September 16, 2008

When one is in Wales then one has to visit at least one old castle. It is a cloudy day and it is drizzling, so why not a castle today? We take the 9.40 train to Harlech. Harlech is a small town with a castle on a cliff that looks out towards the sea. From the railway station one goes up and around the castle to get to the entrance. Outside the entrance an old man is playing a harp. It costs 3.70 pounds to enter the castle. Only the walls and some turrets remain, the floors have disappeared. In one room there is an exhibition about the castle's history and its function. It was built in the thirteenth century on the order of Edward I during his campaign against North Wales. After its fall during the Civil War (1642-51) it was partially demolished and what is left is just a ruin. Today the castle is one of the world's heritages.

We go up winding stone stairs in a tower and out onto the outer wall which gives a good view of the castle and its surroundings. We walk on the wall to the other side and down winding stairs in another tower. A castle cat guides us further out into the courtyard.

At the entrance there is a souvenir shop where I buy a book about the castle. We leave the castle and enter the city. The narrow streets are lined with stone houses. We take lunch in a "Tearoom" with table service and sit by a window facing a garden. Peppermint tea, a baguette with lamb and mint sauce fit well together. We go to the church, cemeteries here are similar to abandoned cemeteries at home. I like both types of cemeteries. We are now moving higher up in the town and get a nice view of the castle. I feel transported to the Middle Ages. In a candy shop I buy mint sweets, they are good for my sore throat. Half past two we go back.

No day without walking. In the late afternoon, we take a walk up on the hills above the village. We start on the lane behind our cottage, it's just wide enough for one car, and continue up to the sheep pastures where stone walls line the fields. There is a footpath and arrows that indicate the direction. At times it is difficult to follow the direction in the fields and it is far between the signs. We are going up into the clouds that reduce visibility. We go down again on a sort of lane between stone walls with views over the village and the sea, it ends at the lane to our cottage.

We miss the weather forecast on TV by one minute, it'll probably be hiking weather tomorrow. The news is dominated by the financial crisis and bank crashes. We decide to go on the Arthog Walk tomorrow, a 15 km long lowland trail.

Welcome to Harlech



No floors

Outer wall


Outer wall

The castle



Stone walls