Monday, 2 February 2009


After a quick turnaround from Turkey, we piled the car up again and headed west, towards Wales. We've both been there before, me when we were on holiday in 2006, and Kent when he stayed with Louise's parents and worked on the coast for a few weeks a couple of years before.
Our first attempt at leaving Sheffield didn't go so well - the car refused to start. We have been worrying for the last few months that something might go a bit haywire with the car while we're cruising about, so, fortunately, we took out some breakdown cover before we left Ipswich... phew!
It was very dark and a lot later than intended by the time we made it to our accommodation near Newport, on the Pembrokeshire coast, so we headed straight inside... a static caravan, which was a new experience for both of us, and not too bad although it ended up being so cold in the bedroom that we slept on the couches in the lounge by the gas fire! We did a wee bit around Pembrokeshire over the next couple of days, visiting Britain's smallest city, St David's (population 2,000, but it has a cathedral, so it gets to be a city), Fishguard - site of the last invasion of Britain (by the French in 1797 - embarrasingly shortlived), Pembroke Castle and St Govan's Chapel, a tiny chapel perched in some cliffs - it was gorgeous! We called past Pentre Ifan, an acient burial chamber nearby, which beggars belief, the massive rock on top seems to be balanced on the tiniest points of the support rocks, and yet it's been standing for thousands of years. After a false start when we went to one place that seemed a non-event, we found the actual attraction was a reconstructed Iron Age village (thatched roof round houses), called Castell Henllys. The map didn't show it as anything particularly noteworthy, so it was great to just stumble across it... we ended up spending ages there. We managed to sneak in a visit to Cilgerran Castle and Carreg Sampson burial chamber on the way home too.
We left Pembrokeshire for Mid Wales, and despite having a fairly full day planned, the car had other ideas, deciding that today was the day it would make noises that you normally expect to hear coming from a tank, rather than a 1L car... so we found a garage and got it checked out (times like this make me miss being able to call my Dad to ask what's wrong!). As it turned out, the muffler had come lose and was past its best, so a new one was summoned and arrived within a couple of hours, so it wasn't a complete waste of a day, and we managed to get to Mwnt (no idea how to say that, I'm afraid) for lunch and Llandovery to see the ruins of the castle there, before driving to our digs, England and Wales' most remote hostel, Ty'ncornel. It was quite a way from everywhere, and the last mile of the track was a bit iffy, but the reward was a converted farmhouse, with an open fire, and no one else staying. Once the fire was roaring, we defrosted a bit and decided we would once again have to sleep in the lounge as the rest of the place was a bit Arctic... Kent even got up a few times in the night to keep the fire blazing - so sweet of him!
We stayed with Louise's parents, Sue & Cyril, in Berriew for the next three nights and they were fabulous hosts, and in an ideal place for some cruisy days, checking out a huge antique shop, Stokesay Castle, the ruins of the Bryntail Lead Mine, and Ludlow, where I finally had my watch fixed (perhaps now we will get up earlier?). We also went up the coast to Harlech, the site of one of the most impressive castles we've been to, then it was onto a Roman amphitheatre site (as we later found out, we didn't look at the right things there though), 500ft underground into some slate mine caverns, then another burial chamber.
When we holidayed, Kent's father suggested we go to Portmeirion, but we ran out of time, so we made sure we went this time around, and it was well worth the visit. It's an 'Italianate' private village, created by an architect who saved some old facades of buildings in other towns around the country and built up a really colourful, beautiful little town. The weather was a bit average when we were there, and it was still lovely, so I imagine in summer it's even better. From there, seeing as we just can't get enough castles, we stopped off at Criccieth Castle before we went to our bunkhouse at the end of the Lleyn peninsula (the sticky out bit on the west coast in the north of Wales). We walked along one of the headlands the next morning, which, despite our host's estimation that it would take an hour, took over 3, although the scenery was amazing.
Our last day in Wales was Sunday, which meant lots of things were closed, including what seemed like the entire town of Holyhead, which we drove all the way across Anglesey Island to walk around, but never mind, we still had a quick walk around near the marina for a look at the yachts and ferries. We were mostly just killing time until the Segontium Roman Fort opened, so as soon as it did we were on the doorstep, wandering around, absorbing the history... it never ceases to amaze either of us that these remains have been there for SO long - these ones started being built in 78AD! The volunteer working there was really interesting too, he really knew his history, so it was great to talk with him about all sorts of Roman and other history. I have just read that back and realised what utter geeks we are... but it's hard not to be. Photos, geeky and not-so-geeky, below:

Then we drove back to Sheffield, some of the way in some fairly heavy snow flurries - it was very pretty, but a bit worrying as all we've seen and heard in the news today is how much there's been all over the country, trains into London are mostly suspended, the roads are trecherous and Heathrow has had to cancel lots of flights and delay others... and we're supposed to be flying from there to Marrakech tomorrow afternoon after driving to Ipswich and taking the train from there... eek! Never mind, am sure we'll get there in the end...

K & E x

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quite intrestig! These burial excavations are similar to Japanese ones which are
AD2c-6c.There are nothing do with JP and UK. Big stones location are same.Your travel inspired me to read English ancient history.