Bonnie & Diana’s Great Britain Journey – Part 2

Bonnie and I at Caernarfon Castle, a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales. May 16, 2008

Documenting 28 days of travel requires a part two. Part 1 was pretty much devoted to England, although we do make a return trip back to England after visiting North Wales and Scotland. Just about half way through our trip, we leave Winchester, England, on May 13 and having indulged in the Jane Austen experience of stepping into her world we begin the next part of our adventure in North Wales and from there Scotland and then back to England.

As we continued our travels, the one main companion on this trip is our rental car, whom we named William. Although manual cars are the norm, we decided to go with an automatic and although we had hoped to have a smaller car, this dark blue Audi sedan was comfortable and got us everywhere we needed to go.

Here’s the remainder of our story in pictures and captions.

The Fairy Glen Hotel, our home in village of Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, North Wales, is surrounded by green, lush trees. A path by the hotel leads to Fairy Glen, a secluded and enchanting gorge on the Conwy River. May 14, 2008
The Fairy Glen Hotel’s fairy dragon keeping guard over the land of Wales near the village of Betws-y-Coed. May 14, 2008
Bonnie in the midst of the beauty of the Fairy Glen on the Conwy river close to the village of Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, North Wales. May 14, 2008
Me taking in the forested beauty of the tree-lined path into the village of Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, North Wales. May 14, 2008
A greenery covered bridge on the walk to the village of Betws-y-Coed, North Wales. May 14, 2008
Approaching the village of Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, North Wales. May 14, 2008
Adding this just because I love the look of it…from our walk into the village of Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. May 14, 2008
St Mary’s Church in the village of Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, North Wales, is an active Anglican parish church. The Norman style church, built between 1870 and 1873 to accommodate the increasing numbers of summer visitors to the area, was constructed in rubble stone with sandstone dressings, and has slated roofs. May 14, 2008
The hunt for the Maen Achwyfan, the Celtic Cross, in the middle of basically an unmarked field in Whitford, North Wales. For an ancient wonder, it is located in a field, which we passed up several times and even had to ask local residents where to find it. Historians and writers of past years have never been able to verify the exact reason, cause and date of this 12-foot high stone, said to be the tallest Wheelcross in Britain. The carvings on its shaft are very similar to both Celtic and Viking workmanship, having Celtic crosses, chains, knot work and animals. May 15, 2008
St Winefride’s or Winifred’s Well is a well located in Holywell, Flintshire, in Wales. It claims to be the oldest continually visited pilgrimage site, since the 7th century, in Great Britain. May 15, 2008
Bonnie standing by the bathing pool and changing tents at Winefride’s Well in Holywell, Flintshire, Wales. The healing waters have been said to cause miraculous cures. The legend of Saint Winifred tells how, in AD 660, Caradoc, the son of a local prince, severed the head of the young Winifred after she spurned his advances. A spring rose from the ground at the spot where her head fell and she was later restored to life by her uncle, Saint Beuno. May 15, 2008
Portmeirion is a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, and is now owned by a charitable trust. May 16, 2008
Portmeirion is a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, and is now owned by a charitable trust. May 15, 2008
Bonnie’s teal room at Portmeirion, a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. May 16, 2008
Me at Portmeirion, a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales May 16, 2008
Caernarfon Castle, often anglicized as Carnarvon Castle, is a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales. May 16, 2008
Bonnie and I at Caernarfon Castle, a medieval fortress in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, north-west Wales. May 16, 2008
Leaving Wales, we enter into the beauty of Scotland driving through the Scottish Highlands on our way to the Isle of Skye, Scotland. And Bonnie is celebrating the beautiful views and the smell of the clean and clear air. May 18, 2008
Portree, where we stayed on the Isle of Skye, Scotland is a village located at the base of the Trotternish Peninsula. It took us all day to drive from Betwsy-coed, Wales to Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland, but it turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive. May 18, 2008
