BRITISH ISLES & EIRE
BRITISH ISLES & EIRE
CONTENTS ENGLAND ...................................................................... 21 Manchester Ship Canal .................................................. 22
SCOTLAND .................................................................. 5 Gigha ......................................................... ......................... 6 Islay ......................................................... ........................... 7 Logan Botanic Garden .................................................... 8
IRELAND ........................................................................ 24 Eire .......................................................... ............................ 26 Dublin ........................................................ ........................ 27 Powerscourt House and Gardens ................................ 28
ISLE OF MAN ................................................................ 10 Peel .......................................................... ............................ 11 WALES .............................................................................. 12 Anglesey ...................................................... ...................... 14 Beaumaris ..................................................... ..................... 14 Beaumaris Castle .............................................................. 15 Caernarvon .................................................... .................... 16 Caernarvon Castle ............................................................ 16 Menai Strait ...................................................................... 17 Plas Newydd .................................................................... 19 Portmeirion ...................................................................... 19 Puffin Island ...................................................................... 20
NORTHERN ISLAND .............................................. 30 Annalong ............................................................................ 31 Royal Greenhouse ............................................................ 31
BRITISH EXPLORER SOUTHABOUTS SCOTLAND Jura, Small Isles ................................................................ 33 NORTHERN IRELAND Mount Stewart House and Gardens ............................ 35 Strangford Lough ............................................................ 36 ISLE OF MAN Douglas ....................................................... ....................... 37
ENGLAND Cornwall ...................................................... ...................... 37 Isles of Scilly .................................................................... 38 Tresco and Abbey Gardens ............................................ 38 Mevagissey .................................................... .................... 39 Dartmouth ........................................................................ 40 Portsmouth ........................................................................ 42
BRITISH EXPLORER NORTHABOUTS SCOTLAND Mull, Inner Hebrides ...................................................... 43 Tobermory ........................................................................ 44 Rum, Small Isles .............................................................. 45 Plockton, Mainland ........................................................ 46 Shieldaig, Mainland ........................................................ 47 Gairloch. Mainland .......................................................... 48 Inverewe Gardens .............................................................. 48 Ullapool, Mainland ........................................................ 49 Orkney ................................................................................ 50 Mainland ............................................................................ 51 Stromness ..................................................... ..................... 51 Kirkwall ...................................................... ........................ 51 Dundee, Mainland .......................................................... 54
BRITISH EXPLORER BOTH DIRECTIONS River Thames .................................................................... 56
Michelin Red Guides: Great Britain and Ireland Michelin Guides
Lonely Planet Scotland Lonely Planet Guides, Neil Wilson et al
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Landmark Visitors Guide, Hunter Publishing Inc, Rita Tegellas
Scotland Highlands and Islands Cadogan Guides, Richenda Miers
Orkney Pevensey Island Guides, Patrick Bailey
Ireland, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Lisa Gerard-Sharp, Tim Perry
Cadogan Ireland Cadogan Guides, Catharina Day
Lonely Planet Britain Lonely Planet Guides, Tony Wheeler, David Else (Editor)
The Rough Guide to Britain Rough Guides, Robert Andrews et al
The Rough Guide to Wales Rough Guide Travel Guides, Mike Parker, Paul Whitfield Lonely Planet Wales Lonely Planet Guides, John King
King of Dalriada, had united the country north of the Forth in 863 and, from then on, Scottish territory grew under Malcolm II and III or Malcolm Canmor e, who introduced the Nor man feudal system.
SCOTLAND Covering an ar ea of 30,414 squar e miles (78,772 sq km), roughly half the size of England, tw o-thirds mountain and moor, Scotland is home to some 5 million people, just 81/2% of the UK population. Its highl y indented, r ugged coastline of wild beauty e xtends f or 2,000 miles (3,218 km), scatter ed offshore with 700 islands, 130 of which are inhabited – the westerly Inner and Outer He brides and Orkney and Shetland, the nor thernmost outposts of the British Isles. Shaped b y glaciation and the r elentless pounding of rolling Nor th Atlantic w aves, these scenic shor es str etch into a seeming infinity of lochs, jagged rocks, towering cliffs and sheltered bays fringed b y s weeping, sand y beac hes. Inland, mountains, braes and glens fall to heather-clad peat moors and lochans in aweinspiring landscapes that lend another dimension to a long and eventful past.
Through troubled times the defiant clansmen of the Highlands, led from Islay by the Lords of the Isles, the MacDonalds, were to rebel for another 600 years. The hereditary title passed from the eldest male c hild to the British monar ch in 1493. Two centuries later, in 1602, the Scottish and Eng lish crowns were united under James VI-I and their destin y became ine xtricably linked. The transition did not g o unquestioned. A series of rebellions culminated in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745-1746 as Bonnie Prince Char lie, the Young Pretender, attempted to r einstall his father James II on the Eng lish throne, thwarted by a devastating defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746. His much-recounted escape with Flora MacDonald has enter ed the annals of legend and romance. In time, the ill-fated Clearances sounded the final knoll of the clans.
Probably inhabited since about 8,500 BC, Western Scotland boasts some of Europe’s best-preserved Stone Age settlements, with an array of standing stones, circles and other remains. The Celts arrived around 500 BC, unaffected by the Romans to the south w ho left the nor thern Caledonians or Picts vir tually unchallenged, content to b uild Hadrian ’s Wall. Christianity brought a different influence in the 4th century through the ministries of St Ninian, St Kieran, Irish St P atrick and St Columba and, in its w ake, the Gaelic languag e spread from Ireland in the 6th centur y with the Celtic Scots. The f irst Viking raids came in the 780’ s, f ollowed b y settlement throughout the region, eventually ousted by the last Celtic king, Alexander III, in 1263 at the Battle of Largs. The Nor thern Isles joined Scotland in 1472. Meanw hile, Kenneth MacAlpin,
Modern-day Scotland en joys de volution in an ef fective separation of powers betw een r egional g overnment based on the Scottish P arliament in Edinb urgh, soon to be housed at Holyrood, and the centralised framework of Westminster. Imbued with a soulful, wild beauty that is quite unique, remote Highland and Island Scotland is without doubt one of Europe’s last wilder nesses, a little-known Scottish paradise y et to be discovered by the many.
AT A GLANCE
Weather: Mean Temp Rainfall Oban: July 57ºF/14ºC 4.7”/120 mm November 45ºF/7ºC 5.8”/146 mm
The most southerly of the Inner Hebrides with Islay, three miles (4.8 km) w est of the Kintyre Peninsula, tiny, low-lying Gigha, Norse for God's Island or The Good Island, is a fertile, green oasis, six miles (9.5 km) long b y about a mile (1.5 km) wide. The mild warming effects of the North Atlantic Drift offshore have nurtured the famous gardens at Achamore House and the dairy herds producing excellent cheeses that inc lude the handmade fr uits. Gigha is thus a naturalists’ haven, boasting o ver 120 recorded species of breeding birds and a breathtaking array of wild flowers. Geologically, its summit Creag Bhan, Gaelic for White or Sacred Rock, represents one of Scotland’s best e xamples of glaciated r ock at 328 f eet (100 m). Raised beac hes and delightful coves line its seductive coastline.
