Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Ynys Mon

8th June 2013
Today is our last day. The ferry leaves in the late evening, so we have all day to have a look around Anglesey. Luckily, the weather is still holding out. The sun is shining and the skies are blue.
First another quick look at South Stack - still no Puffins among the thousands of Auks and Gulls though.
Heading West and then North, we see our first stone of the day. Situated on the A5025 by Capel Soar, just before the village of Llanfaethlu, this standing stone is 3.1m in height x 1.7m wide (at base) x 0.4m in depth.Aligned roughly NE - SW. The mountains of Snowdonia are visible in the far distance.
Carrying on, we turn off a little way past the village of Llanrhyddiad and head for the small village of lanfechell. There's room to park by the church. Then there is a walk, North along the road then taking a footpath to the right. past the back of some houses until we reach a stile. Over the stile in the far side of the field is the next stone - Llanfechell Standing Stone.
Llanfechell. The ancient and the modern
Situated under a massive pylon and with a wind farm in the near distance behind, this really is a mixture of old and new. The stone itself is some 2.6m (8 and a half ft) x 1.5m x 0.25.It is aligned N-S. A fine stone, not complimented by it's surroundings.In 2009, the stone fell but was re-erected in September 2010. Before re-erection, an excavation was carried out, revealling some 20 packing stones, the largest of which was decorated with cup and ring marks.A small slab covered pit was also discovered which contained dark organic material, including Heather charcoal.
Retracing our steps back to the road, we carry on North, taking a side road on the left.A little way along, a footpath goes through a garden (Northwards) and out into the fields behind. At the top of the hill stands our next target - The Three Stones of Llanfechell. As you would expect - there are three stones. All over 6ft in height and set in a triangle, there is a more recent stone wall just feet away. The Wylfa Power Station looms on the horizon.

Back to the car and onward to Cemlyn Bay for lunch. There are car parks at either end of the beach, but at the Eastern end - there is an RSPB reserve, containing a large Tern Colony. There are some 1800 Sandwich Terns,40 Arctic and 60 Common Terns, as well as some Mediterannean Gulls amongst the other more usual Gulls and various waders. It's a spectacular sight and well worth a visit.
After lunch, we head into the lanes to find a couple of stones at PenYr Orsedd.The first is the more Southerly stone and stands at 3.9m (over 12 and a half ft) x1.2m x 0.2m. The Farmer here told me that there used to be a third stone, now lost.
Pen Yr Orsedd South
Pen Yr Orsedd South
Pen Yr Orsedd South
The Northerly stone lies some 280 metres away and is a massive 5.1m high (over 16 and a half ft) x 1.7m x 0.8m. with the now familiar sight of Wylfa dominating the background.
Pen Yr Orsedd North
Pen Yr Orsedd North
Time to start heading back towards Holyhead for the ferry to Dublin.It's been a really enjoyable two weeks in the UK. We have been really lucky with the weather. Let's hope that it continues throughout the Summer.

Auks and Stones...... Penrhos Feilw

6th June 2013
Another long drive today - Essex to North Wales. We set off early enough but end up sitting in traffic for hours around Birmingham. I'd forgotten how much I hate this stretch of road !
Eventually we are through it and on the A5 getting to Llandudno just after lunch time. A quick look around the RSPB reserve - very quiet though, a few Sand Martins flying around being the most interesting !
We drive on to Holyhead and book in to a hotel. It's a glorious evening and we head over to South Stack. Thousand of Gullemots and Razorbills fly to and fro. Unfortunately we can't make out any Puffins in amongst them.A pair of Choughs call from the cliff edge.

Just around the corner from South Stack are the Penhrosfeilw standing stones.
Situated in a field with ample parking. There is even an information board.
The stones themselves are quite impressive. Both are very similar - 3m (10ft) in height and are 3.3m apart in a NE-SW alignment. There are views towards the sea and to Holyhead Mountain which dominates the area.
Driving back into Holyhead - we pass an interesting old well - Ffynnon Y Wrach - The witches well.

Winterbourne Abbas and Cerne Abbas

2nd June 2013
After a coupe of days in Devon, we are bak on the road and heading to Essex. Rather than going by the quick route up the motorway, we are heading through Dorset and hopefully stopping off at a few places on the way.
The first place is on the A35 a little past Bridport. It's the Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas. We spot it at the side of the road and pull in by a barn. This is one busy busy dangerous road. and on reaching the fence - there is a sign telling us that, access via the gate (that used to be in the fence) has been closed due to the dangerous road - and to access the site via the Little Chef up the road.. A momentary lull in the traffic lets us get back to the car and we drive on to the said Little Chef. Sure enough - there is a footpath through the field to the Nine Stones. The circle itself is set in a small fenced off area. It is quite a small circle -  around 9m at it's widest part. It is a difficult place to get a decent photograph, due to the fencing and undergrowth. It's funny how the noise from the A35 just fades away as you sit and and relax here.
Next, a little way outside Dorchester, is the Cerne Abbas Giant. Parking at the viewing point, - the views aren't brilliant I must say.People come take photo's and go.  Much the same as us today I suppose !

