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National Trust

A Visit To Croft Castle

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We enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the National Trust property, Croft Caslt and Parkland, near Leominster today. We had never visited this site before so it’s always nice to find somewhere new.

It’s a 1,000 year old estate that has been in the hands of the Croft family for the majority of that time. The history of the estate reveals a family that have been involved in many of the great conflicts that have moulded the shape of Britain as it is today. From the Norman conquest, through the War Of The Roses, The English Civil War and the two World Wars.

There is a fascinating family tree on display inside the castle.

Here’s a couple of my photographs from the day

Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall

During our Easter holiday at Oxwich Bay we paid a visit to a local National Trust property. Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall is located just north of Neath and features a spectacular natural waterfall that was modified and industrialised in the 1800s.

It is a small site which you can visit comfortably in an hour or so before taking some refreshments in the old school house, which now serves as the the rooms. If you plan a visit there it’s worth finding another local site to visit too, to make a day of it. We chose the nearby Neath Abbey.

Most of the buildings are now in ruins, but the information provided on site tells the story of the tin plate industry and of the site’s previous business enterprises. There are two short background films to watch, the second of which is shown in an atmospheric darkened room inside the wheel house, it is projected into a mirror which gives something of a 3D effect.

As you tour through the site you also climb to the top of the falls, there are stairs and steps scattered across the site and also lift facilities, including wheelchair/pram lifts to get you to the top. The view from the top is quite spectacular and makes the visit doubly worthwhile.

We picked a day with perfect weather. Here are a few photos from the day.

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Dahlias at Dyffryn

P1000728We returned to Dyffryn Gardens today, a National Trust property just outside Cardiff. Dyffryn is a beautiful property with stunning walled formal gardens that are stunning at any time of year, well worth a visit.

This autumn the gardeners at Dyffryn have been hard at work planting hundreds of varieties of Dahlias to celebrate the centenary of Reginald Cory’s Dahlia trials, in which he collected over 1,000 species and more than 7,000 plants in all.

Dahlias are a fantastic addition to any garden blooming late into the season and bringing a variety of strong colours and striking flower heads. The thousands of available varieties break down into different categories including Pompom, Orchid, Cactus, Semi Cactus, Giant, Decorative and Collerette.

I’m no expert by any means, but I’ve included a slide show of some of the varieties at Dyffryn this season, next year I’m going back to Dahlias in a big way.

Enjoy the pics.

Busy Bees at Dyrham Park

Had a couple of hours at Dyrham Park this afternoon, always a lovely place to visit.  Nice to see the bees keeping busy in the stunning gardens.

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A Visit To Stourhead

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We spent the day visiting the National Trust property at Stourhead in Wiltshire. It’s a large estate that dates back to the 13th Century, but in 1717 it was sold to Henry Hoare and it remained the property of the Hoare family until it was given to the National Trust in 1946.  The current manor house was built by the Hoare family and filled with treasures from around the world.

Sadly the house was almost destroyed by a fire in 1902, but the staff managed to save almost all of the artwork and other treasures from the ground floor and the house was rebuilt to its former glory. The house itself is well worth a visit, although we were limited to a ground floor tour. There is a striking collection of artwork and furnishings to take in. You can follow Harry Hoare’s story around the estate and find out about his service and death during the First World War.

Aside from the house there is a stunning walled garden and a large lake. Visitors can walk all the way around the lake, taking in Greek themed buildings and more beautiful gardens en route. On the day we went the lake was looking a bit sad as its surface level has been lowered whilst some restoration and repair work is undertaken. But the walk around the lake is breathtaking and holds some surprises.

About two miles away from the main estate you will find Alfred’s Tower, a folly tower built in 1772 by Henry Hoare II, named for King Alfred the Great. You can climb to the top of the tower and get some great views. Well that’s what we were told at least, we were a bit too whacked to make the climb by the end of the day.

Here’s a few photos from the day, click through the slideshow to read the captions.

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Railway themed beers from Box Steam Brewery

Spotted at the National Trust gift shop at Dyrham Park today. Three epic Railway beers. Nice one Box Steam Brewery!

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Return to Dyrham Park

P1000161Now that the weather seems to have sorted itself out me and Mrs L can get back to our favourite pastime of wandering aimlessly around National Trust properties, so today we spent a pleasant few hours at Dyrham Park in Bath.

It’s a lovely old house in a beautiful setting, surrounded by parkland which is inhabited by deer, you may get a good view of these beautiful creatures if you are patient, but we weren’t today, so we just saw them from a distance, but at least they were there, and so were we.

The gardens were looking absolutely beautiful today, filled with fantastic daffodils and tulips, some lovely hellebores and euphorbia and a stunning variety of colours, shapes and sizes.  Here’s a few pics, can somebody tell me what that little purple bell shaped flower is please?

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Hidcote Manor

We recently visited Hidcote in North Gloucestershire, a National Trust property near Evesham with stunning gardens bringing together plants from all over the world.

It was put together around a hundred years ago by Major Lawrence Johnson, an American plant-hunter and horticulturist. The story of the garden of ‘rooms’ and the life of it’s creator, Johnson are told on the national Trust website. There is a small house with just a couple of rooms open and a lovely little cafe, but this visit is all about getting lost in these beautiful gardens.

Here are just a few pics of some of my favourite plants spotted on the visit, I won’t attempt to identify them, but you can do that in the comments if you like. There were some incredible varieties of hydrangea that really took my eye and a fantastic kitchen garden.

Hope you enjoy these pics.

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Dinefwr Park

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During our recent holiday we made a second visit to Dinefwr Park near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire. Dinefwr is the site of a 12th Century Castle, built by the Rhys family, whose story is intertwined with Welsh Princes and with the conflicts and struggles that saw Henry Tudor take the throne as Henry VII. If you watched the recent BBC series ‘The White Queen’ you may be familiar with the story.

In later years the Rhys family reclaimed the lands, changing the spelling of their name to Rice, They built, Newton House, which still stands on the grounds to this day, although it has been much rebuilt and developed over the centuries.

The grounds enclose a deer park, with approximately 140 fallow deer currently in residence. Also in residence are the famous White Park Cattle, an ancient breed which may have lived on these grounds for as much as two thousand years.  We took a tractor trailer tour to get up close with these guys and heard a bit more of their history.  The tour guide told us that they had only left the site at Dinefwr twice in its history, the first time was in the Second World War, as they were so distinctive they could be spotted from the air and used as a landmark.  A hair-brained scheme to paint them green was an understandable failure, hence they were shipped off to Canada until after the war.  Later the family sold the herd, but when the National Trust took over the property they were able to bring the descendants of the original cattle back to Dinefwr.

Whilst there we took the ‘Hidden House’ tour, a guided tour which takes you to parts of the house that are not usually open to the public, around servants’ corridors, up into the loft space and finally out onto the roof. It was a fascinating little tour.

We didn’t manage to get up to the castle on this day, so that may be a trip for another day.  Here’s a few photos from our visit to give you a flavour of the day.

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The front view of Newton House

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The White Park Cattle

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The view of Newton House from the rear

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The small formal gardens at the rear of Newton House

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Just to prove that we were on the roof…

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Some of the fallow deer…can you see ’em? (I need a better camera!)

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Looking out from the roof of Newton House, this is the view looking towards Dinefwr Castle.

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