Thursday, November 09, 2023

FOXTON LOCKS, LEICESTERSHIRE

 


An iconic series of locks and a grand feat of engineering on the Grand Union Canal. Foxton Locks is a Grade II listed site, and home to the longest, steepest staircase flight of locks in Britain. These locks have been an essential part of travel, trade and leisure for over 200 years. Foxton Locks sits in 34 acres of natural green spaces which make is great for nature spotting. Look out for herons, swans, swallows and kingfishers. Also located at the site are two pubs, two caf├ęs, a museum and the chance to hire a day boat.

Each year over 400,000 visitors experience the rich heritage of the site, which also includes the remains of the unique Inclined Boat Lift which is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

KENILWORTH CASTLE, WARWICKSHIRE

 


Kenilworth is one of England’s most spectacular castles. Once standing at the heart of a vast hunting ground and surrounded by a huge man-made lake, it represented a rich prize to the generations of great men who owned and embellished it – among them John of Gaunt, Henry V and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The castle’s fortifications were dismantled in 1650, and the ruins later became famous thanks in part to Walter Scott’s 1821 romance Kenilworth. Today only the Leicester Gatehouse is habitable, and the rest of the castle is a glorious ruin, though thoroughly accessible to visitors. English Heritage took over operation of the castle in 1974, and under their auspices, the fine Tudor stable block was restored to house exhibitions on the castle and its history.

Monday, July 03, 2023

BOTANY BAY, BROADSTAIRS, KENT

 

 One of the most photographed bays in the UK, Botany Bay is famous. This hidden gem offers stunning views of white cliffs and beautiful chalk stacks. When the tide is out, Botany bay is a great location for fossil hunting and exploring rock pools. There is plenty of exposed sand to enjoy when the tide is in, but due to the bay's shape the ends are cut off at high tide. Botany Bay is the northernmost of seven bays in the popular Kent resort of Broadstairs. This sandy beach is deservedly popular with clean sands and a Blue Flag award for water quality. It was named after Botany Bay in Australia as local smugglers were caught on the beach and deported to Botany Bay, hence the name. The bay is very attractive with chalk cliffs, golden sands and some rock pools. There’s a small (somewhat inadequate) car park but you can park on the nearby streets off Marine Drive. The approach to the beach has beach huts and flights of shallow steps. There is an RNLI lifeguard service in high season and dogs are banned in the daytime from May through to September. Despite these minor niggles, the beach remains very popular. As well as being popular for sandcastles and beach sports, Botany Bay is ideal for kayaking, canoeing, swimming, sunbathing, fossil hunting, body boarding and kite-flying. It also has a deck chair rental service. Nearby coastal walks offer superb views of Botany Bay from the Viking Coastal Trail and Kent Coastline Walk.

 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

LLANGOLLEN, WALES

 


This pretty town on the River Dee has been drawing visitors for centuries. It is set beside the river, with tall hills on both sides of the valley. To the north, the dramatic outline of Castle Dinas Bran, the 'Castle of the Crows', stands sentinel, while just up the valley stand the pretty ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey. A short stroll from the peaceful abbey ruins is Eliseg's Pillar, a carved cross dating to the early 9th century. To the east of the town is Thomas Telford's majestic aqueduct at Pontcysyllte.

You can take a canal boat cruise along the canal, or enjoy a horse-drawn boat trip from the dock just across Llangollen bridge, which was built in 1345 on the site of an ancient ford. The bridge was rebuilt in 1656 and widened in 1862 to make room for a new railway line to pass through its arches.

The bridge itself was famously labelled one of the Seven Wonders of Wales.

A short distance west from Llangollen brings you to the attractive beauty spot of Horseshoe Falls, a curving semi-circular weir where the canal joins the River Dee.

At the southeastern edge of the town is Plas Newydd, where the famed Ladies of Llangollen lived. Sarah Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor Butler escaped from unhappy family life in Ireland and set up house together here, and became celebrated as the embodiment of romantic friendship, a sort of intellectual retreat from the pressures of society life. Here they welcomed literary giants like Wordsworth and Southee, Sir Walter Scott and the like.

The Ladies are buried at St Collen's Church, founded by the 6th-century Irish saint, whose tomb once stood where the west tower now rises.