Photos: A trip to Wales and a return to Bodnant Garden

Yesterday, we had a quick day trip to Wales to visit my dad in his new home.

While we were there we returned to Bodnant Garden, a place we visited in August 2010 (those photos can be seen on my much-neglected photo site here).

Plus, there’s a bonus photo of Conwy Castle viewed from the shores of Deganwy.




Day 52: Much Geocaching, A Cat and A Rehearsal

Today began over in Hornby, Lancashire, where we spent the night as I discussed yesterday. The Castle Inn at Hornby is a fabulous little bed & breakfast, which triples up as a restaurant and the local pub. The owners do a very good job! The room we stayed in was very comfortable – albeit a little warm – the food last night was wonderful and the breakfast this morning set us both up for the day nicely.

Once we had checked out, we went caching – what more would you expect – as there were quite a few near by and today was a calendar gap (as was most of this week but I ruined Monday and Tuesday by being ill). Here are the caches we found today:

  • GC2KVCY, Hornby Historian: A cache outside the home of John Lingard. The Catholic church of St Mary’s at Hornby dates from 1820 and was largely paid for out of the proceeds of John Lingard’s monumental ‘History of England’, first published in 8 volumes in 1819. John Lingard (1771-1851) was appointed priest in charge of the Hornby Mission in 1811 and lived in the house by the church, bearing a plaque to his memory, for the last 40 years of his life. It was here that he wrote his history and it was here that he took his last walk in the garden on Easter Sunday, 1851, when he was occupied in transplanting oak seedlings. The ‘History’ is intended to be a stern defence of Catholic traditions and seeks to establish the disastrous effects of the Reformation on England. Not surprisingly, it never became a recognised history and has been largely ignored by later historians. It has, however, always had it’s supporters and Lingard’s reliance on original sources and rejection of any unreliable evidence has been admired by continental historians. Latterly, Norman Davies, in his recent history ‘The Isles’ has sought to re-establish Lingard’s reputation.
  • GC2KTW, Cat and Rat: The Cat and Rat Fountain at the end of Hornby Main street is a legacy of the former Hornby Castle owner, Pudsey Dawson. His initials are intertwined beneath the cat and rat along with the date 1858. Pudsey Dawson was a founding Director of the North West railway and cut the first sod. The railway line from Lancaster Green Ayre station (now closed) to Wennington ran through Hornby. It closed down under the Beeching cuts in January 1966. The line can be easily traced following roughly along the A683 before it heads slightly south towards Wennington. It was apparently known as the Cat and Rat railway. The site of the old railway bridge across the present A683 can be seen just outside Hornby on the Lancaster side. The keystone of this bridge was the Cat and Rat stone you see above the fountain which was removed when the line was doubled and an iron bridge was built to replace it. The Castle is now in private hands and the grounds are very occasionally open to the public. It stands on an imposing position beside the River Wenning. Built in the 13th century as a solid replacement for Castle Stede, the visible remains are mostly 18th and 19th century surrounding a 16th century tower.
  • GC2PYH5, Wayside Cross: Wayside Crosses are scattered throughout the world, particularly Europe and are often very difficult to date. Some mark the place where local people might gather to hear a preacher, some the spot of a miracle, some are simply waymarks along a track or boundary. This simple cross made of 2 pieces of carefully hewn grit stone on a rough boulder base is probably simply a roadside monument. Looking up the hill in the field behind it you can easily make out the track of an old road. This is the path of medieval packhorse road, or salt road, and whereas today it leads to just about nowhere, its original destination would have been the royal hunting grounds of the Forest of Bowland. This area of barren land (‘forest ‘ originally meant ‘royal hunting ground’) is still owned by the Crown today as part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
  • GC414Q6, Take A Seat: Wray is a small village in Lancashire, England. Wray is the point at which the River Roeburn joins the River Hindburn. The Scarecrow Festival, established 1995, takes place every year during the week leading up to May Day when there is a fair.
  • GC2Q81W, Wray Flood: On 8th August 1967 this little village was devastated by a flash flood during which the pretty babbling River Roeburn at its confluence with the Hindburn turned into a raging torrent, rose some 20 feet in 20 minutes and destroyed houses, property, livestock, cars and 7 bridges. Thankfully, no lives were lost. The semi circular cobblestone mosaic in the Flood Garden by the river was Wray’s millennium project, designed by Maggie Howarth, who lives nearby. It is comprised of black pebbles from a Cumbrian seashore, white pebbles from Wales, and carved insets made from green Elterwater slate. The brown stones representing the main flood water were gathered by villagers from the bed of the Roeburn and Hindburn. National newspapers picked up the story at the time when a local temperance preacher blamed the floods on the wrath of the Almighty because Wray had 2 public houses.
  • GC2DEFZ, Deborah’s Cache: Gressingham is an attractive village in the Lune Valley, mentioned in the Domesday Book. The name means ‘grazing land’, which is still a pretty accurate description. While here carry on over the white bridges and round to the left to see at the Norman porch of the church and try to spot one or two fragments of Saxon crosses built in to the church tower. Also box pews inside the church and some Morris & Co. stained glass.
  • GC2EVR2, Castles of Lunesdale – Castle Stede: The castle dates back to c 1100 and was used to help control and administer the local area following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It is one of a number of motte and baileys located along the Lune Valley, which together may have once marked a former frontier zone. Others are at Arkholme, Burton in Lonsdale, Halton, Melling, and Whittington. The castle was originally made of earth and timber and all that survives of it today are earthworks – the outer bank and ditch of the bailey (enclosure) and the motte or mound upon which stood a tower. It stood in a naturally defensive location on the shoulder of a steep slope overlooking a crossing point of the River Lune. Within the enclosure would have been stables, pens for cattle, sleeping quarters, kitchens, granaries, and a blacksmith, as well as a hall for the lord who controlled the area and even a small chapel. It would have been protected by a palisade (timber fence), which ran around the top of an earth bank. The tower on the motte was the stronghold of the castle and this would have been connected to the bailey by a temporary bridge. The WW2 Type 24 pill box is the most common kind with nearly 2000 still extant. The Loyn Bridge is probably about 400 years old, but an earlier bridge is recorded. Slight remains of a ford have been found under the road line and this was probably an ancient crossing point. The river is shallow enough to wade across even now when it is low, but after heavy rain it isn’t unusual for the flood plain to be covered with many feet of water and the road closes about 6-8 times per year.
  • GC32KNA, Castles of Lunesdale – Melling: Despite the survival of the motte and bailey castles themselves, history has nothing to say about them. They were built, used, rebuilt and abandoned before written history was able to record them. Their concentration and relatively small size suggests that they belonged to minor landlords, perhaps tenants of those names in the Domesday Book (1086). They occupy positions which have more to do with agricultural manors than with defence, lying as they do by the fertile river meadows of the Lune. Melling motte stands in the former vicarage garden and you can see the mound over the wall at the back of the churchyard. Melling church is on a site of great antiquity and in the Middle Ages it served a huge parish.