Time: GMT+1 (Late March to late October) Official language: English, with some Gaelic in the Western Highlands and Hebrides Currency: Pound Sterling Banking hours: Mon – Fri: 09.30 – 16.30 with local variations including lunchtime Shopping hours: Mon – Sat: 09.00 – 17.30 late night Thursday, with local variations in remote communities
The man y standing stones, b urial cair ns and duns attest to Gigha’s habitation for at least 5,000 y ears. Subsequent histor y was shaped by its strategic location on the sea route through the Sound. King Haak on’s f leet anc hored in Gig alum Sound en route for the decisive Battle of Largs in the autumn of 1263. The island passed for centuries amon g the MacNeils, MacDonalds and Campbells in a f ierce power struggle won by the MacNeils. The most notorious of its owners was perhaps 15th century pirate Torquil MacNeil of Taynish, slain by Allam McLean in 1530, along with many of the islanders. When the MacNeils of Taynish sold Gigha to William James Yorke Scarlett of Thryberg, Yorkshire in 1865, the entire island came under one o wnership for the f irst time. Changing hands again in 1919, it was bought in 1944 by Sir James Horlick, who created the beautiful 50-acre gardens around Achamore House. 6
Sir James gifted his worldwide plant collections to the National Trust for Scotland in 1962, 10 years before his death. In March 2002, in a successful, e poch-making bid, Latha Ghiogha – A New Dawn, the islanders bought out Gigha f or £4m. With a fresh vision f or the futur e, the community continues to thri ve with about 120 residents.
ISLAY The most southerly of the Inner Hebrides with Gigha, Islay is located c loser to Antrim in Nor thern Ir eland than mainland Scotland. Its name – pronounced Eye-la – possibly derived from Yula-øy, Old Norse f or Yula’s Isle, a Norse princess r eputed to have been b uried beneath a standing stone to the east of Port Ellen. The Sound of Islay se parates this g reen low-lying isle from its nearest neighbour, smaller, wilder and hillier Jura to the east. Extending 25 miles (40 km) nor th to south and 20 miles (32 km) east to west, Islay has over 3,000 residents, with main centres at Bowmore, Port Ellen, Port Charlotte and Port Askaig, complete with hotels and shops.
The original 16th century mansion house was destroyed by fire at the end of the 19th century, rebuilt and renamed Achamore House, now privately owned and c losed to the pub lic. To the north of the gardens lie the tranquil r ed and yellow sandstone ruins of 13th century Kilchattan Church, the chapel of the 6th century Irish missionary St Catan, where the graveyard contains a number of interesting 14th century carved grave-stones, with St Catan’s Well opposite.
With the richest bird life in the Hebrides, the island is home to an RSPB R eserve at Loc h Gr uinart, noted f or its lar ge populations of barnacle and w hite-fronted g eese – and the otters that haunt its shor es. Islay is pr obably more famous for single malt w hisky, pr oduced at se ven w orking distilleries: Ardbeg, Bo wmore, Laphr oaig, Lag avulin, Bunna habhain, Bruichladdich and Caol Ila. The distinctive peaty flavour of this unique distillation comes fr om the island’ s e xtensive de posits and dark spring waters.
Achamore Gardens In the main, Ac hamore Gar dens w ere the brainc hild of Sir James Horlick, who bought the estate in 1944. Cutting small clearings into the P onticum, he used the e xisting w oodlands, then a wilder ness, to pr ovide shelter f or the thousands of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas and rare exotic shrubs and trees for which they are renowned. By 1970, the gardens were in their full glory. After Sir James Horlick’s death two years later, they passed into the care of the new owners and in recent years have been maintained under a management plan with The National Trust for Scotland.
Timeless Isla y br eathes histor y. Accor ding to le gend, St Ciaran, St Columba’s Irish tutor, lived at Kilchiaran in the Rinns of Islay, where he died in AD 548. Loch Finlag gan, the principal seat of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles and thus the former capital, is one of Scotland’s most important archaeological sites, mark ed by a 61/2-foot (2-m) standing stone. It w as from its tw o isles that the MacDonalds r uled a 7
kingdom co vering muc h of Western Scotland and par ts of Ireland for 350 years from the expulsion of the Vikings by King Somerled until J ames VI-I imposed centralised r ule in 1493, transferring the title of Lord of the Isles to the British monarchy.
LOGAN BOTANIC GARDEN Situated in the parish of Kirkmaiden, 14 miles (22.4 km) south of Stranraer, this beautiful w alled g arden co vers 29.65 acr es (12 ha) of the nar row peninsula of the Rhinns of Galloway, jutting out into the Irish Sea. Cosseted b y the w arm Nor th Atlantic Drift, Log an enjo ys a near -subtropical c limate, in which plants from more temperate climes flourish outdoors. Its rich collections complement those of the R oyal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh as well as other specialist gardens at Dawyck in Tweeddale and Benmore in Argyll.
The attractive village of Port Ellen, Islay’s largest settlement and main f erry ter minus, w as f ounded in 1821 b y the then Laird of Islay, Walter Frederick Campbell, and named after his first wife, Eleanor. Port Charlotte, built seven years later to ok its name fr om his mother . Two of the island’s distilleries ar e located within the parish – Lag avulin and Ardbeg. Passing the crumbling r uins of the ear lier MacDonald str onghold, 16th century Dun yvaig Castle, the r oad east leads thr ee miles (4.8 km) f arther on to r uined Kildalton Chur ch and its churchyard, noted f or tw o Celtic cr osses. The magnif icent early-9th centur y High Cr oss, sculpted intricatel y in a sing le block of local grey-green epidiorite, is a masterpiece, whilst the smaller 14th centur y cr oss appears to be unf inished. Of the original 12th-13th centur y church building only the walls and gable ends survive.
