Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

Yule is the celebration of the winter solstice and has been celebrated for thousands of years. The winter solstice this year is on the 21st December.

For 6 days at this time of year the sun appears to stand still on the horizon. It was a time of uncertainty and mystery as the ancients wondered if indeed the sun would return. When it did return, year after year, festivals grew up in just about every place and culture.

The ancients realised that the solstice was the longest night of the year. It was a time of celebration and rejoicing in the knowledge that soon the warm days of spring would return, and the dormant earth would come back to life.

Greenery such as holly, pine and laurel were used to decorate homes. Because they are evergreen it was thought that they had power over death and destruction.

Mistletoe was held as being sacred. It was hung over doorways as it was believed that it would bring fertility and abundance.

The yule log was usually oak. Traditionally it was burned continuously for 12 days. A bit of the wood would be kept for kindling next years fire and the ashes would be spread on the ground and used as a fertiliser.

A HAPPY YULE TO EVERYONE.


Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Tuesday 16th. June dawned bright and sunny so I set off towards Dolgellau. The start of the precipice walk is at Coed y Groes, on the narrow road between Dolgellau and Llanfachreth.

The walk lies on the Nannau Estate which grants permission for use of the footpaths.

There has been a house at Nannau since the 12th. century, when the estate was  owned by Cadwgan, Prince of Powys. The original building was burned down in 1404  after trouble between the owner, the 8th. Earl of Nannau and his cousin Owain Glyndwr.

The house wasn’t rebuilt until 1693. The Nannau family (who became the Nanney’s), still lived on the estate, but were having financial problems. Hugh Nanney was imprisoned for trying to sort out his financial prblems by cutting down 10,000 Oak trees.

When the male line died out the female line, which had married into the powerful and influential Vaughan family, took over and replanted many of the trees. In 1796 they built the grand mansion that stands today.

The early part of the walk crosses woodland and farm pasture. Nannau Hall stands to the south east, and you can glimpse it through the trees as you start the walk.

Nannau Hall.

Nannau Hall.

As the path starts the slight ascent up around Foel Cymwch you get your first sight of Llyn Cymwch in a hollow surrounded by woodland.

Llyn Cymwch from the north.

Llyn Cymwch from the north.

As the path ascends and rounds Foel Cymwch spectacular views open up. The first photo is the view to the east; the lush foothills and pasture land of this part of Wales. The second photo is the view across Coed Dôl-y-clochydd towards the peaks of Snowdonia.

Looking north east from the side of Foel Cymwch.

Looking north east from the side of Foel Cymwch.

Looking over CoedDol-y-clochydd.

Looking over Coed Dol-y-clochydd.

I could have spent hours sat here. The views in any direction were stunning and it was so peaceful. All I could hear as I sat looking out over the wonderful landscape was bird song, the occasional sheep and the breeze rustling through the bracken. The sun was bright and warm and it was a shame that I had to move, but the precipice was just around the corner.

The narrow path winds it’s way along a terrace on the slope of Moel Cymwch with the Mawddach valley down below. The path is quite rocky in places so good boots are definitely a good idea.

The precipice footpath.

The precipice footpath.

The Mawddach valley from the precipice footpath.

The Mawddach valley from the precipice footpath.

The precipice footpath.

The precipice footpath.

The precipice path itself  is just over a mile, with the occasional twist and turn to add interest. As you reach the southern end, below Foel Faner, more beautiful scenery opens up in front of you.

Straight in front of you Afon Mawddach meanders through the plain of Dolgellau, on through sand banks before reaching the sea. Just to the left are the northern cliffs of the Cadair Idris mountains.

Once again this is a place just to sit and take in the views and the peace.

Afon Mawddach meanders to it's estuary.

Afon Mawddach meanders to it's estuary.

The northern cliffs of the Cadair Idris mountains.

The northern cliffs of the Cadair Idris mountains.

It’s a shame, but once again I have to move on. Now the path turns to the left and descends to the shores of Llyn Cymwth. The scene is still peaceful, with just a few fishermen on the banks of the lake. The walk back to the car park is along the tree lined banks of this lovely little lake.

Llyn Cylmwch from the southern end.

Llyn Cylmwch from the southern end.


Fishermen line the banks of Llyn Cylmwch

Fishermen line the banks of Llyn Cylmwch

Fishing on Llyn Cymwch

Fishing on Llyn Cymwch

The precipice walk starts and ends at Coed y Groes. It’s only about a  4 mile walk so you can have an afternoon stroll or make a day of it. There are a couple of picnic tables at the car park, but there are plenty of places to sit on the way round. Whichever you prefer, the precipice walk is definitely worth a visit.


Read Full Post »

Sunday 24th. May and it’s a glorious morning so I’ve decided to head out for my first visit to the Llyn Peninsular. My first stop being Criccieth castle.