Devils Den, Wayland's Smithy and The Rollrights

31st May 2013
The sun is shining once more and we set off suitably refreshed. First stop today is going to be The Devils Den. We take a minor road off the A4, just outside Marlborough which heads up towards Redpost Farm. There is a parking area at the end and a bridlepath, Whitethroats, Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings sing from the hedge rows, accompanying us on our way. We turn left onto another footpath and head downhill towards Clatford Bottom.. Several Hares are sitting motionless in the field below. Another footpath takes us left again, Several sarsen stones lay in the grass. The Devils Den is through a small gate.

A large capstone rests on just two supports, with a further two fallen stones. Apparently there was a mound some 230m long, which has been ploughed out over the years. It's a beautiful spot and once again there isn't a soul to be seen.
We walk back via the same route and drive along the lane. A family of Red Partridges are feeding at the fields edge and there are more Hares in the fields.
Next stop is on the other side of the M4, so we head through Avebury and up towards Swindon. fter a few wrong turns around Swindon, we find the right road and head towards Uffington.
As we approach the village, a Red Kite drifts overhead. The car park at the Uffington White Horse is buzzing with people, We aren't here for the horse today though. Instead it's a trek up the ridgeway to Waylands Smithy.It will be the first time here for both of us.

Another Red Kite circles over, this time in the company of a Buzzard. The Sun is now blazing and it's really hot. Eventually the sign for Waylands Smithy comes into view and a quick walk through the trees brings us to this magical place.
It's a popular place, people enjoying the moment, children playing.One man walks along dowsing. He invites J to have a go. She has been hooked ever since !
There's always one though..... letting everyone within a 10 mile radius know how he has been everywhere and done everything !

We drag ourselves away from this wonderful place and walk back to the car. There's a bit of a drive ahead of us, to the other side of Oxfordshire to another new place for us.
There are some beautiful Cotswold villages on the way to The Rollright Stones. It's mid afternoon by the time we park in the layby on what is a surprisingly busy road.
First of all, we look in on the King Stone. In a field on it's own and seperated from the circle by the road. The king Stone is confined by an iron railing fence. A modern wooden sculpture of a hag watches proceedings.The Stone is quite weathered and looks rather fragile.

Crossing bak over the road, we go through the gate and into the clearing - and there it is -  The Rollright Stones Circle. It's bigger than I imagined. 77 stones make up the circle. Made from the Oolitic Limestone, they too are well weathered and worn. A few people mill around admiring the circle and it's setting.

A footpath takes us to the Whispering Knights Dolmen. It is around 400m SE. The capstone has fallen from the four remaining uprights. Like The King Stone, it is surrounded by an iron railing fence. It is thought that this is the oldest of the three monuments here.
Back for another wander around the circle. There was a lovely atmosphere here and hopefully we will return here one day. But for now, it was time to head off through the Cotswold countryside for the journey back to Devon.

Avebury - something new at an old favourite

30th May 2013

We are heading up to another old favourite -  Avebury. The skies have opened up as we sit in traffic on the A303. Eventually rain subsides and the traffic eases.
First stop is Silbury Hill, then over the road and up the hill to West Kennet Longbarrow. It's always a good place to hear Corn Buntings singing. I have the whole place to myself for a while. A Swallow startles me, as it flies past my head inside the chamber - they must be nesting in here. I take a walk around the outside. A corn Bunting sings obligingly from a post. Cowslips grow in large patches on the outside mound. Eventually, a few more people wander up, as I make my leave,

The car park at Avebury is surprisingly nearly empty.
One thing that I love about Avebury, is that there is always something new to see. So after walking the main circe and Cove, we head on down to the remains of the Beckhampton Avenue - The Longstones.

There is a stile, which takes you into the meadow. Only two stones now remain standing. There is another possible stone in the hedge row along the lane. The sky is black and a rainbow appears over the hill. What a place this must have been - easily rivalling, if not surpassing nearby Stonehenge.
The weather has turned showery, so we drive round for a quick look at the West Kennet Avenue and The Sanctuary.

We are staying in Amesbury tonight, so pop over to Stonehenge first. This is the last time that I wil be able to drive down the road, Work will be starting soon on the new visitor centre and the road will be gone
Walking up the outside of the fence, I see  the last of the days visitors walking around the stones. It seems somewhat sinister, that the security guards are taking photogrpahs of the people outside taking photo's through the fence.

I walk over to old barrows near the Cursus. It's been many a year since I was over here. It wil be interesting to see what it looks like next time, without the monstrosity of the old visitor centre blocking the view of the stones.
The evening is drawing in, time to head for the hotel and a well earned cup of tea