Gardens have been culti vated at Log an since the 13th centur y under the auspices of the McDouall family of Castle Balzieland which, now in ruins, still overlooks today’s outstanding displays. They w ere the inspiration of Agnes Buc han-Hepburn of Smeaton after her mar riage to J ames McDouall in 1869. Her two sons K enneth and Doug las shar ed her g reat passion f or gardening and Log an thus became an e xotic haven. They not only r eturned fr om their e xtensive overseas travels laden with rare plants but also augmented the wealthy collection with seeds procured by the g reat planters of the day, including Reginald Farrer and Geor ge F orrest. The tr ustees of the late R Olaf Hambro made a gift to the nation of the w alled g arden in 1969, when it officially became the Logan Botanic Garden. Logan no w f orms par t of the R oyal Botanic Gar den in Edinburgh, contrib uting to wards biolo gical r esearch, conservation and education to pr eserve the planet. It is lar gely 8
from this perspective that its remarkable collections are to be viewed, with an increasing emphasis on plants of a known wild origin. Ov er 40% of the rar e species g row naturall y in the southern hemisphere in regions as diverse as South Africa, New Zealand and especially Chile, and are almost unique to Log an. The Conifer Conservation Programme has planted tr ees from Tasmania, F lorida a nd S outh A merica, w hilst th e rhododendrons f or w hich the g arden is f amous f lower in profusion in the castle woodland. Cradled at the foot of rocky cliffs, Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway is our gateway to this g reat garden.
Although Edward III became the first king, in 1405 Henry IV gave the kingdom to the po werful Stanleys, Ear ls of Derby, their domain for some 330 years, controlled from 1736 by the Dukes of Atholl.
ISLE OF MAN Home to a population of some 71,500 r esidents and equidistant from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, this small hilly island, about 31 miles (49.6 km) long b y 13 miles (20.8 km) br oad, is Britain in an island, of fering an e verchanging kaleidoscope of scenery. A r ugged coastline of high cliffs and scenic ba ys gives way inland to an incr easingly wild landscape. Moors and w ooded glens rise to a r ounded central massif of grass-covered slate peaks and Snaefell or Snow Mountain, their highest point, at 2,036 f eet (602.6 m). Lax ey Glen at its f oot w as once a zinc and lead mining centr e. Breathtaking views fr om the summit e xtend on a g ood day to the English Lake District, the rolling hills of Galloway, the Mountains o f Mourne, t he Wicklow M ountains a nd Snowdonia â€“ another indication of its privileged position. Off the south coast, the stee p cliffs and heather-clad terrain of the Calf of Man f orm an inter nationally f amous bir d sanctuar y managed by the Manx National Trust.
The Isle of Man boasts the w orld's oldest democratic parliament, the Court of Tynwald, dating back to AD 979 and the Norse period, originall y sited at St J ohnâ€™s in the w est, now a g rass mound. A British Crown De pendency, with an independent self-g overning status, the Isle of Man is not a fully-fledged member of the EU, yet enjoys free access to its wide markets. Most trading is with the UK and the economy is based on tourism, farming and fishing, with a growing emphasis on the offshore f inance industr y as a tax ha ven. Tourists descend on the island during the f irst fortnight in June for the annual TT motorcycle races. The trinacria symbol, also f eatured in the Sicilian trisk ele, the Three Legs of Man, long the emblem of the Manx kings, was first adopted in the 13th century, surviving today in the national flag.
Inhabited fr om Neolithic times, thr oughout its long histor y this treasure isle has been variously known as Mann, Ellan Vannin or Mannin in Manx Gaelic, Mona or Monapia in Latin. Associations with Ireland were close during the ear ly Christian era and the ancient Manx Gaelic languag e, still spok en b y a small minority, has Old Irish roots, also linked with its Scottish counterpart. The Vikings invaded and settled in the 11th centur y, r uling the isle as a dependency of Norway under the Kings of Man until 1266 and cession to King Alexander III of Scotland after the ill-fated Battle of Largs on the Fir th of Clyde. 10
AT A GLANCE
Weather: Mean Temp Rainfall Douglas: July 63ºF/18ºC 2.4”/60 mm November 46ºF/8ºC 3.7”/95 mm
West-coast Peel on the tidal Ri ver Neb is the onl y Manx city by virtue of the ruined Cathedral of St German’ located within the grounds of 14th century Peel Castle. With a population of 3,785 residents in 2001, it can rightl y claim to be one of the world’s tiniest cathedral cities. Spectacular sunsets have earned it a reputation as The Sunset City, a name originally coined in the early 1930’s by the then Town Clerk. The fourth largest town after Douglas, Onchan and Ramsey, Peel – a corruption of pile, referring to the stoc kade or enclosure of medieval times – w as named Purt ny h-Inshey or Harbour of the Island in ancient Gaelic.
Time: GMT+1 (Late March to late October) Official language: English, with a small Manx Gaelic speaking minority Currency: Pound Sterling and Manx Pound Banking hours: Mon – Fri: 09.30 – 15.30 Sat: 10.00 – 12.00 at some branches
At the edge of the bay lies St Patrick’s Isle, the tiniest and most historic island in the Irish Sea, w here the g reat saint is said to have landed in the 5th centur y, bringing Christianity to the Manx people from his monastery and early churches. This rocky pinnacle is also the site of the ancient castle and cathedral, which the community g rew up to ser ve, eventually establishing itself during the 19th century as the main fishing and shipbuilding port on the Isle of Man. Thousands of tons of herring from the Irish Sea and beyond would be landed in the harbour, which also welcomed boats from Scotland and Ireland. From the be ginning of the centur y, hundr eds of people w ere employed at the curing f actory, w here the f ish w ere smoked over oak chippings to produce the worldfamous Manx kippers. Today, some 8% of the catch continues to be pr ocessed by the same traditional methods.
Shopping hours: Mon – Sat: 09.00 – 17.30 early closing Thursday during winter months
A r esort f or a hundr ed y ears no w, this charming, por t of tightly pac ked nar row streets and small houses, mostly in sandstone, 11
with its attractive promenade and beach, is pervaded by an oldworld air.
WALES Extending 160 miles (256 km) nor th to south and 60 miles (96 km) east to west, the Principality of Wales is geologically one of the w orld’s oldest countries, seated on a r ocky base formed o ver 3,000 million y ears ag o. Capped b y Britain ’s second highest peak, Mount Sno wden, towering to 3,560 f eet (1,085 m), breathtaking scenery unfurls in a varied spectrum of landscapes ranging fr om high plateaux cr ossed by river valleys to nar rower coastal belts and v alley bottoms. An indented coastline, fring ed with attracti ve ba ys, harbours and beac hes, stretches scenically for 750 miles (1,200 km). The population of 2.9 million lives mainly in the south, where traditional heavy mining and shipb uilding industries w ere centr ed ar ound the capital, Cardiff.
