Monday 2nd May – Home – A bright sunny morning and overhead is the screaming of the first Swifts of the year. The Broad Beans are coming on well, as is the garlic. My Calabrese is struggling with slugs, but the heritage variety cos lettuce is doing well. The potatoes are peeking through and I need to begin earthing up. Last month I found a Wren’s nest on the floor of the potting shed; it having fallen from the top of the door. Now, only a week or so later, it has been rebuilt, but there is no indication whether a Wren is using it.
Fleets Dam – Ransoms are in flower; little stars of pure white in the dampness and shade. Less welcome are the large patches of Cleavers (Goosegrass, Stickygrass and many other names). The warm sun has brought forth clouds of tiny flying insects. A pair of Great Crested Grebe are on the lake. One has its head laid out along the water in display. Hedge Mustard is profuse and flowering. An Orange Tip butterfly flutters past. A male Chaffinch sees off a rival as the female watches on.
Tuesday 3rd May – Deffer Woods – Up the long sloping path through Deffer Woods. Young leaves and twig tips lay under an Oak and the culprit, a Grey Squirrel runs off along the arboreal highway. Rhododendrons will soon be in flower. Through the trees is the blue mist of hundreds of Bluebells. The white flowers of Stitchwort complement the blue. We sit and look out over the fields from the little shelter.
Wednesday 4th May – Westwood Country Park – I wonder if Dill the Dog remembers this walk; we used to stop here on many a morning on my way into the office in Sheffield. As soon as I leave the car I can hear Common Whitethroats. One shoots into the air and twists around before descending, singing all the while. Willow Warblers are also singing from the plantation of young trees. Those species are left behind as the path runs alongside a woodland of mature Oaks, Beeches and Sycamores. Violets and Stitchwort blossom on the bank rising from the track. The songsters here are mainly Great and Blue Tits, but as the woodland surrounds the track, Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Rooks join in. A rather nasty industrial estate has been built beside the track with a large area of mud indicating more to come. It is hard to understand why the architecture of these places has to be so unimaginative and unsympathetic. Wild Strawberries are in flower on the bank. A pair of Chiffchaffs is feeding in quick darting movements. The leaves of plants yet to produce flowers are all around – Wild Arum, clovers and vetches predominate. Back on the open hillside, a Kestrel quarters the ground.
Thursday 5th May – West Bretton – Head through Bretton Woods. The sun is shining but there is a strong wind. A lot of timber lines the track. It will be used by the local timber merchants, Job Earnshaw. It is good to see local wood being managed so well. Blackcaps and Chaffinches are singing in the trees. The path comes to a set of iron gates. One of the smaller ones can be opened and the track leads of through a field of grass. Both the grass and grain crop fields are rippling in the wind. Cows are chewing the cud and look at Dill the Dog and me without a great deal of interest. The path drops down a hillside and into the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Dill the Dog is initially unsure about a pair of Water Buffalo in bronze (Elizabeth Frink) but decides the sniff in the surrounding grass are interesting enough for her to ignore these motionless creatures. She then makes what is a very poor attempt to catch a Grey Squirrel. The squirrel is rather slow off the mark, so Dill the Dog has to slow down to avoid getting too close. At the bottom of the hill are Bretton Lakes. Both heronries have a number of Grey Herons on their nests. Back up the hill and past Mistle Thrushes with clumps of food in their bills. Back in the woods, a Speckled Wood butterfly suns itself.
Saturday 7th May – Barnsley Canal – It is interesting to note how the path down Willowbank to the canal has shifted over the years. The stile I used to climb is now broken and off the edge of the current path, almost hidden in the undergrowth. The high wind of the past few days continues. It mutes the bird song with only Blue and Great Tits making any serious noise. Down on the rough pasture in the river valley, the wind is less intrusive and Willow Warblers and Whitethroats are singing. Sand Martins skim over the grass hunting for insects. Over the footbridge the pasture is less rough and the grass is lusher. Dandelions, Bistorts and Plantains grow profusely. Back along the canal and an egg shell lies on the tow path, probably a Mistle Thrush.