Leaving our B&B, Cul Na Creagan just outside the Isle of Skye is this single road from the B&B to the town of Portree. As you can see, the view is lovely. And, that blue SAAB on the road, well that’s William. He’s been our steady companion since we picked him up at our arrival at Heathrow Airport in London. He was supposed to have been a small, compact car, which would have worked well in the UK, but Bonnie and I have accumulated so much stuff that William has turned out to be the right mode of transportation for the both of us. Anyway, I digress. May 19, 2008
Bonnie at the ruins of Castle Ewen in the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye. The Fairy Glen is an area of oddly shaped rocks on the Trotternish Peninsula. Castle Ewen, also known as the Fairy Castle, in the Fairy Glen. Though it looks like a fortified tower, Castle Ewen is a natural rock formation near Uig on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Bonnie was on a mission to find Fairy Glen with the Castle Ewen and this spiral stone circle. Bonnie has a history with spirals and spirals have appeared at a number of places during our journey. If you think about it, life is an ever-changing, ever-evolving spiral. May 19, 2008
Me at the Uig Tower, also known as Captain Fraser’s Folly, is a 19th century folly located in Uig on the Isle of Skye in the Highlands of Scotland. The tower was constructed around 1860 as a place where the local tenants had to go to pay their rents. The round tower of two floors and was built in a Norman style and has narrow vertical slits instead of windows. The gaps resemble loopholes of a castle which arrows could be fired on attackers, although it has no defensive function and was built purely as a show of wealth. May 19, 2008
Dunvegan Castle is a castle a mile and a half to the north of Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, situated off the West coast of Scotland. It is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the stronghold of the chiefs of the clan for more than 800 years Castle.Founded 1266-1350, renovated 1350-1840 May 19, 2008
Me at the door to the Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. May 19, 2008
Bonnie was the one who wanted to take the seal watching boat trip from the Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. I went along begrudgingly, but I’m glad that I did. May 19, 2008
This Eileen Donan Castle caught my eye immediately and is the epitome of what I had envisioned a Scottish castle would look like. Eilean Donan, which means simply “island of Donnán,” is named after Donnán of Eigg, a Celtic saint martyred in 617. Donnán is said to have established a church on the island, though no trace of this remains. The castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae. Eilean Donan is a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh, in the western Highlands of Scotland. Since the castle’s restoration in the early 20th century, a footbridge has connected the island to the mainland. Coming to the castle was our last trek of the day that required us to haul butt about 32 miles from where we were to the Eilean Donan Castle. With a name like Eilean, I was intrigued, thinking this castle was named for a woman, and I wanted to know more. Bonnie and I had passed up this castle yesterday on the drive in to the Isle of Skye but because it was getting late and we needed to get to our home base before dark, we decided to come back. Coming back 32 miles may not sound like much, but that’s 32 miles on windy, curvy, opposite side of the road driving. And, yes, I’m still driving and freakily getting use to it. But, that’s a whole other blog. This castle really called me. It is absolutely eerily beautiful and although we didn’t get a chance to go inside of the castle, I’m really glad we got a chance to walk across the bridge and get up close and personal look at the Eileen Donan Castle. May 19, 2008
A night view of the Skye Bridge, a road bridge over Loch Alsh, connecting the Isle of Skye to the island of Eileen Bàn in Scotland. I’d heard Scotland had a beauty about it, but the truly beautiful thing today was the weather. We were told this is unusual weather. It was cool out, about 60 degrees, but the sun was shining and it was actually hot. And, because we’re so far north, it doesn’t get dark until much later, around 10:30 p.m. May 19, 2008