Peel Castle A place of refuge and storehouse during the troubled sieges of the Dark Ages, St Patrick’s Isle was a natural c hoice as the si te of the king’s court. Drawn by the wealth of the early Church, Vikings plundered the Irish Sea coasts fr om the 10th centur y, eventually founding a f ort here as their str onghold during the reign of 11th centur y King Magnus Bar elegs. The isle then became a pawn on the chessboard of rival Scottish and English masters, c hanging hands until 1333 w hen Ed ward III gifted Mann to William de Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, confirmation of its position as the seat both of the Lords of Mann and the Church. With 13th centur y Castle R ushen at Castleto wn, the bestpreserved medieval castle in all Britain, P eel was to r emain the joint s eat o f government u ntil t he m id-17th c entury. Thereafter, its status w as ec lipsed, although St Ger man’s Cathedral r etained ecc lesiastical contr ol. When the g arrison moved elsewhere towards the close of the 18th century, the site was left to deca y, its moment of glory g one f or e ver as the cathedral was stripped of its lead roof and stained glass.
Inhabited f or o ver 200,000 y ears, Wales is a tr easure-house replete with remains from all periods of prehistory and history. A str ong Celtic heritag e transcended turb ulent times, left b y tribes mig rating from Central Eur ope from around 1000 BC. The ascendancy of Rome forced them west towards Britain and Wales, where they arrived after 600 BC. Much that typifies the Welsh character – w armth, eloquence and imagination – w as inherited fr om these ear ly ancestors. In their 400-y ear long occupation, the R omans ne ver pacif ied the Welsh, ample testimony to their indomitab le spirit which survived the waves of Saxons, Picts, Vikings and Normans that followed. Rebellious princes such as Llewellyn ap Gruffydd and Owain Glyndwr left their imprint on history, demonstrating that same fiercely independent streak that ear ned Wales more castles per square mile than an y other West Eur opean countr y. After 12
Edward I finally overcame the Welsh in 1282, he pr oceeded to construct a c hain of great f ortresses fr om Rhuddlan to Beaumaris, inc luding Har lech, Caer narvon and Conwy . In 1301, Edward conferred the title of Prince of Wales on his son Prince Edward, later to become Ed ward II, an in vestiture now officially staged at Caernarvon Castle. Official unification with England was ratified by Acts of Parliament between 1536 and 1543, pre-dating union with Scotland by some 165 years.
AT A GLANCE Weather: Mean Temp Rainfall Douglas: July 61ºF/16ºC 2”/53 mm Time: GMT+1 (Late March to late October) Official languages: English and Welsh Currency: Pound Sterling Banking hours: Mon – Fri: 09.30 – 14.30 with some Saturday opening
Wales is the land of music, poetry and Eisteddfods, a medieval festival revived in the 19th centur y to re-establish the country’s national identity and culture. The literary tradition of the bards goes bac k man y centuries, w hilst music – and in par ticular, singing – became the f avourite leisur e acti vity of the har dworking coal-mining communities. The Welsh languag e or Cymraeg (a Germanic root word for foreigner), more closely related to Br eton than to Scottish or Irish Gaelic, has its traditional strongholds in the nor th and west, whilst English is the preserve of the more densely populated south. Despite the pressures of the modern age, it continues to be spoken by about half a million Welsh people, the Cymry, at home and another hundred thousand in England and overseas.
Shopping hours: Mon – Sat: 09.00 – 17.30 with some Sunday opening
Protected by its patron saint, St David, the fiery Welsh spirit is symbolised b y the r ed drag on adopted as the national f lag during the Tudor period, b y the daf fodil and the leek. Both sharing the Welsh name Ceninen, the leek, which has associations with St Da vid, w as in use as early as 1536. There are no historical or m ythical origins f or the mor e r ecently f avoured daffodil – the reason is purely aesthetic.
Llanfairpwyllgwyngyllogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – St Mary's Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave. Originall y called Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, meaning The Mary church by the pool near the white hazels, extra syllables were added in the 19th century to attract more tourists. In a speedier ag e of shorter bites, the name has ag ain been abbreviated to Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG.
ANGLESEY Known during the Middle Ages as Mam Cymru – Mother of Wales by vir tue of its f ertile ter rain, Ang lesey is the lar gest of the Welsh islands, co vering 290 squar e miles (751 sq km), idyllically backed by the peaks of Snowdonia. Much of its 125mile (200-km) shoreline is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where attractive sea cliffs, dunes, mud flats, salt marshes and pristine beaches create an ideal habitat for a wealth of bird, plant and wildlif e. Composed of a wide di versity of rocks from the Precambrian to Carboniferous Periods, Anglesey is also a geologists’ paradise.
BEAUMARIS Erstwhile c hief town and por t on Ang lesey, tuc ked into the south-east cor ner of this f ascinating island, the pictur esque village of Beaumaris – after the F rench Beau Marais, meaning Beautiful Marsh – was born by Royal Charter from King Edward I in 1296 as the base f or his future castle, the last and perha ps finest of his formidable Welsh fortresses.
Two bridges span the narrow Menai Strait separating this island haven fr om mainland Gwynedd in the nor th-west: Thomas Telford’s Menai Bridg e, b uilt in 1825, the w orld’s long est suspension bridge in its day, and Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge, opened in 1850, originall y designed to withstand heavier rail loads.
Although v ery muc h centr ed ar ound Beaumaris Castle the village is a dra w in itself , with a Victorian pier , a moder n yachting marina and a number of attractions including:
Anglesey breathes histor y, with e vidence of human settlement stretching back to the Mesolithic Ag e around 7000 BC and a trail of later remains from stone burial chambers and standing stones to hill forts. The stone Hendy head, unearthed on a farm near Llanfairpwyll and probably used for sacrificial purposes, is fine testimony to the Celtic occupation w hich left an indelib le mark on national life.
Beaumaris Gaol A model prison when it first opened in 1829, this vast museum conjures up vivid, probably lingering images of life as a prisoner in harsh Victorian times, with not a f ew ghosts of the past haunting its diml y lit cor ridors, dank, spar tan living quar ters and punishment cells. The atmospheric experience is interactive with the opportunity to handle the chains and fetters by which prisoners were bound only a century ago. In 1830, one William Griffith was hanged for attempted mur der of one of his two wives and in 1862 Ric hard Rowlands died b y hanging f or the murder of his father-in-law, still pleading his innocence.
Anglesey is also f amous f or the longest to wn name in Britain – the incredible, poetically descriptive
The w hite Cour thouse dating fr om 1614, one of Anglesey’s most f amous b uildings, of fers a g reater insight into the workings of an early court in the days when rudimentary justice was often meted out b y judg es suc h as the inf amous J udge Jeffries, a major f igure in the trials that f ollowed the ill-f ated Monmouth Rebellion. Located on the site of Llys Rhosyr, the court of the medieval Welsh princes, the cour troom is one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. Notorious criminals rang e from the Crig yll r obbers w ho alle gedly plunder ed shipwrecks off the Ang lesey coast in 1742 to William Mur phy, tried in 1910 for murdering his mistress on Christmas Day.
