Sunday, November 30, 2014

ESHT 2014 - More sights I photographed during our aqueduct adventure--my head swiveled every which way, seeing so much of interest


The flower boxes on my left side as I crossed the footbridge caught my eye as I looked around, noticing so many interesting sights.


To my right, beautiful blossoms with the aqueduct in the background.


Back to the left, striped petunias! I had no idea these even existed.


You can tell just how bright the sunshine was in this particular photo. Our luck held, no rain even with that gray sky in the distance. There on the left of the canal, James photographs Martina--a very nice couple among many fine folks in our tour group. One of these days, I hope to see his photos because I imagine, no, I know that they will be outstanding!


I turned around one more time before walking down the steps and off the footbridge. Am I ever glad that I did because I decided to zoom in on the bridge on the New Road. I wonder how old it is? Very old is my guess. See those two gray trapezoid shapes atop those short, pillar-like structures towards the left of the bridge. There's a wrought iron gate there. Well, I assume it's a gate, but why would a stone wall on a bridge have a gate, or an opening, for that matter? Anyway, you can see through it the different colored stones which are on the inside of the bridge's opposite wall.


So, when I noticed the wrought iron in the close up of the bridge, I remembered a photo that I had taken through the coach window while we backed off the bridge. Now it makes sense! Thanks, zoom lens!


Now I'm off the footbridge and on the towpath. You can see the bridge that the Prince came through, over on the right side of the photo. Notice the yellow-green jacket right at the roof of the blue boat? That's the man on the Prince, guiding it through the turn, per the instructions given to him when he rented the narrow boat. In looking at Google Maps and trying to follow that canal visible underneath that bridge, I believe that you go to Llangollen that direction. Our next coach stop--Llangollen!


As I walked along the towpath I noticed these two enjoying their walk. So, after they passed, I looked behind me, hoping to get a photo of this gentleman and his friend. Not as good as I wanted, but I think it shows their comfortable relationship. I also like that you can see the footbridge and its flower boxes in the distance.


Across the way, ducks in the canal that comes underneath the bridge, the one that the Prince used to get onto the canal on the aqueduct, the one I believe goes to Llangollen--it's labeled the Shropshire Union Canal Llangollen Branch on Google Maps. Looks like you're not allowed to walk along this section of this canal, maybe elsewhere but not here although I did follow it on Google Maps and couldn't tell if there is walking space provided alongside it because the trees lining both sides block the view from above, so I dropped the Street View icon in there and saw a towpath! I've walked along the canal! My, oh, my. Would I ever like to be able to afford to rent one of those narrow boats and make this trip! What an adventure! Gorgeous scenery, lots of stone bridges to go under, all sorts of narrow boats going either way along the canal, and then I came to the Llangollen Moorings where quite a few boats had tied up. You buy a mooring ticket, park, and go on the towpath where you will. I imagine there's a time limit on the ticket.


Back to my side of the canal, along the towpath, a sculpture. I like it. I found it labeled the Hand of Industry on several Web sites. Once you take a look at it, that certainly makes sense.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

ESHT 2014 - Where to start? How to divide up the sights? Here's the first of them, for your enjoyment.


As we walked into the parking area that you saw in the second photo in yesterday's post, I immediately noticed this boat in just about the same place as the yellow and green boat seen in yesterday's post. Now we know where it's floating as it enters a canal intersection. Look beyond the boat, and you see where it will turn to go towards the aqueduct which is where we're going to walk.

I've looked up this particular boat online at Crest Narrowboats' Web site discovered that this is the 58 ft. Glyndwr (Prince) - Cruiser Style Narrow Boat, coming from the Chirk Marina in Wrexham. I'm guessing it's on a holiday hire adventure because that's how Crest operates. The specs say the boat has  accommodations for a maximum of four people and, from the Web site: Double Glazed front windows. Double beds 6’3" x 4', single beds 6'3" x 2' with interior sprung mattresses. Full central heating with radiators and airing cupboard. Carpeted throughout (Except kitchen and bathroom areas). Colour TV/DVD and radio/CD player. Full size shower, 140 gallon stainless steel water tank. 4-ring gas cooker, oven and grill. Electric Fridge with freezer compartment. 12v cigar lighter plug point for mobile phones, camcorders. Macerator toilets to discrete tanks. 240v hairdryer.

About the name of the boat: Owain Glyndwr was the last native Welsh person to hold the title Prince of Wales. He was a thorn in the side of the English establishment and was never captured, nor tempted by Royal Pardons and never betrayed. He was last seen in 1412 and, even today, his final years remain a mystery.

I read some reviews online and once you've rented the boat for your holiday, you arrive and get onsite instructions on how to operate the narrow boat, then you're off on your own. Wow. Their Web site says the boats are available for short breaks (I found mention of four day trips, maybe that's a short break) and weekly rentals. It seems there are other companies where you may get a horse-drawn trip and/or a two-hour ride, both with an employee on board to take care of getting you along the canal.  


