Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Make your opinion count!

We received the following press release from the Ramblers Association, requesting people fill in their online survey. It's to determine what issues people would like the association to address to improve access to the outdoors. If you would like to contribute, please click the link below.

We all love the outdoors, whether it's walking the dog around the local common or hiking up a peak in a national park. But is there anything that could make those outings even more enjoyable? And how can the Ramblers help make it happen? Are you concerned about climate change, pollution, or the loss of wildlife and green space? Or perhaps you think the big issue is encouraging people from all ages and backgrounds to be active outdoors? We've started a big conversation with people all over the country to help us decide what we should be doing for everyone over the next ten years and it would be great to have your views. So go all out and tell us what we can do to make your outdoors great, and we'll work with you to make it happen.

Please complete the following online survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GoAllOut

Monday, 25 November 2013

I am not a number, I'm a free walker!

If you are anything like me, there are loads of places in North Wales that are right on your doorstep, but which you've just never gotten around to visiting. Places that you always tell yourself that you'll visit next year, or the year after that.

Well, now you have no excuse not to visit Portmeirion at least, as they reduce the entry fee to £2 per adult and £1 per child until the end of March next year. You will need to download and print out a voucher from the Portmeirion website

There are a number of walks in the nearby woodland, but the main attractions of the village are its beautifully weird buildings, many of which are made from recycled materials. Clough Williams Ellis truly was an architect ahead of his time.

Take a walk on the Wild Side.

Project Wild Thing is a film led movement to get more kids (and their folks!) outside and reconnecting with nature. The film is an ambitious, feature-length documentary that takes a funny and revealing look at a complex issue, the increasingly disparate connection between children and nature.

Check out the trailer here: www.projectwildthing.com

This screening is brought to you free of charge by Snowdonia-Active. They will be taking donations on the night to support the work of The North Wales Environmental Outdoor Charter Group, a project which unites outdoor activity providers who wish to ensure the sustainable development of the outdoor sector through education of and addressing environmental issues which affect the sector.

Book your free ticket NOW on Eventbrite

When: Thursday, 12 December 2013, 18:30

Where: Caban - Brynrefail, LL5 3NR

Clean up on Llyn Padarn

December the 1st will see a winter clean up of Llyn Padarn organised by Loving our Lake and the Environmental Charter Group, between 2 and 5 pm. To reward your hard work, a free glass of wine courtesy of Barefoot Wine will be offered to all (adults) who take part.

Surf-Lines are hosting the event and will be offering canoes, free of charge to those who wish to venture onto the lake to help with the clean up. Alternatively you can take part on foot or even take a dip! The event is also supported by Keep Wales Tidy who will on hand during the day.

We think this is a great way to get the community together and show how much we Love Our Lake! 
Thanks to Snowdonia Active for informing us of this story in their newsletter.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Castell Dinas Bran

This is a short and sharp walk up to Castell Dinas Brân from the car park in the centre of Llangollen. It is only 1 and a half miles to get up to the castle, but it feels a lot more. The path is well marked and the going underfoot is pretty well drained. This is a walk with history and the views are spectacular.

View Castell Dinas Bran in a larger map

The hill seems to stand guard over the whole vale and has clear views on every side. It was occupied in very early times. Bronze age axe heads have been found and there appears to have been a fort here in Iron Age times - some of the banks can still be seen. Legend has it that Brân , one of the twin sons of an ancient duke of Cornwall, inherited this site and fortified it and then named it after himself. His mother, Queen Corwenna, founded the nearby town of Corwen. His brother Beli, went to New Troy (London).
However the castle which is now in ruins was actually built by Gruffydd ap Madoc, Prince of Powys, sometime before his death in 1269. This stone fortress had a very short life. It was besieged in 1277 by the Earl of Lincoln and the Welsh, realising their hopeless cause, set fire to Dinas Bran. The castle was never rebuilt and fell into disrepair. This story shows why so many of the Iron Age hill-forts were never reoccupied. These forts may have been built to show which group of warriors dominated the area and therefor could levy taxation and exert control. As defensive structures against a properly supplied army they were absolutely useless. The invaders simply had to surround the fort and wait for it to surrender when food and water ran out.

The path has good sign posts.
It's an uphill struggle, but well worth it, particularly when the trees are as beautiful as this.
In the foreground you can see a crow, which is quite fitting as the word brân also means crow in Welsh. Perhaps this is the true background to the place name.

Much of the stone appears to have been quarried from the hill itself.
The limestone cliffs of World's End, viewed from the fort.
It is hard to work out the exact design of the castle from the ruins.
Views from the ramparts towards the west.
Views to the south east and the Shropshire Plain.
The view down into Llangollen (where I parked the car).

Views to the north west.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Llangollen Canal Walk

This is a perfect autumn walk of 2 and a half miles (if you take the bus back) from the car park at Llantysilio Green to the war memorial in Llangollen. It is a fairly flat walk, clearly marked and on a level surface which is only a little muddy in the wettest of weathers. There is much scenic and historic interest.

View Llangollen Canal Walk in a larger map

A car park with loos! All free!

The first part of the walk is from Llantysilio Green to the church. It is a very quiet road, and no cars passed me.
The walk takes you above the Horseshoe Falls which were installed by Thomas Telford in order to maintain the level of the river at a fixed point so that some of the waters could be fed into his new canal.
This must be spectacular when the river is in flood.
This is a well marked cinder / gravel path.
This is the dead end of the canal, or the beginning if you are a glass half full sort of person. The building is a pump house to maintain the water level.
This is the chain-link bridge across the River Dee that gives its name to the nearby hotel.

The bridge has seen better days, and now looks like something that Indiana Jones would be forced to cross in some terrifying escape sequence. It is, of course, closed to the public, pending a long overdue restoration.