Bonnie, looking peaceful as we take the ferry ride to Iona from the Isle of Mull. Between Bonnie navigating, and my driving, we needed the stillness of Iona. After we dropped William off at Mull’s Fionnphort, we walked down to the ferry for Iona. It was like finding a buried treasure. Every turn, every curve, every mountainside led us here. Once we sat down on the ferry, all that energy it took to get here just calmly and slowly dissipated. So we wouldn’t need to carry much for our overnight stay, Bonnie and I put our essentials in one bag and left the rest in William’s trunk. Although we were not sure how to get from the ferry to our B&B, we were prepared to walk. But  low and behold, as we’re getting off the ferry, a van from St. Columba Hotel is there offering to take our luggage and us up the hill to our abode for the night. There was actually a group of people on the ferry who were also staying and who probably called ahead, but it all worked out. The journey to Iona, including the ferries and the drive through Mull, made arriving on the tranquil island worth every mile it took to get there.  May 20, 2008
The Iona Abbey on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. We left the rental car, William, on Mull’s Fionnphort and took the 10-minute ferry to the one mile wide, 3.5 miles long Iona. We attended the Abbey’s evening service and in the morning before we left, Bonnie journeyed to the island’s other side for the coveted green marbles. May 20, 2008
The Isle of Iona shoreline in Scotland. A last look of Iona as we move on with our journey to Edinburgh, Scotland. I can see why people make pilgrimages to Iona. It is only three miles long by a mile and a half wide, but the calmness was in every breathe. Even before the Christian era, Iona was considered to be a place of special spiritual significance. Today it is most famous for the coming of the passionate and renegade St. Columba from Ireland in 563 AD. The Saint founded a small Celtic monastery on Iona, and for 34 years, carried on his work of introducing Christianity to the Scottish mainland. There is much beauty, much peace and much history packed right here in this one small space to which I bonded with instantly. May 21, 2008
It may have taken most of the day to here, but Bonnie and I finally made it. We left Iona for Edinburg, Scotland. Bonnie called that day “ferry day.” Although its home to a castle, a royal mile, Rosslyn Chapel and a haunted history, Edinburgh is dingy, a lady dirty and a wee bit dark. Here we are, our first night in Edinburgh, by the Edinburgh Castle. May 21, 2008
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock.There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633. From the 15th century the castle’s residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. May 22, 2008
Me in front of the entrance to Edinburg Castle. May 22, 2008
The views of Edinburgh, Scotland, from a top the Edinburg Castle. May 22, 2008
Part of the Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, and what I would consider as a royal shop hop. May 22, 2008
Bonnie with Greybrier’s Bobby statue in Edinburgh, Scotland. A plaque by the statue reads: “A tribute to the affectionate fidelity of Greyfriars Bobby. In 1853 this faithful dog followed the remains of his master to Greyfriar’s churchyard and lingered near the spot until his death in 1872.” May 22, 2008
Edinburgh felt cold, old and dingy. So many of its buildings looked as if they had this layer of soot covering them. May 22, 2008
The 15th century medieval stoned Rosslyn Chapel, in the village of Roslin, seven miles from Edinburgh, Scotland, was covered by scaffolding. Founded in 1446, as the Collegiate Church of St Matthew, Rosslyn Chapel is famous for its decorative art and its mysterious associations with the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, and the Freemasons. The Chapel’s mysteries also played a significant role in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel “The Da Vinci Code.” Rosslyn Chapel was intended to be one of more than 37 collegiate churches that were built in Scotland between the reigns of King James I and James IV (1406-1513). The chapel is actually the choir of what was intended to be a much larger cross-shaped church. The chapel was founded by Sir William Sinclair of the St. Clair family, a Scottish noble family from Orkney descended from Norman knights and, according to legend, linked to the Knights Templar. The foundation stone of Rosslyn Chapel was laid on St. Matthew’s Day, Sept. 21, 1446. May 22, 2008
From Edinburgh, Scotland, we headed to York, England. York became our home base, staying at the Ascot House, while in northeast, England. The city has, since Roman times, been defended by walls of one form or another. To this day, substantial portions of the walls remain, and York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. May May 23, 2008
Here I am at Chatsworth house in Derbyshire, England. The house, set in expansive parkland and backed by wooded, rocky hills rising to heather moorland, contains an important collection of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artefacts. May 24, 2008
Inside Chatsworth house in Derbyshire, England. May 24, 2008
Inside Chatsworth house in Derbyshire, England. This is called the Painted Room. May 24, 2008
Inside Chatsworth house in Derbyshire, England. May 24, 2008
