Monday, November 28, 2011

A Walk To Valle Crucis Abbey

I've been  having problems with my AVG Internet Security as it kept downloading the same huge 55MB update and then not recognising it had already done it. After it repeated itself four times I realised there really was a problem and 'Help' was needed.  I  looked on the AVG  website and found a repair option in the installation downloads and after an even larger download the problem was solved......fingers crossed!

A view of Valley Crucis Abbey and Coed Hyrddyn (Velvet Hill)
On Sunday I decided to walk to see the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey which was founded in 1201 for Cistercian monks  until it was closed in 1536 by Henry V111.  The name means the 'valley of the cross' as Eliseg's Pillar which  once stood 20 ft high with a cross on the top is nearby. We began our walk with towpath walk heading as far as the bridge before the Motor Museum.Then we walked up the road until we saw the sign advertising Abbey Farm Tea Rooms and camping pods and followed the sign with lovely views of Velvet Hill.

We climbed a stile, Ben jumped it (on his long lead) and crossed a sheep field to the next stile and then another taking us out onto a green track leading round the hillside back to Bryn hyfryd  and down the Dinbren Road back to Llangollen with great views of Castell Dinas Bran. We had fun on the track as we met a huge ram with curly horns and I decided to get out of it's way and sit on the benches off the track at the viewpoint overlooking Valle Crucis Abbey........hoping it would move off the track! A few minutes later a horse and rider came past so I warned them about the ram. We then carried on walking, no sign of the ram.....thank goodness.

A walk wouldn't be complete without a dip in the canal, no not me.... Ben! We walked back through the field near the mooring basin and Ben headed for water and had a wash, just as well as he was dirty after our walk. Back to the boat for a towel dry and some biscuits and I had a cuppa while lunch finished cooking. Yes I did take the camera, here's a couple of photos on route.

A view from the green track

A view of Castell Dinas Bran and Trevor Rocks from Dinbren Road

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Windy Weather In Llangollen

When I left the boat last Wednesday it was covered in leaves and now the wind has blown them away. Eric was right saying it was a waste of time and effort clearing them all off when high winds were forecasted.

Where have I been , you ask? Well I've been to Newport as it was time to pick up our three monthly supply of medicines waiting at our chemist. It goes like this, we post the prescription repeat to the doctors and the chemist collects it and fills the prescription. Sometimes it goes without a hitch but I usually find something is missing so I have to go back to the doctors!

Back in Newport  I had the opportunity to do some visiting and catch up with old friends for a lunchtime curry at Weatherspoon's. My daughter Lisa made me a lovely chilli con carne which Gwenllian, my grandaughter tasted for the first time. She had  more fun saying 'chilli con carne'. She was keen to tell me about the rabbit Father Christmas was going to deliver......let's hope he's got enough to go around.

While I was at Lisa's my daughter Clare came  visiting as did Eric's sister Paula who also brought the post. She was also good enough to give me a lift back to my dad's house the other side of town as I didn't fancy walking through the subways at nine o'clock at night. Lately there have been a few attacks in that location.

I didn't get to see my daughter Sally as she's out of the country with her job flying with Virgin Atlantic, but we'll see her in a few weeks as she's having Christmas Eve party before she flies off to spend Christmas somewhere exotic.

The next day I met my pals for a curry and a catch up and then did some Christmas shopping. I managed to do most of the shopping, it was so heavy I needed a taxi to get to my dad's as his house is a long way from a bus stop. It's wrapped and waiting in his house for Christmas Day when we return to Newport.  As usual I am cooking the dinner and daughter Clare will be helping. She's getting invaded for Christmas but she doesn't mind and she loves Ben the dog......hairs and all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Misty Walk To Castell Dinas Bran

Looking  towards Velvet Hill
Llangollen becomes very busy at the weekend and the towpath is not the place to walk the dog. Today we headed for the hills and followed the track past the school and up along the part of the History Trail with a sculpture showing the way. Plenty of mud not that Ben cared!

This route took us around the back of the hill on which Castell Dinas Bran sits. It's prime position is on the site of an iron age fort. It was built in about  1260 by a Welsh prince and then abandoned and deliberately destroyed by fire in 1277 so it couldn't be used by the invading English. That's the history lesson for today.

Ben found  a bottle to carry
We then slowly climbed up the back of the hill, stopping at a seat for a breather while Ben patiently waited. A good place for a chat with my daughter Clare as the signal is excellent up there. A few walkers also appeared going slowly down the back of the hill being careful not to slip. Some were heading for the Offa's Dyke Path and Trevor Rocks.

