A canal and a castle

I smiled that day.

Now you might think “So what?” or “Sad if she has to write about it.” but it wasn’t just any smile (trust me, I do smile a lot). It’s the kind of smile I get every now and again whilst driving through some especially beautiful scenery, just being happy I’m there. Or, as in this instance, I smile because there are finally more green leaves on the trees than bare twigs and spring is taking over. I just love life in these situations.

It was St George’s Day and I was making my way to the Shropshire Union Canal in Waverton, having planned a walk to Beeston Castle and back, when I realised it was spring and everything covered in a light green of fresh foliage.

It was the perfect day for a walk: the sun was shining (though there was a chilly breeze), birds chirping away, bumble bees buzzing around, butterflies enjoying a warm sun bath, the canal floating along slowly and, well, quite a distinct smell of cow manure in the air.

This part of the canal is not quite as popular as the other direction towards Chester, so I had the path mostly to myself. I could see Beeston Castle, my destination for the day, and Peckforton Castle in the distance and had some nice views across the Cheshire Plain.

Beeston Castle is quite a fascinating place. It is perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 feet (107 m) above the Cheshire Plain and offers stunning views across 8 counties. The site of the castle may have been inhabited or used as a communal gathering place as early as the Neolithic period and there have been found remains of a Bronze Age community and of an Iron Age hill fort.

The castle itself was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester on his return from the Crusades. The castle saw good and bad times and came back into service during the English Civil War in 1643. It was partly demolished in 1646, in accordance with Cromwell’s destruction order, to prevent its further use as a stronghold. During the 18th century the site was used as a quarry.

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View towards Wales

It is rumoured that a treasure belonging to Richard II lies undiscovered in the castle grounds, but no traces could be found so far. The castle is now in ruins and managed by English Heritage.

If you are interested in another ‘canal and castle walk’, you can walk a ‘Welsh version’ near Llangollen. Castle Dinas Bran offers some stunning views too.

 

Year of adventure 

2016 is officially the ‘Year of Adventure’ here in Wales and to celebrate the occasion a selection of 5 family adventure walks along the Wales Coast Path (WCP) has been put together. Bettisfield boatsIt offers some very beautiful views and rugged sceneries along the coast suitable for all the family to start your own little adventure. 

I’m happy to report that one of the pictures I took on my own little adventure on the WCP along the Dee Estuary is featured in the Holywell to Flint family walk

You can find my personal impressions of that part of the WCP here.

So why not get your walking shoes out and explore the beautifulnorth Wales coast this year. 

Mount Snowdon via Rhyd Ddu Path

Last time I walked up Mount Snowdon it was beautiful at Llanberis but the summit was hidden in the clouds and visibility close to zero, even though the weather forecast had predicted otherwise. So when another glorious day at the summit was predicted but I saw nothing but thick fog when looking out of my bedroom window, I was naturally a bit suspicious. Turned out to be the most wonderful day.

Llyn Gwynant

Just had to stop on my way to take a picture of Llyn Gwynant, it was just too beautiful.

I wanted to try a new route this time and chose the Rhyd Ddu Path. Even though it is a bit more challenging the prospect of less people and a new striking mountain scenery was enough to tempt me. Just let me say, I found my new favourite route.

Start Panorama

If you know what to look for, the whole way is laid out before you.

Llyn y Gadair & Llyn Cwellyn

The view back from a bit further up. I think on the left you can see Llyn y Gadair and on the right Llyn Cwellyn

The path starts of quite gentle along an old quarry track but gets considerably steeper when leaving the track and climbing up to the Llechog ridge.

view Bwlch Main

The path then follows the ridge (from right to left) and across the saddle to the summit. You can just make out the summit station, the darker dot on the highest point.

summit cafe

The summit and station zoomed in. It was really busy considering it was out of season, which meant no railway up the mountain and no refreshments either.

The path then follows the ridge and along Bwlch Main which has to be my favourite part of the path. The path along the saddle doesn’t necessarily make your heart beat faster but definitely makes you pay attention where you put your feet. The view down the steep slopes is amazing.

Bwlch Main panorama

Some spectacular views along the way.

Bwlch Main path

My favourite part of the path.

Bwlch Main path2

It looks quite dramatic.

The final climb to the summit is steep again and it was at this point where I thought I almost had enough and wanted a break. It’s not that long but my legs were tired.

Compared to my last visit the views from the summit were breathtaking this time. There wasn’t any breeze nor clouds at all just glorious sunshine. I’ve been up there several times now but it was never that beautiful, especially considering the fact it was November already. Felt more like a late summer’s day.

summit seagull

At the summit the seagulls are never far, looking for some food.

snowdon summit

You can’t get any higher in Wales or England

Snowdon Summit_Panorama4

Panorama at the top – you actually have to turn around somewhat to see all this.

misty mountains

The light was interesting.

