WALES 2017

Llanvair Discoed Castle: The first site on our trip around Wales was a very overgrown and forgotten ruin of a castle, which, based on my research was in a little wood just behind St. Mary's church in Llanvair Discoed. The castle was likely built in the second half of the 13th century. Finding the church was easy, but there was no sign of the castle. Walking through the church graveyard to the back, hopping over the stone wall into a field of nettle in my shorts (ouch!) we climbed up a little hill in the direction of the castle. Noticing some stones we managed our way around some heavily overgrown rubble which turned out to be part of the wall from one of the better preserved towers. We soon found ourselves in the middle of the courtyard of the castle, which was quite badly overgrown with bushes of all sort and a huge tree on one of the walls. It was all in the shade making it difficult to take pictures, but we could explore inside one of the towers (no stairs), see the remains of a second one, a gate entrance, along with about half the walls perhaps. More pieces of the walls were visible in the very nettle infested wood to the other site, so we skipped that part... The castle seems to have been built on a small hill along two of it's walls and the tower that is still standing tall. The site turned out to be larger than we imagined, spilling over into the backyard of a nice lady who came to see us, and gave us an extended tour with a bit of history!

Church of St Mary: Located on Chapel Hill to the east of Tintern Abbey, this interesting church was built c. 14th-15th century (exact date is unknown) and it has been restored in mid 19th century. The church burned down in 1977 and now is heavily overgrown with ivy and berry bushes. It has some interesting ornaments inside and we found a set of stairs leading to what might have been a cellar (collapsed roof now). No sign of the font, unless we missed it, but it's probably under a lot of bushes by now. There are some neat tombstones around for the people of Tintern. Great location!

Tintern Abbey: Walking down from St. Mary's church we got a bit of sunlight on the beautiful Tintern Abbey. It was late in the day however and mostly overcast so we decided not to pay to go in, however walking around for a few pictures we appreciated the size and details of the abbey. It must have looked very impressive in its time. The abbey was founded in 1131 and was the first Cistercian foundation (White monks who followed the Rule of St. Benedict) in Wales, however, it was only used for about 400 years. In 1536 the abbey was surrendered and all valuables taken to the royal Treasury. With the lead from the roof soon sold, the building began its decay. It appears however that the walls still go all the way up to their original height, showing how sound the structure must be.

Skenfrith Castle: While an older timber castle existed on the site probably before 1100, the current stone castle was likely built between 1228 and 1232. It is one of the three local castles (along with Grosmont and White). It is well preserved with a mostly complete wall curtain to almost its original height and a really cool round keep within. The round keep had an entrance on the second floor (now a large holes in the towers goes all the way to ground level but the entrance can be clearly seen), accessed by a wooden staircase, which would have made it more difficult to break down with a battering ram. The castle used to be surrounded with a deep moat, fed by the river right beside it no doubt. It has a small water gate/entrance with stairs that faces the river, and in some pictures of the castle one case see water still coming up right up to it when the river level is higher. The castle has large round towers at its four corners but the main entrance gate is unfortunately no longer exists as that section of the wall is gone. There are also outlines of walls, some just at the ground level but most quite extensive, which were the bases of other buildings within the castle walls such as a great hall, living apartments and probably a kitchen. After spending a bit of time exploring the castle we walked over to have a look at the nearby old church, which unfortunately was closed. When we came back there was an opening in the clouds and we got a few minutes of nice warm sun shining on the castle walls and tower. We got to this castle late in the afternoon on our first day and decided to camp behind it by the river, not seeing other options in the area.

Grosmont Castle: This was one of my favourite castles/sites, mainly because we got there very early in the morning (~7:30am) after waking up early at the nearby Skenfrith Castle, and, being a Saturday there was no one up yet and we had the castle all to ourselves! I also liked the little town on the side of which it is located, and the very interesting church in the village that we visited after. The first castle on this site was likely a timber motte and bailey type, probably founded in 1070 by Earl William Fitz Osbern. The initial parts of the current stone castle were probably constructed between 1200-1230 with additions and modifications over the next century. The red sandstone used for construction also gives it a very unique feel. It was abandoned by the 16th century. A striking feature as one arrives is the bridge over the deep kitch that still surrounds the entire castle. Standing at the bottom and looking up makes one think more than twice about trying to get some ladders and get up the wall, which is at about fourth story level with the tallest tower reaching the fifth! The last picture is of the stone effigy of a 13th or 14th century unknown warrior that is housed inside St. Nicholas' church (visible in one of the pictures from the castle wall - it was too dark in the church to take decent pictures, so I bought a nice postcard and a booklet about the church) in the town.