The last and lar gest of the forbidding chain of fortress castles constructed b y Ed ward I to contain the r ebellious Welsh, Beaumaris, be gun in 1295, is widel y acclaimed as one of the most outstanding military structures of its era, now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritag e Site. Funds ran dr y and his masterpiece was never completed. Beaumaris, f irst kno wn b y its Ang lo-Norman name of Beau Mareys, w as master minded b y his militar y ar chitect J ames of St Geor ge (c 1235-1308), summoned fr om the Continent where he had w orked on a number of great European castles, including the Sa voyard F ortress of St Geor ge d’Esperanc he from which he took his name. This brilliant master mason was responsible for at least 12 of Edward I’s iron ring of 17 Welsh castles, r ebuilding and r enovating w herever possib le – the greatest and most ambitious b uilding pr oject in medie val Europe. It is g reatly to the cr edit of his cr eative g enius that Beaumaris r emains unri valled as Britain ’s most tec hnically perfect castle, way ahead of its time. Having visited Anglesey in 1283, Ed ward I c hose Llan-f aes as the site of his seat of government. Although r esources w ere limited, the Welsh r evolt u nder M adog a p L lywelyn prompted him to pr oceed with Beaumaris in April 1295. Thousands of workmen, skilled and unskilled, were employed on the site.
Church of St Mary and St Nicholas Famous for its Llan-faes carvings, this historic church was built to ser ve as a g arrison c hurch f or Beaumaris Castle, be gun in 1295. The nave, north and south aisles and east to wer are said to date fr om the ear ly 14th centur y, w hilst the c hancel w as re-built about 1500. In the moder n entrance por ch stands the table tomb and stone coffin of Princess Joan, illegitimate daughter of King John of England and wif e of Llewellyn the Great who died in 1237. Placed her e after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th centur y, it was reputedly used for many years as a drinking tr ough for horses. The choir stalls in the chancel were also br ought from Llan-faes Friary, with 20 finely carved misericords (the slanting boar d on the underside of the c hoir pews), 12 of which ar e original and eight ar e replicas. I t i s l ikely t hat t he F ranciscans a t L lan-faes commissioned local car penters and possib ly itinerant ar tisans from E ngland t o p roduce th ese m agnificent c arvings.
importing petroleum and exporting slate. Its community of some 9,695 residents is largely Welsh-speaking. Ruins of the Roman f ort of Segontium (see belo w) still sur vive, another confirmation of its impor tance to the r egion’s histor y. The town’s museums, the Maritime Museum and the R egimental Museum of the Welsh Fusiliers, housed in the Queen’s Tower of Caernarvon Castle shed mor e light on its long and sometimes glorious past.
Never reaching its full stature, Beaumaris sits serenely at the end of Castle Street in an id yllic setting sur veying the mountains and the Menai Strait. A g ate pr otected the tidal doc k w here ships appr oached the castle to unload their supplies. Its concentric geometrical symmetry is legendary, surrounded by a water-filled moat, then its solid outer w alls, with evenly spaced towers, lined b y an inner ring of walls and to wers. These formidable fortifications acted as a deter rent to any attacker in the age that pr eceded the cannon. Impr egnable as this mighty fortress might ha ve appeared, it w as taken by Owain Glyndwr in 1403 with a c hain of other castles in his then victorious campaign against the English. Some 242 years later, in 1646, it fell again for the last time to P arliamentarian forces during the Civil War.
CAERNARVON CASTLE Another of Edward I’s Welsh castles, Caernarvon was the most impressive in its grand design. Inspired by the 5th century walls of Constantinople, a symbol of the Cr usader cause w hich Edward wholeheartedly supported, with angular rather than the rounded to wers of Beaumaris or Conwy , it ranks as one of Europe’s great medieval fortresses. It was again the work of his great master-builder, James of St George. The different bands of coloured stone are said to have conveyed his grandiose vision of a castle fit to hold dominion over his lands.
CAERNARVON Commanding a strategic coastal position eight miles (12.8 km) south-west of Bangor, betw een the Ri ver Seint and the sea, Caernarvon was the perfect site for a castle. Situated at the southern end of the Menai Strait separating North Wales from fertile Anglesey, the Garden of Wales, it was within easy r each of the nor th and w est coasts as a suppl y-line to Har lech and Aberystwyth. Demolishing the e xisting Welsh villag e of Caernarfon around the original Nor man fort, Edward I rebuilt Caernarvon in its entirety as a purely English town and market into the walls of his great castle as his future capital. Today, Caer narvon is an attracti ve tourist r esort with b ustling harbour w hich is also ser ves as a m odern w orking p ort, 16
Caernarvon was begun in May 1283 on the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle, b uilt b y Hugh of Avranches ar ound 1090 near the 1st century Roman fort of Segontium, just above the moder n-day to wn, and substantiall y completed b y 1292. After Madog ap Llywelyn laid siege during the r evolt of 1294 causing extensive damage, a second phase of construction was initiated to r einforce defences. By No vember 1295, the castle and town walls had been r epaired and a nor th wall, including the incomplete twin-to wered King’ s Gate, w as added as Caernarvon took its final majestic form.
Guarded b y tw o lines of defence, its f ortifications and to wn walls with eight to wers and two twin-towered gateways, ringed in turn by water-filled moats and the Rivers Cadnant and Seint, not to mention the Menai Strait, Caer narvon was by no means a w eak castle, although less militar y in conce ption than Beaumaris or Conwy . A constab le, w atchmen and a g arrison also pr otected the site. It w as primaril y a palace designed to accommodate the r oyal household and r etinue of the King’s eldest son. R esidential quar ters were built in its to wers with a self-contained chapel on each floor – the King’s Tower, Queen’s Tower, named after Ed ward I’s wif e, Eleanor of Castile, the Chamberlain and Black Towers and the most impr essive of all, the Eagle’s Tower – as well as two halls, the Great Hall and the hall in the King’s Tower. Edward II was born here on 25th April 1284. Le gend tells that, ha ving pr omised the Welsh nobles a prince “that was bourne in Wales and could speake never a word of English”, Ed ward named his newbor n son the Prince of Wales.
Romantically floodlit at night, the castle is a truly stirring sight. A number of exhibitions are housed within its towers. The King’s Tower hosts the regimental museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, w hich inc luded a number of poets and writers, to name but Robert Graves, Sie gfried Sassoon, Da vid Jones and Hedd Wyn. Exhibitions in other to wers co ver Ed ward I’ s campaigns and the 1969 investiture of the Prince of Wales.
