North Wales weekend – Day 1

A Saturday morning in late October saw me heading off to North Wales for a 2-night mini camping break though this time I was on a mission, making a long overdue visit to Eileen, a special blogging friend. My usual route into North Wales would be down the A55 but there were a couple of places I wanted to stop off at on the way, the first one being Flint Castle, so I took the A548 coast road instead. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t exactly brilliant, it was dull with some very dark clouds in places though the sun did make a few brief appearances so I kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t rain on me while I was looking round the castle.
Flint was the first castle in what would later become known as King Edward I’s ‘Iron Ring’, a chain of fortresses designed to encircle North Wales and oppress the Welsh. The site was chosen for its strategic position just one day’s march from the walled English city of Chester, and being on the western shore of the River Dee estuary supplies could be brought to the castle by sea or along the river itself. Building work started in 1277 using millstone grit, ashlar and sandstone then in November 1280 master mason James of St. George, from the Savoy region of France, was brought in to oversee and accelerate the initially very slow construction pace; he remained at Flint for 17 months before moving on to oversee the completion of Rhuddlan Castle in the neighbouring county of Denbighshire.
It took a total of 1,800 labourers and masons nine years to build Flint Castle and when work ended in 1286 it had an inner ward and an outer bailey separated by a tidal moat but connected by a drawbridge and gatehouse. The inner ward had three large towers while a detached keep with walls 23ft thick protected the inner gatehouse and outer bailey, beyond which a plantation town was laid out. The design of the castle was based on medieval French models and as it was never repeated in any other castle built by Edward it remains unique within the British Isles.
During the 1294/95 Welsh revolt against English rule Flint was attacked and the constable of the castle was forced to set fire to the fortress to prevent its capture by the Welsh, though it was eventually repaired and partly rebuilt. In 1399 it became the location of a turning point in history when Edward’s great, great grandson Richard II came face-to-face with his cousin and rival to the crown Henry Bolingbroke. Richard was captured and escorted by Henry to London, where he abdicated the throne and King Henry IV’s reign began. Richard later died in captivity and two centuries on his sad fate was forever immortalised in the words of Shakespeare’s play Richard II.
During the English Civil War of the mid 17th century Flint Castle was held by the Royalists but was finally captured by the Parliamentarians in 1647 after a three-month siege, then to prevent it being reused in the conflict it was destroyed in accordance with Cromwell’s orders. It was never rebuilt and the ruins are those which remain today. DSCF0997 - Copy
South west tower, gatehouse, and the keep
View from the south east
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Inside the keep
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North west tower
South west tower
The keep
Most parts of the castle, including the isolated keep, are accessible to the public, and I was quite surprised to see that since my previous visit there four years ago a spiral staircase had been added to the centre of the north east tower. It was just begging to be climbed up but I couldn’t do it with the dogs so I had to leave them back in the van for a short while.
The well and north east tower
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View from the north east tower
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North west tower
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Since 1919 the castle has been managed as a public monument and is maintained by Cadw, the Welsh-government body which protects, conserves and promotes the heritage buildings of Wales. It’s an interesting place and I actually spent longer in there than I intended so I abandoned my plan to go elsewhere and headed straight for Eileen’s. Unfortunately Sod’s Law decreed that I should be delayed for a while by roadworks and single file traffic on the outskirts of Prestatyn but I got there in the end even if I was a bit later than I intended. It was really good to see Eileen, her hubby and new little dog Tilly and I spent well over two hours in their company but eventually it was time to head off to the camp site just a few miles away – and the camp site itself is a story on its own.

26 thoughts on “North Wales weekend – Day 1

  1. It was lovely to see you again Eunice and meet your new dog Snowy along with Poppie who I have met before. I enjoyed those couple of hours in your company. Fascinating history of the castle and would you believe I’ve never visited it before and would love to wander round it but not go up the tower as I don’t like heights. Great photos even though there were those dark clouds and thankfully it didn’t rain on you.