I looked left and realized how far behind the rest of the group I was, but I knew I couldn't get lost because the towpath along the canal where we were and where we were going was only on one side of the canal. I took a photo of the footbridge and started walking.


From the footbridge, I took this photo of the bridge on the New Road, the one that Tommy tried to drive across in the coach. These are the narrow boats you saw in the photos on yesterday's post.

Friday, November 28, 2014

ESHT 2014 - Several photos of boats, a canal, and a footbridge, taken through the coach window

In Wrexham, our coach drive Tommy made a valiant effort trying to cross the bridge from which I took these photos--it's on the New Road and goes over the canal. The bridge turned out to be too narrow and awkwardly angled for us to continue, so he backed off it and parked nearby in a coach park. We didn't have to walk far to experience something wonderful, up close and personal--those photos tomorrow, promise!


Right out of the camera, not straightened or altered in anyway. Isn't it an enticing sight?


This one's a bit blurry, but since it has that yellow and green boat beyond and to the right of the footbridge, I just have to show it to you. Where, you may wonder, on what is that boat floating?


There's the yellow and green boat again, with a red and white sign at the end. The gold lettering says Aqueduct Cruises. Yep, aqueduct. Isn't that something high up in the air that moves water, built centuries ago by Romans? As I looked out the window, listening to tour director Anna telling us facts about it, I got more and more excited.

Found on the Internet: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct - They call it 'the stream in the sky.' Pontcysyllte means 'the bridge that connects.' It consists of a cast iron trough supported 126 ft. above the river on iron arched ribs carried on nineteen hollow masonry piers (pillars). Each span is 53 ft. wide. To keep the aqueduct as light as possible, the slender masonry piers are partly hollow and taper at their summit. The mortar was made of oxen blood, lime and water. Kind of like treacle toffee. The aqueduct holds 1.5 million litres of water and takes two hours to drain. The structure is 1,007 feet long, with the River Dee running beneath it. The work was undertaken by Thomas Telford and supervised by the more experienced canal engineer William Jessop. The first stone was laid in July 1795. It was completed in 1805 using local stone. This is the largest aqueduct in Britain. It's fed by water from the Horseshoe Falls near Llangollen. The water runs through an iron trough that measures 11 feet 10 inches wide and 5 feet 3 inches deep. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument; a Grade I Listed structure and was granted World Heritage status in June 2009, putting it on an equal footing with the Great Barrier Reef and Statue of Liberty!

The towpath is mounted above the water, with the inner edge carried on cast-iron pllars in the trough. This arrangement allows the water displaced by the passage of a narrow boat to flow easily under the towpath and around the boat, enabling relatively free passage. Pedestrians, and the horses once used for towing, are protected from falling from the aqueduct by railings on the outside edge of the towpath, but the holes in the top flange of the other side of the trough, capable of mounting railings, were never used. The trough sides rise only about 6 inches (15 cm) above the water level, less than the depth of freeboard of an empty narrow boat, so the helmsman of the boat has no visual protection from the impression of being at the edge of an abyss. The trough of the Cosgrove aqueduct has a similar structure, although it rests on trestles rather than iron arches. It is also less impressively high.

Every five years the ends of the aqueduct are closed and a plug in one of the highest spans is opened to drain the canal water into the River Dee below, for inspection and maintenance of the trough.


A sign, in English and Welsh, about a bridge beyond where we parked. I wonder if there was a sign about the one that we tried? I didn't find one when I Google-walked around and over the bridge. I did get to see its narrow width and awkward angles. To my non-coach-drive-eye, our coach carrying 52 tour-goers was just too long. I'm so glad that the coach park was as close as it was to the aqueduct. Yea for us! And it didn't rain!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

ESHT 2014 - Out of Bristol and we're on the way to Wales! Wales, where it turned out that we had a whole lot for which to give thanks. More about that in a future post.

I opting for ESHT 2014 instead of England Scotland Heritage Tour 2014, y'all. Less typing.


Lots of photos taken through the coach windows on this tour. Across the highway, a hedgerow.


Another pretty sight seen from my window. Each person on the tour decided to take the optional North Wales Excursion. According to our itinerary: "Out of England and into Wales!" So, when we left Bristol and changed the tour route somewhat with the scheduled stop in Chester to take place after our excursion. That way we didn't have to backtrack! Sounded great to one and all.


A gate in the hedgerow. I think that's a bird flying above the left part of the hedgerow.


An even wider gate doesn't interest this herd of cows at the moment. There's a white house far in the distance beyond the right hedge, and a bird flies above that hedge, too.


No, that's not some sort of exotic cloud formation above the trees. It's a reflection to the beautiful gray topknot of one of the ladies on the tour.


Seeing these darkening skies made us wonder what weather we'd find at our first stop.


Finally, some autumn foliage! Yes!


Must share the pink house with the two brick chimneys. I'll bet their garden (what those in the UK call their yard) looks great!


Excellent example of a field that follows the contour of the land--I wonder what gets planted there and when. It was already October 9 when I took this photo--ready for spring, maybe?


