On Saturday I did something that I had long hoped to do and that was to walk along the narrow path beside the Llangollen Canal over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. I first heard about this huge feat of Georgian construction (1795-1805) on a school Geography field trip to North Wales exactly 50 years ago. We were travelling from Norwich to Snowdonia and as we passed along the Dee Valley on the A5 through Llangollen Mr Powell told us about the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Yesterday I picked up friend Ann from her home in Widnes and we’re now spending a few days ‘Sleeping with Books‘ at Gladstone’s Library. After my two-night stay last year I thought it would be interesting to spend a few days in the area and in particular to visit Chirk Castle, which has been on my ‘list’ for a long time.
Widnes is only just over half an hour from Hawarden (home to Gladstone’s Library) and Ann wanted to show me a few sights in her local area. Our first stop was to view the new bridge, The Mersey Gateway Bridge, currently edging its way across the River Mersey.
The weekend before last I spent three nights staying near Bury St Edmunds at a National Trust cottage on the Ickworth Estate. A friend and I stopped to visit Ely Cathedral on our journey down from Yorkshire on Friday; we visited Bury St Edmunds Cathedral and The Moyses Hall Museum on Saturday and our plan for Sunday was to walk The Ickworth Grand Tour Walk. The IGTW is a seven mile walk that begins at the NT car park. In our case, we could begin it from our Horringer Park Gates front door.
Horringer Park Gates at Ickworth Main Entrance
Welcome to The Grange
St Edward’s Presbytery on St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate is just part of the original religious community that was Pugin’s master plan.
Tuesday was the only day we left the immediate surroundings of Ramsgate and we drove just five miles away to Margate to the recently opened and much acclaimed Turner Contemporary. We parked nearby and paid for three hours in the car park thinking that would be quite long enough to see the Gallery (as we are not into modern art), walk along the front and the Harbour Arm (jetty) and investigate the town centre. In the end we spent over two hours in the Turner, including a quick bite to eat in the airy cafe, and had quick walk to the end of the Harbour Arm for a view of the gallery and a breath of fresh air. It was a 10 minute walk back to the car park and we realised that we had Landmark Withdrawal Symptoms and drove straight back to the Presbytery to build up the fire for the evening.
On the first Friday of February after leaving St Edward’s Presbytery and dropping my sister off at Ramsgate Station I headed to the little seaside resort of Broadstairs. It’s practically part of Ramsgate but definitely a separate place. I liked very much what I saw. I’d always been intrigued by views of the town which show Charles Dickens’s Bleak House on a cliff looking out to sea. You can see it in the middle of the picture below. There are several Dickens connections in Broadstairs and I probably didn’t see all of them. At that early hour in the morning I was able to park easily near the sea front. As near as you can get by car, anyway. There are pleasant gardens and paths separating the beach from the road and the main streets and narrow lanes behind.
St Edward’s Presbytery in Ramsgate is one of the latest properties to be added to Landmark Trust’s portfolio. It’s restoration featured in the 2015 Channel4 TV series Restoring Britain’s Landmarks. Just before my Amsterdam trip I celebrated my birthday with a stay there. My sister joined me and we spent 4 nights relaxing by the log fire in the evenings and taking walks and making very local visits during the days. The furthest we drove was 5 miles to Margate and back.