Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site

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The Aqueduct as viewed from the little stone bridge upstream

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The little stone bridge upstream, as viewed from the top of the Aqueduct

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Pontcysyllte [Pont-ker-sulth-tay]  is the tallest navigable aqueduct in the world and carries the Llangollen canal high up over the Dee Valley.  It was given World Heritage status in 2009.  Thomas Telford and William Jessop worked on the design.  They were the greatest canal engineers of their day.  

The aqueduct comprises a cast iron trough mounted on stone pillars, spanning the valley 126 feet above the river.  It is 307 metres [1007 feet] long and has 18 piers, 39 metres [126 feet] high, and 19 arches, each with a 13.7 metres [45 feet] span.  It is fed by water from the Horseshoe Falls near Llangollen, and holds 1.5 million litres of water.  Each year the aqueduct is crossed by more than 15,000 boats and 200,000 pedestrians.  It is an adventure to be experienced by all.  

When I was there last week the sky was blue and Autumn had begun to appear, but it was very windy high up on the aqueduct.  I managed to walk halfway across and then had to steady myself against the railings in order to get the photograph of the little stone bridge spanning the river upstream. [There are only railings on one side and a narrow parapet for pedestrians.  Then the trough that carries the canal, then nothing – just a great big drop 126 feet down!!]

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Harlech Castle, North Wales

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Harlech Castle is located at Harlech, in Gwynedd, North Wales.  The mediaeval fortress was constructed by King Edward I towards the end of the thirteenth century, as part of his ‘Iron Ring’ of castles, built around North Wales to subdue and conquer the Welsh.

The castle was built on the top of a cliff, close to the Irish sea, and was virtually impregnable.  The sea originally came much closer to Harlech than in modern times, and a water-gate and a long flight of steps leads down from the castle to the former shore, which allowed the castle to be resupplied by sea during sieges. 

The castle ruins are now managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, as a tourist attraction.

Along with Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle and Beaumaris Castle, this monument has been part of the Castles and Town Walls of Edward 1 World Heritage Site since 1986.

“Men of Harlech”, the nation’s unofficial anthem, loved by rugby fans and regimental bands alike, is said to describe the siege which took place here during the War of the Roses, wherein a handful of men held out against a besieging army of thousands. [The Wars of the Roses were a series of wars for control of the throne of England. They were fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet, those of Lancaster and York. The name Wars of the Roses refers to the heraldic badges associated with the two royal houses, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. Wikipedia]

Welsh Castles: Caernarfon Castle

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERACaernarfon Castle is a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynydd, North-West Wales.

King Edward Ist of England conquered Wales in 1277 and set about fortifying the rebellious area of  North Wales. He began work on the strategically important Caernarfon Castle in 1283, when the Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, mounted an uprising.

The site enabled Edward to control traffic along the Menai Strait – a very important objective for his continued supremacy in the area.

There was a motte-and- bailey castle [a fortification with a wooden or stone keep, situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade] in the town of Caernarfon from the late 11th century until 1283 when King Edward began replacing it with the current stone structure. The Edwardian town and castle acted as the administrative centre of North Wales and as a result the defences were built on a grand scale.

There was a deliberate link with Caernarfon’s Roman past – nearby is the Roman fort of Segontium – and the castle’s walls are reminiscent of the Walls of Constantinople.

Caernarfon Castle was neglected until the 19th century when the state funded repairs. It is part of the World Heritage Site “Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd“.

In 1911, Caernarfon was used for the investiture of the Prince of Wales for the first time. He later became King Edward V111. In 1969 the precedent was repeated with the investiture of  Charles, Prince of Wales.

Caernarfon castle is a beautiful castle and well-worth a visit.