White Castle: This was our first large castle and a very nice drive from Grosmont on small country roads. We were there early, before 9am, and had it all to ourselves. The main part of the castle, the large twin towers at the entrance and the curtain walls, are dated to c. 1185 and stand to basically their original height! The castle had two later additions; the outer ward with its smaller twin towers, gate, draw bridge, walls with towers and a smaller moat - these were built in the 13th century and one would have to pass through this in order to arrive in front of the main gate. The so called 'hornwork' was also added later and would access the rear gate of the main castle. This part is however totally overgrown now and no sign of it remains from where we stood. The main castle has a very deep moat lined with stones and the moat walls are very steep - one would have an extremely difficult time getting out if one were to fall in! It seems that one of the towers can be climbed, but was locked (probably opened once the castle officially opens at 10am, but we were off for the coast by then...).

Candleston Castle & Sand Dunes: These are the ruins of a late 14th century manor house. It was occupied into the 19th century and has undergone many modifications. It was cool to find the very dark cellar, and a nice fireplace. While the stairs to the second floor are gone, one can walk up over some rough stones for a better view from above. Not a large building, but some nice doorways and arches can be seen, and of course the nearby dunes! The sand dunes which currently begin where the castle sits all the way to the ocean were not originally there when it was built. After spending about 15min at the castle we headed through the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes to the ocean, which took us about two hours there and back with some nice time at the beach.

Margam Abbey: This Cistercian monastery was founded in 1147 and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is evidence however for an earlier Celtic monastic community at this location. The abbey is located in Margam Park, next to the present parish church. The impressive large twelve-sided chapter house dates to the 13 century and while its roof is gone, the central column remains standing and one can see how the roof was supported. There are two buildings next to this building that have the roof intact. The abbey was much larger than what can be seen now, and a few bases of the massive columns remain which give a better idea of the structure.

Carreg Cennen Castle: Next we decided to head a bit north to the mighty Carreg Cennen, built in the late 13th century. We arrived in the afternoon, with less than two hours before closing time. After a 10min walk up the hill we were in front of the castle. The location is fantastic, on top of a rocky hill with a full view of the surrounding area (and approaching enemy forces!). The castle has one of its sides entirely on a cliff and two other sides on a very steep incline, making an attack only possible along the way we came. The wall is the tallest in this location however, with massive towers (and toilet exhausts...), which would have made one difficult! There are remains of an outer wall likely from an outer courtyard and more defenses for the main entrance. The wall section over the cliff is basically intact and looks beautiful. On the end by the outer courtyard one can see the broken of walls from what might have been a corner square tower, which has the entrance passage to the cave (and also the windows along the walkway to the cave, which can be seen from this side). The cave was super fun to explore, and probably took up half my time at the castle! Inside the castle is sadly fairly ruined, with only outlines and sections of walls remaining, including the ruined original entrance. The light was not great while we were there for good pictures, until after the castle grounds closed and we were driving away.

Cefn Bryn Cairn & Arthur's Stone: We next headed south again hoping to find a camping spot in the vicinity of this site, but there was a no-camping sign on a post by the parking. We went to check out the sites in the late afternoon sun, less than 10min walk from the rocky parking by the road. The cairn was fairly large and very flat, the stone however was quite interesting and looked great with the sun low. There is a space below it, filled with water, and many rocks in the ground around it which must have been part of the cairn that covered it once. They are both overlooking a delta of a river down below, and there were many horses and ponies around. We ended up petting some of the ponies, but one kept trying to bite us!

Pennard Castle: Since we couldn't find camping at the Neolithic site, we decided to head for the nearby trails/cliffs in Pennard. The parking large lot by the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop in Pennard didn't have overnight parking however, as we were hoping to set up along the trail, so we parked on Sandy Lane and walked to Pennard Castle. Soon after some local kids came to have a smoke and a beer for half an hour overlooking the cliffs. In the morning we found a nice pile of garbage, which we picked up (I guess Welsh kids are no better than others!). There is little left of the castle itself but luckily the main entrance/gate is in decent condition and looked great in the morning light! Part of the side (getting quite overgrown) and back wall which span from the entrance are still there, with a rectangular room in the back, right over the cliff. A small square room by one side of the entrance (right tower) also exists. A lonely section of a wall still stands on its own apart from all this on the other side, giving an idea to the dimensions of this small castle. Overall an amazing spot overlooking the river and beach of Three Cliffs Bay! The castle was likely built in the early 13th century, but abandoned in the late 14th century due to sand encroachment! After our night at the castle he headed back to to the parking lot over the cliffs and walked down to enjoy an early morning by the ocean.

