A Trip to Welsh Wales. Part 5.

Well as sure as night follows day, Part 5 is hereby following Part 4.

Strange word….hearby.  Sounds a bit ye olde English. Verrily forsooth and all that.

While I’ve gone off topic here, two news updates :-

My new wok has been used twice now and I’m more than happy with it.

And probably more relevant to this blog, I dusted the cobwebs off my credit card and paid £36 to increase the photo space allocation from 3gb to 6gb as it had got to 97.5% usage after that last post.  Sadly I didn’t thoroughly read the T&C’s and I didn’t realise I’d be charged that every year as opposed to it being a one off payment for the 6gb.

I now wonder if I don’t pay the £36 for another year, if they’ll somehow reduce my allocation back down to 3gb and thus delete random blog post photos !

Hmmmm.

Anyway back to Wales and one important detail I didn’t put at the end of Part 4 was that on my way back to the hotel, I decided to book another night there if there was availability.  Given that the extra night would be a Friday, I wasn’t hopeful.

Looking back on it, I think my decision to stay another night was mostly down to being so tired after all the walking I’d done that I just didn’t fancy driving off the next morning to tour around and then find one more b&b before returning home. I really liked the Cottage Court Hotel, I liked having Tenby as a base and I just wanted one day to chill out on the beach. Finding that the weather was going to be great again, my mind was made up.

But as I got back to the hotel after 6pm when Joe had closed the reception desk, I initially thought I’d have to wait till breakfast time and make a very late booking plea. Then I remembered he had to return sometime during the evening to lock the outer door and so I left a note for him to come to my room when this happened. Amazingly a few minutes after getting to my room I heard footsteps and he arrived !

He said I could have my room for Friday night for the same £40 so I was a happy bunny and after a good night’s sleep, now we can get on with the day.

After passing through Pembroke on the way to Pembroke Dock yesterday, I’d seen a fantastic looking castle that I wanted to visit so as it looked like the hazy cloud cover needed time to burn off, my plan was to go back to the castle for a few hours and then return to chill out for the afternoon on Tenby North beach.

So loaded up with my 3 cameras again, I set off at 10:40 for the short 11 mile drive to Pembroke. I again approached the castle on the A4139 and saw lots of pay and display parking lots on both sides of the road and chose a small “overflow” area on the right side and just a couple of minutes walk to the castle.

I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only 60p for 2 hrs and £1 for 5 hrs, so unlike most parking charges near tourist attractions in this country. In fact, as I discovered later, if I’d turned left onto West Street, there was a free car park with spaces for 56 cars.

I thought I’d only need 2 hours to see around the castle……big mistake…..so only paid 60p. As it turned out, I’d recommend paying £1 and plan on taking 3 or more hours to experience it fully as it’s one of the best preserved and well maintained castles I’ve ever visited.

Even the entrance prices were a bargain and as a senior, it only cost me £5. I walked past the entrance to take this photo looking back the way I’d come – up over the hill where that white van is – and where you pay, as shown in the following photo, is at that castle shop.

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Through the gate on the left and then through a castle archway and I was in.

I’ll post a photo of the view before me from the next level up, from the battlements so to speak, mostly because I didn’t take one from ground level !

I’m sure the large map of Wales on the ground is very educational but for me, it detracted from the historical feelings I like to get when I visit such places. Then again, over to the right, I suspect that the cafe, its outside tables and the toilets may well not have been original either !

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Later on, on my way around the castle walls, I took this photo looking back to where the first one was taken. I’d been just above the left of those 2 white exhibition tents and you can also see the main entrance archway between them

You can also see the Pembroke River on the left which eventually reaches the sea at Milford Haven. .

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I took the anticlockwise route around the castle walls for no other reason than I did. It was a 50/50 choice after all and I’d hoped to be able to walk around the entire castle this way but I soon found that the wall came to a dead end just where the cafe complex had been built.

As the original castle had been built in the 11th century, this was incredible future planning I thought !

So I had to drop down to ground level (and took the opportunity to avail myself of the toilet) and then rejoin the battlement walk beyond the cafe.

But I’ve jumped ahead in the story because after entering through the castle archway, I went up into the first tower and came upon the first of many excellent tableaux depicting scenes or people from bygone days with educational information up on the walls. In fact, this is a good time to state that the range of audio/visual exhibits were wonderful, ranging from tableaux like this one and moving images with informational soundtracks beamed onto stone walls to 3D figures with audio push buttons to hear who they were to best of all, images of castle staff going about their chores with nearby QR r codes to be scanned on our phones to hear more about what roles they played.

But more of all that later. First up………

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So it’s not 100% sure that the future Henry VII was born here but hey, if nothing else, it may have been the first instance of fake news !

Further on, I came upon this supper scene; the table looks curved in the photo but that’s just because to get everyone in, I had to use the panorama setting and when the subject is close to the phone lens, it can distort the image slightly.

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I know that’s a lot of info to take in but there WILL be a test at the end of this post so be warned !

Next up was a depiction of a bloody slaughter, not my words !  This was a very impressive tableau with great detail and a soundtrack to place visitors right in the middle of it all.

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Back out on the battlements, I was still making my way to the cafe area but was enjoying the differing views along the way.

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Then I entered a tower that had the first of the chalk like animations that were displayed across onto the opposite stone wall. It would’ve been easier to see on a dull day as the entrance was wide open so I waited until a particularly bright character was displayed and took this photo to at least give an impression of the setup.

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At this point I reached the end of the wall in terms of walking along the battlements so I went down to ground level and on the way to the cafe, I noticed all the outside tables had informative surfaces which again, was an inspired, and practical way to pass on relevant details about the people who would have been associated with the castle.

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Near the cafe I spotted a sign for Wogan Cavern (on some web sites, even BBC Wales, it’s called Wogan’s Cavern) leading down to a dark, dank natural cave.

Visitors can access the cave from a huge spiral staircase within the castle. Fifty-five steps lead down into the large subterranean limestone room, which was created by the natural process of water erosion.

Wogan Cavern is at river level, and the castle owners blocked the cave entrance with a massive stone wall that contained a large door. It’s been proposed that the cave was used for directly loading and unloading ships on the river. It was also fortified with arrow slits.

The cavern was used even before the medieval modifications that placed a castle atop it. It’s believed to have even been visited by the Romans. I didn’t take any still photos as it was so dark so just imagine a cave and you’ve got it.

As I mentioned before, there were “QR exhibits” scattered around otherwise bare areas of the walls which again was a great use of modern techniques for giving visitors information without having to stand and listen in a group to a guide.

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You can see the QR code (SCAN) which stands for Quick Response Code which visitors can scan with their QR phone app and this then loads up lots of information about the exhibit. In fact, despite it being in a photo, you can scan this codes now and see what I’m talking about.

Such fun.

Here is another but sadly the quality of the QR code isn’t good enough to be scanned here.

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And here is an example of the last type of audio/visual technique used at the castle. In the middle of his shield there are 2 small buttons, one to hear this dude, William de Valance, speaking in Welsh and the other to hear him in English.

Probably not really his recorded voice though, given that he inherited the castle in 1247 and it was in his family for the next 70 years.

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This final set of photos (Who cheered there ?  Come on, own up !) are about the Great Tower which I would not recommend leaving till last, like I did. Exactly 100 steps spiral round the inside and thankfully I had them all to myself as passing someone coming down could have proven embarrassing at best and dangerous at worst.

Despite taking my time and stopping at several points during the ascent, I needed to take great gulps of oxygen by the time I got to the top and felt I might have had to use the air ambulance service I keep on speed dial. My heart was pounding, my legs were shaking and I was more than ready for a brandy to be hoisted up from the cafe, if it sold it.

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I didn’t take any photos from the top but here are a couple of stills from the video I took which should give an idea of what it was like.

View From Great Tower 1View From Great Tower 2

Being able to walk (almost) all around the tower, the views were spectacular and thankfully the descent was much easier than the ascent. Back on terra firma, here are a few of the tower in situ from further away.

It doesn’t look tall in this first photo but again, it’s a panorama and tall things look squat in panoramas. I’ve seen myself in them and I look like an Oompa Loompa.

No comments please.

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Continuing my walk at ground level back to the entrance, I realised I had to miss exploring a few places because my 2hrs were almost up and I wanted to get a good view of the castle from a distance before returning to the car.

So I hurried out, passing the castle shop and went left down Northgate Street, across the bridge and immediately left again to get good views back to the castle.

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The car park and the “shed” on the left kinda spoiled the first view and given time, I may have found a better spot but I was literally within the last of the 120 minutes and had to jog back to the car. Jogging is NOT my thing, especially as I still hadn’t fully recovered from those 100 steps going up The Great Tower.

So much for a last day chilling but at 13:00, the day wasn’t over!

Within 20 minutes I was back in the hotel room and with the sun now blazing down from a clear blue sky, I was ready to hit the beach.

I was going to carry on but I’ve spent so much time and loaded so many photos already that I’ll have to make the afternoon session a Part 6. Oh and there is no time for a test either so you’ve struck lucky on two counts.

Part 6, the finale, up soon………………..

 

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