A view of Trevor Rocks from the seat halfway up the hill
Ben waiting for me to catch him up!
The views from the top were misty today but I took a few photos before we climbed down the zig-zag path overlooking the town of Llangollen. The views are always worth the climb even on a misty day.

Looking down onto Llangollen
Velvet Hill with the mist clearing
 Back on the boat just in time to make a shepherd's pie for lunch and while it was cooking we had a tap on the window and it was the Julia and Mark of NB Poppy who are on their way to their winter mooring here too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

We've Been To Specsavers!

We haven't had our eyes tested for years so we decided to visit Specsavers in Wrexham after booking online with a date and early afternoon as our choices. They rang us in the morning to give an exact time and check it was suitable. We chose early afternoon as mornings are always busy with walking Ben the dog.  In all it was a good experience with pleasant, helpful staff and we weren't surprised that we both needed new glasses. We knew what it was going to cost as we'd looked on the internet and found a 25% off offer for the over 60's which turned out to be the best option for us. We chose reactolite and varifocal lenses so  the world will be a little clearer in a weeks time when our new specs are collected.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just A Towpath Walk

A view from the towpath
The lift bridge.....always left up

Yesterday Ben and I went on a towpath walk just as far as Sun Trevor, Ben didn't want to go any further, he just stood and looked at me. At least it was a nicer day and Castell Dinas Bran wasn't shrouded in mist. The sun managed to shine and we had blue skies. On this walk we always pass the lift bridge which is left in a raised position as I think I've only ever seen it down once when the farmer was moving animals. Last year we had to tell an enthusiastic boater not to lower it as the sheep could then walk across it to escape. It's a case of leave the lift bridges as you find them.  We walked back along the towpath, it was very quiet as no boats are moving on this stretch of canal. Sometimes the peace is shattered by the youngsters from the school doing their run ........ but not yesterday.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Quick Update

It's quiet at Llangollen Wharf this year with just six boats moored up for the winter although I know of one boat on her way to moor up in December.  The weather has been kind to us as we've only had one bitterly cold day, so lots of walking has been done. After our long walk Saturday to Trevor Rocks Liz and I  had a shorter walk the next day just enjoying walking along the flat towpath as far as Sun Trevor, the new towpath surface means what was an extremely muddy path in places is now a good walk. During the weekdays there are few people about but at the weekends it's still busy.

Some boat trips across the Pontysycyllte Aqueduct are still running from Llangollen Wharf mid week and at the weekends making the most of the weather and the canal being open as last year there was a stoppage until after Christmas. Liz and I took the dogs on the bus to Trevor and we walked down to  the aqueduct and then  back along the canal towpath but I forgot to take a camera so no photos were taken. The dogs had a great time, as usual Connie was nose down seeing what she could chase and Ben was carrying big sticks, or should as I say branches and you had to keep out of his way. He did leave it behind after a bit and carried a plastic bottle instead!

On Monday after his morning walk Ben stayed on the boat while Eric and I had a trip to Wrexham. Being in Wales bus travel is still free. We sampled the fish and chips in a cafe  before going to Asda to get some shopping. Excellent fish and chips in Les' and the staff were very friendly and helpful. It was nice to have some choice in Asda as the Coop is rather limited in Llangollen although there's a good butcher, fruit and veg shop as well as a very nice deli. 

On Tuesday Eric and I had a walk with Ben to the Horseshoe Falls walking  alongside the recently repaired section of canal where a new handrail has appeared possibly because of the sloping canal sides. On the way back we did a diversion over the canal bridge and through the field by the marina so Ben could have a wash in the canal as he was so muddy. The towpath has lots of muddy puddles which are difficult to avoid when you're a dog.

Today the coal man is delivering to us on the wharf, so we'll be all set for a few more weeks. So while Eric waits for his arrival, Ben and I are going out........walking or maybe I'll ride my bike!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Views From Trevor Rocks

Castell Dinas Bran from Trevor Rocks
Castell Dinas Bran and the hills
Another view from Trevor Rocks
Velvet Hill is on the right
Today Liz and I took the dogs on a long walk taking in part of the canal towpath, foot paths up along the top of Trevor Rocks and back via the foot path around the base of Castell Dinas Bran.

Trevor Rocks is part of one of the finest carboniferous limestone escarpments in Britain extending northwards which is nationally important due to the extensive scree slopes and is an Area of Special Scientific Interest according to the guide book 'Walks Around Llangollen And The Dee Valley' by David Berry.  A very useful book with some lovely walks with detailed maps and descriptions.