Unfortunately, because of it getting dark so early now, I couldn’t linger too long and had to start my descent soon as I wanted to reach my car before it was pitch black. I just about made it.

sunset hills

The setting sun bathed the hills and mountains in a warm golden-red light. They almost seemed to be on fire.

sunset flare

The grass looked almost golden.

sunset

Better hurry now.

sunset hdr

It never looks as beautiful in a photograph than it actually was.

rhyd ddu

Looking back. Certainly will walk this route again.

Afternoon stroll with panoramic views

October has been quite kind so far with some glorious sunshine. So what better way than to spend an afternoon outside, go for a stroll and enjoy a nice panorama.

I started at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and made my way towards Llangollen. But instead of walking along the canal, I decided to walk through Trevor Hall Wood and use the Panorama Walk giving you some pretty good views across the valley and Dinas Bran. I had done this already a couple of years ago but as part of a circular walk from Rhos via World’s End.

But enough talk, let’s walk.

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Trevor Hall Wood. Unfortunately you don’t get to see the hall at all.


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Feels like going on an adventure trail.


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After ‘climbing’ the hill you’re rewarded with the first panorama. You can clearly see the River Dee; to the right of it, lined by trees, is the disused railway line, followed by the road and on the top of single the hill on the right you can see the ruins of Dinas Bran.


dinas bran 1

Dinas Bran, a bit closer.


quarry 2

The area was heavily quarried in the past.


dinas bran 2

‘Snack break’, before turning back. Not many people come up here (they stay on the road below) apart from climbers.


quarry 1

Looking back across the quarry.


dinas bran 3

Dinas Bran. I thin in the distance you can see part of the Berwyn Range.


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Last time, I promise.


quarry 3

Man made, but nature is claiming back slowly.


aquaeduct

Nice view towards the aqueduct and the more modern viaduct.


autumn

Autumn colours

Yr Eifl revisited

If you read my blog regularly you might remember that I visited the region of Yr Eifl on the Llŷn Peninsula before. But instead of the promised glorious views I got stuck in the clouds and a very cold wind.

I wasn't too impressed last time ( you might be able to tell)  as you couldn't see a thing and the wind was quite fierce and cold.

I wasn’t too impressed last time (you might be able to tell) as I couldn’t see a thing and the wind was quite fierce and cold.

It was time to give it another try as the forecast sounded quite good and what can I say, it was amazing! The views are spectacular and even though it was a very fine day I had the mountains almost all to myself. I won’t bore you with too many details (you can read it in the older post), just enjoy the views.

Looking towards Yr Eifl from the Porth-y-Nant upper car park

Looking towards Yr Eifl from the Porth-y-Nant upper car park

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Not too bad so far. Imagine this to be a 3/4 turn. Yr Eifl (left) is actually more behind me, then you get a stunning view across the Llyn Peninsula

Yr Eifl heather

Missed the heather in full bloom but still pretty.

happy face

See. Happy face this time.

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On my way to the Tre’r Ceiri Iron Age hill fort looking towards Porthmadog and Snowdonia (roughly)

Tre'r Ceiri 1

Entering the hill fort

Tre'r Ceiri 2

This time you could even make out the round shapes of the stone huts.

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Lunch break with a view. Yr Eifl and the heavily quarried and inaccessible Garnfor on the left, looking along the coast line towards Caernarfon.

Tre'r Ceiri 3

Leaving the hill fort through another of the old ramps. Next stop the highest peak of ‘The Rivals’, Yr Eifl.

Tre'r Ceiri 4

Looking back towards the hill fort. The size is astonishing.

Yr Eifl

Almost there.

summit chocolate

Never break with old traditions! ‘Summit chocolate’ – I was introduced to this as a child during summer holiday camps in the Dolomites.

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Almost 360º panoramic view from the summit. It was so worth it.

If you’re ever in the area on a nice day, just do it and go up there. There is also a ‘Weatherman Walk’ available for the area.

Wales Coast Path – Flint Castle to Greenfield Dock

Do you remember that ‘super’ weekend we had in March? Solar eclipse on the Friday, super weather on Saturday and Sunday, super moon (even though we couldn’t see it) and a super tide. So I decided to go for a super walk along the Wales Coast Path. I had tried the same stretch the previous year but some parts were closed off because of storm damage.
Flint Castle2I started at Flint Castle and was surprised how close the water was to the castle walls because of the super tide. Usually, even at high tide, it doesn’t reach them and you could have easily taken a bath at some of the seats and picnic tables. Lets just say I wasn’t the only spectator.

flint castle1I didn’t visit the castle itself this time (if you’re interested you can find some pictures here) and instead pressed on.
Flint Castle3The path is very idyllic and provides great views across the Dee Estuary and towards the West Wirral on this stretch.