Sunday 8th May – Worsbrough Reservoir – Walking around the reservoir brings back many memories. It was my first “patch” in Barnsley, indeed one of the places I first visited when I arrived in the town nearly eighteen years ago. Swift scythe low across the tops of the Willows lining the water channel that feeds the mill. Round the back path, the air is pungent with Wild Garlic. In the water are bright yellow patches of Marsh Marigold. Sadly, morons have again burned down the hide at the top of the reservoir. Sedge Warblers and a single Reed Warbler call from the large phragmites bed. The willow crop is in leaf. I am not sure of the current state of using willow as a fuel for power generation. The original project collapsed but I think another is underway. If not, there is going to be a vast amount of useless willow here. On the Round Green road I listen for Lesser Whitethroat. It is difficult because of the volume of a Garden Warbler’s song. However, there is no sign of the Lesser Whitethroat. The Garden Warbler is actually standing on top of a Hawthorn, rather than skulking in the middle which is their usual way. Up onto the abandoned railway track and another Garden Warbler is in song.
Wednesday 11th May – Newmillerdam – I park in a small lane I find through the back streets of the village. The football pitches are on one side of the road and a row of cottages on the other. At the bottom of the lane is a foot bridge over a stream – the one that drains out of the big lake that is Newmillerdam. There has also been a ford here but it is overgrown. A ginnel (a narrow lane) leads up to the main Barnsley-Wakefield road. There is an old spring or well halfway up. Along the road and over to the lake. There are several Great Crested Grebes, Mallard, Coots, Grey Herons and a fairly young Cormorant around the water. In the woods Blackbirds, a Mistle Thrush and a Blackcap are singing. The latter is searching for food whilst singing continuously. Two Common Terns sit on a dead tree in the water. One takes off and soon is successful in catching a small fish. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flies across the lake and into the woods. Past the boathouse, now only used occasionally for children’s activities in the summer. Dill the Dog decides to investigate the lake, not realising it is not a gently sloping bank but a submerged ledge, seconds later she is in. She looks very surprised and paddles furiously back to dry land. Jays here are much less retiring and shy than they are in most places. A pair hop along the path and only fly into a nearby tree when we get quite close. Dill the Dog and a Coot decide to have a staring match with their heads only a few feet apart. I call her off to let the poor bird have his little moment of victory. A Mute Swan in on a nest on a small island. A pair of Carrion Crows are having a frightful barney with aerial fisticuffs. Over a concrete barrier across the lake, with a small bridge at each end to facilitate water flow. The path goes back from the lake slightly and into denser woodland. Chiffchaffs are still calling. A large Fox darts across the path with a Magpie chasing him. The area is busy with people passing down this path regularly, so it is hard to imagine where the Fox has come from – there is only a short stretch of scrubby woodland between the path and the water’s edge. A Nuthatch lands on a branch and then disappears off into the woods. As I walk back down the ginnel, the pair of terns flies overhead, calling and as I reach the stream, six Mute Swans fly over with their wings making a whooshing beat.
Barnsley Canal – Old Mill – The female Mallard’s brood I had last seen on 24th April have been reduced to six ducklings, but they have grown considerably and look fit young birds. A Garden Warbler is singing loudly out in the open at the top of a tree. Willow Warblers are also in song, but I only hear a brief catch of Whitethroat song, which is unusual as there are normally several on the open ground leading up to Oakwell. Down near the river, there is an island on a small stretch of water running parallel to the River Dearne. A Mute Swan has nested here again this year. A small fluffy grey head peeps out from underneath her. Hundreds of black insects are flying near an Oak tree – possibly one of the Gall Wasp family. A pair of Large Whites seem to object to a Brimstone entering their feeding area and chase it off.