All of these (with the exception of Take A Seat) are great examples of geocaches – they take you to places of history that you might never have known about and allow you to see things you might never have seen. This for example:

Deborah's Cache (email)

The view from Deborah’s cache (click to enlarge)

We continued on our trip home… stopping off at Yorkshire Cat Rescue.

For a while now we have looked at getting a cat for our home. We have looked into it, and decided that rehoming a cat is a good thing to do. We arrived with the intention of just looking at the cats and investigating what we needed to do to rehouse a cat. However, we ended up taking one with us! Kit – previously Geysel – is finding it hard to settle so far, but we know it will take a little while for her to get used to us.

Out cat, Kit, looking out the window as she explored her new home

Out cat, Kit, looking out the window as she explored her new home

The day ended with a rehearsal for the forthcoming area competition with Knottingley Silver, making it a long day! Still it was nice to come home to Mrs Pitts and Kit!



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Day 19: As Bad As ’63?

Not much on the agenda today.

We did a cache, of course, by Morley ASDA (GC43PZY) – but our efforts to fill our calendar can’t possibly be completed this year after missing Thursday. The snow that evening made caching difficult then, and the rush to get to band made it even harder! Still, we are nicely filling it up and we never realistically thought we’d get it filled this year anyway! You can see our progress below:

Our current caching calendar.

Our current caching calendar.

As well as this, today I tried out a Christmas present: DIY Straws. This is a 40-piece set of connectable straws which means it is possible to create twists and turns for a drink to travel around. Now, the use of these with fizzy drinks have been banned by Mrs Pitts (something about making a mess…) and the photos below don’t show the liquid flowing well – red berry squash doesn’t enjoy being photographed – but they worked well and added a slice of excitement to a fairly dull day.



Back to the weather, the forecast for the next few days makes for realatively grim reading, with some sort of snow predicted for each day.

BBC Weather's Forecast

BBC Weather‘s Current Five Day Forecast

However, we are still way off entering one of the coldest winters on record. 1963 was that year with temperatures so cold the sea froze in places! The country suffered blizzards, snow drifts, blocks of ice, and temperatures lower than -20 °C and it was the coldest winter since 1740. These details, along with some stunning images, were in a documentary on BBC Two earlier tonight. The Met Office website provides more detail:

It began abruptly just before Christmas in 1962. The weeks before had been changeable and stormy, but then on 22 December a high pressure system moved to the north-east of the British Isles, dragging bitterly cold winds across the country. This situation was to last much of the winter.

A belt of rain over northern Scotland on 24 December turned to snow as it moved south, giving Glasgow its first white Christmas since 1938. The snow-belt reached southern England on Boxing Day and parked over the country, bringing a snowfall of up to 30 cm.

A blizzard followed on 29 and 30 December across Wales and south-west England, causing snowdrifts up to 6 m deep. Roads and railways were blocked, telephone lines brought down, and some villages were left cut off for several days. The snow was so deep farmers couldn’t get to their livestock, and many animals starved to death.

This snow set the scene for the next two months, as much of England remained covered every day until early March 1963. While snow fell, and settled there was still plenty of sunshine. The weak winter sun did not warm things up, however, as the lack of cloud cover allowed temperatures to plunge. In Braemar in Scotland, the temperature got down to -22.2 °C on 18 January. Mean maximum temperatures in January were below 0 °C in several places in southern England and Wales, more than 5 °C below average. Mean minimum temperatures were well below freezing. Temperatures weren’t much higher for most of February.

The long bitterly cold spell caused lakes and rivers to freeze, even sea water in some of England’s harbours turned to ice. Ice patches formed at sea and on beaches. Winter didn’t fully relax its grip until 4 March, when a mild south-westerly flow of air reached the British Isles. By 6 March, there was no frost anywhere in the British Isles and the temperature in London reached 17 °C – the highest since October 1962.

Finally, the coldest winter for more than 200 years in England and Wales had ended. With the thaw came flooding, but nothing like the scale of the 1947 floods. Soon after the winter had ended, life returned to normal.

A quick Google brought up some images of these extraordinary events:


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