Friday, 17 October 2014

The Elan Valley

The Elan Valley

The Elan Valley is one of my favorite places to go in Wales.  In 1893 the valley was dammed to form a series of reservoirs  lakes held back by five dams known as the Elan valley Dams. Though much of the surrounding countryside has changed little (apart form wind turbines) the valleys would have been very different before 1890 supporting various community's. This tour will show some of the dams & reservoirs that are there now  along some historic photos I have been able to find. As you go through the Blog you will come across various links I have added, these will tell you some of the history behind the place.

Driving up the Elan Trail from Rhayader and you eventually will come across this view of the head of the  Craig-goch reservoir into which the Afon Elan flows

This is the elan winding into the Craig-goch, you can see the water level is low from the dark sides showing

This view looks up the Afon Elan to where it rises in the distance. A mountain road runs nearby which will take you to Aberystwyth. Its well worth a dive along.

 This shows the Elan twisting through the Valley

and this is the Afon Elan looking very tranquil 

No not the bridge you drive over now though you can walk over it. This was the old road you came across before the made a new steel bridge which I am stood on to take the heavy traffic of today. The bridge your looking at is covered in cracks and looks worse then when I first saw it.

Driving along the road following the Elan you will see this view of the  Craig-Goch dam come into sight

Look round and you get this view back to where I took the first photos

This is a closer shot of the Dam

The Dam close up, most times I've been here the water is flowing over the top, when I took this photo I think it was about 3 meters lower than usual
View along the side of the Dam which is 156 Meters (513ft) long and 36 Meters (120ft) high, there is also a hydro electric plant down there as well

You can see the level of the water on the left and what it looks like when flowing over the top, the photo was taken in 2008

This is another photo taken in 2008 showing the reservoir behind the dam

Driving round the road will bring you to the next dam though I must admit I missed out the chance of getting some photos of the reservoir on the way

This one is called the Pen Y  Garrag this one is 161 Meters (528ft) long and 37.2 Meters (123ft) high

The tower on the dam. You can go inside the dam and look out of the windows you see though you do need permission as the gate is locked.

Same dam in full flow as seen in 2008

In case you wondered this is a view from the dam of the reservoir behind
 Quite a nice view here looking at the mountains

Driving on round the valley you will come to this dam called the Careg-Ddu. Ok so it looks like a viaduct and as you can see the water is way down.

But check out this photo when they were building the dam

This is the area behind today
Now you might have noticed some buildings in the old photo and the area looked like this on the map around 1890. I suspect the building below the dam being built was the old  Nant- Gwyllit church, the one in the distance is the Nantgwyllt House in which Shelley lived for a time

This area was to become what is known as the Lost Valleys

 Today the area looks like this

This is the Foel Tower and is where the journey starts for the water which is going to Birmingham which is why the valley was flooded in the first place in 1896.

The photo on the left was taken in 2003 by Colin Price and shows the lower dam quite clearly, you can see more of his photos on Geograph

The next dam to visit is the latest one built  and opened by HM the Queen in 1952 to reach it you need to cross the viaduct of the Careg Ddu and follow the road till you reach the carpark below the dam.

This is the  Claerwen Dam it's
 56 meters (144ft) high by
 355 meters (1167ft)long

This shot is from the access road bridge to the farm at  the base

The Claerwen Valley

This is what the dam looks like when its spilling over the top back in 2008
Lot of water there, note the bridge near the dam
                                              Well this is looking up from the bridge

and this is looking down 

Turn around and this will be the view you get.The last three photo were taken in 2009.
From here we go back to the Elan Visitors center  which is where most people start from on the way you pass the Dol-y-Mynach dam which I have seen but have not got any photos of as yet but I did manage to find this photo on Flickr by  Martin Brewster

 Another place to view as you go along the Caban Coch reservoir is the Nant y Gyro
you can read about it in my Blog

Finally you will come to the visitor centre for the Elan Valley which is dominated by the Caban Coch Dam which is 120ft high

The photo here is taken from the visitor center

The Visitor center is over to the right

The entrance to the visitor center with the centenary statue which remembers the navys who worked & died building the dams.

This is what it looks like going full bore over the top. I took these a few years ago from the top
It was pretty misty down there with all the water vapor even at the visitor center.