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    1. It was great to see you again too after all this time – I just wish I could have come down last year. If you ever do fancy a ride out to Flint Castle it’s open daily, free and dog friendly and there’s a path from the car park or down the west side of the castle (first photo) which looks like it would be a good dog walk (pic after staircase). I’d like to explore that one myself so hopefully the weather will be a bit sunnier next time.

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    1. Castles are great aren’t they? πŸ™‚ My previous visit to this one a few years ago was just a brief stop to take a few photos, I didn’t realise how interesting it is until I started delving into the history of it.

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  2. Thanks. I can see why you stayed longer than you had planned. It’s ironic that the castle was destroyed twice to prevent being taken by the enemy __ a case of plan B.
    Another place I have driven past many times and promised to visit the next time. β€œNo time to stand and stare”.

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    1. I’ve done that myself many times, driven past somewhere that looked interesting, promised myself I’ll take a look next time but never have. It was seeing some photos of the castle on another blog that inspired me to visit a few years ago just to take my own photos but having recently researched its history it was worth making a longer stop this time. Now I need to go back again when the weather is much sunnier or when the tide is in πŸ™‚

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  3. That is amazing! The fact it is still standing must mean it was built really well. I wouldn’t walk down or up those the stairs. First I’m afraid of heights but looking thru stairs is very scary to me! lol. Have a good day Eunice!

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    1. I find it remarkable that the walls of the keep were 23ft thick – you wouldn’t get them like that in modern buildings. If the castle hadn’t been destroyed under Cromwell’s orders during the 17th century it could very well still be mostly complete.

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  4. I went to Harlech castle about five years ago and found it very difficult to find as there were no signs in the village. I ended up parking at the south end of the village and walking back until I found the place 😦

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  5. I love old ruined castles, they always have so much history and so many stories to tell. It’s a shame there was so much dark cloud around as the location of this one would look great in the sunshine. I really liked the modern spiral staircase, it felt so much safer to go up and down than an original stone staircase πŸ™‚

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  6. We visited North Wales a few years ago and we loved it, I’d definitely like to go back. It seems you’re spoilt for choice when looking for a castle to visit in the area, we passed quite a few on our travels around the area. It looks as though there’s plenty of Flint Castle still standing, and the staircase is a nice addition which enables so great views. I often think how different it would be if castles and monasteries hadn’t been destroyed all those years ago. It’s good that what’s left of them are so well looked after these days. Glad you enjoyed your trip and that you got to catch up with Eileen again.

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  7. I’m just now writing about another castle for my next post, it has a connection to Flint and there’s much more left of it. I would love to go back in time and explore them as they once were before they were destroyed. It was lovely to see Eileen again and her new little dog is adorable πŸ™‚

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  8. What a fabulous place, as & when I ever get to Wales with Bill I just need to use your blog posts as my guide for where to go πŸ™‚

    Sorry it has taken me too long to get to your post, brain has been full of treacle the last few days . . .

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  9. No problem, I hope your cold doesn’t last too much longer and your treacle brain soon returns to normal. If you like castles then there’s another one coming up in my next post πŸ™‚

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    1. Hi Malc, welcome to the Mouse House and thanks for popping over, I’m pleased you like the photos πŸ™‚ I’ve another castle coming up in my next blog post but once I’m up to date I’ll pop back to your blog and read some more.

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      1. I can see now why you were attracted to my blog about Mousehole πŸ™‚ I’m also keen to see what your next castle is because castles are one of my favourite things to visit.

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        1. I wondered if you would realise the connection πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I remember when I was very young my dad once mentioned there was a place called Mousehole (he said it as it’s written) and because of the name I really wanted to go there but we never did 😦

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    1. I’ve been to quite a few Welsh castles over the last ten years but not managed Caernarfon or Conwy yet, mainly because neither are dog friendly and whenever I’ve been there it’s been too warm to leave them in the van for any length of time. I’ll get there one day though πŸ™‚

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  10. Would be even nicer with proper sunshine and blue sky πŸ™‚ I’ve seen some pics with the water right up to the castle so my next quest – maybe next summer – is to photograph it with the tide in.

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