Riding down from Bangor.........

Trip Start May 22, 2010
Trip End Oct 31, 2010

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Where I stayed
Alan and Alison's home

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, October 18, 2010

Today we decided to go a bit further NW and ended up heading for Bangor. This took us mainly on the A5 also known as the Roman Road. It runs for about 260 miles (418 km) and we were on about 100km of it. Thomas Telford built the A5 in the early nineteenth century building on the existing roads that followed the original Roman route. It was the first major civilian state-funded road building project in Britain since Roman times. From Shrewsbury and through Wales, Telford had to build more roads and links because this part had less roading and the government of the day wanted the road to end at the sea. The intention was to improve the link between London and Dublin.

Our first caches were still in England and we first found a Christmas themed one and then one at a sculpture of a Green Man. This piece was carved in 2007 in a dying horse chestnut tree. The sculptor, Andy Hancock, is evidently well known for his green art and has works on display all over the world including New Zealand!!

We then stopped at Oswestry. We first found the old hill fort with multiple ditches and dykes. The fort itself was occupied from about 500 BC (the Iron Age) until the Roman period (about 60AD) and there were a series of information boards on the site. We were more interested in the cache today so didn't really spend much time exploring. We moved on to a cache at the top of a hill that also gave us a good view of the area. It was cool but otherwise fine so we had reasonable views.

We got into Wales and stopped at Llangollen for lunch. It was a pretty town with the River Dee wandering through the middle of it and lots of tea rooms. After struggling to find them in the past week we were spoiled for choice here. We had lovely soup as, although we had sun, it was not a warm day. People say the NZ climate is like the UK but we would never find it this cold consistently in April (our equivalent month to October here).

We learned about a famous Welsh man, Owain Glyndwr, because there were caches about him in the next area. He was part of the Anglo-Welsh gentry of the Marches and probably had some legal training in England before he established himself as the Squire of Sycharth and Glyndyfrdwy. In the late 1390's he quarreled with his neighbour Lord Grey over some lands and was unable to obtain redress from King Henry IV. Glyndwr lost the legal case and was under personal threat and in January 1400 serious civil disorder broke out and this led to Owain being proclaimed Prince of Wales on 16th September 1400 by a band of followers. Then began a guerilla campaign against the English Lords of the Marches which soon became a war of independence. In 1403 Owain was defeated by Henry IV at the battle of Shrewsbury. In 1405 a formal treaty between Wales and France was negotiated and French forces arrive in the UK. They met the English army but for reasons that have never been clear both sides withdrew and by 1406 the French forces had left Wales. Owain remained free and the revolt continued. In 1412 Owain Glyndwr captured Dafydd Gam ("Crooked David") a leading Welsh supporter of the English King Henry and later ransomed him. This was the last flash of the revolt and the last time that Owain was seen alive by his enemies. Nothing certain is known of Owain after 1412.

We stopped at one of the places that gives a view of Mt Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. We had to walk toward the lake and the cold air across the water was bitter. We didn’t linger after finding the cache.

Bangor looked really nice when we arrived and we were sorry we hadn’t got there earlier although we had had a very good day. We drove around the town and found a pub called the Lord Nelson which seemed a good omen. We had to wait a few minutes for it to open but it was a friendly place and we had fish and chips there. We told one of the men there that we had enjoyed the drive on the A5. He said it is different in winter, often closed by snow and ice. He said icicles could be a couple of feet long and said that some silly tourists stand under them to have photos taken.

After the meal we drove back on a newer road that took us by the water for a while. This was lovely as the lights of the towns shone on the water. We were home by 9pm and pleased to return to our centrally heated house.
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