Two Loops Around Newcastle

Spire

Atop a government building was this tower but far from unique, this city expressed it's artistic character in many way.

After a day’s rest from my 84-mile walk I was feeling somewhat regenerated. My ambitions were small for this transition day. I thought a walking loop around town would be just right after which I’d hop a train to Edinburgh. I never should have talked with the hostel staff. I never should have learned about the £4.80 Daily Saver. I never should have been tempted to go on a grander Newcastle adventure. Continue reading

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An 84-mile Walk Across England

Hadrian's Wall

What better name for a town a the end of Hadrian’s Wall than “Wallsend”? Here we are after a week of walking standing by “the south eastern extremity of the Roman wall”. Whew!

If you were wanting to walk across England then wouldn’t you choose the shortest path? If you were a Roman emperor wanting to build a wall to defend your English territory against the Scots then wouldn’t you choose the shortest cross-island route? Well, Emperor Hadrian built such a wall from Bowness-to-Newcastle in the far north of England and we walked along its length. We walked Hadrian’s Wall.

Please don’t think that my cousin Dallas and I walked 84 miles atop a wall. Continue reading

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Transition Time with Family

TnT

Good family: you can’t manufacture it, bottle it, sell it or beat it. Tracy and Twila are always so generous to allow me to visit and they make every effort to ensure I have a great time. Thank you!

I told you I’d try to squeeze in yet another visit to the Merseyside Maritime Museum at Prince Albert Dock and, after a leisurely cup of coffee, I was at the gates by the time the museum opened. Yes, I was first in. I only had two hours before I had to leave for the train station. I didn’t want any regrets and dang if I didn’t.

The stories of how the sinking of the Titanic, Lucitania, and Empress paralleled the decline in Liverpool’s shipping industry were fascinating. The coverage of Liverpool as the head of North Atlantic operations during World War II was eye-opening. Learning more about the slave trade, the port development, and British customs over the decades were all well presented and interesting. This really was an excellent museum and I really did need to hurry to catch my train! Continue reading

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A Stunningly Beautiful Ride up Snowdon

Snowdon

Note the cog wheel in the cog rail within the symbol on the sign. This mechanism is how it can climb the steep grades to the top. Seeing footage of the steam trains, the ascent, the views are what prompted my visit.

I would highly recommend that everyone visit Mount Snowdon and ride the Snowdon Mountain Railway … by any means other than mass transit. It took four hours to go up and down the mountain but an additional 11 hours to get from and to Liverpool. Granted, I didn’t have to choose an English city from which to visit western Wales but the long haul isn’t what took all the time. It’s the inefficient local bus system that added unnecessary hours of waiting and wandering. Go in a car, but go.

Two days ago I came to the mountain to scope out the situation. Continue reading

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Another Day Tying Up of Loose Ends

Loose Ends

The Cathedral of Liverpool is a colossus! It’s the largest in the UK and fifth largest in all the world. I have yet to climb it’s tower, experience its inner vastness, or hear its incredible organ but twice I’ve admired it from afar.

Yes, northern Wales has been the recent theme but I’m based in Liverpool and I’m not likely to ignore that fact. Besides, there’s much still to see so it would be silly not to squeeze in as much as possible. Tomorrow is Snowdon Mountain and Friday I relocate to Leeds to spend the weekend with family. If Liverpool is going to happen then today’s the day.

Much like Cardiff, Liverpool is packed with things to see and do. Previously I had focused on the Beatles, Albert Dock museums, and famous buildings. This time I packaged together many top sites into a walking tour which I started only after  a boat ride around the River Mersey. Knowing that most everything opens at 10:00 and closes at 5:00 I planned to fill every minute with activity … and this I did! Continue reading

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Untangling the Llanberis Knot

Llanberis Knot

Steam billowed out of every pipe and vent on this train engine. Note how the track has a center cog rail in the middle which the train uses to climb the steep grade. These are some of the reasons I trekked here!

