Thursday 31 December 2015

A Post-Christmas Walk - Dinefwr Castle Part 2 (Picture heavy!)

A reasonable amount of  the castle still remains at Dinefwr.  When we first moved here, you could walk up to the ivy-covered walls, but it wasn't really maintained and you couldn't go inside.  Now it is made safe and popular with locals and visitors alike.

As you can see, it held its defensive position, on a steep outcrop of rock, with ease, and behind it (see photo below), there were two rock-cut ditches for defence.  A promontary fort of the first order and I don't doubt it has been held since the Bronze Age.

This was roofed over and used as a summer house in Victorian times.

Of course, there are fabulous views of the Towy Valley whichever way you look.  This is the River Towy with its Oxbow Lakes and meanders.

In the opposite direction is Newton House, where I used to volunteer, and a couple of estate houses.  The bracken area is inside the Deer Park.

To the right of the last picture, looking across the parkland towards Llandeilo.

A wider view of the Deer Park.

More River Towy meanders viewed over the ramparts.

Looking straight up the Towy valley, to Dryslwyn Castle, the next link in the chain of command which began at mighty Carreg Cennen Castle, high on its limestone cliff close to Black Mountain. The final link was at Carmarthen Castle, although little remains of that as a Gaol was built on the site in the 18th C.  As you can see, a band of rain was enveloping it and heading our way.

Looking to the South.  The fields, copses and woodland are typical Carmarthen scenery.  Small farmsteads would be about 60 acres or less.  That was considered to be a one-man farm.  Anything larger and you needed good strong sons to help you.

View across the Castle.

The castle is still surrounded by trees, but when it needed to be defensive in the past, I imagine the hillsides would have been clear so that any attackers approaching could be seen and dealt with.

Here is one of the three vents for light and air, built like a fireplace with steps.

The entrance into the keep with walls about 15 feet thick.  We sheltered here from the rain.

We made our way back across the park.  Here is Llandyfeisant church, shrugging off the surrounding trees.  It is encircled by Yew trees, "children" of much older Yews.  The stream which runs beside it would have made this an area venerated in Iron Age times (and before).  When the Romans came and built their encampments on high ground at the front of the park, they doubtless visited the spot.  It was only natural that in time Christianity should claim it for its own.

This stream cascades through the wall at the back of the church, where there is a rather intense feeling, so we normally scoot around that corner.  I would like to say it's just the energy of the water, trapped there against the walls, but I'm not so sure - I got a sudden intense headache as we stopped to take photos.

The roof is well on the way to being a proper centre for mosses and plants.

Finally, the first Snowdrops, beside a Primrose plant which looks as if it will soon be flowering too.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

A post-Christmas walk - Dinefwr castle and park Part 1

X marks the spot.  Badger paths to and from this set entrance, where it looks like they have been doing some after-Christmas housekeeping - it must have been a good party!

Looking across the Whistle Pond, below the wooded bluff which the castle sits atop.  The Pond (or is it Pool?) got its name from when the train line ran nearby, and the train would sound its whistle as it passed the Pond to let the old Ffairfach Station know it was about to arrive.  The new station is about a mile away, on the Heart of Wales line.

It came on to rain steadily when we reached little Llandyfeisant church, so we sheltered in the entrance to the gated porch, and this was our view.  Surprisingly green underfoot for December, due to the warm weather we've had.

Always a Servant, in life and in death . . .

Another, more indistinct.

A simple stone for a recent Baron Dynevor.

A more elaborate stone for daughters of Baron Dynevor.  (The anglicised spelling).

A slightly blurry picture of the Church, due to rain on the lens.  It was briefly a visitor centre and shop in the 1990s but is now locked up and starting to deteriorate (a few slates missing) - which seem to be a repetition of its state in the past (HERE).

Looking back across the parkland.

A fallen giant on the slopes.

Looking back through the trees.

Looking back through the Tree!

The proof how wet Wales is.  This little tree has become completely overwhelmed by algae and moss.

Spring flowers early - Dog's Mercury, left, and the first leaves of the Wild Arum Lily (Lords and Ladies).

Navalwort spreading happily at the base of a tree.

Journey's end - Dinefwr castle, or rather, the ruins of.  Part 2 tomorrow.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

A pre-Christmas walk

The sun shone yesterday!  We couldn't stay in, and set off to have a walk in Brechfa Forest at Abergorlech.

This info from the display board tells you a little about the Forest.

Sunshine and shadows across the track ahead.

Water . . .

Water . . . .

Everywhere.  It has rained here every day since 3rd November and the land is so saturated.  Here it trickles from the rocks to join the stream in the valley bottom.

Looking down from the bridge across the stream.  A short one mile walk which loops around and returns the other side of the valley along a leafy (and muddy in parts) track.

My lovely daughter Tam.

We drove home along the narrow road which links Abergorlech with Llanfynydd.  There are lovely views from the top, as you can see in these photos.

The pastureland of the hilltops begins to degenerate into poorly-drained land as you descend into the steep scrubby valley below, but that has its own charm and is somewhere I find easy on the eye and it has a protective feeling as the valley sides wrap around the little lane.  Unfortunately there wasn't really anywhere I could stop to capture the atmosphere of it.

Finally, a photo of what must have been the old mill near the village, undergoing restoration.

Have a lovely Christmas all.  If you live in Wales, keep dry!