Thursday 12th May – High Hoyland – The footpath opposite the decommissioned church drops steeply down through woods of High Hoyland Bank. Creamy yellow Archangels are in flower beside the path. A Song Thrush, Blackcaps, Blue Tits and a Wren are all singing. A Chaffinch gathers moss from a tree branch. Under the trees is a carpet of Bluebells. The path joins a substantive track and then a way marker indicates it turns back into the woods. It drops steadily down and becomes what can only be described as a swamp. The path emerges from the woods and traverses several fields. Beside the field, the pine plantation continues with a steep little valley dropping into the gloom. An olive coloured egg shell lies on the ground – almost certainly Common Pheasant. The footpath then diverts again into the woods. A simple bridge crosses the stream that created the small valley. There are signs of Pheasant breeding being undertaken here. The path then rises to pass through a farm and by Bilham Grange, a fine late Victorian house. Out again into open fields. There are fine views across the Upper Dearne Valley towards Emley Moor. Yellowhammers call from hedgerows. The path joins a bridle way which, I am pleased to note, not having a map, emerges about one hundred yards up the road from the church from whence I started. In the churchyard is a dense carpet of white Stitchwort and Bluebells, all set off against their green foliage.
Saturday 14th May – Home – A Blackcap is singing in the trees at the bottom of the garden. Despite some searching, I cannot locate him. Autumn sown broad beans are now in flower whilst the spring sown ones are growing fast. Lettuces and radishes are also progressing well. The potatoes are now shooting up. Fast as I earth them up, they grow higher. Several of the apple trees have finished blossoming, whilst the cherry and later apples are still in full bloom. This makes the presence of a pair of Bullfinches unwelcome, beautiful as they may be. A well grown Greenfinch chick is on one of the apple trees, quivering its wings violently and demanding food from its parents.
Sunday 15th May – Cornwall – Gwithian – Arrive at the camp site in the mid afternoon. The car must be disturbing insects in the grass as we drive over to our pitching place because Swallows are swooping down in front of us. It is quite disconcerting. We erect our new tent quite efficiently – taking into account the wind! Then set up the stove, finally discover the gas cylinder connection has a reverse thread and make a cup of tea. Into the village; Goldfinches sing from telephone wires. The coastal path heads out over sand dunes. A pair of Curlew land a short distance away. There are rabbits everywhere. Dill the Dog is pretty half-hearted about chasing them! Kidney Vetch is in flower; it will be weeks before it is out at home. Sky Larks sing from above. There is a scaly leaved plant on the dunes I have yet to identify. Alexanders, a yellow, pungent umbellifer is common. Back into the village. Jackdaws are nesting in the old misshapen louvres in the bell tower of the church. Another pair have their nest in the gate roof. Opposite the campsite is an excellent hostelry, The Red River Inn – good real ale and a no-smoking room!
Monday 16th May – St Ives – A fishing village full of tourists. However, it is a pleasant enough place. We parked high on the hills overlooking the village and walked down into the narrow streets. The harbour has a couple of piers with green water lapping around them. Schools of fry swim close to the surface. Herring Gulls are always in close attendance, watching for any morsels of food. The museum is well worth a visit. It is an old fashioned museum with a wide range of exhibits, from a case of stuffed birds to large models of local ships, geological specimens, railway memorabilia and so on. There is also a large photographic collection. Heading back up to car park, we purchase a fine Cornish Pasty from a shop with a large machine for rolling out the pastry.
