Sorry the video does not work. I have to remove the Beatles song. Will doe that after 15 November 2019. So just a little more patience.
When the camper came back from South America in April, we had it thoroughly checked and repaired. To test if she is fit for the 2020 trip to Alaska, we planned a tour through Wales. Rudy has been walking the mountains during his stay in London in the 80’s but Jamaliah had never been there. We drove to Hoek van Holland and boarded the day ferry to Harwich. Most camping’s close to the terminal were full but we were directed up a hill where an entrepreneur farmer had a plot of land with a toilet house where several campers could stand.
The first stop while driving across UK was Cambridge. Here we camped outside town on a large campsite. We had the bikes with us so we could cycle through the surroundings and into town. Cambridge was of course full of (Asian) tourists. We wandered the streets and visited Kings college before cycling back. The next day we visited the large Blenheim palace where Winston Churchill was born and raised. The palace has many large furnished rooms with impressively painted ceilings. The surrounding park has several small lakes and many old oak trees.
We had heard that Elly, 19 miles north of Cambridge, had one of the most impressive old medieval cathedrals. We made a detour and it paid off. The cathedral was constructed in 970. Its high wooden ceilings are covered with biblical scenes.
Oxford with its many colleges was the next stop. We could camp on the ground of a pub close to the city center. The ale and food were good. There were too many large buses driving through the center, so we quickly parked the bikes and toured the town on foot, dropping into the colleges where we could. It was warm and sunny, so we took the opportunity to go punting on the river.
Close to the border of Wales lies Gloucester. Again, with a nice cathedral but, what made it different, was the large dock area. The warehouses were all converted into apartments with eating places on the ground floor.
Over the Monmouth bridge we crossed into Wales and visited our first of many castles, Raglan Castle. There are generally 2 types of castles. One is an old castle which was converted into a home by one of the local wealthy families. If they maintained their wealth the castle is upgraded and sometimes open for the public. If they ran out of money it is now a ruin. Then there are the castles from the kings. They were built to subdue the local population. Especially the 4 castles built by King Edward 1 around 1300. Over the years they were attacked many times and are now ruins, gutted of all useful material like wooden floors.
The country was occupied by the Romans from 48 to 383. They left remains of barracks, bath houses and amphitheaters. The city walls of Chester are built on top of the original roman ones.
Like in England, Henry VIII banned all catholic monasteries between 1536 and 1541. As a result, there are several beautiful abbey ruins dotted around the countryside. They are well worth visiting.
Wales was wealthy in the past from coal mines and Iron works. We visited both during our trip. Rudy even took the opportunity to descend some 200 m into a coal mine at “Big Pit” near Blaenavon. Much older are the copper mines along the north coast which have been mined over and over throughout the centuries. In the Snowdonia mountain range there are large deposits of slate. Only a few of these quarries are still working.
To bring all the coal and iron to the markets of the world, narrow canals were dug in the valleys and along the hills. Sometimes these canals even crossed rivers by aqueduct or mountains through tunnels. The towpaths are ideal for cycling which we did wherever possible.
Just north of wales is Liverpool. The city made famous by the Beatles. We visited the Beatles museum there and even went on the Magical Mystery Tour which brought us through Penny Lane, past Strawberry field and the parental homes of the fab 4 to the Cavern in the city center where it all started for them (and for us).
You do not go to Wales for the sunshine. It is wet. The Elan valley is even the water catchment area for the city of Birmingham some 100 km away. Still we enjoyed a fair amount of dry days and even the odd sunshine. This downside is compensated by the lovely scenery of green mountains and valleys as well as the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline. In the evening there is always a pub nearby good for a local ale and a hot meal or even an overnight camping.
If you look at the map you can see the route we took. Basically, up the east border to Liverpool, and then down along the coast to the most southerly point of St David’s and then east again to the capital Cardiff. From there we drove along the South Coast to Dover to catch the return ferry.
Below is a link to the slideshow I compiled. So, this time no individual photos.
Rudy Welling 14/10/2019