Tag Archives: Wales

A Welsh Day Trip in February

This is a short photo essay of part of a day trip to Llandudno and Anglesey on a Sunday in February. The first part of the day was spent walking around the Great Orme at Llandudno, but this post will concentrate on the afternoon spent in Anglesey. Crossing the Menai Straits on Stevenson’s Britannia Bridge we stopped for photos of his railway bridge and Telford’s Suspension bridge.

Menai bridge
One of Thomas Telford’s masterpieces

Telford’s bridge probably comes out in front in the elegance stakes, but I am impressed by Stevenson’s Britannia bridge. Originally a tubular rail bridge, it burnt down in the Seventies, to be recycled into both a rail and road bridge, using Stevenson’s original piers. Something sustainable in that approach appeals to me.

Brittania Bridge
Stevenson’s Britannia Bridge now carries road and rail traffic

On Anglesey we headed for Newborough Beach mainly because I hadn’t been there since I was a child. Back then it involved a trek across a track only passable in something like our farm Mk 1 Landrover. A TV programme on the geology of Llanddwyn Island had also stirred my interest.

Celtic cross on Llanddwyn
Newborough beach with Snowdonia in the background

Newborough beach is a expanse of clean sandy beach, behind which sand dunes and the red squirrel inhabited Newborough Forest rise up majestically. Walking North we came to the island and read the information panel on both the island’s significance as a place of pilgrimage and the Pre Cambrian geology. Then venturing onto the island passing the well used by lovers to check on the fidelity of their lovers, we came to a Celtic Cross. This is one of two crosses commemorating St Dwynwen on the Island. Llanddwyn and St Dynwen's Cross Her original cross can be found inland from the old lighthouse. The lighthouse was where a lot of the filming for “Half light” starring Demi Moore was filmed. The island also supplies locations for some scenes from the 2009 “Clash of the Titans” movie.

Pony on Llanddwyn
Pony on Llanddwyn

Llandwyn Island was Wales’ first bird reserve and the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The isle is grazed by ponies and sheep which maintains its present look.

Further reading for a Welsh Day Trip

This post is a companion post to Ynys Llanddwyn a place of pilgrimage for Welsh Lovers on the VisitBritain SuperBlog. Ynys Llanddwyn on Wikipedia.

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 personal reflection on flags for #FriFotos

The theme for the photo sharing day on Twitter on Friday 18 November 2011 was Flags. If you look at my Twitter profile you will see that I tend to spend time between three locations. In this piece, I will include photos, including flags from each of these places.
Wales
Welsh flag at Llangollen
Starting with my birthplace. This photo was taken while looking for new angles to take photographs from. The castle on the skyline is Dinas Bran. It was built by the Welsh sometime in the 1260’s but fell to King Edward 1 of England.

Belgium
Belgian flag
Taken while at Fete de la Musique in place des Palais. This photo was used by the Belgian French language Radio and TV broadcaster to illustrate how far Belgium was from forming a government. Belgium went to the polls on 13 June 2010 and didn’t agree on a workable coalition until 11 October this year. The country now holds the world record for the time taken to form a democratically elected government. The article can be found here. You may need to use Google Translate. They did accredit me as the copyright holder but did not link to my Flickr page or give me a link back, but I was humbled to have it included.

France
French flag at Chamonix
Finally a photo of the French Flag from outside the Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne (PGHM), Chamonix’s High Moutain Police. They operate a professional mountain rescue service. I end up at Chamonix at some time each winter, even if I don’t always spend the season there. I for one am glad that these brave policemen are there to rescue anyone in distress high in the Alps. The memorial plaque outside is sobering, as it records a the death of at least one policeman each year for nearly all the time it has been in existence.

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: Electric Mountain, Llanberis, North Wales

Electric Mountain, Llanberis, North Wales

Electric mountain, Llyn Peris
Dinorwig Pump Storage Power Station is hidden, not behind the low Welsh clouds, but inside the mountain itself. This project is a vital part of the United Kingdom’s electricity supply infrastructure. The last time I visited, it was a construction project. Now the power station takes visitors on bus tours into the mountain to see the massive valves, turbines and generators deep below the old quarry. It is the largest power station of its type in Britain and Europe.

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: Welsh Highland Railway

Welsh Highland Railway, North Wales

West Highland railway
The Welsh Highland Railway is North Wales’ newest railway, even though it is a reopening of a line closed to passenger traffic in 1936. This section graphically illustrates why the railway was built in the first place, as the Beyer Garratt locomotive hauls the train from Caernafon towards a slate quarry before Rhyd Ddu. The locomotives were made in Manchester and spent most of their working life in South Africa. They are the world’s most powerful 2 foot gauge locomotives.

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.

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.

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.