Brân, fortress of the stream

Castell Dinas Brân above Llangollen in Wales is a great historical site (see photo drom Llangollen with the River Dee’s channel below) . The ruins of an Iron Age fortress (built ca. 600 BCE) and the Medieval castle (13th century) can both be seen there. When King Edward I conquered Wales his army led by the Earl of Lincoln (Heny de Lacy) besieged the castle. The Welsh lord of the castle was forced to surrender. The English set the whole castle on fire which burned down to its ruins.

The castle and ruins have long had their own ghosts and spirits. The most popular is Gogmagog, the legendary evil giant who was killed by Payn Peveril, a brave Norman knight. While dying, the giant tells the knight about the great treasures of the castle – treasures that have never been found.

Uk Castell Castle Dinas Bran Historic Tourism

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Potholing in UK’s largest cave

UPDATE: Gaping Gill Winch Meet will be held from 29 May to 4 June 2021.

Have you ever caved?

Gaping Gill in Yorkshire Dales is a unique place for those who love caving i.e. “potholing”. This spot, however, is only accessible two times a year (in May and in August) and is one of the best places for those who are keen on walking – Gaping Gill is only accessible on foot from the village of Clapham.

The chamber and the extensive cave system it is a part of are only accessible to experienced and cave explorers except for the two times, the bank-holidays mentioned above. Two local caving clubs provide a winch to allow members of the public: they are lowered down the shaft on a boatswain’s chair and later winched out again.

Once inside you can just explore the chamber, or the slightly more adventurous can enter some of the easier and closer passages of the 16.6km cave system.

Its main chamber is 130m long, 31m high and 25m wide, the largest cave chamber in Britain – a cathedral would fit inside. Actually, a hot-air balloon-flight was already attempted.

 

Stone skimming

UPDATE: The event for 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID19. Competitors may next meet on 26 September 2021 for World Stone Skimming Championship.

 

The British have lots of unique sporting (well at least outdoor) events all the year round. These include the following: Egg-throwing World Championsips, Bog-Snorkelling World Championships, Workd Conker Championships (where you have to smash a chestnut)…

Stone-skimming is a popular activity especially with kids by rivers or lakes – and England has organised several World Championships in this event so far.

The one in 2019 was held on 28-29 September. A great skimming event, All England Stone Skimming Championship from 2019 nearly brought a great record. The winner of the men’s event, 22-year-old Alex Lewis skimmed a personal best of 98m on Windermere (a lake in Lake District National Park). He’s been really close to a so called “Centurion” – a skim of 100m.
Lewis retained his title, while the women’s competition celebrated a new champion, Christina Bowen Bravery. Her winning threw-skim reached 41m.

Watch the report here:

Bridge tilts

The grand structure that connects Gateshead and Newscastle over the River Tyne is nicknamed the ‘Blinking Eye Bridge’ because of its shape and the tilting method to let ships pass beneath.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge was opened to the public on 17 September 2001, while Her Majesty the Queen officially opened it on 7 May 2002.

The engines used for the tilting method could run eighth Ford Focus cars. The whole process seen below lasts for four and a half minutes.

Both the design and te lightning of the bridge have been awarded several times, you can find the list of these here.

The self-cleaning method of the bridge works quite simply: when litter is thrown on the pathways, they roll down into a container when bridge lifts.

Feature image crtedit: Kelly McClay

Wag-at-the-Wa

A ‘brownie’ from the kitchen – not a piece of cake but a fairly-like spirit that mostly appears as an old man wearing a grey mantle (coat).

A Wag-at-the-Wa is fond of children and strict about the house’s outlook: it must be neat and tidy. He even punishes those cooks who are lazy. If anyone dies in the family the Wag-at-the-Wa disappears for a couple of days.
He sits mainly on the pothook and swings to and back. But be there any bend in the kitchen, a tap or a horseshoe, it will be an ideal place for your own kitchen brownie.

William Wallace – a brave rebel at heart

The Scottish army led by rebellious Scottish nobleman William Wallace defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge 1297. Wallace’s Memorial in Stirling comemorates the above event as well as it’s an icon of Scottish pride.

Made world famous by the film Braveheart (portrayed by actor Mel Gibson), William Wallace was voted the second greatest Scotsman of all times (right behind poet Robert Burns).

As one of the rebellious noblemen who refused to be loyal to English King Edward I, Wallace led his army in a victorious battle at Stirling in 1297. As a result of the victory, Wallace was made a Guardian of Scotland. He resigned this position after the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 where Edward I took control of the battle.

Wallace had to escape and hide for several years. He was caught in Glasgow in 1305 and sent for a trial to London. He was found guilty for treason. They hanged and quartered Wallace. His head was put on a spike on London Bridge, four parts of his body were sent to Berwick, Newcastle, Perth and Stirling.

GR8 to Know

“Wallace” means “Welshman” in Old English, it may refer to his ancestors coming from Wales, however, there is no evidence about it.

Featured image: Wallace Memorial in Stirling (credit to Linda N.)

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Inspired by the Industrial Revolution, the first stone was laid in 1795. Ten years later the marvellous structure designed and built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop was opened.

The aqueduct near Wrexham is a World Heritage Site and lies between England and Wales – actually it is the border over the River Dee.

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This structure was built to create a navigable union betwen England and Wales to connect important rivers: Dee, Severn and Mersey. The Wrexham are was active in the Industrial Revolution: coal, iron, brick and tile, mines and work and limekilns made the cana system vital in Britain and especially this northern area.

QUICK FACTS

  • The aqueduct rises to a height of 35 m
  • The ironwork is 3.3m wide, 1.6m deep and 305m long
  • 19 cast iron arches with a 13.6 m span support the bridge
  • Everything was constructed from local stone
  • It holds over 1.5 million lites of water and takes two hours to drain

Photos below by Mike Prince

GR8 to Know

Latin origins: “ductus” – leading, conducting; “aquae” – water; aquae ductus – leading over water

Viaduct: “via” – road; “ductus” – leading, conducting

Lady Jane Grey

Proclaimed Queen of England on 6 July in 1553, she is the shortest reigning monarch in British history. Lady Jane is called the “Nine Day Queen”, since the Privy Council of England changed views – and the choice of King Edward VI, who wanted Lady Jane on the throne – and proclaimed Mary, Roman Catholic daughter of Henry VIII as queen. It was the favour of the country as well to follow the direct lice of succession, i.e. Mary, first bon daughter of King Henry VIII must follow her father despite the fact of being Roman Catholic because of her mother (Catherine of Aragon).

Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen was imprisoned and – a day after her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley – executed for treason on Tower Hill on 12 July 1554.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche, 1833

Real tennis

During the Wimbledon season (in June), it is essential to know the origins of the lawn game. The ‘old version’ dates back to the 11th century monasteries where tennis was played on an enclosed court.

The ball was solid and a racquet was used to hit it.
The game was a popular pastime activity of monarchs too, like King Henry VIII was a keen tennis player.
Nowadays, the sport is getting unique, however, it is played at many independent schools and colleges (like Cambridge in the photo above).