Sunday, 16 August 2015

Robyn made me go to Wales.

I've been having quite a tough time recently and in the end Robyn got fed up and made me go to Wales for the day. We spent quite a while thinking it through and in the end as the weather forecast wasn't so great we thought we'd spend the day in Cardiff.

Except that when we got over the Severn Bridge it was so nice we went to Chepstow instead.

Here's the town gate;

Lot's of cobbled streets;

And shops selling helpful advice like this;

Chepstow is at the mouth of the River Wye where it joins The River Severn and they are very proud of the salmon in the river - people come from all over the world to fish;

As you can see;

These are the old Alms Houses - before the Welfare State, the old either starved at home, went into The Workhouse or if they were lucky into Alms Houses paid for by charitable donations.

Not much fun in there though;

Not much fun at all;

And then there's Chepstow Castle which was pretty magnificent in the sunshine;                                        

                     The splendour falls on castle walls
                     And snowy summits old in story:
                     The long light shakes across the lakes,
                     And the wild cataract leaps in glory

                               Alfred, Lord Tennyson   

If you look to the centre of the walls, at ground level - the rough area is the remains of the old Roman Castle ruins, which were used as a base to save time and money when the English occupiers rebuilt the castle.

The slit windows are impressive too;

It was so nice that we decided to drive along The Wye Valley, which is a steep sided gorge snaking it's way inland from The Severn estuary to the hills.

I was trying to sneak looks to the side, to catch a view of Tintern Abbey when I saw, standing at the roadside, a great bird of prey with a vole in its beak - it stared me straight in the eye and then slowly took off, so that it was flying alongside me for a while as I drove along.

An unbelievable moment.

We stopped by ruined Tintern Abbey;

Then we headed for Abergavenny and Crickhowell and past the hills and mountains I climbed when I was young and on my first holiday.

The dramatic 'Sugar Loaf' with views across the whole county.

Here's Table Mountain above Crickhowell and to the left of it 'The Black Mountain' which is a miserable place to be on in the rain!

Then there's the mighty horseshoe of The Brecon Beacons, with Pen-Y-Fan, the highest peak. There are some great views from the top where there was once a windswept stone age settlement - and then a walk down the other side along the old Roman Road and all the way around to get back to where you started.

We drove past The Storey Arms which is where most people start their walk up the mountain.

It looks nice today - but when I did it, it was a mixture of driving rain, fog and an occasional window of sunshine - a bit tougher than today.

It's an amazing hill to climb - to be fair it's a mountain even if it is green. The weather changes at 'the drop of a hat'.
The we followed the valley road down to Myrtha Tidfil and the old mining country and then a quick look at Cardiff on the way home.
The parliament building is nice and built at a very human level - there was a funfair outside and I imagine it's very approachable unlike Westminster. The nearby redevelopment of the Docks seemed much more pleasant than London's Dockland.
But we had a couple of more visits to do before our day out was over - two big, big contrasts.
That's for another day.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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