Sheep and birds share the rolling field and the sunshine.


The second wind turbine that I photographed on the tour.


Wrexham means we're in Wales! Little did we know at that moment the foreshadowing of the phonetically and appropriately named town. More on that in a future post.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Back on the England Scotland Heritage Tour 2014 - October 9, 2014, thanks to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, some sights in Bristol in reverse order of how we experienced them--enjoy them anyway, OK?


Bristol, UK--we spent the night there and then boarded the coach for the next part of our adventure. Tour Director Anna pointed out the Clifton Suspension Bridge as we rode beneath it--it's 245 feet above water level with a span of 702 feet from one side to the other. Here's a quick photo taken through the coach window--it was our turn to sit on the back row of seats which worked out very well. From the Internet: The Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1864, spanning the Avon Gorge and the River Avon . . .  The bridge is built to a design by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel . . . The bridge carries four million vehicles per year, along part of the B3129 road.


When we got out of the coach to take a look at the SS Great Britain on the River Avon, despite the wonderful sunshine, a cold wind blew vigorously so that I couldn't stay out there very long. The sun was in the wrong place, too, so I used the HDR alteration on this photo to enable you to see the ship better. I wish we'd had time to tour this beauty, but as often happens on tours, choices have been made and there just isn't time available as you might wish, but a tour is still a great event to enjoy. Read online about this unique ship: SS Great Britain is a museum ship and former passenger steamship, advanced for her time. She was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship. She was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the time of 14 days.

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 after the ship was stranded by a navigational error.

Sold for salvage and repaired, Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia until converted to sail in 1881. Three years later, she was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, she is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with 150,000–170,000 visitors annually. . . . By 1998, an extensive survey discovered that the hull was continuing to corrode in the humid atmosphere of the dock and estimates gave her 25 years before she corroded away.

Extensive conservation work began which culminated in the installation of a glass plate across the dry dock at the level of her water line, with two dehumidifiers, keeping the space beneath at 20% relative humidity, sufficiently dry to preserve the surviving material.


Here's another building I'd love to have seen up close. However, I am pleased with this photo that I took through the bus window, shocked at the fact that there are no reflections in it. Here's what I read online about the Temple Meads Train Station:

Trains and railways ... the United Kingdom is full of them; whether or not they are on time and are appealing is another matter all togther. Railways are both evidence and the fuel of industrialization. For about a hundred years, this country dominated the world and its railways played a great part as they brought the whole country together. The Great Western Railway was a grand piece in the puzzle. Its terminus was called Temple Meads in Bristol, which happens to be the oldest one in the world.

The magic hand behind Temple Meads station was Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He played a major part in so many areas of transportation that it is hard not to see why he is considered one of the most renowned engineers in the world. Any self-respecting terminus needs to be imposing and welcoming at the same time. Temple Meads fulfils that requirement and more. It is located a mile southeast of the city centre, and makes its northern cousin, Bristol Parkway, look small in comparison. The station has two entrances/exits, so to speak, through which trains depart depending on if they are going to Cornwall or not. There are fourteen platforms, but no number 14. An interesting story probably lies behind that one.

Now where does the name come from? If you look around, you will see the Temple Church, also called the Holy Cross Church. The Templar Knights built it in the XIIth Century. During World War II, it was badly damaged by bombing. The term "Meads" might come from the fact that the cattle market was nearly. The 1950s and 1960s were a period of urban regeneration; so many changes were made to the district, including the station.

Brunel chose a wonderful location: facing the Floating Harbour. The terminus saw its first train leave to Bath on 31 August 1840 and to London Paddington a year later. Brunel was only 34. His original station was transformed into the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in 1999. The main train area is over 21 metres (72 feet) wide. Its roof is a wooden box frame with cast-iron columns supporting Tudor arches. The columns have the appearance of hammerbeams, which are usually seen in open wooden roofs. The design gives the illusion of greater height.

Standing close to Brunel's station was the Bristol and Exeter Railway built in 1844. It was torn down as its layout and size was probably judged insufficient for the expected train traffic. One of Brunel's former colleagues, Matthew Wyatt, built a new station between 1871 and 1878. He then extended Brunel's original station so that the two were joined together. A lot of cargo was carried onto boats between the goods yard and the harbour, so he constructed the Bristol Harbour Railway to facilitate this process. In the 1930s, P. E. Culverhouse added two more platforms. In 1965, Brunel's original station was closed down, and the structure linking the two stations was made into a car park. Both stations are deservingly grade I listed as each one played a part in opening up the United Kingdom.


I cannot resist sharing with you the several unique, at least I think they're unique, views of the Temple Meads Station seen through this glassed-in staircase in a modern building.


The man. Is he OK? He looks bent over with exertion. I found myself thinking of scenes on British TV mysteries involving spies and poisonings.


One last photo before we drove away from this location. The man. Upright and OK. Resting? I believe so. It's 7:16 a.m., perhaps he has just started his taking the stairs regimen.