Kidwelly Castle: This was the largest castle we have seen thus far, it's basically a castle within a castle! Go here and click on the aerial view picture to see what I mean! The castle has a massive entrance gate with towers and the entrance had two iron portcullis at each end, and there was a draw bridge over the moat. The towers have many murder holes all around and machicolations above the gate to allow dropping rocks, hot sand, boiling oil and other unpleasant things on anyone unwanted knocking on the gate... The overall shape of the castle is a D-shape, with the inner castle sharing one wall by the river. It was constructed around the early 13th century, replacing an earlier timber castle from the early 12th (or even late 11th) century but keeping the previous D-shape. One of the towers of the inner castle can be climbed all the way to the top, the others have their roofs missing, but there is a lot to explore here, in the towers and along the walls, including a dungeon in the right entrance tower (where Alan did some time) and a room with historical information. I bought a great Cadw book about this castle which contains many more pictures from angles I didn't or couldn't get to, and a lot of historical information. We found this to be a fun place to explore!

Llansteffan Castle: Having parked by the beach in the town of Lllansteffan ("the church of Stephen"), we could see the castle on top of a hill right by the ocean. The weather was gloomy with light rain. We walked about 10min along the beach near low tide to the base of the hill, took the stairs up to the trail and walked around to the side of the castle, finally climbing a steep and slippery path up to the front gate (a gentler way would be to take the longer route around that takes the old road up to the gate). The atmosphere at this castle, built in the early 12th century, was amazing! This castle was actually built over and older Norman timber castle, which in turn was built over and Iron Age defensive fort - a lot of history in one place! It changed hands several times between the Normans and the Welsh. Standing at the rear wall overlooking the sand-flats of the mouth of the river Twyi during low tied, disappearing into the distance because of the drizzle and fog, was a chilling experience! An interesting features here was the original gate which was walled off and the entrance tower converted to living spaces while a new simpler gate was constructed. We could climb up one of the towers, and jumped into a window to gain access to another square living area with some stairs. There is a well in the middle of the courtyard, which at present is not very level. There was a fair bit to explore along the curtain, including some great spiral stairs which I always love to find! After exploring the castle we walked back to town, I bought a red dragon in a gift shop and we had some hot fries while sitting in a shelter watching the rain, wind and palm trees.

Carew Castle: After spending our third night at a campground close to Laugharne castle (which we skipped, but saw from the outside), we made our way to Carew Castle. It was still closed and we couldn't get close to it, but being early in the day we decided to take a relaxing walk around. The castle has very impressive tall walls and towers (looks like a good part of the upper section of one of the wall curtains has been knocked down), with clear later modifications of the large windows. There was a timber Norman castle at this location, built around 1100, and excavations have show the existence of much earlier Iron Age fortifications, with Roman (1st-5th century AD) pottery and brooches being the oldest objects found. The first mention of a stone castle at the site dates to 1212, and is located on the tidal part of the Carew river.

Llawhaden Castle: Next we arrived at the ruined Llawhaden Castle located in a nice little village. After a short walk from the small parking lot with an information board about the area we were faced with the striking tall towers of the entrance gate. Although much of this castle is ruined, to the right of the entrance an entire wall curtain and two massive hexagonal towers are well preserved, with the more distant once having stairs almost all the way to the top! Great views from above, and insight into the construction - each floor having a nice little latrine with its own window, and a dungeon hole at the bottom (which likely had a set of stairs going down to this part). There are also some vaulted remains of buildings in the back, and very tall walls standing next to the right wall, but the entire left side of the castle (standing in the gate) is basically gone. The current stone castle was built by a bishop as one of his residences and dates to the late 14th century.

