Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

British Heritage: October/November 2000 Letters

Originally published by British Heritage magazine. Published Online: September 23, 2000 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

WALES TALES

On 24th May, I met six BRITISH HERITAGE readers and Jan Shivel, representing Lord Addison Travel, in the lounge of Blossoms Hotel in Chester in preparation for an exploration of Wales, the latest reader tour offered by BRITISH HERITAGE and Lord Addison.

Our jaunt began the next morning with a ride westward along the North Wales coast that set the tone for much of our adventure. The coachload of complete strangers who boarded in Chester were quickly transformed into a friendly, chattering comedy troupe as we shared attempts at reading and interpreting Welsh road signs. By the time we reached our first stop–lovely Bodnant Gardens–we were friends.

Mother nature put on a show for us, as she does for every visitor to the North of Wales. Rain showers alternated with glorious sunshine as we took in Snowdonia, gorgeous seascapes, and spectacularly rugged hillsides. "The Welsh like to say that their country is larger than Texas, if you flatten out all the hills," Jan told us.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to British Heritage magazine

In contrast to this natural beauty, Wales also presented us with another face, in the form of its muscular medieval castles. First in Conwy, then again in Caernarfon, Beaumaris, and at Manorbier Castle, we encountered the evocative remains of some of the most turbulent periods of Welsh history and climbed spiral stone staircases until we were dizzy–which can be a thrill when you emerge onto a narrow parapet high above the ground.

Other sites we visited are harder to classify. Is Sir Clough Williams-Ellis' fairytale village of Portmeirion a man-made attraction enhanced by nature or a natural wonder enhanced by the architect's loving touch? And while Castell Coch, the fantasy castle created by William Burges in the 19th century, is undeniably artificial, it blends into its green surroundings so perfectly that it seems almost alive itself.

The centrepiece of our journeys was the town of Hay-on-Wye, the used-book capital of the world, with its annual festival of literature. With so much to see and do in the Wye Valley, even our close-knit touring party could not withstand the temptations, and we split up into several groups, each in pursuit of its own special fancy. Some went on to Clyro to the home of Francis Kilvert, the cleric-diarist who recorded impressions of life in the valley during the 19th century. Others dove into Hay's many bookshops, armed with wish lists, and in nearly every case emerged holding much-treasured volumes, including several collections of Dylan Thomas' works to commemorate our trip to his home at Laugharne, and another signed by the self-proclaimed "King of Hay."

At the festival itself, Earl Spencer talked about the history of his famous family, and another lucky member of our party was able to pick up an autographed copy of his latest book.

Shopping for all sorts of items took a high priority throughout our trip. Woollens were in great demand and prompted stops at Betws-y-Coed and purchases at the shops of the Museum of Welsh Life at St. Fagans. Recordings of the choir of St. David's Cathedral, antique prints, and Welsh love spoons were also among the items that found their way into our bags.

Our daily explorations often left us reluctant to break for lunch, but quick and delicious pub food typically filled us with simple, pleasing fare and had us quickly on our way once again.

I would like to thank each of my travelling companions for a wonderful time: George and Wendy Gesslein, Lee Peiffer, Carol McCabe, Sandra Gaffett, and Jane McCormick. I hope BRITISH HERITAGE and Lord Addison Travel were able to bring the wonders of Wales to life–from Colwyn Bay to Caerleon and dozens of places in between.

Managing Editor
Bruce Heydt



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy