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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gelli Aur Country Park

We decided to make the most of a lovely, sunny day today, and headed towards Carmarthenshire. My cousin had to drop some stuff off at his mum's house, then we headed off along the Llandeilo road, towards a beautiful little place called Golden Grove.

We visited the Gelli Aur Country Park - Gelli Aur is Welsh for Golden Grove. Upon arriving at the park, we sat at a picnic bench for a while, then I headed off down a track, to give Jake some exercise. I'd heard there was a small deer park on the property, and planned on asking around to see if anyone knew where it was. To my amazement, no sooner had I set off down the track, some fifty metres from the picnic table, than I spotted them. They're fallow deer, introduced to the British Isles in the tenth century, by the Normans.

I could see a lot of people standing on the deck of the nearby tearoom, peering over the fence. I realised there was probably a closer view of the deer from there. So I headed off over there, taking a snap of the distant horizon.

I managed to get a little closer to the deer, including the impressive-looking, antlered stag on the far left. I guess he was keeping an eye on his does, to make sure no-one tried to usurp his role.

The modern day country park was once the Golden Grove estate, owned by the Earls of Cawdor. Sadly, the old Golden Grove manor house now stands empty. During World War II, it housed American airmen. In more recent times, the big house was leased to Carmarthenshire County Council, and used as an agricultural college.

It's a shame to see such a fine example of Scottish baronial style Gothic architecture lying empty. Given its location and architecture, I think it would make a great hotel, or outdoor activity centre.

Of course, no day trip would be complete these days, without a few obligatory shots of Jake - or Jakey, as he tends to get called more often than not. Although he always looks white in photos, he's actually white and gold, with silver tips to his ears. It's amazing he's not green today. When we visited Wayne's mum, the daft dog jumped straight into the fish pond, and had to be hauled out by his harness, and dried off.

I really need to upgrade my camera. There are stunning views across the Towy Valley from the Gelli Aur estate, but my camera's zoom function is too feeble to do them much justice.

I took one last shot of the old house, as we headed off to explore the estate's arboretum.

Upon entering the arboretum, we came across this curious little grotto. There were no signs nearby to say what its purpose is/was. The figure inside the grotto is Wayne. No need to ask who the little guy on the path is.

Strange little structure, isn't it?

Once again, this shot doesn't do its subject justice. This multi-trunked conifer was amazing to look at.

Shortly after we took this shot, Jake hurt his front right paw. I probed between his toes and pads, but couldn't find anything. I carried him for a few minutes, until he started wriggling to go down. I let him down, and he seemed okay, so I was hopeful that he'd merely picked up a bit of debris, and that I'd managed to dislodge it. As the park was due to close, we bundled him back into the car, and drove off to our next destination.

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LadyBanana said...

Everytime I see your photos I want to visit Wales! Fantastic!

Aileni said...

I haven't been to Gelli Aur since a Sixth Form Biology trip in early 1955. Still recognisable. There wasa glorious copper beech there - with some boughs green.

Dragonstar said...

I've thoroughly enjoyed this 'virtual visit'. Jake probably just twisted a toe or something, but you're right to check if it doesn't go away.

Liz said...

I've never been there but you've made me want to go!