MENAI STRAIT Afon Menai is a 14-mile (23-km) shallo w tidal c hannel separating Anglesey from mainland Gwynedd, nar rowing to as little as 2181/2 yards (200 m) in parts. Differential tides give rise to very strong currents flowing in both directions through the strait at different times. The hazardous crossing was made by a variety of ferry boats over the centuries, which often ran aground with loss of life. The historic Act of Union, under which Ireland joined the United Kingdom in 1800, incr eased the flow of traffic in the ensuing years along the arduous route to Hol yhead and acr oss the Irish Sea. In the f ace of fierce opposition fr om f erry o wners and por t tradesmen, Thomas Telford drew up ambitious plans to impr ove the link and thus the Menai Bridg e, the f irst suspension bridg e of its kind, w as born.
As fate would have it, however grandiose its origins as a castl e fit for a king, Caernarvon Castle never had the oppor tunity to fulfil its lofty destin y. Prince Ed ward, later Ed ward II ne ver returned in adulthood and b y the mid-14th centur y, less than 50 years after its completion, it had devolved to the role of an armament depot for the other northern castles, albeit with its own g arrison. Troops h eld o ut v aliantly a gainst Ow ain Glyndwr’s sie ges of 1403 and 1404. F orced to sur render during the 17th centur y Civil War to Parliamentary forces, the site was left to decay. Renovated again in the late 19th centur y, in 1911 it became the stag e of the Prince of Wales investiture ceremony at the behest of the then Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
Two f amous bridg es no w cr oss these tr oubled waters – the Menai and Britannia Bridg es.
Work on the bridg e began in 1819. Speciall y designed for tall sailing ships to c lear the main span b y 100 f eet (30.5 m), 16 huge c hains w ere de vised to suppor t a 579-f oot (176.5-m) stretch of road between two towers. Limestone f or the ar ches and piers, completed in 1824, w as quarried locally at Penmon to the nor th and transpor ted b y boat, w hilst the ir onwork, specially immersed in w arm linseed oil to pr event rusting, was manufactured at Hazeldean â€™s F oundry near Shr ewsbury. The positioning of the central chain section, 23.5 tons in weight, by a crew of 150 workers was something of a local occasion, urged on by a fife and drum band. The remaining 15 were erected over the next 10 weeks. The official opening on 30th January 1826 was celebrated with great gusto as the journey between London and Holyhead was momentously reduced from 36 to 27 hours.
Modern as the original concept was, the Menai Bridge was soon unable to meet the c hallenges of the ad vancing rail way era. Although plans to lay a track to Holyhead made provisions for carriages to cr oss the e xisting suspension bridg e, the idea w as abandoned in f avour of a completel y new str ucture. R obert Stephenson was entr usted with the task of building a bridg e sound enough to carry a heavy train. His design was based upon the construction of two long, rectangular iron tubes, weighing some 1,500 tons, suppor ted by stone towers. The bridge took its name from the Britannia rock upon which it eventually stood. As for the Menai Bridge, limestone was brought from Penmon Quarry, with smaller quantities of sandstone fr om other sources for internal use. The tubes were constructed in situ on the banks of the Strait, f loated and raised into position b y hydraulic pumps. At either end, four extraordinary lions, 13 feet (4 m) in height resting on plinths of equal size, were carved in limestone b y J ohn Thomas, w ho h ad a lso w orked o n Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. The g rand opening took place on 5th Mar ch 1850.
The structure has been rebuilt and renovated regularly over the years, its w eight presenting significant problems. Repairs were made in 1839 to the r oad surface, damaged in high winds, a steel deck replaced the original wood in 1893 and between 1938 and 1940, steel c hains were substituted f or the old ir on fixtures. As recently as 1999, the road was closed for resurfacing and structural reinforcement.
The structure has since been modified considerably owing to a disastrous f ire in 1970, accidentall y caused b y a g roup of teenagers in sear ch of bats. A new steel bo x girder bridge was devised to tak e road and rail traf fic on tw o levels, leaving the lions w hich once pr oudly guar ded its entrances to vir tual oblivion below. Future proposals are under constant review and a tunnel beneath the Strait has been mooted â€“ only time and the spiralling volume of traffic will tell.
The spectacular g rounds inc lude the bright azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons of the spring g arden, the f ormal summer terraces with water features and an Australasian arboretum with an understor ey of wildflowers and shr ubs. A beautiful woodland trail leads to a marine w alk along the banks of the Menai Strait, bac ked b y the distant peaks of Snowdonia, dramatic and unspoilt.
PLAS NEWYDD Two miles (3.2 km) fr om Llanf airpwll, on the banks of the Menai Strait with breathtaking views to Snowdonia, sits one of Wales’ most fascinating stately homes, the ancestral seat of the Marquesses of Anglesey, Plas Newy dd. Built b y 18th centur y architect James Wyatt, who inspired the great Gothic revival, in an interesting fusion of Classical and mock Gothic, this elegant mansion was comfortably re-styled in the 1930’s.
It was during this period that the 6th Mar quess commissioned artist R ex Whistler (1905-1944) to paint his last w ork, the remarkable 58-f oot (17.7-m) long Italianate mural in the dining room, echoing the romance of Plas Newydd’s setting. A collection of his other paintings is also on displa y. In keeping with the period of the original house, the comfortable furniture is 18th centur y and includes unusual pieces suc h as the car ved and gilded Geor ge II pier -table, dated about 1730, and a George III r ent tab le in v eneered mahog any. The Samson porcelain in the Octagon Room is a 19th century reproduction in 1770’s style. From the Anglesey antiquities in the Library to the ear ly-18th centur y state beds, Plas Newy dd r eveals its treasures.
Located in the contrasting sur roundings of a private peninsula on the beautiful Snowdonia coast, this unusual Italianate village was the brainchild of Sir Bertram Clough William-Ellis, created between 1925 and 1976. It r epresented the fulf ilment of his life-long passion f or architecture, landscape design, pr otection of rural Wales and conser vation in g eneral. The realisation of his pr ofound belief that the de velopment of a naturall y beautiful site need not lead to its def ilement and the e veroptimistic premise that architecture can be fun, P ortmeirion is a slip not only in time but in geography. Born the second son of a c lergyman, Clough William-Ellis trained as an ar chitect, practising pri vately in London and Merioneth. In 1908, he inherited Plas Br ondanw, Merioneth, where his b udding ideas f or the mor e grandiose sc heme of Portmeirion w ere doubtless to g erminate. Paying under £5,000 in 1925 f or the vir tual wilder ness of Aber Iâ, Glacial Estuary, w hich h e p romptly changed to Portmeirion – Port for its coastal site and Meirion, the Welsh for Merioneth. Working fr om the e xtension of an e xisting
The Militar y Museum commemorates the lif e of Lord Paget, eldest son of the 1st Earl of Uxbridge, who was created the 1st Marquess of Anglesey for his heroism in the Battle ofWaterloo, when, as a field marshal, he led the great cavalry charge from the British centre that contributed to d’Erlon’s demise. His leg was severely wounded by one of the last cannon shots to be f ired and had to be amputated, ear ning him the nic kname One Leg. The wooden leg made for him is on show, as is a pair of mudbespattered Hussar trousers. 19
hotel, he constr ucted pastel-coloured Mediterranean buildings by traditional methods incorporating recycled materials, all picturesquely laid out on a w ooded site bor dering the tidal estuary.