Zennor – The drive around the coast brings some of the best views in England. Dark cliffs drop down into turquoise seas with rocky outcrops breaking the waves. Tiny inlets and bays that see no human feet year in, year out. Off the main road is the hamlet of Zennor. Like many of these little places, it has a large imposing church. Zennor also has a fine old inn, the Tinners Arms. However, we deny ourselves the pleasure of sampling its wares and head off towards the sea. A stream has created a lush valley. The path runs along the side of the valley. Whitethroats sing in the bushes. Red Campion is everywhere, mixed with various members of the dandelion family, Dog Violets and Ramping Fumitory, making a multi-coloured feast for the eyes. The Ramping Fumitory is a rare plant in the UK, growing only here in Cornwall. The large furry caterpillar of the Oak Eggar moth crosses the path. Pennywort (also called Navelwort) grows profusely over walls. It is an uncommon plant outside the South-west of England. The track joins the Coastal Path at Zennor Head. There is an outcrop of rock with a gap in it. Through the gap is a cameo of the coast – a slope of pink Thrift down to a cliff edge and blue sea below. On the way back, a well tilled field is steaming in the warm sunshine.
St Just – The coastal road continues past hamlets to the village of St Just. Many abandoned tin mines are passed. St Just was once a mining town, but all the pits are now gone. However, it has the feeling of a town that refuses to dwell of the loss and gets on with life. The Star Inn is a fine pub with four Cornish beers, free jukebox and a pleasing sign saying “Please turn off your mobile phone”.
Tuesday 17th May – Tintagel – Another tourist trap, but the castle is unmissable. The ruins stand on a finger of land projecting out into the sea. It is in two parts, one on what is the mainland and another section on the “island”, an area of land with a narrow neck of land linking it to the mainland. This neck of land has been eroded over the centuries and would have been more substantial that now. A steep set of steps and a bridge now link the two sections. It is supposed to be the castle where King Arthur was born. Indeed, until the 1930s it was regarded as fact. Then an archaeological investigation by Raleigh Radford established the castle had been built from 1233 onwards by Earl Richard of Cornwall. The site had been occupied before, a village had been established in the 3rd or 4th century CE and the Great Ditch had been dug along the line of a natural fault in the ground in the 5th or 6th century. On the eastern slope are the remains of Dark Age houses. Shards of wine-jars, crockery and glass vessels from Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean have been found in considerable quantity, indicating that someone with considerable influence and power was living here. However, the remains of the buildings are hardly those suitable for such an important person. The hall he occupied has not been found. A tiny chapel dedicated to St Juliot was built around the end of the 11th century. Earl Richard seems not to have used Tintagel often and after his death in 1272, the site fell into ruin. In the early 14th century the roof of the main Hall was removed and some time after a new two storey building was erected within the walls of the ruined hall. By the 15th century the whole site was in ruins. The atmosphere of the place still evokes images of mystery and mysticism, despite the hoards of tourists.
We head back towards the village and then up onto the cliff top. Following the path along the cliffs leads to the Parish Church of St Materiana. The saint has been identified with St Madryn, a princess of Gwent, who was evangelised about 500CE. It is likely, therefore that the present church was built on the site of an earlier oratory served by the Celtic monks of Minster, which was St Madryn’s chief shrine. This building was replaced by a Saxon church and then by the present church. This church was erected between 1080 and 1150 by the Earls of Cornwall, Robert of Mortasin and his son William. It is nicely austere building, in keeping with the bleak headland setting. The font is Norman and of rather crude workmanship. The stained glass in the church is all from the modern era, but of fair quality. The walls were covered with medieval murals but these were lost when the plaster was hacked away in the last century. A Roman stone leans against the west wall. The lettering has been deciphered as IMP C G VAL LIC LICIN referring to the Roman Emperor Caius Flavius Valerius Lininius, one of the rival emperors to Constantine and was put to death by him in 324CE. On the wall is a record of vicars from 1259 onwards, an unbroken record. Of the village of Tintagel there is not much to say. A nice old Post Office but the sign on the pub advertising “Excaliburgers” rather sums it up. And the local pasty was simply OK!
Wednesday 18th May – Gwithian – Shortly after midnight, I awake to a rustling in the outer tent area. Dill the Dog is staring in that direction. Taking the torch, I open the screen and peer out. There is a hedgehog busily devouring Dill the Dog’s dried food. My fearless hound just stands and looks. I use a pair of shoes on my hands to gently move the hedgehog outside. Just at dawn I awake again to a gentle whoosh and a lot of screaming. I would guess a Common Buzzard has just reduced the rabbit population by one.
