Since my school days I’ve been fascinated by Mary Queen of Scots and always hoped to visit Fotheringhay in search of her final days and place of execution. Staying near Peterborough in February gave me the opportunity I’d been hoping for. So, from wet and windy Little Gidding I headed north via windy narrow lanes to the long, but attractive, village of Fotheringhay just over the border in Northamptonshire.
Adderstone is the name of my friend’s cottage in Northumberland. It’s situated just off the A1 on the road to the coast at Bamburgh. I’m just home from a brief stay and I must say that, despite flurries of snow at lunchtime today and a shower yesterday morning, we had better weather than I’ve had on multiple visits to this part of the country in previous years and which were always in late June or early July.
The Coast South of Hammershus, 1870, by Holger Drachmann (1846-1908)
Hammershus, 1849, by Anton Edvard Kieldrup (1827-1869)
At the Art Museum we saw several paintings of Hammershus Castle. The dramatic castle ruins have attracted artists and visitors for centuries. So, the next stop on our first day’s tour itinerary was to drive to the very northern tip of the island to see the castle for ourselves.
Where to begin? Where to begin? I arrived home on Wednesday after my wonderful visit to Germany and Scandinavia and now comes the hardest part – sifting through photographs and deciding which to include and which to discard.
Here is just a taster selection and I hope to expand on some of the visits and walks during the next couple of weeks.
At Buddenbrooks House, Lübeck
Chirk Castle Gardens are as lovely (even in March) as the Castle itself is interesting. As you can see there are lots of yew trees and hedges all clipped to within an inch of their lives. All the hedges and topiary are 130 years old – and it shows in places. They are almost entirely English yew (Taxus Baccata) and it takes garden staff 6 to 8 weeks to cut with electric shears. Interestingly, two tons of clippings are collected each year and these are processed to make a cancer treatment. In the past all clipping was done by hand but there were many more gardeners then. These days there are 3 gardeners plus a full time apprentice and a team of part time volunteers.
Arriving at Chirk Castle
Started in 1295, Chirk Castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Last Thursday was a glorious spring day and ideal for a visit to this beautiful location. There’s a longish approach to the Castle from the village of Chirk. You pass the wrought iron gates commissioned by Sir Richard Myddleton and built between 1712 and 1719. They were originally at the Castle but moved to their present location in 1888.
On Friday I’ll have been in the southwest for two weeks enjoying stays in favourite places : Lyme Regis, Ashburton and now Chagford. One of Sir Edwin Lutyens‘s masterpieces Castle Drogo is just a few miles away from our cottage and I decided to revisit on this glorious autumn dayVisitor Centre at Castle Drogo
Two recent trips followed hot on the heels of each other. I seem to have made several forays into our Celtic fringe so far this year. Two visits to Wales – The Gower and the Ffestiniog Railway and now a couple of weeks in Ireland – North and South – and my second visit to Scotland – Walking The Scottish Borders. I mentioned my forthcoming visit to Ireland last month and referred to the fact that I was opening up My Irish Times again.
After two days of ridge walks and including the climbs up to them it was very pleasant to take things more gently on the Sunday of our Sheffield stay. After a lazy morning and lunch out on the terrace of the Rivelin Park Cafe we drove over to Dam Flask Reservoir, parked on the Dam and headed in a clockwise direction to Low Bradfield.
On a previous visit to South Wales I picked up an older edition of this leaflet. My original copy has no date and listed only 15 churches. The new leaflet now includes 17 the additional 2 being Wernffrwd, St David’s and Penclawdd, St Gwynour. Both in north Gower and neither of which we visited. Quotations, in italics, are taken from my Churches Trail leaflet.