A Trip to Wales

Trip Start Jun 03, 2013
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Trip End Aug 10, 2013


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Flag of United Kingdom  , Wales,
Monday, July 22, 2013

Our first excursion into Wales, but only just – today we head to Chirk Castle. Our drive north takes us up the line of the border between England and Wales, which is a pretty convoluted set of curves with fingers of each country intruding into the other – at times apparently simply the width of the road we are on or perhaps a field or two either side.  Its easy to tell when we cross from one to another – on the Welsh side all the road signs are in both languages, Welsh first.  It makes for some amusement as we travel along = one side of the road England, the other Welsh and apart from the road signs, nothing is different...  Before we get to the castle, we stop to look at the Chirk Aquaduct & Tunnel.  This section of the Llangollen Canal crosses the valley floor 20 meters below, on an aqueduct, designed & built by the famous engineer Thomas Telford over 200 years ago, then immediately bores half a kilometre through the hill under the town of Chirk. Both the aqueduct and the tunnel are one way and its a popular and busy canal, so there's a bit of a boat traffic jam at the southern end, as boats coming north across the aqueduct or south through the tunnel,  pile up in the little mooring area waiting their turn to continue their journey....  Chirk Castle itself is wonderful – it actually looks like proper castle, solidly overseeing the surrounding land from the top of its hill – at least at first glance, till you notice that there are windows in the outer, supposedly defensive, walls!   Inside it has been much altered over the 700 years since it was first built, but there are still significant parts of the castle structure that remain from back that far, including the dungeon, however most of the interior is 17th century or later. We start with a very entertaining introductory tour of the castle structure, lead by a former old-school style teacher (he taught in Rhodesia under Ian Smith) with some very firm views on life, architecture and what constitutes successful renovation....  After an interesting few hours in the interior of the castle, we roamed fairly extensive gardens featuring more wonderful topiary.
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