First I reached Flint Dock which was built in the 1800s to export lead from Halkyn Mountain and later coal and timber. It’s hard to believe but this quiet quayside was once the busiest place in Flint.

Flint Dock. Last time I was here, there was only mud and no water at all.

Flint Dock. Last time I was here, there was only mud and no water at all.

Taken during my last vist.

Taken during my last vist.

The beacon at Flint Point is lit for special events.

Flint Point offers excellent views across the estuary.

Flint Point offers excellent views across the estuary.

You get magnificent views back towards Flintshire Bridge and Connah’s Quay Power Station and up the estuary towards Greenfield.

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Looking towards Greenfield

Coast Path

There are plenty of signs for the coast path so you can’t miss it.

sheep

No walk in Wales without some sheep…

bird water

…but obviously you get some other animals too.

In its heyday 30 ships a day would land at Bagillt Station Gutter carrying lead, coal and copper as well as passengers from Liverpool.

Bagillt DockBettisfield Colliery was the largest and most important coal mines in Bagillt during the 19th century and employed over 500 men. Amazingly some mine shafts were even dug under the estuary itself with only two small pumps to drain the water away.

Bettisfield Colliery

Unfortunately not in good shape these days.

Bettisfield Colliery2

You still get a sense for the size of the colliery.

Bettisfield carpark

If you go to the car park you can meet ‘Bettisfield Bob’

The dragon sculpture has a beacon on its back which is lit along with other beacons along the coast during special events. Underneath it is a time capsule placed there by local people.

Bettisfield beacon

Properly Welsh – a dragon sculpture for the beacon

Bettisfield panorama

View from the beacon across the estuary and towards the west Wirral.

Fisherman’s Inlet – local fisherman have fished here for generations.

Bettisfield boatsGreenfield Dock – even though there has been some activity here since the Roman times, it wasn’t until the legend of St Winefride’s Well in nearby Holywell that pilgrims started flocking here from the Wirral, Liverpool and further away. As industry in Greenfield Valley grew, the dock expanded and copper from Anglesey was unloaded here and sent to the valley’s mills to be turned into copper goods.

Greenfield boats

Today you can only find small boats at Greenfield Dock.

Greenfield1

Statue on the other side of the dock.

I have walked several stretches of the Wales Coast Path so far and am absolutely hooked. Guess that means more walking for me during the summer months.

Dyserth – waterfalls, views and quarries

‘Dyserth’ means ‘a deserted  place, a hermitage’. But throw into the mix a Saturday afternoon and glorious sunshine and it’s not that deserted at all.

Dyserth was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 and is steeped in history, from an ancient hill fort on the top of Moel Hiraddug to the industrial quarries and lime kilns. The village is also known for its spectacular waterfall which cascades seventy feet from the River Ffyddion in the centre of the village and provided the perfect starting point for my circular walk.

dyserth1dyserthThe massive pair of walls to the left of the falls were probably built to support a water wheel which would have been driven by water diverted from above the waterfall.

dyserth14Making my way up to the top of the waterfall and the river. These stones are most likely property boundary markers, the Windsor family was one of the dominant landowners in the area.

dyserth3

dyserth4In 1869 the London and North Western Railway opened a branch line from the main line at Prestatyn to Dyserth. Initially this served the Talargoch Lead Mines and the two Dyserth Quarries. It was not until 1905 that a passenger service was opened.

dyserth5The Meliden Goods Shed once bustled with activity when the train was the lifeline for the local community.

dyserth8Remains of the loading gauge. It prevented the trucks being loaded too high to go under the bridges and through tunnels.

dyserth7Stunning panorama from the top of Graig Fawr. (Sorry, a bit small. Just click on it for a bigger view)dyserth panorama smallAlong the way.

dyserth9Grove Mill, for flour, closed in 1912, was re-opened in 1920 and finally closed five years later.

dyserth11 dyserth10Walking through Church Wood towards the village of Cwm.

dyserth12dyserth13Even the sheep have beautiful views here.

dyserth15When you think you’ve done it all after passing the lower slopes of Moel Hiraddug…

dyserth16Back in the village of Dyserth you can find many remains of lime kilns.

dyserth17One last look at the waterfall.

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