Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Welsh Staycation in Radnorshire (King Harold, waterfalls & a 5,000 yr old tree)

Discoed - Radnorshire.
Today is the first day of Spring - and up here in MancLand it's a darn lovely day. So darn lovely in fact I've decided to stop my moaning (see yesterdays blog where I was feeling a bit sorry for myself) and get my backside into gear. Today I brisk-walked my usual plodding route along the Mersey - tomorrow I am planning on breaking into a run and overtaking ducks and maybe even a toddler!

'New Sensation' by the legends that are INXS, took my ears and gave them a good shaking as I made it back to the car. And despite being a bit 'Bob Flemming' - the sun was shining and for the first time in a while I felt well. Plus, if it's Michael Hutchence giving the instructions, who am I to argue:

Love Baby Love
It's written all over your face
There's nothing better that we can do
Than live forever
Well that's all we've got to do.

It's a crying shame he didn't take his own advice. Anyway, new day, new sensation - so this morning I've touched up a chimney sweep - Jimmy the Chimney from Gorton has been to attend to my flue. Part of the deal was a lucky rub of his collar and a hand shake. While I now feel dirty, at least this time it's for a good reason!

Anyway - back to another new sensation this weekend - our Welsh Stay-cation.

Following on from Tris' 20 mile race round the hills and valleys of Rhayader we decided to make a weekend of it - staying at The fifteenth century Harp Inn in Old Radnor, right in the Welsh, English border region.  

Apparently in days gone by, it was once customary for the English to cut off the ears of every Welshman who was found to the east of the border, and for the Welsh to hang every Englishman who they found to the west of it.

Thankfully this tradition seems to have died out, otherwise our hosts at The Harp in would have been swinging from the timbers - for they are Mancunians who really have escaped to the country. 

This is not a sponsored plug - it was just a really lovely place to stay. Great food & beer, really friendly and styled by Laura Ashley. Through a recommendation from a mutual friend, we'd happened upon the holy trinity of posh pubs!

I love 'Rough Guides'. I don't mean like Ray Mears - I mean the guidebooks that help you to explore the nooks and crannies that even the locals don't know about. A couple of years ago when (due to my health) foreign travel looked like a distant dream, I bought the Rough Guides for England, Wales and Scotland, in an attempt to turn my crap situation into something good. We haven't looked back - I wouldn't be without them. It never ceases to amaze me, just what wonderful places we have right on our door step.

Old Radnor (according to the Rough Guide) was once the home of King Harold - the one who was killed by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. To me this was a really big deal - he's the one on the Bayeaux Tapestry with an arrow through his eye. 

The site of his castle was apparently down the lane running south east by the church. 

I was expecting to see Tony Robinson and the 'Time Team' in the throws of an archaeological dig. But could we find it? Could we buggery!

And then, almost by accident, we happened across this ancient site of special historical interest, cunningly disguised - as a football pitch!

Leaving Old Radnor behind, we set off in search of the 'Water-break-its-neck waterfall' which promised to be hidden in a deep ravine in Radnor Forest.

As we drove into the car park, past a row of dead moles ..... 

....... we were minded not to piss off the locals!

 As we climbed up to the forest we passed sheep with their lambs, red kites circling over head, people out riding and lots of freshly felled logs, which made everywhere smell like it had squirted with pine fresh Fabreze.

The 'Water-break-its-neck waterfall' was hidden down a fairy glade - a tinkling little stream lined with every shade of green. When we finally reached it, it was like we'd found the most secret place on the planet. I'm sure I saw Hobbit tracks!

Our final stop of the day was the village of Discoed - I thought it sounded like a funky place. Plus it boasted a 5,000 year old Yew Tree - one of the oldest living things on the British Isles. It's been there since The Bronze Age and it's as old as the pyramids of Ancient Egypt - in front of a small church in a little Welsh village - well blow me down!

I found a little man living in the tree - I'm not sure he's been there for 5,000 years, but I suspect he's seen a thing or two. Can you see him in the bark?

I love discovering what's on our doorstep and bringing the land to life. 

I think I've fallen for Mid-Wales. So much so, we are talking about having our summer holiday here. A tent, two bikes, a canoe and the Rough Guide to Wales. Hurrah!

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