Showing posts from October, 2017

Exploring in the the Forest of Dean

Friday started dull and misty (again) despite a forecast of sunshine, so we delayed going out until 10:30 when we headed for the Forest of Dean. Had a bit of a wander along the Sculpture trail before heading to Beechenhurst Lodge for lunch and a coffee. Beechenhurst Lodge (formerly the site of Speech House Colliery, closed around 1906) is now the ideal base for a family day out, the sculpture trail being only of many family orientated activities you can pursue from here. Very difficult to visualise the area once being an active coal area. Freckled Dapperling (Lepiota aspera) We had hoped to see more fungi in the forest as well as more Autumn colours, so it was a bit disappointing to find almost no fungi, apart from this one. As for autumn colours, they were not as apparent as at home. Dor beetle (Geotrupes vernalis) spotted by Rosey. It is a beetle neither of us had photographed before.  Since 1984 The Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust has raised funds t

A walk around Symonds Yat

On Thursday we headed north along the A40, past Monmouth and across to Symonds Yat (east to be precise), the intention, a pleasant walk along the bank of the river Wye, past where canoeists come from all over the country to paddle the white-water. We started in Symonds Yat East but immediately crossed to West via a unique ferry, powered by one man and a line between the banks. The ferry at the Saracens is one of two hand-pulled ferries on this short stretch of the River Wye, the ferries at Symonds Yat are enshrined in locally history and they make up a traditional way of life.  Travel back in time to 1800, and the Wye was a busy place for industry, it also posed a potential barrier between the two sides of the river, and this is a river that has always commanded respect with many losing their lives when swimming or attempting to cross. An interesting 19th century child’s gravestone at St Margaret’s Church, Welsh Bicknor is testament to the dangers of the Wye. I

The ancient market town of Monmouth

Wednesday dawned dull and wet and, supposedly, this was to be the story of today. So a visit to Monmouth, and a trip to Costa, before a wander to some shops, was the plan.  Once in Costa I managed to log onto the internet to check emails (what for, I wonder?) and to download some info for future blog / diary. Then a brief stroll up to the remains of Monmouth castle and a brief look at the Benedictine priory, which was established around 1075 by Withenoc, a Breton who became lord of Monmouth.  Nothing really remains of the original Priory which may have once been the residence of the monk Geoffrey of Monmouth, who was born around 1100 and is best known for writing the chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae ("History of the Kings of Britain")  It was credited, uncritically, well into the 16th century, but is now considered historically unreliable. The Shire Hall in Agincourt Square, is a prominent Grade I listed building. Built in 1724, the Shire Hall was formerly

Raglan castle - built to impress

Tuesday dawned rather dull and it was difficult to guess what the weather would do. However as the sun began to peep through, we headed out to Raglan Castle. First impressions were spot on - the place is huge!  It is a magnificent Tudor-period sandstone structure, which was not built specifically as a defence as the other great castles of Wales had been. Instead, it was designed mainly as a statement of wealth and influence.  A manor had existed on the site before William ap Thomas acquired the property through marriage in 1406. A veteran of Agincourt in 1415, ap Thomas enjoyed the favour of King Henry VI and was knighted in 1426. He wanted to demonstrate his upwardly-mobile status, so set out on an ambitious building plan for Raglan. In 1435 he began work on the Great Tower, also known as the Yellow Tower of Gwent, but he was never to see it completed, as ap Thomas died in 1445. The building work was continued by his son, William, who took the surname Herbert.  Herbert continu

Tintern Abbey - The amazing ruins.

Monday dawned foggy. For a while we were undecided as to where to go, as the fog was slow to clear. As the weather looked to be improving, we decided to visit Tintern Abbey, a place we had promised ourselves for a long time. Roads were narrow, and mostly single track, until we reached the A466 where it became a normal width. When we parked we were almost the only people on the site. The place is stunning in its size and surroundings and warranted several photos, although it is difficult to get a feeling of its grandeur in a photo. In 1131 the Norman lord of Chepstow, Walter Fitz Richard, established the abbey here. Fitz Richard was a member of the powerful de Clare family, and his abbey was the first Cistercian foundation in Wales - and only the second in all of Britain after Waverley, in Surrey. The monks for the new abbey came directly from France, from the abbey of l'Aumone. It is intriguing that despite Tintern's early foundation, it established no furt

Our arrival in Penallt, and a visit Monmouth

Monmouth was an area which we had not explored before, having just passed below it on our way to Pembrokeshire in the past. We had a good journey, despite moderately heavy traffic, stopping at Reading service station on the M4, which looked as it had been invaded by hundreds of pensioners - bus loads of them.!! Having left the M48, we descended rapidly onto very narrow Welsh roads until, and without too much trouble, we arrived at Annie’s Cottage. It was in a beautiful spot and was really well equipped and spotlessly clean. Annie's Cottage  The view from the cottage toward Monmouth soon after we arrived.  Sunday was a different story (below) with mist rising from the valley and providing a great backdrop to the Old Church just a few meters from our cottage.  Penallt Old Church as the mist cleared  There are indications of a church on the site in 1254 and an internal batter to the north wall of the nave, that suggest that the present church i