction towards the marshes. She was going to drive to Tollesbury when she had finished with the jumble sale.

We parked outside the church and Amanda went off behind the camera and I headed further along the lane. It may be worth mentioning that I didn't have my camera with me and I was going to use my 'phone instead. This is where I started.

It's not a long walk to the end of the lane and I was soon at the edge of the field looking across a sea of mud to the sea wall. At least the mud didn't extend across the whole of the field. The sea wall is the darker band on the horizon.

You may notice that there is some sun which is nice but it's forecast not to last. I reached the far side of the field and climbed up onto the sea wall and looked out over the salt marshes.

I set off on the wall to the right and soon came to the first bend and the first gate. The gates are not to hinder people but to prevent cattle movement. They can't work out how to open gates you know (the cattle not the people).

That stuff under the gate has the consistency of thick porridge but it isn't porridge, oh no, it's mud. Well it is November. I squelch onwards.

The main channel swings over towards the wall and joins me which makes a nice change of scenery together with numerous water fowl.

A little further on the channel starts to move away again. Is it trying to tell me something?

Oi! Wait a minute. Where's the sun gone? It was shining from over my right shoulder a minute ago now it's gone. When I look over said shoulder I see a large bank of dark grey cloud moving across the sun. I think that's a bit poor.

As I approach the next bend and the next gate I see a small flock of geese flying in my direction just as I reach the bend I see them land in a field then I notice why. The field is covered in geese from end to end. All those little black spots are Brent geese.

I continue past the field of geese cackling away (the geese not me) and eventually I see a gate ahead where my path leaves the wall and goes off to the right across the marsh.

I go through the small gate, down the side of the wall to the large gate at the lower level then over the stile next to the large gate to continue on the path beyond. It has taken me a half hour so far.

The walk across the marshes is uneventful and I soon arrive at the sea wall on the far side.

Up onto that wall, through the gate and off to the right.

Those strange structures across the channel I suspect are there to calm the water. I set off as I've a way to go yet and Amanda is driving to Tollesbury after the Jumble Sale, parking in Tollesbury and setting off to meet me from the opposite end.

I spot Old Hall Farm in the distance which slowly gets nearer and I've been going just over an hour now.

Not long after passing Old Hall Farm I meet up with Amanda and the sun comes out again. Perhaps it's just that being with Amanda makes everything seem brighter. We still have some distance to go and it seems even more when the path stretches in front, seemingly, for ever.

The view to our right looked rather atmospheric especially as the sun was quite low in the sky by this time.

After a while we rounded a bend and saw the red lightship in Tollesbury some way ahead.

It wasn't far from there to the car and to the end of my/our walk. It had been a pleasant walk with a very light breeze and I had sun at the beginning and at the end. Can't have everything I suppose.

Why am I writing this? Who wants to look at boring pictures of an Essex marsh anyway? Is there anyone out there? Hello! Hello! I thought not – nobody there. It makes me feel like Marvin in the Hitchhikers Guide to the galaxy. smilies


Time and Tide

Time and Tide

Friday was Amanda's birthday and it was forecast to be a nice day so we thought we'd have a short trip to Tollesbury. We walked along the sea wall until we spotted some Sea Lavender and went down onto the marshes to have a look.

The salt marshes are riddled with channels which form quite a maze.

There is a large channel running along the outside of the wall which the lavender was next to but just a short way on we could see a narrow land bridge across this channel. We walked across it and a little further on there was a crude wooden bridge although we have no idea who would have constructed it. However it looked quite substantial, and it was, so we walked across onto the next bit of marshland. The next wooden bridge didn't look so well constructed so we gave that one a miss.

We carried on a little way with channels on both sides until we could see that there was no way on and turned round and headed back. We got back to the sea wall and then saw some other people starting to do what we did. They decided to risk the ricketty bridge.

You can see the other bidge that we used to the right of those people who did get across safely. We went back to look at the lightship because we were now about two hours to high tide and the path out to the ship can be covered at high tide. We could see that the water level now was only about 5 inches below the path and still rising.

It was now time for lunch so we went on the 'The Loft', where we had been before, and had a pleasant unhurried lunch. Afterwards we went back to the sea wall to see how the tide was progressing and it was progressing very well thank you.

The picture above is looking along the route that we had walked just an hour ago. If you look at the previous picture showing some people on the ricketty bridge you should be able to see, to the right, a wooden post with a white top near the other bridge. That same post is visible a short way in from the right edge of the picture.

We walked back to 'The Loft' and this is what we saw.

The Loft is the farthest one of the old sail lofts.

You can't say you weren't warned.

This view of The Loft was at high tide with the water not quite reaching it. However on some tides the water does reach The Loft.

We went home after an enjoyable little trip.

And now for something slightly different.

And now for something slightly different.

Another sunny day today. I don't mean by that that it was sunny yesterday (it wasn't), oh no, I mean another sunny day this year. Whenever we have a sunny day we try to make use of it so it meant another walk around Tollesbury. Although this is the same walk I did last time it was with a nearly high tide which made things look a bit different.

We did see a couple of Little Egrets and four Marsh Harriers this time and heard, but didn't see, the inevitable Curlew. The Curlew's call is so atmospheric on the marshes.

I did warn you that I'd be doing this walk again and again. :cool:

1,2,3,4,5 – Right, that’s enough!

1,2,3,4,5 – Right, that’s enough!

