A medieval castle, a chestnut tree and Hercules

Chirk Castle is a magnificent medieval castle not far from where I live and I like to go there for a stroll around the garden and park. With its rounded towers it has a very distinct shape which reminds of Beaumaris Castle, another of the famous castles of Edward I along the north Wales coastline.

Chirk Castle was built by Robert Mortimer de Chirk between 1295 and 1310 to guard the Dee and Ceiriog valleys and as the local administrative centre. It has changed hands many times in the beginning with some of its owners being very important men of their age and recognised for their services to the crown. Even a future king – Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later King Richard III) – once owned it. But there is also another side to it. During the medieval period five of its owners were executed for treason, their estates seized by the Crown – caught up in wars that rumbled on for centuries.

Chirk Castle is the only Edward I marcher fortress that is still inhabited today and has been in the hands of the Myddleton family since 1595.

The gardens offer just the right mix of formality and lush flower borders with stunning views across the valley and the surrounding area. Actually the Hercules statue has probably the best view and he got here in a very ‘posh’ way – he was flown in by helicopter from his previous place in the lower woods. You will see a picture with a lonely plinth further down which used to be where he was positioned.

But it is worth to look beyond this and have a walk around the adjoining parkland. Various trails offer an insight into some interesting facts about the castle and the area and you might even see some wildlife and (almost) wild ponies.

And don’t miss the magnificent chestnut which has supposedly been here since the time of Henry VIII.

Even though I visit the house every time I’m there, I didn’t take any photographs as it is quite dark and my camera often struggles with these conditions. Best thing is to go there and explore it yourself. Chirk Castle is managed by the National Trust.

The Seven Wonders of Wales – Pistyll Rhaeadr

I thought it was about time to visit another of the Seven Wonders of Wales and a bit of colourful foliage would make a nice frame for a waterfall. Above all I learned four things:

  1. These really narrow village roads, lined with old stone houses, that are so narrow that at the end you think you’ll have the houses’ hanging baskets dangling from your wing mirror – Not too keen on those.
  2. A single-track road with passing places that goes on for mile, after mile, after mile, winding down the countryside still makes my palms slightly sweaty. Remember, I’m a city girl.
  3. The saying “Children and fools tell the truth” is sometimes correct. I met a family with a young boy at the bottom of the falls. They were coming down the hill as I was starting to go up. The boy said to his mother “The mountain was high!” – Should have warned me…
  4. The waterfall is beautiful and must be even more so with a bit of sunshine and less rain.
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My first glimpse of Pistyll Rhaeadr.

 

You might not have heard of the Seven Wonders of Wales yet, so here’s an anonymously written rhyme commemorating them:
Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple,
Snowdon’s mountain without its people,
Overton yew trees, St Winefride’s well,
Llangollen bridge and Gresford bells.

Apart from the Overton yew trees (I’ve been to Overton though) and the Gresford bells I have seen them all now. Let me just give you a couple of facts about Pistyll Rhaeadr.
Pistyll Rhaeadr is situated in the Berwyn Mountains in Powys, Mid Wales, and at a height of 240ft (80m) the UK’s tallest single drop waterfall. It might not have the volume or the width but it is in fact higher than Niagara Falls.

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Closer up.

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And from another angle. It’s just impressive.

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A bit of indian summer further downstream.

After I admired it from the bottom, I decided to walk up the “mountain” and take a look at where it all starts. You get some stunning views of the valley (at least on a clear day) but it was worthwhile the effort.

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Panorama on my way up.

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Almost there.

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The stream before it falls over the edge.

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There it goes.

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You get spectacular views up there.

Back down again I had a walk around the adjoining woods. Unfortunately it had started to rain earlier so it was just a brief walk.

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Autumn colours.

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I sneaked up on this little fellow.