Thursday, 13 July 2017

Hidden Usk Valley

Another beautiful weekend and by Saturday morning we were itching to get away, but no room at the inn! We tried our favourite haunts but it was fast approaching school holiday time and the weather looked promising. Finally, we decided to try somewhere new and Pont Kemys Caravan and Camping Park beckoned. Yes, they did have a space for a camper. Saturday morning and we were off.

40 minutes from home up the motorway, along an easy B 4598 through Usk from the A 40 over The Chain Bridge and we had arrived! Between Usk and Abergavenny it is an easy place to find. It looked very promising. Soon we were settled on a large pitch by the river with our own picnic bench.

Such a lovely site. Good hot shower block with  washing up sinks,laundry and even a TV room. There was a separate flat area for camping under the trees.

A dog walking area and an adults only section, on fully serviced pitches ( an extra £2 a night)

We were happy with our spot by the river. The adult only section was nice but nearer the road. All in all, we thought a good site for £21 a night. There was also a small shop for basics on site and a pub a mile away! The pub outside the site was being refurbished so that could be handy for the future use.

Off we set for our first little jaunt, up the hill to find the pub, The Black Bear. Out of the site turn left, follow the campers track and cross The Chain Bridge. 

The bridge was built in 1905 by George Palmer of Neath to replace an earlier chain link supported bridge. Originally built for horses and carts on a little B road, the bridge is now in need of refurbishment at a huge cost. Let's hope the they find the money! 

From the bridge we surveyed the wild life.

Up the lane on the other side of the bridge we went, a little breathless at the top of the climb to the pub. It was a beautiful walk in lovely countryside skirting above the river Usk. When we finally made it to the Black Bear it was shut. Back to the van for food and drink then!

We passed this on the way.

We would have preferred a beer!

Back at the campsite a bit of light entertainment. 

Just like home.

Day 2 and walking boots on we were off. The Usk Valley Walk beckoned. Back up the hill with a bit of help from the walking poles.

Someone is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. The woods were lovely and I made sure I was well sprayed this time.

Parts of the route were slightly over grown but we got through. 

A machete may have been more useful than walking poles. It was beginning to feel a bit like Africa.

We even managed to spot some wild life. A cormorant I think.

This lot were a bit scary as they had calves with them. Almost the wild west, we hoped they wouldn't stampede.

We actually had to walk through them, luckily another couple were walking through so we just tagged behind them. Not sure we would have been so brave on our own. 

Finally through a  National Trust property Clytha Estate and Castle.

 Delightful grounds surrounding the folly containing very old trees. A great climb, then another trip through the woods and across the fields. We did finally make it back to the pub and we actually got a drink!

This was another great weekend at a site we shall be going back to soon. We never had time to do the climb up to the other National Trust area where there is an iron age fort. So another visit very soon!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The City of Wells and Around.

Hot, hot, hotter! It was probably one of the hottest weekends of the year. The weekend before the Glastonbury Festival. The promise of sunshine and not to be missed. We found ourselves travelling towards a Tranquil Park Site. Wells Touring Park a snip outside Wells or a twenty minute stroll! The last time we came to these parts, Den did an heroic drive on the B Road through Cheddar with Billy our Bailey. Not to be recommended. This time we travelled out on the A37, through Shepton and on to Wells, a lot less stressful.

The campsite was much as we remembered, beautifully kept with roomy pitches. The park is punctuated by some interesting " other " permanent residents.

Situated in a beautiful valley there is a mixture of hard standings, grass pitches and a lawn for campers. At the rear of the site was a field for holiday lodges. There was free WiFi and a nice little coffee lounge where you could sit to pick it up. We were soon set up with the awning out for some shade and off for a little recce into Wells.

Out of the campsite turn right down the hill and you're there. We rounded the corner into Wells and we were in the square. Sadly we missed the market, so made up for it with a quick drink in the sun.

Then we strolled back for a BBQ and a snooze in the sun. Sunday dawned with a full sun and rising temperature. We set off for another stroll into Wells determined this time to actually make our way around the Bishops Palace, which we missed before. This time we thought we would take the scenic route along the bike path. It was beautiful. 

We dallied a little taking in the views and took a slight detour via the leisure centre. It certainly looked very cooling in the pool there. Soon back on track we found the cathedral looking very majestic in the morning sunshine. 

Inside it was pleasantly cool and shady. We spent an hour or so following in the steps of the early monks.

Being amazed by early engineering skills.The scissor arches are such a clever solution to bulging walls.

We waited for the famous Wells clock to strike, the troops to gallop and the funny little bell man to get excited! It all went exactly to plan.

We added to the wear on the steps up to the chapter house and gazed up at the Jessie window. There is so much to see at Wells Cathedral

Outside we paid our respects to all the folks resting in the church yard, before taking a quick spin around Vicars Close. A really English scene on a summery morning.

Next, the Bishops Palace and gardens. The Bish was out, so we could go in this time and have a swish around his heavenly pad. Obviously, he doesn't live in the visitors bit, nevertheless it made another hour pass rapidly.

I loved this table.

Ever felt you were being watched!

The Chapel was also very impressive, a prayerful place. However, the heavenly jewel in the crown has to be the gardens which were wonderful.  Borders, trees, waterfalls, a moat, it has it all.

Of course the crowning glory has to  be the Wells! Held by the Bishops and shared with the town.

It was too hot to dawdle, even under the trees. We made for the nearest hostelry, which just happened to be the local jail. A cool drink just what was called for.

We had a beautiful weekend and really felt like we had been on holiday. Strange the difference a bit of sun makes. We headed for home on Monday with a slight detour to Burnham. I needed to dip my toes in the water. It was really warm and the beach was empty. Perfect.