Me at the Chatsworth house sculpture gallery with the bust of actor actor Matthew MacFayden who played Mr. Darcy. The gorgeous estate of the Chatsworth house was used as Pemberley, the estate of Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”  The well groomed interior of Chatsworth is just as impressive as the well-manicured exterior. I’m not one to use flowery adjectives, but Chatsworth is truly magnificent. When we drove up the impact of this estate is just jaw droppingly awesome. I knew the house would be fabulous, but I did not expect to be completely swept away. I don’t know if Jane Austen ever had the opportunity to take in the fullness of Chatsworth, even though her book was first published in 1813-though the original version of the novel was written in 1796-1797 under the title First Impressions-but Bess of Hardwick and her second husband Sir William Cavendish began building the house in 1552, and throughout the years its various patrons have added their own touches to the estate. Chatsworth house as Pemberley is as much a beloved Austen character as Lizzie and Darcy. May 24, 2008
The gorgeous estate of Chatsworth house in Derbyshire, England. May 24, 2008
Haddon Hall at Bakewell, Derbyshire, is an English country house on the River Wye. The origins of the hall date to the 11th century. The current medieval and Tudor hall includes additions added at various stages between the 13th and the 17th centuries. May 24, 2008
The sculptured garden at Haddon Hall. May 24, 2008
Jane Austen supposedly stayed in a second floor room at the Rutland Arms Hotel in Bakewell, Derbyshire, England. Outside Room #2 at this hotel hangs a sign that reads the following: In this room in the year 1811 Jane Austen revised the manuscript of her famous book “Pride and Prejudice”. It had
been written in 1797, but Jane Austen, who travelled in Derbyshire in 1811, chose to introduce the beauty spots of the Peak into her novel. The Rutland Arms Hotel was built in 1804, and while staying in this new and comfortable inn, we have reason to believe that Miss Austen visited Chatsworth, only three miles away, and was so impressed by its beauty and grandeur, that she makes it the background for “Pemberley,” the home of the proud and handsome Mr. Darcy, hero of “Pride and Prejudice.” May 24, 2008
The city of Bakewell is a small market town in Derbyshire, England, and is well known for the local confection Bakewell pudding. May 24, 2008
Fountains Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery, founded in 1132. We visited the Abbey on a bank holiday when families picnicked and children played throughout the ruins. May 24, 2008
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in North Yorkshire, England. Founded in 1132, the abbey operated for more than 400 years, until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries. May 25, 2008
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in North Yorkshire, England. May 25, 2008
Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries in North Yorkshire, England. May 25, 2008
Bonnie at the Shambles, an old street in York, England, with overhanging timber-framed building, some dating back as far as the 14th century. The word Shambles is an obsolete term for an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market. Streets of that name were so called from having been the sites on which butchers killed and dressed animals for consumption. May 25, 2008
Me at a York walled gate entrance. The York walls are the longest medieval town walls in England. May 25, 2008
We left York on May 26 and drove to Canterbury in the pouring rain. We did however attend Evensong service at the Canterbury Cathedral, a World Heritage Site, in Canterbury, Kent, one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England, where we spent the night at the Three Tuns in Staple. From Canterbury we made our way to the White Cliffs of Dover, our last stop with our rental car William, before heading to drop the car off at Heathrow Airport in London. May 27, 2008
Saying goodbye to William, our 4-door Saab, rental. Here I am stepping out of the driver’s side at our last stop, the Cliffs of Dover, before returning the car to the Heathrow Airport in London. After dropping off William, Bonnie and I took the Tube from the airport to within two blocks of our B&B, the Blades Hotel on Belgrave Road near the Pimlico tube station. And to Bonnie’s joy, there was a laundry mat across the street from the hotel.     May 27, 2008
On our next to last day in England, we spent the day on the Big Bus riding around London and just taking it in. Here’s Bonnie chilling on the Big Bus. May 28, 2008
Bonnie after ending our search of where Bob Dylan taped his “Subterranean Midnight Blues” video. May 29, 2008
We ended our stay in London and our journey of England, Scotland and Wales by the evening glow of the Tower Bridge. May 29, 2008