Category Archives: UK:

The bell tolls for paradise lost

Bostadh Beach with its bell on Great Bernera, off the Isle of Lewis is an enchanting place. It is not a new discovery as evidenced by the Iron Age Village unearthed by a storm in 1992. Trying to encapsulate its charms with my humble words is a futile task; therefore, this will be a photo essay. In fact as with many places like this only a visit can convey the full experience.

Bostadh Beach
Bostadh Beach

Time and Tide Bell

In 2010, Bostadh was selected as a location for the installation of one of Marcus Vergette’s twelve Time and Tide Bells that are to be installed around the British Isles at the rate of one per year. The waves at high tide move a paddle which is connected to a striker which sounds the bell albeit reasonable quietly. With the predicted sea level rises over the coming decades the bells will not only toll more frequently but the tones will change subtly according to the height of the tides. It is not intended to be a part of the Dark Mountain Project, , but it fits nicely with the philosophy of civilisation being slowly drowned. The bells will toll more frequently signalling the demise of low-lying habitats around the world. Bostadh is an excellent place to stop and think, and perhaps the bell sounding will stimulate thought of places less fortunate as the tide comes in.

Time and Tide Bell
Time and Tide Bell

Installation of the bell at Bostadh was approved after local consultation and meetings. Objections were received just after the approval had been given. A number of people got in touch complaining that it would spoil the pristine natural environment at Bostadh. I’ve already mentioned the Iron Age village, in addition there is a cemetery, car park, toilets and picnic tables. However, there is little else there. Apart from the toilets there is no building newer than the Iron Age.

But, it seems for some people, a single bell can destroy paradise. But not as fast as the human race is managing to do in the early 21st century.

 

Iron Age Viallage at Bostadh Beach
Iron Age Village at Bostadh Beach
Iron Age Village at Bostadh
Iron Age Village at Bostadh
Inside Iron Age House
Inside Iron Age House

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily Photo: The Cannon, Tryfan, Snowdonia, Wales

The cannon, Tryfan, Snowdonia, Wales

The cannon, Tryfan, Snowdonia, Wales

Photo by Joelle Dubois.
I chose a poor day to attempt Tryfan with Joelle. Setting off in sunshine, the weather changed as soon as we reached “The Cannon”. Although only part of the way up, low clouds started to drop their load of water making the mountain a slightly hazardous place. Having read of numerous fatalities on Tryfan we decided to abort out visit to Adam and Eve, the two columns of rock on the summit and make our way back down. The OS Explorer map and compass we had with us would have been of little use if the visibility dropped to zero. Also the rain was now making the rocks slippery and since all routes up and down involve scrambling the chance of slipping, tripping or falling was increasing as the rain continued to fall. At least I could console myself with the fact that I had previously climbed Tryfan. The mountain will still be there for another day.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily photo: Tryfan, Snowdonia, Wales

Tryfan, Snowdonia, Wales

Tryfan

I am currently in quiet mode on Twitter, Facebook and Google plus as I am travelling around Wales. Today I was on the West Highland Railway. On my way I passed Tryfan. Tryfan is my favourite mountain in the United Kingdom. At only 3010 feet high, it is not a huge height to scale, especially as the base of the mountain is quite high above sea level. It is apparently the only mountain on the British mainland that requires the use of hands as well as feet, the easiest route being classified as a Grade 1 scramble. Other notable features of the Tryfan are the cannon, a rock jutting out at a forty five degree angle a third of the way up and Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are two natural standing stones on the summit. The climbers step across the 1.2 metre gap between them to gain the ‘Freedom of Tryfan’.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Causeway cliff walking

This is a companion post to The Antrim Coast: Mythical Giants and incredible geology on the VisitBritain SuperBlog.

 

Giant's Causeway
My walk on the Causeway Coast path started at the Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage site.
Causeway Coast path
Cliff top walks are always exhilarating experiences. The only downside I experience, comes when I wander to the edge of the cliff and look down. It feels as if there is a cord surgically attached to the pit of my stomach with a 25 kilogramme weight at the other end, dangling over the cliff. Even my camera, which weighs a couple of hundred grammes, feels to have increased in weight ten fold. The contradiction being, that I am still compelled to take a look over the edge in case I miss a seal, fisherman or a legendary sea creature sitting on the rocks, being showered by atomised breakers.

This section of of the Causeway Coast path is closed when the winds are too high. Today, though there was plenty of wind but no closure notices, but every now and then a high gust of wind would make its presence felt. One section has the only a metre between the cliff top and a farm fence. I walked this section with one hand on the fence the whole time, in case the wind suddenly picked up and sent me to join the crew of the Girona, a treasure ship from the Spanish Armada that was shipwrecked here in 1588. Of the 1300 people on board only nine survived.
Causeway Coast path

Causeway Coast path

Useful Information
Coastal bus service -Ulsterbus No. 376
National Trust Giant’s causeway

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Britain’s most popular canal?

