Archive | August, 2017

Three very different Castles in North Wales

11 Aug

Alongside the River Dee estuary in North Wales is the town of Flint. It is thought that the name stems from a rocky outcrop on which King Edward I  had built a Castle to quell the Prince of Wales whose lands lay around Ewloe nearby. Castell y Fflint is strategically placed in North East Wales and originally had access to the estuary and the sea for ease of supply to the troops stationed there.

The ruined walls are simply massively thick. An immense amount of work went into building this impressive testament to subjugation of the proud people of Wales. We had a good look around and then ate lunch in the campervan which was parked very close by. Adjacent to us was an allotment style garden. This too was in a state of ruin. So sad to see the greenhouse full of weeds and a bush growing up through the roof. Blackberries had gone wild but a large flock of sparrows were enjoying the protection offered by the myriad of barbed runners . Rather like the town of Flint which grew up around the King’s outpost.

After lunch, we made the short drive to a layby near the little town of Ewloe. We followed the sign and took the fenced path across the fields to the Castle hidden in the woods. Literally submerged in a steep sided valley and now surrounded by huge trees, it was a compact but impressive little motte and bailey above a quiet stream. As usual it was built  in the Welsh fashion, using a natural rock outcrop for at least part of the foundations. One of the last constructions of the sovereign, native Prince of Wales.

There was a lot of double dealing and switching of allegiance over the centuries and each of these castles experienced very violent times. The first hanging, drawing and quartering of a man was said to have been made after an incident at Flint. Flint was also burned to the ground to prevent falling into Welsh hands.

As we walked back, uphill to the campervan, we discussed how many journeys must have been made carrying baskets of rock and materials for making mortar all those years ago. Another impressive, massive structure in very atmospheric setting.

The short drive further South to Caergwrle took us past an easily missed sign pointing out the pedestrian route , up the steep climb to Caergwrle Castle. We looped around the village , noting all the double yellow , no parking lines before spotting a free car park protected by a 7 feet high height barrier. We sneaked under it just fllicking our radio aerial a little in the process. The height barrier at the car park at Flint had no height listed, hence our parking on the adjacent road.  Sadly,no easy motorhome parking is very evident near Caergwrle Castle.

We had the place pretty much to ourselves. We only met with two other climbers, a lady and then a gent walking his dog. I was pleased to find a wreath (shown below) left in honour of the Welsh Prince. Nationalistic in a nice way, in my opinion, I liked the historic pride shown.

The wreath had been left over the post to the right of the picture and after photographing I replaced it.

Some of the rock had been robbed from the walls in the 17th Century to use in buildings in the village, far below. There is also evidence of quarrying right at the top of the hill, so close in later years that the walls of the castle at one end were undermined. Whoever left the wreath would have waged war against such activity no doubt and rightly so. Nobody likes a vandal !

Caergwrle Castle is at quite a height above the village and the views are excellent.

Three very different Castles. The day gave us an incite into the struggle between the Princes of Wales and the Kings of England. We would now like to see some of the more well preserved Castles of Wales  which we have not visited before. So we must next head South towards Brecon Beacons and the Severn Estuary. Watch this space, the Kampa is ready to roll.

Lots of Castles to see in Wales.

9 Aug

I have a personal list of almost thirty Welsh castles to visit. This is Newcastle Emlyn. I have listed the postcodes for my faithful little Garmin Sat Nav. We are making the time to visit a small group of 3 and possibly 5, to see very soon. The rest will be picked off one by one later in August. Then, still planning to do the NC500 too.

This is Ewloe Castle near Chester. Some of these sites are close enough for a day trip but we intend to stay overnight in the campervan for the vast majority on our chosen list.

This is Nevern Castle, near Newport, South Wales. Guardianship for each Castle lays with different organisations. Some cost as little as £4 to visit, others more than double that amount and some with additional parking charges.

Criccieth Castle overlooks a lovely, old seaside village. We camped there when we were just out of our teenage years. A favourite spot and our return visit long overdue !