PUFFIN ISLAND Located of f the easter n tip of Anglesey, the carboniferous rock cliffs of Puffin Island, Ynys Seiriol, once home to St Seiriolâ€™ s Penmon Prior y b ut now unoccupied, dr op stee ply fr om 180 1/2 feet (55 m) into the steel y w aters of the Sound. Cloak ed in dense elder woods which have flourished during the last 40 y ears since the rampant rab bit population succumbed to m yxomatosis, th e is le is a bir d sanctuary of European importance, especially noted for its breeding colony of cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, now totalling some 776 pairs, as w ell as razorbills, guillemots and puffins. Seals and por poises can also be spotted s wimming in the Sound. Puffin Island, Hol y Island and Ang lesea and a do zen or so other small rocks in the Menai Strait formed a separate county until 1974 when they were absorbed into Gwynedd.
them, the Gaelic and Brythonic languages which burgeoned into Scottish Gaelic and Welsh. The epoch-making Roman invasion of AD 43 led to a 400-y ear occupation that left more than its mark upon the r egionâ€™s cultur e, ending abr uptly as their v ast Empire collapsed ar ound 410. Thereafter, wave upon w ave of Angles, J utes, Sax ons, Vikings and Danes r eshaped the r ural landscape as Eng land emerged to f orm a unif ied entity in the 10th centur y. The Nor man Conquest, headed b y William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, heralded the beginning of the feudal era. England was united with Wales in the 13th, Scotland in the ear ly 18th and Ireland in 1800.
ENGLAND Bound by Scotland to the north and Wales to the west, England occupies some 50, 086 squar e miles (129,720 sq km) or 54% of the United Kingdom, home to r oughly 80% of the total population or 49,139,000 residents. Geographically, this mainly low-lying country consists of four distinct regions. The limestone backbone of the Pennine Hills extends south from the Scottish border to Derbyshire, with the Lake District and Cumbrian Mountains to the w est. To the south, the hea vily industrialised and populated Midlands with the so-called Black Country stretches from north of Birmingham, Britainâ€™s second-lar gest city, south to Wolverhampton. In the south-west, the peninsular plateau of the West Country, with granite outcr ops and a r ugged coastline, is made up of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and par ts of Somerset. The r est of the countr y is kno wn as the Eng lish Lo wlands, par tly agricultural, par tly industrialised with the capital, London, i n the south-east, str etching southwards across the c halky downs to the English Channel, 20 miles (32 km) at its narrowest point from the French coast. England thus unfurls in an ever-changing kaleidoscope of landscapes, v ariegating fr om lush lo wland, picture-postcard villages and ports to rugged mountain scenery, around its highest peak, Scafell Pike in Cumbria at 3,2081/2 feet (978 m).
Amid early inter nal strife and intrigue, fr om the 14th centur y Hundred Years War against the F rench to the Lancastrian and Yorkist War of the Roses in the 15th centur y, the tribulations of the Tudor period to the 17th centur y str uggle betw een monarchy and par liament de generating into ci vil w ar, a mor e democratic system e volved as Britain g radually f orged its identity as a nation. During the e xpansionist era, her inf luence was consolidated o verseas owing to the str ength of her navy, which literally ruled the waves, reaching a peak as a world power when Queen Victoria came to the thr one in 1837. In the meantime, the Industrial R evolution sprang up in the w orldâ€™s first industrial cities in the Midlands. Steam-driven trains, coal mines, mills and w ater power transformed manufacturing and transportation, inf licting a c hanging lif e-style on the mass of the population and the seeds of the modern era were sown.
Inhabited in ear liest times b y hunters, the f irst Stone Age migrants ar rived around 4000 BC, settling in Salisb ury Plain where they er ected the as y et unf athomed stone cir cles of Stonehenge and A vebury. Br onze Ag e Celts fr om Central Europe came in their dr oves fr om about 800 BC and, with
Facing the mass destr uction of two World Wars in the 20th centur y, the United Kingdom joined the EU in 1973 in another
move to adapt to the changing world situation in a century that witnessed the loss of a hug e Empir e and the dec line of the heavy industries that made it tr uly great.
MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL
AT A GLANCE
The idea of joining the b udding industrial nor th-west to the sea was by no means new b ut most impr ovements such as the Bridgewater Barge Canal fell short of Manchester, which relied heavily upon Liverpool and the Mersey to fill its transport needs. With the added incenti ve of alleviating the r ecession caused by the American Union cotton b lockades, Manchester industrialists, spearheaded b y Daniel Adamson, f ormed a project committee at the beginning of 1882 to build the future Manchester Ship Canal.
Weather: Mean Temp Rainfall Manchester: July 61ºF/16ºC 2.6”/66mm London: November 45ºF/7ºC
Time: GMT+1 (Late March to late October) Official language: English Currency: Pound Sterling Banking hours: Mon – Fri: 09.00 – 16.30 Sat: 10.00 – 12.00 at some branches
Construction began in 1887 under Thomas Walker, who had already w orked on the Se vern Tunnel – sadl y, lik e Adamson before him, he was not to see the project through. He estimated that the v enture would take four and a half years at a cost of £51/2 million – in r eality, the total e xpenditure was trebled to over £15 million and the time-scale lengthened to se ven years. Countless other problems were encountered along the way – the boggy ter rain, bad w eather leading to f looding, injuries and deaths. Building tec hniques w ere the most ad vanced of their time, using new machinery that included steam excavators, earth dredgers, railway wagons, steam cranes as well as large gangs of navvies, 16,000 men and boys in total.
Shopping hours: Mon – Sat: 09.00 – 18.00 some shops opening on Sunday mornings
The channel was dug deep to avoid dredging, on the same principle as the Suez Canal. Six locks were installed to raise the water level by 601/2 feet (18.4 m) over a distance of 351/2 miles (57 km) – P ort Sunlight-Eastham, Latc hford, Ir lam, Bar ton 22
and Mode Wheel at Salford. Railway lines were built across the canal and bridges were raised or reconstructed to allow for larger vessels, all in a major feat of engineering. At Salford, the Barton Swing Bridg e enab led the Bridg ewater Canal to pass overhead. Doc k f acilities w ere constr ucted at v arious stag es, some of which are still in operation. To mark the commer cial opening on New Year’s Day 1894, Samuel Platt’ s steam y acht The Norseman headed a procession of 71 vessels from Latchford to Salford where the CWS steamer, The Pioneer, was historically the f irst to unload a car go. Later that y ear, the canal w as officially opened by Queen Victoria on 21st May 1894 to great jubilation and the attention of the world’ s press which heralded it as “One of the greatest pieces of engineering ever known”.
