Friday 3rd August 2001.
Llanrhidian to Weobley Castle.

Weather: Sunny periods.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind
permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland

Llanrhidian is an estuarine village in North Gower and it is here, on the village green, I start my walk to Weobley Castle. Across the road is the "Welcome to Town", one of the two village pubs. The large stone in the foreground is thought to be the remains of an old Celtic wheel cross. Iron fragments embedded near the top and bottom suggest it may later have been used as a village pillory before the 19th century. Behind me is the village church....

I open the heavy metal gates and enter the churchyard

Situated beneath a wooded limestone bluff, the 13th century church is dedicated to both St. Illtyd and St. Rhidian. In the porch is a coffin shaped stone known as the Leper Stone on which is carved strange human figures and animals.It was dug up in the churchyard in the 19th century and is believed to date from the 9th century.
There are a lot of dark clouds in the sky, I do hope the sunshine doesn't disappear. At the back of the churchyard I climb over a stone stile and very soon join the lane where a signpost points the way to Weobley Castle.

After following the lane for a little while it deteriorates to a narrow rough track, I see a wooden stile to my right and climb over it into a field. At the end of the field, another stile, another field, another stile.
The sun has gone behind the clouds now, the dark clouds seem even darker, I wish I had brought my wet weather gear. In this part of the world it is not unusual to see bathtubs used as cattle troughs but this one is complete with shiny chrome taps. .

Over the stile to where the fields reach down to the edge of the marsh and salt flats.

At the next stile I stop to look around; through a break in the clouds the sun lights up the slopes of Cilifor Top. . .

Swinging my camera further round to the north it captures the flat wide marshland and the coastal hills which sweep down to meet it.

A little further on I get my first glimpse of the castle. The sky is getting brighter and large patches of blue lift my spirits as I hopefully wait for the sunshine to reappear. .

I walk on, at times pushing my way through overgrown paths, until I reach the fields immediately below the castle. Leading towards it is a steep track which I begin to climb. Looking to the west I see the hill which rises above Landimore .

Below me,to the north, a mile long concrete roadway extends out over the saltmarsh ending near a tower. It was constructed during the 1939/45 war as part of an experimental firing range. The tower was an observation point from where the accuracy and position of fired shells could be noted. To this day unexploded shells are occasionally washed up on nearby beaches. On the other side of the estuary are the hills above Burry Port.

I reach the top of the hill and arrive at the castle. It was a stiff climb and I'm ready for my coffee break. The sun has broken through the clouds and it is quite pleasant but for a rather cool breeze.
At the side of the castle and overlooking the saltflats I find a bench sheltered from the wind and sit there taking in the view as I enjoy my coffee and a rest at the halfway point of my walk.

Weobley Castle built by the de la Bere family, dates from the 14th century. Despite its name, it served more as a fortified manor house than a serious military stronghold.

The castle remained in the de la Bere family until the 15th century. Later owners included Sir Rhys ap Thomas, the Herbert family and later, the Mansels. Attacked by Owain Glyndwr in about 1403 the castle was badly damaged but soon repaired. It was used as a farmhouse from the 17th century onwards until in 1911 it was placed in the care of the State. It is my first visit inside the castle so I wander around exploring the rooms and passageways. I stand in front of a window opening and look out over the vast empty expanse of salt marsh and mudflats. 500 years ago someone must have stood in this very spot and looked out through this same window at a view much the same as I see today. It's time to leave the ancient history behind so I set off back to Llanrhidian.

Not wanting to return by the same route, I decide to walk back along the main North Gower coastal road. This section of the road is very much a country road, narrow with hedges on both sides and not much traffic to worry about. Set into a wall alongside a cottage I spotted this old postbox bearing the letter "VR" and a crown. There can't be many Queen Victoria postboxes still in use.

Llangennith and Penclawdd are both North Gower placenames. I follow the sign to Llanrhidian.

Now back Llanrhidian I still have time enough to visit the lower part of the village.

Outside the old watermill a broken millstone is propped up against the wall. I walk a little further down the road and look through the gate at the side of a cottage..

The old timber gate has seen better days but it is so much in keeping with its surroundings.. I should hate to see it replaced with something new and shiny. But through the gate the garden is a delight. An absolute riot of colour. Red, yellow, pink and white flowers are set against the cool greens of the trees and the immaculate lawn. .

Here, at the side of this lovely garden is a good place to end my walk.

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All photographs Copyright 2000 Alex Thomas. All rights reserved.