Lost Gardens of Heligan – From the mid 18th Century the successive Squires Tremayne constructed gardens around their house near Mevagissey. However, after the start of the First World War, the availability of labour and the change in countryside employment meant the gardens fell into decline and by the mid-20th Century had pretty much been forgotten. In 1990, after 75 years of neglect, a group of enthusiasts rediscovered and started their restoration. This continues to this day. The current gardens are effectively in two parts – the Northern Gardens, a set of formal gardens including an extensive walled garden and the “Jungle”, a valley of exotic plants. We set out down the Jungle. A bird starts singing close by. It sounds like a Garden Warbler on steroids. I am sure it was a Nightingale but it soon moves off and I do not get any sighting. A baby Robin hops under the trees. The valley is full of exotic trees from great Redwoods to oriental shrubbery, many tree ferns and the most wonderful collection of rhododendrons and other flowering plants. Back along the valley bottom is a charcoal burning area. Back up the hill, an area has been set aside for wildlife with a hide overlooking feeders. The formal gardens are full of flowers and vegetables. Old Victorian glass houses contain peach, citrus trees and grapes. There is an old pineapple pit, designed so that fires could be built by it and warm air circulates to grow this tropical fruit. One section of the estate has been left as it was when found in 1990 – a thick mass of rhododendron, near impassable. Further information
Megavissey – There is nothing positive I can say about this fishing village. Mass commercialism, cars pushing their way through what could have been quaint, narrow streets and a near inedible pasty.
Tresillian – A village on the River Tresillian, a tributary of the River Fal. We drove through but our eyes caught sight of an interesting church, so quick turnabout and a brief stop. The Holy Trinity Church is fairly ordinary apart from three bells hanging at the top of the front façade of the building. Hung in a triangle, one of the large verdigris coated bells is marked “Robert Treweek – Micheal” Another has the legend “Husband CW”. Across from the church is the driveway to a splendid gate house laying parallel to the river. The main road crosses the river on a fine sandstone bridge. Below a couple of families of Mallard feed.
Lizard Point – We head across country, but are suddenly halted by a queue of traffic in a quiet lane. The presence of police and fire engines alerts us to an accident and ahead there appears to be a car on its roof. Clearly we are not going this way. The change of direction brings a change of mind and I decide to head down to Lizard Point. This is the southernmost point of mainland Britain. A path drops down from the village towards the point. The cliffs are covered in a mixture of pink Thrift and an extraordinary fleshy leaved plant with pink or yellow cup shaped flowers, the petals are thin and very numerous around a yellow centre. This is the Hottentot Fig, an introduction from South Africa. On the walls are thick growths of Stone Crops, another plant designed for the harsh conditions on a cliff top. The Lizard Point itself consists of a large café and several small shacks selling Serpentine, a multicoloured stone of hydrated Magnesium Silicate, rarely found anywhere other than here. The most exciting part of this visit is a rare bird. The Chough became extinct in Cornwall some fifty years ago. The bird survived and has prospered in Wales and now it is back. I knew about this but did not know where it was now breeding. And the answer is – Lizard Point! A local RSPB person was on hand to show visitors the location of the hidden cave in which a pair had five youngsters. The adults return every half hour or so, disappear into the cave, re-emerge and are gone. Luckily, it was not a long wait before the shiny black birds, delicate for members of the crow family, with their thin, curved, red beaks soared on the wind above the cliff and headed back to the fields for more food.
Thursday 19th May – Gwithian – An early morning wander down to the beach. It is a very long strand of golden sand stretching from St Ives to Godrevy, where a lighthouse stands on a rocky islet. A small group of Lesser Black-backed, Common and Herring Gulls stand on the sand. A Turnstone is seeking food on a rocky outcrop. A pair of Curlew stand on the edge of the sea.