St. David's Cathedral: We took some awesome back roads from Llawhaden to get to St. David's, ending up in the town of Solva and taking the A487 rest of the way (we did our best, as most of these roads have few or no signs and none said St. David's!). Right beside the cathedral is Bishop's Palace (Bishop Gower's, built in 1340), which Alan and Andrew went to check out as I walked around the area for a bit and visited the gift shop. The cathedral itself is very beautiful and too large to take pictures of everything, so I bought a bunch of nice postcards. One of the most interesting spots for me was the scriptorium, accessed by a spiral staircase. Now a library which sadly doesn't contain any manuscripts and has only two leafs are on display - I think they should at least buy a few more on eBay for display, since I have more than the cathedral! There are many effigies of medieval bishops and knights, and one can notice the sloping floor waling towards the front. Looking up the tall ceilings and at all the details was a great experience, and just sitting there for a while and taking in the atmosphere and unique smell of the place was worth it. Work on the cathedral begun around 1180 and of course it had many additions and restorations over the centuries. This is the largest church in Wales.

Carreg Coetan & Pentre Ifan Burial Chambers: These two Neolithic burial chambers are nearby. Carreg Coetan is at the end of a short street among houses in town, while Pentre Ifan is in the middle of farmland. The first one looks like a large mushroom, and the second one is vary fascinating with the huge slab stone on top - one can easily stand under it!

Llyn Cau Hike & Camp: We made our way north into the southern parts of Snowdonia next and arrived at the trail head of Llyn Cau as the sun was going down. The trail wasn't very long so we figured we'll be at the lake in no time after going uphill for a few hundred meters to set up our camp before it got dark, we were very wrong! While the trail may not be very long, after the first very flat 100m to the gate just past the Tea House, it started going uphill over rocky steps for what seemed liked forever! We were gaining elevation but loosing sunlight (and oxygen) as we ascended. Finally we reached the top of the treeline and the junction at the bridge from which we turned left to Llyn Cau. Here the trail was not as steep, but it kept going uphill, with few sections of level ground. Just when we thought we were by the lake, the trail turned and went uphill some more! Finally it got too dark and being rocky I took out my light, still with no lake in sight. We could faintly see the mountain cliffs in front of us though, and with the lake being at the bottom there was only so far we could go before finding it! Andrew being well ahead went off bit too much to the right and encountered a large rocky outcrop which he thought might be the trail, all we could see is his light shining on it trying to figure out which way to go. With my satellite image of the area though I could then figure out where we were (seeing the rocky outcrop), and we headed left with Alan (uphill, of course), meeting up with Andrew, and soon after we were finally at the shore of the lake. The weather was great, cool with a slight breeze, but worrying about the clouds we quickly found a dry spot and set up our tents. Then we relaxed for an hour, made soups, had great cheese and laughed about our trek. Next day when we woke up we could see the beautiful place that were were actually in! Taking our time with breakfast we slowly headed back down the same way. A great place to camp and a very relaxing night!

Tomen y Mur Roman Fort: Heading further north we stopped by at the first century Roman Fort close to A470. This was our first Roman ruin and I was excited to visit it. It was constructed c. AD 78 (and abandoned by AD 140) initially mostly in timer and then some stone. Although not much remains, the amphitheater was a very exciting feature to see (few grassy mounds by now!) as was walking along the Roman road leading to the center of the fort from the side of the parking area, and out towards what used to be a bridge almost 2000 years ago over a creek that is still flowing strong! The bath house is still there, and part of the wall has been reconstructed along with a replica of a centurial stone that was found on site (and now in the Segontium Museum in Caernarfon). Although the fort is in a remote locations, it is near the intersection of four Roman roads and housed between 500 and 1000 soldiers. The name, Tomen y Mur, means mound in walls and refers to the grassy mount which is a Norman motte dating from about 1000 years later when a small Norman fortification stood here.

Porth Ysgo: With the weather looking better to the west we decided to head for the Lleyn Peninsula with the aim of finding a nice camping spot by the ocean. This we did at Porth Ysgo! Taking the gentle path down to the edge of the cliffs in the afternoon sun we soon ended up gazing at the beautiful cliffs. We took the path to the left at the junction (by gate that goes to the beach) and found an amazing camping spot overlooking the cliffs, next to an old stone building. We hung around there for a while and agreed that this would be a good spot to spend the late afternoon and set up camp, so we went back to the car and got our gear. Along the path we found two interesting entrances to tunnels in the rocky hillside. Seeing some piles of rock in the area we figured these must be old mining tunnels. Coming back we decided to explore these with our bright lights. One led to a large opening on the other side of the hill and what looked like a deep cavity, and the other was a dead end straight ahead but had a 90 degree tunnel which we took and it lead to a very scary large and dark underground cavity. We didn't get too close as the rocks were a bit wet and there was a slight drop in the shaft, making it not too difficult to slip and fall to certain death. There was a draft of wind we could feel, so the cavity was probably connected with other tunnels. The tunnels turn out to be from former manganese mines in the region which operated between 1840 and 1945. After our exploration we set up our tents, enjoyed a beautiful double rainbow that touched the ocean and had a nice meal during sunset. Next day we went down to the beach and sat around on the rocks until the tide forced us away. It was great to have the beach all to ourselves in the early morning.