The canal path is only partially fenced off, so if you have unruly kids who can't swim then this is not for you.

In general the path is flat and has good access, so it is fairly suitable for wheelchairs if you pick your spot.

The walk takes you past the engineering works of the Llangollen Steam Railway.

The canal is popular with barges, despite being very shallow, as the canal was really designed primarily as a water feed.

The Llangollen Jetty - a good tea shop in season, and where a short barge trip can be taken.

The vista of Llangollen below the jetty.

A Pillar of the Community

If you head out of Llangollen on the Rhuthin road you will see all the glory of World's End to your right and then the ruined splendour of Valle Crucis Abbey. Two very good pubs on your left tempt you for an early lunch, but on the right there is a small pillar on a mound protected by some Cadw railings and a short information sign. It seems that this monument was once a cross and the years have taken their toll so that now it looks like a pillar.

These are the latin inscriptions on the back of the pillar, which have now been heavily eroded.
Here are the English translations which can be found in the Llangollen museum. It seems that these inscriptions relating to royal genealogy were read out as a proclamation, perhaps used as a tribute or at an inauguration of the rulers of Powys, a widespread Celtic practice. 

This shows the mound upon which the cross has been built. The mound probably dates back to the Bronze Age.
"Geophys", remember that from Time Team? It shows that there is a lot more about the site than meets the eye.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Llantysilio Church

I came across this church during my walk along the Llangollen Canal. It is in a beautiful setting above the Horseshoe Falls with abundant meadow land and woodland close by. The church is dedicated to Saint Tysilio, the son of the Prince of Powys in the early 7th century who died at the battle of Chester in 613. Tysilio's brother succeeded to the throne but then died within two years. His widow was determined to marry Tysilio and make him Prince of Powys, upon which news Tyslio fled to Brittany and settled near St. Marlow. The existing structure was probably built in the 15th century, although there is earlier carved stonework around the north window. The original church probably dated from 1180.

This wonderful window depicts scenes from St Tysilio's life.

This is a plaque dedicated to the poet Robert Browning, who once worshipped here.

The sculpted font

An interesting notice in the church porch.

This is all that remains of a giant yew tree, probably dating back a thousand years.

The north window has some interesting carvings which may have been rescued from Valle Crucis Abbey at the dissolution.

A lovely setting, especially at this time of year.

The walk from the car park takes you above the canal.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

At the going down of the Sun, And in the Morning...

I always make a point of observing the anniversary of the November 1918 Armistice. This year I was able to attend an Armistice Dinner on the Friday, and then a Remembrance Sunday service with the family. I never set out to go anywhere particular to observe the 2 minutes silence on the 11th itself. I simply stop at the nearest memorial wherever I happen to be. 11am on the 11th found me in Llangollen where I was able to attend the commemoration at the war memorial before setting out on my canal walk.

The memorial is in a prominent position on the high street and has a well supported field of remembrance.

The British Legion flags were lowered for the silence and the last post was played.

For the 1914 - 18 war there are 71 names recorded.

For the 1939 - 45 conflict there were 30 names recorded.
As the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War approaches there is a lot of interest in exactly who these people were. "We will remember them" should be taken literally and the history of these people has been traced by Peter Stubbs and David Crane who are prominent historian locally and play a great part in the local museum. David has written "Walks through the History of Rural Llangollen" and Peter is prepared to work for anyone who would like research carried out on people who served in the wars of the 20th century. He can be contacted at pastubbs23@hotmail.co.uk, or on 01978 869 037.

The history of the names on the Llangollen memorial can be seen at http://www.llangollenmuseum.org.uk/english/Memorials/MemorialsHome.htm

Ruthin Craft Centre - brilliant!

After a splendid day walking around Llangollen, I found that I had time to spare after it got dark around 4pm, and before a meeting in Caerwys concerning the Pilgrim Way North Wales, which began at 7:30pm. The default activities are of course shopping or eating, but on the 11th of November I decided to do something different - visit a craft centre. Fortunately there was one opposite Tesco in Ruthin which had an excellent café serving afternoon tea. So, rested, fed and spent up, I ventured into the art gallery and was immensely pleased with what I found - a beautiful light and airy building with excellent staff and a current display which was amongst the best textile exhibitions I have ever seen.

"Beach Woman" by Audrey Walker. A great study of a momentary glance on painted textile.

This is a major exhibition which celebrates the work of Goldsmith's College textile department during the period 1975 to 1988 when Audrey Walker was Head of Textiles. She has been 25 years retired in West Wales but is apparently still going strong. It must have been an exceptional time because the output displayed here is magnificent.

"Dream No 8 - The Seeker", 2013 by Michael Brennand - Wood. A collage of embroidery, mosaics and other materials on a wooden panel.

The cleverly titled "Basket" and "Odd Basket Case" by Cleo Mussi, a pair of ceramic mosaics.

"Oranges and Lemons" by Jennie Moncur. A hand woven tapestry of wool and linen.

A pair of "Nouveau Bleu Sketch Vases" by Amy Jayne Hughes, one of which is for sale for £860. Beyond my pocket, but they would make an interesting display piece in the right setting.

"The Odyssey" by Alice Kettle

"The Fabulous Clip Joint" by Michael Brennand - Wood. I've no idea why it's called that, but doubtless for the asking price of £12,500 you could find out.

"Storm" by Dawn Dupree. I can't quite see it myself, but the piece has interest.

The Craft Centre from the outside. The centre comprises a series of high class shops in addition to the gallery and the café. It has a great car park and I strongly recommend a visit.

Many of the gallery's exhibits can be seen on their Flickr page. The opening hours are 10am to 5:30 pm. The car park is free, and admission is free.