St Ives – Penzance Road – The route cuts north to south across the peninsula of Cornwall. It rises and runs across the top of valleys containing small stone walled fields and copses. Across the wild moorland are low peaks of rocks. Abandoned tin mines stand forlornly on the sky line. One is near the road. One building remains, roofless with a tall chimney stack. The other is ruined walls. A pair of Common Buzzards glide over the fields below. There is a row of stones across the moor, carved with the legend “PW”. A Robin sings lustily from a gorse thicket.
Chysauster – Down a very narrow lane for several miles, up a hill and there are the remains of the Celtic village at Chysauster. A collection of seven houses, built in the Roman period and probably occupied for a relatively short period. Iron Age pottery has been found here, but no evidence of occupation from that period. There are extensive field systems and trackways associated with the settlement. Each house has an entrance leading to what was probably an uncovered area of courtyard. To the left may be a bay area which could be covered by a lean-to, to be used as a stable. Opposite the entrance there is a larger circular room. On the right of the entrance is a long narrow room. Some houses have a smaller circular room as well. All main rooms have a stone with a hollow carved into it, commonly believed to be a socket for the main timber that held up the thatched roof (although they may have been querns). The courtyards may have been paved, but any stones have been robbed out. Many houses had water channels covered by slabs. Some had a levelled area, possibly a small garden. The remains are just a few courses of the stone built walls, but it is easy to envisage the site as it was two millennia ago. Our ancestors would have stood here looking out over a wooded valley with their fields behind them across the hill. More
Newlyn – We headed to this fishing village mainly for the Newlyn Art Gallery. The Newlyn School of artists worked there from the 1880s through to the 1920s. However, the gallery contained only modern pieces, some quite decent, but a bit of a disappointment. The village itself is a treat. There is a splendid working museum “The Pilchard Works”, where pilchards are salted and pressed. Virtually, the entire output of the works is shipped to Italy where the intensely strong flavour is appreciated. We buy four and later use a couple to flavour a simple pasta dish – it is divine! The port contains deep sea trawlers and the buildings surrounding it are part of the fishing industry. Although there are tourists here, such as us, it is not a tourist trap like many of the local villages around the coast. There is a excellent little pasty shop (Aunty May’s Pasty Company) with the best traditional pasty yet.
Carn Euny – Another long, very narrow winding track, through a farmyard, parked up in what looks like an old garden gone wild, then walk up though cow fields and behold, another Celtic village. This village has a longer history than Chysauster. It was established before 200BCE and was in occupation until the 4th Century CE. It has a wonderfully preserved fogou, an underground passageway with dry stone walls with a round subterranean chamber built off to one side. Their use is the subject of numerous theories. The main ones are for food and livestock storage or religious. The round chamber is older than the passageway and may indicate it was a cult centre. More Nearby, the stone walls of fields often contain huge blocks of granite. The rest of the afternoon is spent working my way through the different ales at the Star in St Just. The rain, promised for Monday, finally arrives.
Thursday 26th May – Scout Dike – An overcast morning with a westerly wind blowing. A duck Mallard and her ducklings are in the stream by the lower pumping station. I head off to do a circuit of the reservoir. There are a few Great Crested Grebe on the water. A pair of Tufted Duck fly down the valley like exocets. Reed Buntings and Willow Warblers are frequenting the willow scrub. A Dabchick cries. Lapwings bob over the surrounding fields crying peewit. There are at least four Garden Warblers in the willows at the end of the reservoir.