The first view of the castle is seeing it stood on a headland, the  sea  around most of it with the village huddled around the  bottom.

Criccieth castle, 24 May 2009.

Criccieth castle, 24 May 2009.

It is thought that the castle gave it’s name to the village rather  than the other way round. The origins of the name thought to be  “crug” (hill) and “caith” (captives). The castle was also a jail.

It was originally built in the 1230’s by Llewelyn the Great. It  was a Welsh castle with a very English style twin-towered  gatehouse.

The gatehouse

The gatehouse

The castle was taken by the English in 1283, extended and more fortifications added. The Welsh never gave up though, and it was taken and burned by them in 1404.

View from a gateway

View from a gateway

Medieval maids at Criccieth castle, 24 May 2009.

Medieval maids at Criccieth castle, 24 May 2009.

Knight fight.

Knight fight.

Knights fight at Criccieth castle.

Knights fight at Criccieth castle.

Criccieth, looking west towards Pwllheli, 23 May 2009.

Criccieth, looking west towards Pwllheli, 24 May 2009.

The views from the castle are not to be missed. Both east and  west offer wonderful vista’s.

In truth there is not very much left of the castle, but the  entertainment provided by the Ardudwy Knights added to the  visit.

Criccieth beach from the castle.

Criccieth beach from the castle.

After spending time at the castle and looking around the village I headed a few miles west, to the village of Llanystumdwy. This is the childhood home of the great Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George.

David Lloyd George's childhood home, 23 May 2009.

David Lloyd George's childhood home, 24 May 2009.

Lloyd George was born in Manchester (of Welsh parents) in 1863, but on the death of his father (in 1864) the family returned here, to be cared for by his uncle Richard.

The workshop to the left is where Richard had his shoemakers workshop, with the small cottage to the right where the family lived.

The Lloyd George museum.

The Lloyd George museum.

The museum was officially opened in 1960 by Lloyd George’s brother William, when he was 97.

The splendid entrance gates were provided by the Royal Borough of Caernarfon.

Unfortunately photography is not allowed in the museum or the cottage, but they are well worth a visit. The cottage and workshop have been restored to their original condition.

The village school.

The village school.

Church of St. John.

Church of St. John.

Lloyd George's grave above Afon Dwyfor.

Lloyd George's grave above Afon Dwyfor.

David Lloyd George had chosen his burial site before his death, a spot  overlooking Afon Dwyfor where he used to sit.

He died in 1945, and his grave is marked only by the boulder on which he  used to sit. It can be seen behind the gates.

After the funeral his wife Frances commisioned an architect to build the  enclosure around the grave.

Afon Dwyfor below Lloyd George's grave.

Afon Dwyfor below Lloyd George's grave.

There is much more to see around Llanystumdwy, it is well worth a visit.

“As a man of action, resource and creative energy he stood when at his zenith, without a rival. His name is a household word throughout our Commonwealth of Nations. He was the greatest Welshman which that unconquerable race has produced since the age of the Tudors. Much of his work abides, some of it will grow greatly in the future, and those who come after us will find the pillars of his life’s toil upstanding, massive and indestructable”. Winston Churchill’s tribute in Parliament in 1945.


Another short drive west took me to Penarth Fawr, a wonderful Medieval stone built hall house.

Penarth Fawr, 23 May 2009

Penarth Fawr, 24 May 2009

The house is thought to have been built by Madoc of Penarth in  1416. Few such houses still remain in Wales, and most of the  ones which do remain are half-timbered rather than stone built.

The fireplace (the only one in the house)

The fireplace (the only one in the house)

Some of the roof beams.

Some of the roof beams.

Part of the main room.

Part of the main room.

It was a day of Medieval splendour and a Victorian childhood leading to great things. A full day, but what a heritage we have to explore. Visit Wales, visit your heritage.

Read Full Post »

The Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza is held over the 3 days of the May Bank Holiday.

 

It’s a great family day out, especially when the weather is as good as it was on the Saturday this year.

 

A parade is held each day with bands, Victorian dress, traction engines and vintage transport. The whole of the main shopping street is closed off (asare many of the streets off), for fairground rides, stalls and entertainment.

 

I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

 

One of the marching bands.

One of the marching bands.

 

 

This is just one of the bands, there are a number of others, including one from Llandudnos’ twin town in France.

 

 

 

 

Parade 2, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

 

Parade 4, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 There are lots of wonderful Victorian costumes to be seen.

 

 

Parade 5, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

Traction engine 2, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

Traction engine 4, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

Traction engine 6, 2 May 09

 

 

 

Vintage 1, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage 2, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage 3, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage 6, 2 May 09

 

 

 

Vintage 8, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

Vintage 9, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

 

Crowds on the promenade.

Crowds on the promenade.

 

On the promenade

On the promenade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun for all the family.

Fun for all the family.