I am shortly having a simple medical procedure to remove a heart monitoring device which, after three years has found no clinical problems. So pleased that the battery outlasted the horrible , leaky, gel oozing batteries we used to get in our Christmas present Robots and the like from Hong Kong. Anyone remember them ? After the Titanium has been whipped out to ease the NHS funding, we shall be out and about once more. Oh yeah………….

English Heritage. A pleasant couple from Sheffield and a belated Father’s Day dinner

5 Aug

Four of us went to Craven Arms, Shropshire today to visit Stokesay Castle and found the sun. Maintained by English Heritage , we each followed  their very well presented Audio tour. We spent quite a sum at the little gatehouse cafe for coffee and cakes and had a great time !

We had been greeted on the car park by a lovely couple from Sheffield who were interested in the Kampa, so I gave them a swift tour of it. They were looking for a campervan for when they retired shortly. A compact campervan was the order of the day and I hope that our little chat helped! I love it when people approach us.

 

The visit was just lovely ! We joined English Heritage in March this year but they screwed up the Direct Debit which is still not sorted out yet. Our cards have been accepted at each visit we have made, albeit with some questioning, but we have managed to continue with our visits. Should be sorted out shortly and payment will be made.

On the way back to Staffordshire, we stopped off for an hour’s wander around the shops of Church Stretton before heading for an early dinner at The Lord Cumbermere in Audlem. Very nice it was too ! Recommended !

Altogether a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable Summer day out in the Kampa. The rear seat passengers did not complain about comfort but did say that the view forwards is a little restricted as they sit quite high. I had to drive somewhat less spirited than usual as the rear sofa does not offer as much sideways support as a Recaro bucket seat to which certain persons have become accustomed. LOL. The rear seat belts function just fine though.

After a rather special dinner, we strolled along to the Canal at Audlem but only went as far as the Shroppie Fly pub.

A picturesque end to a super day !

The heart of Cheshire. Castles, Canals and Ice Cream.

3 Aug

Beeston Castle is maintained by English Heritage. We almost did not get access to day despite our membership cards and Direct Debit payments made early this year (still to be sorted  out.)

This hill top fortress is set on a sandstone protrusion with 360 degrees views over the Cheshire plain. Evidence of habitation since stone age times and defences around the base of the hill dating from bronze age times. Latterly it became a hugely fortified Motte and Bailey type Castle. A challenging climb from the car park if you push yourself a little for the exercise, which we did. A rabbit populated grass bank studded with beautiful pine trees leads to a sharply sloping modern bridge over the huge, partially natural moat or chasm. Spectacular !

We dropped into the Tattenhall Marina Cafe-Bar for a very good cup of coffee. I almost got thrown out by referring to narrow boats as barges. Finding the correct entrance was somewhat difficult but worthwhile. The place is most attractive and the bar welcoming. The workshops had a great method of dragging a narrow boat out of the water. Hydraulic rams fitted to the trailer rear wheels lift the entire vessel for working on the hull. Hope that they have some form of safety device to protect against hydraulic failures though.

Drawn by a huge replica of Peter Rabbit, made from straw on a metal frame, we next stopped at Snugbury Organic Farm Ice Cream.

This promotional Icon is the latest in a long line of other well made and proportionally artistic creations.

Previously here are just two:

Here is our review of just some of the huge range of flavours of Ice Cream made at Snugbury Farm.

Salted Caramel.  Excellent. Not too sweet. Deep caramel flavour.

Liquorice and Raspberry. Initially a massive hit of natural raspberry with lingering aftertaste of liquorice.

Damson and Sloe Gin.  Again, not too sweet, as in all those tasted. Natural full damson flavour.

Ameretto.       Subtle, mild almond ameretto . Creamy. Best eaten as a single flavour to best enjoy it.

We came away with Christmas Pudding and a Clotted Cream Vanilla stashed into the Kampa fridge. Still to try, but from those we tried, if they match the excellence of the four above then they will be top notch !

These are premium quality, from an Organic family farm business. Compared to Ben and Jerry or Haagen Dazs, they are less sweet (and all the better for it !) more naturally flavoured in my opinion with a wonderful creamy texture. You will not be disappointed !

A much better day than of late !