Thats my tour of the Elan valley I hope you enjoyed it. The historic photos came from the Powys Digital History Project which is well worth a look round others from Geograph & Flickr. If your in Wales near the place it is worth the visit. There are also various walking trails you can go on as well.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Vyne

The Vyne

Been a couple of months since I wrote in this blog which is tending to migrate over to my Daily photo blog with the Our World Tuesday Post but I feel I should keep it going with the longer posts. Today we are going to The Vyne a place which is steeped in history though when you read the Wiki on it very little is shown. The house dates back to the 16th century which is the time of the Tudors and Henry VIII. It was built for Lord William (great name that) Sandy's who was the Lord Chamberlain of Henry VIII. In those days the place was huge and a walled manor house. Little of that remains now though the place dates further back to Roman times from what I read. The house came into the Chute family around the time of Cromwell and the first Chute decided the place was too grand for him and promptly demolished most of it.

Now you are probably wondering if I've gone mad showing a Lego model, well that is what the manor would have looked like when it was first builtall the external walls and buiildings you see with a black line through have gone. That is the extent the place was trimmed. I recon about three quaters went. I think it must have been a magnificent place back then before it was demolished

 Leaving what you see now. The old manor house extended way down the lawn here and the ornamental part of the river in front. the Portico was added around 1654.

When you walk round the building what is left is no less magnificent 

I did not take a photo up the drive to the gates but this looks to the main entrance to the Vyne
 It does not look as grand as the back but no less impressive with the winged Eagles either side

I'm not the only person taking photos of the Eagle

I did like the Eagles
and also the griffin over the door

This is where you start your tour of the house it takes you in to what was an orangery

As you can see there are a few statues & busts of Roman/ |Greek legends

You can see this over the fireplace as you come in and I'm told there is another at Hampton Court which is in not such good condition.

This is my favorite, like the eyes how the look at you

You go through some amazing rooms of furniture and china like this which is made in Venice and there are only 16 pieces of. Unique you could say. I've never seen the like

Rooms with Tudor panels in

the buttons are Tudor roses and are an addion made later
 Different stile of Tudor panels with Tudor Paintings
 This stunning one is of Chrysogona Baker aged 6 in 1579, Queen Elizabeth I st was on the throne then, makes you wonder if they met
Next place is this the chapel which has Tudor stained glass windows in.

 Best I could do taking it hand held with a compact camera

These are on either side

 Off to the right is a side room with this tomb and effigy

Belonging to Chaloner Chute Speaker of the House of Commons under Richard Cromwell, Oliver's son. I might add the commonwealth did not last long as Richard resigned in 1659 and Charles II came back to the throne in 1660.

 Going on with the tour you come to starecase
 Of which this is the top, very neat

 Another magnificent room with books and old paintings though the one over the fireplace must have made the place very dismal, it seems to suck the life out of you

I think this is Issac Newton of Gravity Fame

Rooms with tapestry (need to check my other blog on Monday to see more)
 and more panels along with wonderful carved fireplaces
 then you come to this long room with more busts 

and more that a few swords


 You might have seen this lady before on one of my Blogs, Mary Queen of Scots, might even have visited and the other is no less than our Will

Henry the VIII who was a frequent visitor here mainly for a dirty weekend with Anne Boleyn or one of his other wives

Charles the I st and the guy who had him executed Oliver Cromwell, not sure if they visited.

 This is the window at the end of the room
 I could not help taking a photo of the stained glass in the window, it was stunning

One of the last rooms you come to is a bedroom, on the wall are these sketches  of
Sir Charles & Lady Chute who left the Vyne to the National Trust. I think they make a hansom couple

That was about the last of the  rooms so we went outside to enjoy some of the sights
 Like this tree with a face

or looking at the odd spider

You can see some nice views 

visit the gift shop

or this place for a cup of tea

have more views of the house

meet the local inhabitants 

when they are not getting chased but some ones unruly brats, that was a bit harsh they were  having a great time and were polite

spend time on the lawn

or look at the lake, well dammed up river

see some of the well laid out gardens
 Beautiful you have to admit
You can even visit a walled garden

Hope you have enjoyed the visit  it is well worth the visit. I will be returning as there is a Saxon ring there that I want to see which was the inspiration for a book called Lord of the Rings. The tapestry above is in the cafe. If you would like to go the check out the National Trust  Website