The Llangollen canal between Llantysilio and Chirk is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United Kingdom than spans two countries. The listed section covers a distance of 18 kilometres and includes two aqueducts spanning deep valleys, as well as two tunnels. It was built between 1793 and 1808 and remarkably, given the terrain; no locks were employed. It was added to the list in 2009, but I have known it as long as I can remember. The fields of the farm I grew up on went down to the canal. I remember being given a fishing rod and trying unsuccessfully to catch a fish. I didn’t even catch an old boot or supermarket trolley. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why travel is one of my hobbies and not fishing. I remember our attempts as Scouts to cross the canal without getting wet, but inevitably someone would fall in, as we attempted to get across on ropes.

Llangollen Wharf
The canal was a branch of the Ellesmere Canal that linked Chester, the Mersey estuary, the Severn and the Midlands canal network. In fact it is still possible to get to London by canal from Llangollen. The canal was built near the start of the Industrial Revolution to Thomas Telford’s design and the work overseen by William Jessop. Telford designed the aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte using innovative materials and construction for that time.
Chirk Aqueduct
Chirk Aqueduct
The boundary of the UNESCO site is at the bridge at Rhosweil, a kilometre inside England. The photo above, is of Chirk Aqueduct, here there is a sign at the English side of the aqueduct saying ‘Welcome to England’ and a sign at the Welsh end saying ‘Welcome to Wales’. I wonder where you are when you are on the aqueduct itself? If you have an amusing answer then drop it in the comments.
The aqueduct across the Ceiriog Valley, is now eclipsed in height by the railway viaduct running alongside. A civil engineering statement about railway supremacy, something that the M1 motorway failed to do to the West Coast Main Line railway at Watford Gap. The railway embankment rises above the M1 as trains speed past the motorway traffic at nearly double the speed.
Chirk tunnel
Chirk canal tunnel
Shortly after Chirk Aqueduct the canal enters a 420 metre long tunnel. Which along with the 175 metre tunnel at Whitehurst, were the first in Britain to incorporate a towpath. The route of the canal is easy walking, even when it enters the steep sided Dee Valley, as it was designed to follow the contours of the land and falls a mere 30 millimetres every kilometre.
Pontcysyllte aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte aqueduct is the most impressive part of the Llangollen canal. Having taken the canal across the Ceiriog Valley, an even bigger obstacle had to be overcome, in the form of the deep glaciated Dee Valley. Telford designed a masterpiece of civil engineering with an aqueduct of nineteen slender hollow masonry piers supporting a cast iron trough with jounts sealed by Welsh flannel, soaked in sugar and sealed with a mixture of white lead and iron particles. The aqueduct carries the canal up to 38 metres above the valley for 307 metres making it the tallest and the longest aqueduct in the UK. Opened in 1805 the canal started making money in 1815 transporting slate, limestone, lime, and iron from the North Wales Coalfield and the Dee Valley. The grandeur of the project sealed Telford’s reputation and he went on to become the first President of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), a fact recorded on a plaque by the canal on the Froncysyllte side.

Llangollen canal
The canal then hugs the side of the beautiful Dee Valley to Llangollen and beyond to the Horseshoe Falls at Llantysilio. It is possible to hire a boat for the day from the wharf at Llangollen or take a horse drawn barge trip above Llangollen to by just below Pentrefelin. Of course many visitors come by narrowboat, Wrenbury, near Nantwich in Cheshire being a popular starting point for the cruise.
Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls
Due to be closed in 1944,  it was retained, albeit in a non navigable state, to supply water to Hurleston Reservoir, Nantwich. It underwent a renaissance not long after as canal cruises became popular and is now probably the most popular canal for narrowboats in Britain.
Getting there:
Nearest railway station is Chirk
Frequent buses to Trevor and Llangollen from Wrexham and the rail station at Ruabon.
Links:
UNESCO Listing
An unforgettable trip – A narrow boat trip on the Llangollen Canal by @Traveldudes on the VisitBritain SuperBlog

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Photo Essay: Holy Island, Anglesey

The main story for Holy Island can be found as “On the trail of a Welsh Asterix” on VisitBritain’s Superblog.
But here is a photo essay of some of the sights from the post and further afield on Anglesey.

HDR South Stack Lighthouse
HDR South Stack Lighthouse
South Stack
South Stack
Cliffs near South Stack
Cliffs near South Stack
Ty Mawr Hut Circles
Ty Mawr Hut Circles
Ferry heading to Ireland
Ferry heading to Ireland
Standing stone, Holy Island
Standing stone, Holy Island

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.