We haven't been out and about this year anywhere near as much as we normally do thanks to the dreadful weather we've had this summer and I've noticed that on our recent trips I'm not as fit as I'd expect to be at this time of the year. :unhappy:
So there's nothing for it but take some exercise. Excercise? Oh no! :bawl:

Oh yes. So this morning I decided to do a 5 mile walk and Amanda even decided to join me. We drove to Tollesbury, parked the car and started on our walk around Tollesbury Wick. Wick is an old english word, sometimes spelled 'wyck', which means 'marsh'. From the centre of the village we walked across the fields to the edge of the River Blackwater at Mill Creek but  there's no mill there now even if there ever was one.

We started off along the top of the river wall with the river on our right and the wick (marsh) on our left. The tide was low so I was able to get this view with the sunlight reflected on the wet mud.

There were quite a lot of sailing boats about including, in the distance, a couple of Thames Barges under sail. They are easy to recognise because their masts tower above the other, smaller, boats.

After a few miles we reached Shinglehead Point which we have visited before. By this time we could see the red lightship at Tollesbury in the distance but we had some way to go before we reached that. However it didn't take us long before the lightship was only a short distance from us moored out in the creek.

When we passed Tollesbury Marina we noticed a lot of White Poplar trees simply because of the way the underside of their leaves show up against the blue sky. You can see why they are called White Poplar.

From there we go past the old sail lofts and back to our car.

A five mile exercise walk in about two and a half hours which is an average speed, over rough ground, of 2 miles an hour. A reasonable speed – not good, but reasonable.

I'm going to have to do that again – and again – and again. :roll:

Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday

Today, in Britain, is a Bank Holiday (Public Holiday) and we woke up to a cloudy sky. However by mid-morning the sun had started to break through and by lunch time it was a really beautiful day with blue sky and a few puffy clouds. After lunch we decided that although it was a Bank Holiday and the whole world and his dog will be out and about we should go out for a short walk.

Having driven the few miles to Tollesbury (We last went there with Marie when she was over here) we arrived just as the sun went in behind a large bank of cloud which had appeared from nowhere. In spite of that we started our walk to Shinglehead Point and although it was cloudy it was quite warm. It took us about an hour to get to the point and then walk a short way across the marsh to get on the shingle bank out in the river. The bank is covered at high water but it was about 3 hours after high water and the tide was still going out.

After waiting for about 30 minutes the cloud dissipated and the sun returned.

Here is a picture showing Amanda jostling for space on the beach and trying to work out where the North Sea is. :shock:

There were a few people about but it wasn’t exactly crowded out here. This is a view of the same shingle bank looking up river.

We turned round and walked back along the sea wall eventually passing the Marina with the boats moored in tidy rows.

Along the sea wall by the marshes with the familiar sight of the lightship across the marshes.

Finally here is a shot of Amanda on the sea wall fighting her way through the crowds as we made our way back to the car.

A nice little walk.

Six tired legs.

Six tired legs.

Marie and Lisa’s trip to Great Britain didn’t go according to plan. A short while before departure Lisa contracted an infection but decided she was well enough to go and they both arrived in Colchester on Wednesday 1st April as planned.

On Thursday Amanda and I travelled to Colchester and all four of us walked round Colchester and saw the castle, Timperley’s, the Balkerne Gate and the roman wall, the timber-framed cottages by the river and Castle Park. Our final location was the ruins of St. Botolph’s Priory. I haven’t included photographs of the places that we visited as they can be seen on the web site Colchester pages however just to prove that Marie and Lisa were really there I’ve included this picture.

We arrived in Colchester next morning, Friday, expecting to take them both out for the day only to find that Lisa’s infection had flared up again and she’d had very little sleep. She had decided to go back home the following day, Saturday, and to stay in their rented cottage while we took Marie out. It was such a shame that, having come all that way, she was having to go home because of some rotten ole bacteria.

We took Marie to Finchingfield and Thaxted and tomorrow, Saturday, she was going to London with Lisa and was going to do some shopping before returning to Colchester. We arranged to take Marie to Dedham Vale on Sunday.

We heard that Lisa arrived home without problems and is, apparently, on the mend. The three of us went off to Dedham on Sunday, walked to  Flatford then up to East Bergholt and back to Dedham. As we had some time to spare we decided to explore the nearby villages of Stoke-by-Nayland and Nayland and both turned out to be picturesque little villages with some very interesting old buildings including this one in Stoke-by-Nayland.

After looking around Stoke-by-Nayland we moved on to Nayland.


That person on the pavement desperately trying to look like a local and failing dismally is, of course, Marie. After leaving Nayland we took Marie back to Colchester and Marie decided that tomorrow she’d like to see Cambridge.

On Monday we collected Marie and drove to one of the Park & Ride sites around Cambridge. They do have a very well organised Park & Ride service in Cambridge with buses leaving the car parks very frequently.

Most of the places we visited are listed on the Cambridge page but one view that isn’t listed is this one:

A spy-in-the-sky view of Marie and I taken by Amanda from the top of the tower of St. Mary’s Church. We were all quite tired by the end of the afternoon and had agreed that Marie would come over from Colchester by bus to our house to do a little local sightseeing on her final day in England.

On her last day, Tuesday, Marie came over to us and we all walked on public footpaths to Layer Marney Tower. On the way we saw a lot of Wood Anemonies in flower and heard a Skylark in the distance. After looking at Layer Marney Tower and exploring the local Tudor church we came back to our house for lunch and then, after lunch, we drove the short distance to Tollesbury.

I’ll leave you with this picture of Amanda and Marie about to be run down by a very large lightship.

That was our last day with Marie, leaving 3 pairs of very tired legs, after which she went back to Colchester on the bus and left for home the next day. She arrived home without problems albeit after a long and tiring journey.