 

 

 

 

 

Fairground 3, 2 May 09

 

 

 

 

 

All the fun of the fair along the main shopping street.

All the fun of the fair along the main shopping street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crowds along the main street with the Great Orme in the background, and a wonderful blue sky.

 

 

The Ghurkas still need our support.

The Ghurkas still need our support.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget that the Ghurkas still need our support, the battle isn’t won yet.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday, the 17th September 2008, one of the few dry days we’d had for some time. The sun was out, though hazy at times, so off to Caernarfon for a wander around the castle there.

Caernarfon castle is another of King Edward 1st’s ring of castles in north Wales. But though castles like Conwy and Rhuddlan are wonderful places, this one is different. Edward started building Caernarfon in 1283 and it still wasn’t completely finished when building work stopped in 1330.

He wanted his master-mason and military engineer to build a castle that would echo the walls of the Roman City of Constantinople

What he achieved was very close to that. Many consider this to be the finest castle that man has seen. 

From the south, across Afon Seiont you get the best view, showing not only the size, but the wonderful multi-angular towers and colour-banded walls.

 

 

 

 The plan of the castle is shaped almost like a figure  8. Divided into two wards, in this view the lower  ward is in the foreground, the narrow waist in the  centre and the upper ward beyond.


 Many of the walls and towers have survived, though  some have been restored. The courtyard buildings  though have mostly disappeared, except for  foundations or toothing projecting from walls.

 

The picture on the left is of the kitchen, or all that remains of it. It is conveniently located next to the Well tower and opposite the Great Hall. In a castle of this size the kitchen would have to cater for about 600 people every day.  

The picture on the right is one of the staircases in a tower. very steep and narrow, I wouldn’t have wanted to run up them carrying a crossbow and other equipment!

 



In the centre is one of the arrow loops, showing the thickness of the walls. This castle has a unique arrangement of arrow loops, allowing bowmen to use their firepower in several directions at the same time, it must have been pretty devastating in Medieval times.

 

This is the upper ward. It is built on the site of a previous Motte-and-Bailey castle and as you can see, it is raised. This was the site of the bailey.


To the left is the Granary Tower, with the North-East Tower just behind it.

The Queens Gate is on the right.

 

 This is the upper ward looking back to the lower  ward.

 Edwards son, known as Edward of Caernarfon, was  born in the castle and became the first Prince of  Wales in  1301.

 The large circular slate dias was placed there and  used for the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of  Wales in 1969. The slate was from a local quarry  which has now closed.

 Modern investitures had started again in 1911. This  is a fantastic setting for these ceremonies.

 

 

This is an old cannon standing in the “waist” between the two wards. The Queens Gate is in the background.

 

 

 

 


 

 This is one of the covered wall-walks. very dark and  narrow.

 

This is one of the walk-ways around the top of the castle, this one is between the Black Tower and Chamberlain Tower.

 The view from  the lower ward. On the right are  the  foundations of the Great Hall. What a pity  that this is all thats left, it must have been  an impressive place 100ft long.

 The Chamberlain Tower is on the right with  the base of the Queens Tower in the right  foreground.

 Left centre is the Kings Gate. The immense  strength of medieval  fortifications are in  evidence here. When completed, intruders  would have had to  cross a drawbridge, pass  through 5 doors  and under 6 portcullises,  with a right- angled turn from the main gate  passage to a smaller passage, along the south side of the gate house, before entering the lower ward over a drawbridge!

 

 

The view from the Queens Tower, looking up Afon Seiont to the hills beyond.

 

 


 

 

 

 The Eagle Tower is the greatest of all the castles towers.

 Everything about the tower is designed on a grander  scale. 

 Like some other towers it’s built with a basement and 3  storeys, with the 3 lofty turrets giving it it’s special  appearance.

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

A view of the top of the Eagle Tower from the Well Tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything about the Eagle Tower is on a grander scale. 

The rooms, as in other towers are 10-sided, but these are 30 to 35ft across. 

The stone eagle is still perched on top of the west turret, but is very weathered now.

 

 


 The view from the Eagle Tower. The town wall is in  the foreground.

 The view then extends across the Menai Strait to  Anglesey

 

 

 

The town walls looking towards the castle from the shore of the Menai Strait.

The gate in the background (after the tower) is known as the Porth-yr-Aur, “The Golden Gate”.

Most of the wall is still intact, and there are eight towers and two twin-towered gates.

 

 

 

 Another view of the town wall showing 2 towers, and  on the right part of St Mary’s chapel.

 St Mary’s was built into the wall in the 14th century.

 

 I’ve spent over 4 hours looking round this wonderful  castle, and still haven’t seen everything. 

 There is so much to see here, including interactive  displays, gift shops and the museum of the Royal    Welch  Fusiliers. It’s well worth a visit if your heading  to north west Wales.

Read Full Post »