We were out about four hours and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery although I was in need of a cuppa by the time we got back to the boat. After all the rain we've had the dogs got really muddy but it was soon washed away. Next job is to clean my boots!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Another Walk- Trevor To Llangollen On The Flat

The Mandarin Duck family
This week Liz and I have been out walking with the dogs enjoying the beautiful scenery around Llangollen. On Sunday we set out for a less strenuous walk around the bottom of the hill on which Castell Dinas Bran stands and ended up climbing up the back of the hill to the ruined castle. We were trying to avoid the busy towpaths and give the dogs a good run. The views were great although we have had days when the mist hung low obscuring the hills so a walk along the towpath was a better idea.

On weekdays the towpath is much quieter although there's more cyclists  now the path is a designated cycle path. Several times a day hordes of teenagers run along the towpath past the boat to the lift bridge and retrace their steps back  to their school accompanied by their teachers. Ben watches them and barks as he does to anything that moves, often we shut the bank side curtains to shut him up. Eric and I managed to miss the children on our walk to Sun Trevor yersterday but today Liz and I  met them today.

Today (Wednesday) we caught the bus to Trevor and walked the canal from Trevor Basin back to Llangollen passing Bryn Howell and Sun Trevor. The canal is so clear you can see the bottom as there's little passage of boats in the winter months. It was a pleasant flat walk which made a nice change from our hilly walks. The hills were shrouded with mist but we managed to escape the rain which came later in the afternoon.

It was great to see the Mandarin Duck family still here- mum, dad and their male offspring. This month's IWA calendar has a picture of the drake amongst the Autumn leaves floating on the canal, taken by Eric although it does say it was on the River Dee.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Bus Ride And A Walk From Trevor To Llangollen

The Pontycysyllte Aqueduct ,looking back towards  Trevor Basin
Our walk today started with a number 5 bus from Llangollen to Trevor with Liz, Connie, Ben and myself onboard. We then walked down to Trevor Basin and over the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal 126 feet above the River Dee in an iron trough 1007 feet long supported by 18 pillars. It was built by Telford between 1795 and 1805 (end of history lesson) and will be closed on November 7th - 11th for maintenance.

Up above Pontycysyllte aqueduct
We then walked along the canal to cross it at Froncysyllte Lift Bridge. We crossed the A5 and began the climb up the hill to walk along the top edge of the former Pen-y-Graig Quarry with lovely views from a viewpoint overlooking the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct, the Dee Valley and of course Castell Dinas Bran. We continued our walk along a track, then a road and across a field of sheep, who all stopped and stared at the dogs. It would have made a good photo but the sun was straight at us.

The Llangollen Canal, Trevor and the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct 
 At last we were walking downhill along a track around  and down the hillside of Croes yr Esgob with a short stop at a viewpoint for a snack and a drink.  The track  overlooks Pengwern Vale and we then followed the road to pass the Outdoor Adventure Centre and climb up the hill  through Pen-y-Coed Wood. At this point the hill seemed endless as we'd been walking for  hours!  Finally on the downhill section into Llangollen and back to the boat. Mucky boots off, coat off and dinner was already cooked as I'd left a casserole in the oven on Gas Mark 1 to cook while we were out. It was delicious!

Another view of Castll Dinas Bran

Friday, November 04, 2011

Big Bangs And Lots Of Little Bangs

This week has been a bit of a trial for Ben as every night we'd had firework noises and Ben just hides and shakes. I think fireworks should only be allowed on November 5th and then we would a scared dog for one night only. Tonight we had a huge bang on the boat roof about 8 pm and wondered what an earth is was, so went outside to investigate.  A wooden planter complete with plants had been dropped on the roof by some individuals. It was  heavy  so it wasn't easy to put this on the roof as we found on when we returned it to its home  by the BW hut.  But the reason why it was put there.......I just don't know!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Just Another Walk

Overlooking the River Dee and the Llantysilio Mountains
Castell Dinas Bran from the other side of Llangollen
Today Liz and I took the dogs along the canal towpath towards Horseshoe Falls, but we crossed the Llangollen Canal over an iron footbridge near the Chain Bridge Hotel. This led to the road taking us over the River Dee to the A5 to pick up our route up the hill.  Once up there the views were lovely of the river and the Llantysilio  mountains. Ben and Connie enjoyed some off the lead time along green tracks to a viewpoint giving a clear view of Castell Dinas Bran on the other side of the town. After a rest we continue  our journey which was mainly downhill taking in a wood which lots of fallen leaves which meant it was very slippery but we managed to stay upright.  We walked quite a few miles today and I knew it but Ben still wanted to play ball when we got back to the boat.