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Friday, June 16, 2006

Arthur's Stone, Weobley Castle and Rhossili

Took a trip to Gower last weekend, with my friend Sam. She has a car, so it was nice to go exploring away from the main bus routes, for a change. We initially took the South Road, then turned up a very steep lane just before Shepherd's in Parkmill. We arrived at Lunnon, and I guided Sam onto the lane I hoped led to Ilston.

I've never been to Ilston before, and was immediately struck by how pretty the landscape is en route from Lunnon to Ilston. It was very pastoral, in a uniquely British way. When we reached Ilston, I was utterly gobsmacked by its olde worlde charm, so much so that I forgot to take photographs - I was too busy taking in the view. It really is a stunning little hamlet nestling in a dip alongside a stream. I was amazed, as the car navigated the lane alongside the stream, to come across a really pretty little waterfall. Why the heck I didn't get the camera out beats me, but I definitely will the next time.

We followed the lane from Ilston until we came out on the North Road. We stayed on this road until we reached the top of Cefn Bryn, where we parked up in order to stroll over to Arthur's Stone, where we took in the view over North Gower, the Burry Estuary and the Carmarthenshire hills.

One of the things I love most about standing on this spot, at this time of year, is looking down on the patchwork tapestry of little fields.

The walk across the Bryn to Arthur's Stone was unexpectedly boggy, given the high temperatures that had prevailed for the previous few days. I dread to think what it was like prior to the dry weather. It was also incredibly windy. I just hope the poor souls who erected this monster some 2,000 years ago, had still, dry weather in which to do so. Whenever I see this great monolith, I find myself asking the same questions : who? why? I mean, it's hardly a little pebble, is it? It's humungous, even with a good third or more of it severed and lying alongside. Who hauled it there, and why? All we can do is speculate - we'll never truly know, unless someone invents a real-life Tardis and we get to take a trip back to the day the stone was erected.

I noticed something about Arthur's Stone, that I had failed to spot on previous visits. Although it doesn't especially show up in these shots, the stone actually rests in the centre of a pronounced circular depression, which itself is demarcated by several much smaller stones. This simply adds to the intrigue for me. Even more tantalising is the fact that it sits atop several much smaller supporting stones. Who the heck hoisted it on to them, how, and why? How come its weight hasn't shattered the supports or driven them deep into the ground below?

After Arthur's Stone, we returned to the North Road, heading through all the little lanes around Fairyhill. I was utterly charmed by this area too, as I don't recall ever having passed Fairyhill before, although I'm sure I must have. We eventually turned off onto the Llanmadoc road, and headed for our next destination, Weobley Castle. Now, is that pronounced "Weebly" or "Woably"? I've heard it said both ways, although I usually prefer to call it the Wibbly Wobbly Castle. Sam and I decided not to go into the castle, as we were trying to conserve funds, so we contented ourselves with taking a few pics.

Then we spotted a gate to a field, near the car park. The field contained some of the most demented sheep I've ever met, and I've met a few. They initially sped off when we stopped to look at them.

Soon, curiosity got the better of them, and, in dribs and drabs, they returned, bleating like a bunch of disgruntled MPs in a late night sitting of the House. This pair were especially vocal, particularly the baby lamb.

However, this madam was a different story. I said hello to her, and she rewarded me by belching and sticking out her tongue as far as it would go. Then she turned tail and broke wind. Oh well, at least I can no longer say I've never heard a sheep fart.

At least this bunch were a bit friendlier, and not so uncouth.

Look at this one - adorable or what? I may not be a veggie any longer, but I could NEVER eat lamb.

The sheep weren't the only ones interested in our arrival. A pair of bluetits kept landing on the nearby fence and creeping closer to get a good look at us, when they thought we weren't looking. I tried to get some decent shots of them, but almost every time I tried to adjust the zoom, they flew off. As soon as I'd turn the camera off to save juice, they would immediately return, only to fly off again before I could set it up. As a result, the following images are of a pretty appalling quality.

After Weobley, it was back through the lanes of Fairyhill, via Burry and down to Llanddewi, where we again hit the South Road, en route to Rhossili. After an obligatory chip shop visit, we sat for a while on the cliff behind the Worm's Head Hotel. Unfortunately, the place was absolutely heaving, so it quickly got uncomfortable, as we were literally falling over other people, their dogs, kids and pushchairs. The bay had also become very hazy, so there was little chance of me getting any decent photographs.

One day, when I can pluck up the courage, I shall take a wander close to the Old Rectory, because the only pics I have of it are all long distance, blurry efforts, like this one. Every time I plan to walk out there, either my health fails me, or the place is overrun with cows - and I hate the things.

The only reasonable shot I achieved at Rhossili was this one, of a blue cranesbill, growing in the lane alongside the Worms Head Hotel.

Due to the overrun state we found Rhossili in, plus the fact that Sam had to get home to babysit that evening, we called it a day, and headed back home via the South Road.


The Pig's Lip said...

Hi, great post - it is amazing just how small Gower is when you travel by car. BTW, was talking to Dave Rogers from Kennexstone on Sunday - he is a regular reader of your blog and would like you to get in contact with him if you could re your entry on the Kennexstone House you posted last year. He is a really nice guy so don't feel shy in making contact with him,

Siani said...

Glad you like the post, Chris - just sooo annoyed I didn't get the camera out at Ilston. Never mind, I'll hijack Sam into taking me there again. Can you suggest any other little lanes and bye-ways off the bus route, that I may want to explore? I know the lanes around Oxwich and Horton, and I dare not direct Sam to take the North Gower marsh road in her lovely new car, for fear of meeting the tide coming the opposite way.

Thanks for the heads-up re: Dave Rogers, Chris. If I email the address on the Kennextone website, can I contact him that way? I'd love to know more about the history of the old house. I dare not post an email address for myself here, in case my "friend" resurfaces with their malicious communications.

The Pig's Lip said...

You should be ok with the North Gower Marsh road so long as you go in the daylight as you can see miles ahead so will know the water level well in advance. We nearly got caught out though a few months back as we tried to make the trip in darkness.
The email address of the web site will get you to Dave Rogers nicely. He did try and find an email contact but could not find one. someone should make it illegal to plague the internet with inane nastiness.