One of the cornerstones of my trip and the literal peak of my time in Wales will be climbing Snowdon Mountain. Well, “climbing” isn’t quite the right thing to say as I plan on taking a steam train to the peak and then hike back down. Without a car, my planning challenge has been to get to the base of the mountain early enough to pull this off. Today was to have been Hike Day but my perfect weather took a turn for the worse. Flexibility in my day’s plans was called for.

My plan now became to hike if the weather cleared. When my train arrived at Bangor it was still nasty out so I stayed onboard and rode it to the end of the line. Holyhead is a port city with ferry and cargo terminals focused mainly on Ireland. I had 30 minutes to run around so I took some pictures and hopped back on my train. I had one more stop planned before reaching Bangor and it had only one purpose. I wanted a picture of the longest town name as it appears on the train station: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll. I got it, mission accomplished! Continue reading

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Transition and Rest

Liverpool

This is “art” and while I scoff at its simplicity, I liked it enough to take a crooked picture of it. What moves us is a mystery but when art does that I consider it effective. I want art to affect me.

I have a tendency to walk till I drop. Great for seeing things and learning but hard on the feet. With Snowdon Mountain in the near future I’ve decided to rest my legs as I shift my focus. The first week emphasized South Wales based out of Cardiff. This second week is focused on North Wales and will be bases out of Liverpool, a big English city that I’m familiar with which has lots of train service in to Wales.

Ironically, I started my today with a walk. The weather was perfect and I enjoy Cardiff so much that I thought I’d squeeze in one more visit: City Hall. Boring sounding, isn’t it? “Local government” and “restricted access” could put a damper on any party. In this case “local government” actually covers all of Wales as City Hall is the operational arm of the National Assembly. As for “restricted access,” which I expected coming from ultra-paranoid Washington D.C., that turned out to be a completely incorrect expectation. Continue reading

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Miscellany Around Cardiff

Miscellany Cardiff

The first car I remember my father buying was a Metropolitan. An odd car resulting from Nash and Austin working together. A rare find in pristine condition which initiated waves of nostalgia in me.

Ok, so you’re down to a few hours and you want to make the most of them. How do you start your day? If you’re me then you start at the Tourist Information Office, tell them all I had done and wanted to do and then ask their help in making the most of your day. This worked very well. I learned of two museums that had been closed, I learned of facilities which had moved, and my list was prioritized. The result became my day’s agenda. Continue reading

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Mixed Bag in South Wales

South Wales

I fell in love with the 1897 Pierhead Building in Cardiff’s Millennium Centre. Its pristine red terracottta, ornate tower, gargoyles, and chimneys took my breath away. Here is one of 60 pix I took!

This morning I had two days left in the area and so much still to see! It was time to focus on the best of what was left. Today that meant visiting a castle, a historic Welch village, a car show, and the waterfront. This agenda would make a dent but there’s still so much that will go unseen. Only a bit more can be seen tomorrow, my last day in this abundant city.

Before leaving the U.S. I learned of Caerphilly Castle and knew it had to be seen. It’s the second largest castle in the U.K. after Windsor. The grounds cover 30 acres. It had multiple wall barricades and several bodies of water to protect the castle from attack. Continue reading

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Getting into Cardiff by Bike

Cardiff by Bike

Part of adventuring is setting yourself up for unplanned discovery. This creature I stumbled upon while walking through a park from A to B. Wow! What in impression it made ... serendipitous joy.

My first full day that focused exclusively on Cardiff required an overview. I hired a bike for three hours and set out to see the city. The experience reminded me of why I take a bicycle with me on road trips. I saw ten times more than I would have walking and when I was done my feet weren’t killing me. There was a lot to see; I came away impressed.

Where I’m staying is across the River Taff from downtown so I was already getting familiar with the lay of the land in that part of the city. What I hadn’t even seen was further south, toward Cardiff Bay, where in the past 20 years a massive redevelopment project has transformed what was once the world’s busiest port. Continue reading

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