Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trip to Cymru

You may have already seen the photos from our trip to Wales, so here's the story behind them.

We went to Wales for the first Bank Holiday weekend in May, to meet and stay with a couple who are good friends of my parents. Leah (who I am sort of named after) is actually some distant relation of my grandfather, so that's how my parents got to know them in the first place. Anyway, my whole life I'd known of this 'Leah in Wales', and now that we're living in the UK I got to meet her!

We left from Paddington Station in the morning, and after 4½ hours on train we arrived in Fishguard. Fishguard in Welsh is Abergwaun (pronounced Abergwine). It was raining, but it soon cleared up, and we walked into town to see the Fishguard Tapestry, which depicts the Last Invasion of Britain in 1797 and was made for the bicentenary of the event. Leah seems to know almost everything about Fishguard's history, and indeed Pembrokeshire, so we learnt a lot about the area while we were staying there.

The next day was lovely and sunny and Leah and Rodney took us for a drive to St David's, the smallest city in the UK. The main attraction there was St David's Cathedral, and the Bishop's Palace, which date from the 12th and 14th centuries respectively. The cathedral was amazing, with high wooden ceilings, and sloping floors due to the foundations sinking into the soft ground. The stone walls had cables running between them to stop them from falling outwards. The Bishop's Palace was a ruin but still had enough walls standing to show how impressive it must have been.

After leaving St David's we went to have a look at the St Justinian lifeguard station which is accessed by a steep stairway, and looks out onto Ramsey Island. There were great views and some impressive rocks there.

We then went to Pembroke to see the castle there, which dates from the 11th century. It was great fun climbing up and down the spiral staircases and exploring all the narrow hallways. It was just like being in a giant multi-storey maze! The castle is famous for being the birthplace of the Tudors, since Henry VII was born there.

On Sunday Stuart and I walked 5 miles along the Coastal Pathway which had great views along the coast back to Fishguard. It was slightly muddy in parts, and unfortunately I slipped over and had a close encounter with some stinging nettle. However, I survived and bravely continued back to Fishguard for a delicious Sunday roast dinner.

That afternoon we went for a drive to Pentre Ifan, a neolithic dolmen. It was pretty impressive seeing the massive stone balancing on the pointy ends of three other ones. There were also some pretty good views of the country-side from there. We continued our drive back through the Gwaun Valley to Fishguard.

The next day it was raining, so we just went for a short walk into the town before heading back for lunch and to the train station. And so ended our first holiday in the UK. We really liked Wales and hope to return soon.