I’ve entitled this post “wonderful Wales”, but need to point out that we spent quite a lot of time cruising around on the border. It has to be said that this is a really beautiful part of the world with all the black and white buildings, the eye-watering greenery, the hedgerows and the flowers.
There are so many half-timbered buildings that I’ve created a slide show for you.
Some of these black and white buildings date from medieval times. The black oak beams are exposed on the outside with white painted wattle and daub walls in between. In many of the buildings the shape of the tree can be discerned. You will see that some of the half-timbered buildings are not black and white, but different colours. It has been suggested that it was in Victorian times that the buildings were painted black and white, prior to this they were left in their natural state, the the oak being left unstained and the walls reflecting the colour of the local clay rather than white washed. Sometimes there are bricks in between the oak beams and the patterns they create are quite intricate. I’ve been trying to work out what the story is with the ochre coloured buildings, perhaps someone can enlighten me?
We visited Machynlleth which has some beautiful buildings, but it is well known for being the site of the first Welsh Parliament, and is known as Owain Glyndŵr’s Parliament after he was crowned Prince of Wales. It was housed in this building, and although it was short lived, it was the forerunner of the current Welsh assembly.
Current politicians probably wouldn’t put up with these hard benches. It was more a meeting place I suspect than a parliament as we know it today.
We noticed that Machynlleth was also the town where Laura Ashley had her first shop. This is it – fairly humble.
Just outside town at Ysgubor-Y-Coed is this water mill. I struggled to find out much about this building. It seems to have a furnace and from what I can gather the area was once at the heart of the mid-Wales trade in metal ores. There was an ironworks in this village, with lead, silver and copper mining taking place locally.
We drove on to Aberystwyth, which is on the coast. A pretty place with coloured buildings, a castle and some very grey sea!
There was a bike race through the middle of town, which made for a bit of interest, but we were able to dodge round the barriers and enjoy the shoreline.
Some magnificent buildings were available for our delight
as well as the ubiquitous castle.
We probably spent a couple of hours wandering around Aberystwyth and enjoyed it very much. Aberystwyth is an ancient site, which used to be covered in forest. The forests began to be cleared about 6,000 years ago and farming communities were established. There is a fair bit of archaeological interest in this area.
We did a little detour to Devil’s Bridge at Mynach, Pontarfynach. This is a fascinating area. Spanning a cataract gorge, it’s a palimpsest of three bridges built at different times. The first is stone and was built in the 11th century. The middle is mid-18th century and is also stone, and the final 20th century bridge is iron. A trip to the bottom of the gorge is well worth it.
Why is it called Devil’s Bridge I hear you ask? Well… According to legend, the original bridge was built after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. She was paid a visit by the devil who agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When the bridge was finished, the old woman threw a crust of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it. The devil was left with only the soul of the dog. That poor unsuspecting dog!
We visited Much Wenlock at the suggestion of the woman whose property we are staying on. Much Wenlock is a stunningly beautiful town (or is it village?) and many of the buildings in the slide show at the beginning of this post are from here. Much Wenlock is also credited with being the home of the modern olympics.
In 1850 local surgeon William Penny Brookes was one of the people credited with introducing physical education into British schools. William Penny Brookes set up the Shropshire Games, and these inspired Baron de Coubertin to create the global event after visiting the games in Much Wenlock. They still hold their own Olympian games here every July. In the London Olympics there was a mascot named Wenlock. There is an Olympian trail in Wenlock should you choose to follow it.
We also visited Shrewsbury, and I immediately noticed that none of the churches had blue clock faces.
This is the market square, rather beautiful.
Of course there is a castle, which houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum Trust including pictures, uniforms, medals, weapons and other equipment from the 18th Century to the present day. The Castle formed part of the original fortification of the city, utilising the river as a section of the fortifications.
These are the remnants of the town walls which were built of red sandstone, as is the castle.
I liked this tower though, with lovely views over the area, and also built of the red sandstone, which I really like. I think this is Laura’s Tower.
The views from the tower are lovely, overlooking the castle in one direction and the River Severn and the railway station in another.
Interestingly the castle museum was attacked by the IRA in 1992 and some of the collection was extensively damaged.
This building is now a hotel, but it looked so beautiful with the garden in the foreground that I just had to include it.
Shrewsbury is worth spending a few hours exploring. We were there on the bank holiday Sunday so parking was relatively easy and there weren’t a massive number of people around.
There are many bridges over the river, including this very nice stone arched one.
which has a lovely view from the top
Shrewsbury has beautiful botanic gardens and I loved the Dingle and Quarry Park.
Just a beautiful peaceful place with many people relaxing on the benches which are everywhere.
We spent a couple of hours in Ludlow and I can’t believe that I’ve never been before, it is beautiful.
There was a lovely market in the middle of town – how a market should be with local produce and interesting things for sale.
And of course a castle! This one is clearly Norman and rather beautiful with the weather system building behind it.
Just on the weather – nearly every day rain is forecast and it either happens when we are inside for the evening or it doesn’t happen at all! The sky goes from a cloud coverage of 8 oktas down to about 5. To put this in context, 8 oktas is total cloud coverage (as in 8/8) and 0 oktas is a completely clear sky. We’ve therefore had a lot of cloud, which has helped keep the weather a bit warmer, but very little rain.
I thought we should visit Leominster (pronounced Lemster), and I was slightly disappointed. Mind you, Ludlow and the neighbouring village of Ludford (of which I got no photos) are hard acts to follow.
I was rather impressed that they had a lane called “Drapers Lane”, but, sadly, no drapers exist there any more.
There were quite a few wool shops and a quilting shop, but I didn’t spend too much time there. I did notice many charity shops and I did find some nice wool yarn. Enough for a pair of socks. Most of the yarn is acrylic or even superwash wool which I don’t care for.
We are now heading for my sister’s house and I’m very much looking forward to catching up with her and her family.