Aberlleiniog Castle: This small castle with not very high walls is located at the top of the largest mound we have seen. The site used to have a Norman timber castle from the late 11th century, and the current structure is much newer actually, dating to the middle of the 17th century. Only the walls with three towers (and an outline of the fourth) can be seen, but the stones used for the castle are very nice. It might have had some buildings inside but it seems to be filled with dirt to almost wall height on the inside, unlikely to have been so when built. A tiny castle but nice location in the forest, and after visiting it we headed for the beach were we parked our car and enjoyed the sun for a while at the end of it.

Lligwy Burial Chamber: Nice location on a minor road for this burial chamber. A massive stone supported by smaller ones, with some strange notches on its sides - perhaps ancient cut marks? There is a space under it, but being fenced off we didn't get to go in.

Din Lligwy: This was a very unique site to visit! A rectangular, stone enclosed settlement dating from the later Roman period with Roman coins of the first and fourth century and pottery found on site during excavations. The site however was not occupied by the Romans, but rather by local Britons as it differs significantly from Roman sites (in structure and location). It was likely not surrounded by trees at its time, and hence had a great view of the beach and ocean in the distance. Of particular interest was the circular structure (there are two, one in better shape). The original wall would have been higher, and the original entrance was in the middle of the left wall (standing at the current entrance).

Lligwy Chapel: Great location overlooking a beach for this early 12th century chapel. The walls are in excellent shape, and you can go down a set of stairs into the vault beneath. Looks like the font is still around as well!

Beaumaris Castle: We decided to visit this mighty castle instead of going to another neolithic site, and it was a good choice. This is the largest castle that we have visited on our trip, and was the last castle built during Edward I's "Longshanks" massive building program, and is a beautiful example of a concentric castle (castle within castle). When it was built between 1295 and 1298, the ocean used to come right up to it, the castle was surrounded by water and had a water gate (which can be seen to the right of the main gate, along with a metal loop for tying off ships. If you ever got through the wide and deep moat around the castle and the outer wall, inside you were met with a taller wall, bigger towers and crossfire from over 200 murder holes! This truly is a huge castle to explore with 16 towers, 2 outside and 2 inside gates (one being a 90 degree gate), a chapel, passages inside the walls and enough stairs inside the towers that I got lost in one of them! Hence my pictures do not do it justice and I bought the beautiful Cadw booklet about the castle for more picture and information. We were there until they basically had to kick us out!

Traeth Mawr near Aberffraw: For the evening we headed to the "Big Beach" near Aberffraw. We parked by a little wooded area and took a trail through the sand dunes to the eastern end of this beach so that we could enjoy a nice quiet evening, and we did! We could see that the tide comes in fairly far so we tried to pick a spot that would be "safe", seeing some grass growing near a rocky point we figured this must be it. After a bit of walking around the beach we made our soups and enjoyed the sunset, did some stargazing and had a beautiful morning to wake up to. Beautiful spot.

Bryn Celli Ddn: This was a very nice ~5000 year old Neolithic burial tomb about 10min walk from the car park, which had a nice information board. We enjoyed the sunshine and walking around, through and over of it. The tomb was surrounded by a ditch, had some smaller stones outside of it in a pattern and it is aligned to let the rising sun in on the longest day of the year. During excavations human bones and flint arrowheads were found inside, along with a few other small objects.

Llyn Bochlwyd: Heading back south we passed though the heart of Snowdonia and did a great hike starting at a parking by A5 across from Llyn Ogwen. We used a trail head down the road from the busy trail center and were the only ones going up towards Llyn Bochlwyd this way, which involved a steep climb to the meadows above, then some boggy ground until we got close to the main trail and then more climbing all the way to the lake. Tryfan was just on our left, which looked very tall from the bottom but much less so once we reached the mountain lake! The area is very pretty and colourful, worth exploring. Next we headed to Tal-y-Bont in Conwy Valley and having found a nice little campground there we went for a walk in the small town.