Saturday 28th May – Clwyd Vale, Wales – We set up camp at Minffordd – not easy in a gale. It is a pleasant meadow with the Vale of Clwyd to the west and the Clwydian Range of hills to the east. Offa’s Dyke runs along these hills. White clouds move swiftly eastwards turning dark and threatening over the peaks. Having eventually secured the tent, we head off down towards the River Clwyd. The track leads past an old mill. Two large millstones stand outside. The presence of Yellow Irises indicates the probable location of the mill pond. The path leads over a stream and then over the river. The route into Ruthin is a series of lush meadows, divided by hawthorns and are probably of late 16th to mid 17th Century in origin. Sheep proof fences and high stiles also prove to be Dill the Dog proof and she has to be lifted over – something she strongly objects to! A splendid farmhouse, Plas-Y-Ward, lies across the meadow; we cannot decide if it Victorian, Georgian or earlier. This area was the estate of the Thelwalls, their estates eventually passed by marriage to the Williams-Wynn dynasty of Wynnstay. A Grey Heron, a few Mallard and a young Grey Wagtail are seen in the river. We notice a few shops have changed in the twelve months since our last visit.
Sunday 29th May – Conwy Valley – With our friends Derek and Fran, we head through Denbigh and across the hills to the Conwy Valley. At one point, the Snowdon Range suddenly looms into view – a panorama from Cnicht to the much closer Moel Siabod, then Snowdon and the Carneddau with Tryfan’s arched back in the distance. The road drops down into the valley of the River Conwy and the town of Llanwrst. Sitting across one of the main North-South routes through Wales, it is a busy market town. We lunch overlooking the river with a magnificent backdrop of timbered hillside. After lunch we head down the river bank for a while. A “family fun day” is noisily filling a park, but further on it is quieter. Tiny fry make rings on the surface of the water. The tree clad near vertical hillside has a magic mix of greens and textures as evergreens and deciduous trees mingle. The sun is hot. A large lump of slate forms a bench. People have been carving their names in the soft slate for years – 1908 is the earliest I notice. The sky reflects on the water as it flows over a lip as though the scene were a solarised photograph. Back in the town, the old Alms Houses are now a museum and other nearby houses, once the homes of the poorest in society are now much sought after bijoux residences. The church clearly has several periods of development, with additions to the simple Norman structure.
Monday 30th May – St Asaph – The smallest city in the world apparently, with a population of only 3600. The cathedral is the smallest in the United Kingdom. Saint Kentigern built his Church here in 560CE. When he returned to Strathclyde in 573CE he left Asaph as his successor. Since that time the Cathedral has been dedicated to Saint Asaph and the Diocese bears his name. It has a turbulent history, destroyed by the soldiers of Henry III in 1245 and again by the armies of Edward I in 1282. It was substantially rebuilt between 1284 and 1381 only to be burned by Owain Glyndŵr’s Welsh troops in 1402. The present building is mainly 14th Century with considerable development by Gilbert Scott in 1867 to 1875. Currently the south side floor is being removed and relaid. William Morgan was bishop in 1601. His fame lies in being the first to translate the bible into Welsh. His Welsh Bible of 1588 became the most important publication in the history of the Welsh language. A monument to Morgan stands in the cathedral grounds. The cathedral stands on a hill overlooking the valley of the River Elwy. A fine bridge arches over the river. The parish church stands a short distance from the river – another fine looking building. The explorer, H.M. Stanley was born in the city. More
Holywell – A small town near the Dee Estuary in the north-easternmost corner of Wales. Down a steep hill is St Winefride’s Well. Gwenfrewi or Winefride was the daughter of Prince Tewyth and Gwenlo. One day, Caradoc, a local chieften, attempted to rape Winefride. She fled and sought sanctuary at the church of her uncle, St Beuno. However, Caradoc caught her at the church and cut off her head. In the place where her head fell and spring of water rose. St Beuno came and placed her head back on her neck and she was restored to life. A white scar encircled her neck, witness to her martyrdom. Caradoc sank into the ground and was never seen again. Winefride became a nun and became Abbess of Gwytherin. The first chapel of St Beuno would have been a wooden affair. A Saxon or Norman church was built on the site and given to the Benedictine monks of Chester in 1093. By this time, the well was a place of pilgrimage. It has continued to be a place of pilgrimage ever since. There is a chapel, built in the 16th Century, set into the hill that contains the well. This flows out into a bathing area. More