Episode Four and a Coastal Wander

Episode Four: An Enemy Tamed

The next stage of Edward’s advance involved pushing North West from Flint through the tangled interior of the Four Cantrefs. These were areas of land division that had formed part of Edward’s territory as Earl of Chester before they were ceded to Llywelyn. But this was perilous ground for a marching army because it was covered in dense woodland, an ideal hideout for those enemy guerrilla soldiers. Determined to avoid attack, Edward sent ahead a hoard of workmen, protected by crossbowmen, to literally cut a swathe through the woods, creating a substantially wide road along which the troops could pass with enough open ground around them to expose any approaching attackers.

In another shrewdly-devised tactic he sent some 2000 soldiers across Conwy Bay and the Menai Straits with the help of ships from the Cinque Ports summoned from the south coast of England, to capture Anglesey. Home to the best arable land in an otherwise unforgiving territory, the island of Anglesey was known as the ‘bread basket of Wales’. We can tell just how vital this fertile land was to the rest of the country from a medieval chronicler, Gerald of Wales, who wrote: “it could supply the whole of Wales with corn over a long period”. And so within days, Llywelyn had lost Anglesey and his food supply for the coming winter, whilst Edward reaped what the island had sown and supplied his army with a veritable feast.

This crippling setback, together with the loss of support from many Welshmen who had quickly surrendered to the vastly superior English army, meant that Llywelyn’s power simply imploded. He was forced to submit and to pay the homage to Edward that he’d so steadfastly avoided. The harsh terms of surrender meant that his principality was depleted, confined to his heartlands in Gwynedd and a few minor lordships, the rest reclaimed for the crown with some reassigned to the treacherous Dafydd. Although he was allowed to retain his prized title of Prince of Wales, the words suddenly took on a hollow ring. Llywelyn had been severely brought to heel. For a while, at least.

And to set his victory in stone, Edward wasted no time in building another new castle…

Quest Update: A Coastal Wander

The last two days have been spent walking between the sites of Edward’s first two castles of the Iron Ring, and it was fascinating to see the landscape and seascape change in both look and character as the miles fell away behind us. And we discovered a few interesting points on the way.

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The Dragon Beacon keeps vigil over the Dee estuary

Yesterday we struck out from Flint and headed along the coast towards the Point of Ayr near the mouth of the Dee estuary. It was a scorcher of a day, so the going was harder than usual, but luckily there was a fair bit of shade en route and a cooling coastal breeze which helped enormously. Besides, you can’t have a real Quest without a bit of hardship. After a few miles we came across a rather beautiful Welsh dragon looking out across the water at a place called Bettisfield. Apparently he was built as a one of a series of three coastal beacons to ward off any would-be invaders. Rather ironic, I couldn’t help thinking, given the purpose of my Quest – they’re a bit late for Edward.

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The Estuary widens towards the sea…

Further along we came across a gigantic retired passenger-ship that appears to have been abandoned in dry dock, which made quite an impact, before we continued along the coastal path to our end point at Talacre beach. At this wild and sandy Point of Ayr, the purple walking boots finally came off and my aching feet recovered in the shallows of the cool sea beside a rather imposing old lighthouse.

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The lonely Duke of Lancaster in permanent dry dock

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A chance to cool off at the Point of Ayr

And today we set off again, mercifully in much cooler conditions this time, leaving the lighthouse behind and walking for miles along the sandy coastline towards Rhyl and the mouth of the river. We even managed to cram in a welcome wine stop at a hotel we passed beside the sea. Then it was on to Rhyl, where the sea opened up before us and mountains loomed in the distant mist.

