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A Scottish Magical Mystery

A Scottish Magical Mystery

 

Coach @ North Uist
Mystery coach, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, Scotland


You come across the strangest things while walking in the Outer Hebrides. You can walk all day and not meet another soul, but then, parked up in the middle of the croft is a coach; I immediately start wondering how it got there.

My theory is that a party of tourists from St Albans came to the islands one July and parked up in a grassy field for a picnic. Little did they know that it wasn’t to be their picnic, but that they would be eaten alive by the locals, in a plot lifted from a low budget horror movie. It is a known fact that the midges are at their most bloodthirsty in July. ūüėČ

If you had to think up a story of how these coaches end up empty in the middle of nowhere, what would you come up with? I will not accept answers like: “The crofter saw the old coach on ebay for ¬£4.99 and couldn’t resist it, so bought it and put it there until he thought of a use for it.” Does placing a coach in places like these benefit or degrade the environment?

 

 

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: A walk from Dalbeag beach to Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

A walk from Dalbeag beach to Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Dalmor beach

Instead of a¬†single¬†daily photo, today I have uploaded a number from a short walk along the coast on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. There is a waymarked trail. Just look up the information boards and follow the waymark posts. It is possible to walk from Gearannan to Bragar (10 miles in all). That’s enough writing for now. I hope you enjoy the photos.

DalbeagCoast walk, Isle of LewisCoast walk, Isle of LewisCoast walk, Isle of LewisOf course as we were walking on an August weekend the beaches were busier than usual as you can see from the first photo. I enjoyed watching the sea birds and discovering the numerous natural arches.

 

 

 

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: Powis Castle

Powis Castle, Welshpool, Wales

Powis Castle, Mid Wales
Now under the care of the National Trust, this property started life as a castle belonging to the Princes of Powis. It has an eventful history. The family holding an allegiance to Rome and the Stuarts, a marriage to the eldest son of Clive of India and Prince Charles’ base while staying in Wales all playing their part.
But on a visit, just enjoy the visit to the castle, Clive of India exhibition and the magnificent garden and perhaps enjoy tea and scones at one of the cafés run by the National Trust.

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 ‚Äď 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.

The Seven Wonders of Wales

This post appears on the Visit Britain Super Blog:

The Seven Wonders of Wales

Seven Wonders of Wales page

 

 

 

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.

Europe’s leading eco-centre: Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales

Is posted on the VisitBritain superbog. To read it, click on the link below:

Europe’s leading eco-centre: Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales

Here is another photo of the site not included in the post, part of the new WISE univeristy building:
WISE, Centre for Alternative Technology

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.

A prehistoric post: Bryn Celli Ddu, Anglesey, Wales

 

Anglesey, the large island separated from the rest of North Wales by the Menai Straits, is rich with megalithic sites.¬† Bryn Celli Ddu is considered to be the most important. The English translation being ‘the mound in the dark grove’. It is now in open fields but now and then my camera tells lies.
I arrived on a rainy July day to be denied the views of Snowdonia, that are usually reward visitors. The passage grave afforded some protection from the constant drizzle, so I proceeded inside.


Upon reaching the main chamber, I accidentally emulated the experience of the workmen who excavated the site in the 1920’s, a dark man sized, standing stone loomed up behind me. Spooky!


Sites such as Bryn Celli Ddu are still a mystery. The information boards around the site provide useful insights, but will never tell the full story. It is known that during the Stone Age, there was a henge here, with a stone circle within. Then during the Bronze Age the large passage grave was built over the centre of the henge. The earthen mound would have been four times as large as the present structure, making it more like Newgrange in Ireland.
Recently it has been confirmed that the passage aligns with sunrise on the summer solstice, the rays from the rising sun illuminating a quartz rich stone at the back of the chamber.

Some visitor information:
Location on Google Maps.
Nearest rail station is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
No admission fee, no restaurant and no souvenir shop.

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.