Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thur 29th Oct- Conwy Castle & UK's Smallest House

On the last day before we were due to catch a train back to London and then the plane home, Sophie, Maddie and I did a day trip to the beautiful seaside town of Conwy and then onto Bodnant Gardens, an amazingly beautiful National Trust property of over 80 acres overlooking the River Conwy with the Snowdonia mountain range as a backdrop.

I knew there was a castle in Conwy but I didn’t know how impressive it was. As you approach Conwy along the coast it suddenly appears, a huge imposing dark stoned fortress perched high up on rock overlooking the estuary. It seemed to take over the whole view especially as you drove around the edge of it. What a fabulous sight. Conwy Castle was constructed by Edward 1 between 1283 and 1289 and was one of his "ring of fortresses" built to contain the Welsh. It has 8 huge round towers and it’s very intimidating actually standing at the base of its soaring walls.

We parked up and walked back around the castle and over the Conwy Suspension Bridge, an attraction in its own right. Built by Thomas Telford this was one of the first suspension bridges in the world and was completed in 1826.

Telford matched the bridge’s supporting towers with the castle’s turrets. Built into the rock that the castle stands on, it is very close to the castle and very small, only 2.5 meters across. It’s hard to believe now that they would do this, but part of the castle was demolished during construction so that the suspension cables could be anchored into the rock.

Sophie & Maddie, looking back towards the castle-

We then crossed over the road and walked back along the waterfront and over the vehicle bridge.

Conwy itself is a classic walled town, its circuit of walls are over ¾ mile long and are guarded by no less than 22 towers. You can see two of the towers in the foreground and the walls stretching back around the town on the right.

Just below the bridge, this oyster raft was anchored. It looks like it’s used as a base to gather the dredged oysters together to be shucked before transporting them back to shore. I thought it was quite funny that there were half a dozen Oystercatchers happily foraging around the deck! Smart birds.

Looking out over the stunning Conwy Estuary on a beautifully sunny late autumn day.

But wait there’s more……

As if the castle, the walled town and the suspension bridge weren’t enough there was one more treat in store for us- the smallest house in Great Britian! And they weren’t kidding either. This tiny 2 roomed house is tacked onto the end of a row of “normal” houses located on Quayside right beside the harbour.

The house measures 3.05 meters by 1.8 meters (10feet by 6 feet) and was lived in from the 16th century until 1900. The last occupant, a fisherman, was 6ft 3inches tall and could not stand up inside, he was eventually forced to move when the council deemed the house unfit for human habitation.

The upstairs is so minute that there’s only room for one bed and a small beside cabinet, visitors can only see this by standing on the step ladder that leads up to the bedroom. Once up there the occupant had to close the trap door so he could move the bed back over it.

Downstairs, this was taken from the doorway!

Downstairs there was a seat and a fireplace obviously where all the cooking was done. No bathroom. I guess they used the nearby harbour. Nowadays a lady in traditional Welsh dress stands at the entrance(where else could she stand & I wonder what she does when it's cold and raining). For a small £1 fee she will hold back the curtain so you can have a look inside, two at a time is all you can fit.

Quayside entrance through the wall to the town-

We stopped for fish ‘n chips at a small cafĂ© inside the town walls which actually took a long time to arrive and weren’t that great.

We then made our way back to the car, loaded up and headed inland to the beautiful Bodnant Gardens.

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