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Leaving the Lighthouse behind to head for Rhyl…

 

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Approaching Rhyl, where the River Clwyd meets the sea

So come along with me tomorrow as I walk the short remaining distance to the next stop on Edward’s journey of invasion, where we can lose ourselves in the grand and beautiful landmark that is Rhuddlan Castle…

32 thoughts on “Episode Four and a Coastal Wander

  1. “Besides, you can’t have a real Quest without a bit of hardship.” Such an engaging adventure! I am glad it cooled down for you and am excited to read the next chapter of your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Robyn. It’s due to be pretty warm again today, but there’s not much walking to do and then we’ll be able to cool down in the thick castle walls and the shade they give! Luckily, it’d due to cool down after today. 😉

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  2. I’m beginning to get a real feel for this adventure now. Rhuddlan is another castle I know nothing about, so I’m also looking forward to the next instalment. Thursday looks like being the hottest day of the week, especially around the middle of the day, so another stop for drinks might be in order again. I wonder if Edward had these temperatures to contend with.

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    • I’ve been saying that about Edward and how they’d have coped in the heat, especially as it was the same time as we’re walking. I said the other day that at least we’re not marching in armour. Glad you’re enjoying it. Rhuddlan is lovely. 🙂

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  3. Lovely photo at the end of the glittering sea – also like the dragon sculpture… I used to stay in Rhyl for the Hard Rock Hell 3 day rock festivals which were held in Prestatyn – it’s pretty run down nowadays unfortunately – like most coastal resort towns are.

    That ship looks so weird when you pass on the train. I googled it once and, apparently, it was a night club for a while…

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    • Yes, it is a strange thing to come across all on it’s own like that. Stuart’s done a post on it that says a bit about it. I can’t help thinking someone should restore the poor old girl – Maddie would love to.

      I know what you mean about run down coastal towns, loads of them are now. We didn’t really see them as most of our route bypassed the towns and hugged the coast more. Glad you liked the pics. The dragon is really impressive 🙂

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  4. Hope the weather cools down a bit for you but despite that you still seem to be really enjoying your walks, do look after your feet! What a sad end for a once grand liner now just a ghost ship but maybe it isn’t the end and someone will rescue it, never say never!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was pretty horrible today, but luckily we only had a short walk before we could go and chill out a bit within the thick, stone castle walls. Castles are always good in hot weather. The walks are great though, with lots of coastline and cooling breezes and it’s very satisfying to be covering so much ground that Edward and his army did too.

      Yes, it is a bit sad about the ship. You never know, we may know a future rescuer! Never say never, indeed! 🙂

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  5. I’ve been reading about your heatwave and while I wouldn’t consider 32 degrees as hot as hell it is a bit warm for walking and I read that it has been as high as 39 degrees celsius recently. That is definitely not the weather for walking, I know you would be appreciating the cool shade of the castle walls.

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    • I guess we’re not used to these kinds of temperatures, and unfortunately I’m not good with heat anyway. So heat like this is a bit of a shock to us lilly-livered English! Absolutely, the cool and thick walls of a castle is the place to be in this heat! 🙂

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      • I don’t do well in those temperatures either. In fact one of the reasons we moved to Tasmania from South Australia was because of the increasingly hot summers there. A day or so of 39-40 degrees I could cope with. I grew up with that but for the last 20 years or so the heatwaves have been getting longer. Imagine what it feels like to have those temperatures every day for 3 weeks and it doesn’t cool down even at night? In Tasmania we don’t usually get more than two or three days like that in a row although in another 20 years who knows? Climate change.

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      • Goodness, Vanda, that’s tough. I’m not sure I’d survive those temperatures – certainly not for longer spells. You’re better off where you are now, without doubt. 🙂

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  6. The abandoned ship must have been an eerie sight. Are people allowed to get on and explore it? Also, I had no idea corn existed in Wales at this point in history. I wonder if Gerald of Wales was referring to corn as we know it or to some other sort of grain. Interesting thought!

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    • Yes we felt sorry for this poor old ship. I don’t think you can go onto her at the moment, but if you click on the highlighted name it’ll take you through to my husband’s blog where there’s a bit of info on her. The crops were a bit different back then. An interesting point. 😊 But I guess whatever it was Wales needed it to survive a harsh Welsh winter. 😊

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