Roman Road & Cae Coch Standing Stone: This and the next site were among the most interesting sites we have visited, partially because of their remoteness. We had to drive on the narrowest road ever, which was marked as "dead end" but actually went up to a gate that we had to open to drive through and another one at the other side. Soon after that he hit the "main" side road which brought us to an intersection with an ancient Roman military road (the road used to go between Caerhun and Caernarfon). Parking along the road we walked eastwards by Cae Coch's farm onto the Roman road and soon after we could see a sheep guarding the stone! It is fairly high and wide with a rough East-West orientation along its long axis. There are also several stones within a few meters of it, possibly part of a surrounding circle from thousands of years ago. The stone is perhaps 50m away from the road so it was fascinating trying to imagine what the Romans might have though of it 2000 years ago as they marched by, not knowing that is has already been standing there for at least 2000 years! It was also a thrill to walk along the Roman road with no one in sight, a very nice and quite place, one of my favourite in Wales for sure. We tried locating a burial tomb Maen y Bardd along the road in the vicinity of the stone but could not spot it. Looking at the map later, the tomb was a bit further down the road then I walked. Next time...

Cerrig Pryfaid Stone Circle: This stone circle was a great find! We looked at the map of the region and noticed there was one about 200m up the road from where we parked so we decided to investigate. The circle was very easy to find, with some of its stones less than 10m from the road's stone wall with a set of steps placed in the wall to get to it. Just as we arrived there were several sheep having a bite grass within the circle. The stones are not very high, tallest one being around two feet or so (the tallest three are closest to the road) and some of the stones barely sticking above ground, but the circle is 22m across and we could easily walk around and see all of the 12 equally spaced stones. There was also a fairly tall lonely standing stone just to the west of the circle. It was very windy while where, and we watched the waves that the wind made on the grassy hills in the valley. Again, great quiet location. We took the minor road from the junction back, and arrived back in Tal-y-Bont after which we headed south.

Capel Garmon: This was a nice site to visit, bit hidden and it took us a while to find it initially. It's a very interesting tomb because half the mound is gone and you can see the large stone covering the entrance part of it, but the inside walls are otherwise preserved. It appears that only about one third of the main passage is presently covered so there must have been more large stones that broke a long time ago and collapsed the tomb. The one stone left is very wide, but also thin. This tomb was unique because it had a narrow corridor at 90 degrees to the main axis of the tomb, which also had to be covered at one time. It was raining a bit while we were here so we could hide inside.

Dolwyddelan Castle: As we drove south from Capel Garmon the rain started to pick up. Shortly after we arrived at this castle and had to walk uphill for about 10min in very strong winds and sheets of water hitting our faces. Finally arriving at the top we hid behind one of the walls which felt much more calm and warm, and I took a few pictures of the surroundings from there. We went up the stairs and explored the tower, which has a nice reconstructed floor and some great information boards to read. The windows are covered so it was calm and warm inside. A narrow passage however was gated off but it most likely went to the lavatory since it ended at the back wall. It had on open window, creating a cool howling wind effect in the tower! A long set of straight stairs along one of the walls takes one up to the top where a walkway provides 360 views of the surroundings. However, we couldn't see very far because of the rain but far enough to appreciate this location! Having dried a bit, we walked down (this time with the wind) to the parking.

Devil's Bridge: We took a little side trip to Devil's Bridge, the location that was used in BBC's Hinterland where DCI Tom Mathias finds a body in the river below. The mood was perfect while we were there - identical to the mood in the episode as it was also gloomy, raining and slippery! We didn't see any bodies floating around however, or any blood on the bridge... The bridge itself is very interesting and you would never be able to tell by standing on it, but there are three bridges here. The lowest one is the smallest and dates to the 11th-12th century, the middle one is from 1753 and the top iron bridge is from 1901.

Llanthony Priory: Driving for a few hours south we ended up at this beautiful priory. The road to it from the north was quite interesting, looking like something in the Highlands of Scotland; a single lane windy road with nothing around at times (except for sheep and horses). Then it got more crazy for a few miles as it was getting dark. We arrived at the campground by the priory around sunset, set up our tents and went exploring. There was a nice small church there that was open and dark, so we had a look, and walked around the priory after. In the morning we had beautiful weather to view the ruins, which we found out at the end were much taller than they currently are! From a 18th century drawing, we could see that the original walls were about twice the height of the current walls, and that doesn't include the roof! This must have a been a magnificent place, hidden away in a valley (currently there is no town for miles). A great site to wake up to and explore before our drive towards London where we stayed in a hotel in Beaconsfiled (surrounded by hoards of people) close to the airport for our flight the next morning.