The exhilarating passage through this historic canal in both directions is not onl y a jour ney into histor y along banks lined with industrial ar chaeology b ut thr ough lush f lower-scattered countryside that is the haunt of a whole variety of birds, the first for a cruise ship.
Opened on 28th April 2000, the Lowry is dedicated to one of Salford’s most famous sons, the artist Laurence Stephen Lowry, housing the wide collection of his works begun by the Salford Museum and Ar t Galler y in 1936. The a ward-winning ar ts centre is also home to tw o theatr es f or the perf orming ar ts, seating audiences of 1,730 and 466 people r espectively and staging a full spectrum of performances. A restaurant, cafés and bars are also to be found on the souther n side of the building, with inspiring views over the quays.
A string of improvements have been made over the years – the opening of a new dock by King Edward VII in 1905; the raising of the water level in 1909; the cr eation of the Queen Elizabeth II Dock in 1954; and the development of Trafford Park. Three new bridg es have been added: Bar ton High Le vel, Thelwall Viaduct and the Widnes-Runcorn Link Bridge. Cargohandling facilities are still in place at Queen Elizabeth II Docks, Stanlow, Ellesmere Port and Runcorn and the lower reaches still bustle, handling 3,000 ships a y ear with a total car go of some eight million tonnes. The most visib le change of all is pr obably the transf ormation of the old g rim doc klands into the moder n ar chitectural miracle that is Salf ord Qua ys, ar ound its jew el, the Lo wry Centre, the iridescent metallic and g lass frame reflecting in the calm waters of the basin, surrounded by visions of the future.
of Ireland by the Pope, a power that was to grow under the 16th century Tudors.
Separated from the landmass of Great Britain by the Irish Sea and St George’s and Nor th channels, this emerald isle co vers a total of 32,595 square miles (84,421 sq km), r oughly 16 3/4% of which is occupied by Northern Ireland and the remainder by the Republic of Eire. Extending for 304 miles (486 km) fr om north to south and 172 miles (275 km) fr om east to w est, Ireland boasts a sculpted coastline of 1,938 miles (3,100 km), often rugged and always hauntingly beautiful. Urban landscapes quickly give way to wild mountain and moor expanses and coastal hills to f lat central lo wlands. Insuf ficient to suppor t a population of eight million, agricultural land was at a premium in the 19th centur y bef ore the g reat potato f amine w hen poverty-stricken crofters struggled to eke out a living. More than a million people died and another tw o million emig rated to the New World. The population stands at about 5 1/2 million today, the resounding proof of the massive exodus over the last 150 years.
Irish history has been marred by centuries of religious conflict, often r esulting fr om the polic y of plantation of Protestant settlers after the confiscation of Catholic lands, not least in the Civil War w hen Oli ver Cr omwell landed to quash Old Irish Catholics who supported Charles I. Later that century William of Orange’s victor y at the Battle of the Bo yne on 12th J uly 1690 was decisive for the Northern Protestants, leading to the Treaty of Limerick the f ollowing y ear. The 150 y ears of Catholic persecution eventually led to the abolition of the Irish parliament in the 1800 Act of Union w hen, under pr essure from the Protestant gentry anxious for their own safety, Ireland became par t of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Irish F ree State w as f ormed in 1922, after its division from the area that is now known as Northern Ireland. Fifth-century St Patrick remains the patron saint of all Ireland, born the son of a w ealthy of ficial in the Scottish bor der country – one of the greatest early Christian missionaries, first brought to Ireland as a captive at the age of 16.
Although Ireland has undergone fewer invasions than mainland Europe, their ef fects ha ve been pr ofound and long-lasting . From its earliest inhabitants, Bronze Age farmers, to Celts from central and easter n Europe, who ar rived about 300 BC, with their languag e and equall y ric h cultur e, to the enlightened Christian civilisation of the Dark Ages invaded by 8th and 9th century Viking raiders, all left their special mark on this beautiful isle. English influence began when they reached Ireland with the Normans in 1169, tak ing Wexford and Dub lin, and Henry II was recognised as Lord
The shamr ock is the national f lower, r eputedly used b y St Patrick as a symbol to illustrate the Holy Trinity. True to the culture of all the Celtic lands, Ir eland is the m ythical realm of fairies and giants, witches and banshees, pookas and demons, ghosts and g ouls – a sour ce of fascination f or Irish po et William Butler Yeats. With the Celtic revival, Ireland has seen a cultural r enaissance in the last 15 y ears, spearheaded b y all spheres of music, fashion and the ar ts. Ireland is one of the best-kept secrets in nor thern Europe – a precious emerald in every sense. 24
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In the meantime, Eir e had joined the United Nations in 1955 and the EU in 1973 at the same time as the United Kingdom. The Celtic r evival of recent y ears has contrib uted to the economic boom that began with a spurt around 1994, enabling the Irish g overnment to in vest in the futur e and transf orming Dublin into a vibrant, dynamic city.
EIRE The Republic of Ireland or Éire, as it is kno wn to the Irish, derived from the Gaelic Iar meaning Western Land, consists of the provinces of Leinster, Munster and Connaught, together with part of Ulster, administratively sub-divided into 26 counties. Ireland’s h ighest m ountain a t 3 ,414 f eet ( 1,040 m ), Carrantuohill, lies in County Kerry, world-renowned for its beauty and the longest river, the mighty Shannon, meanders for 230 miles (370 km) from its source in the Cuilcagh Mountains through Lough Derg to its estuary and the sea.
AT A GLANCE Weather: Mean Temp Rainfall Dublin: July 59ºF/15ºC 2”/51 mm Time: GMT+1 (Late March to late October)
Splintering from the region now known as Northern Ireland to form the Irish F ree State in 1922, the r epublic w as f inally declared in 1948, lea ving the British Commonw ealth the following year. Its destiny remained inseparable from the North and political tensions between Nor th and South rolled on unabated, par ticularly fr om the 1960’ s with g rowing unr est around Derry and Belfast and the eventual resurgence of the militant IRA, the Irish R epublican Ar my. Under the Ang loIrish Agreement of 1985 the Dublin government gained its first official consultative role in the affairs of Northern Ireland. The ceasefire of 1994 was short-lived, curtailed by a series of murders and the resumption of terrorism. The changing mood after the election of the Socialist Government in 1998 brought fresh discussions and a peace plan. Nor thern Ir eland ther eby regained its autonom y and a Nor th-South Council was s et u p t o i mplement a ll-Ireland policies b y m utual a greement. Wavering still, the deliberations continue in a n a tmosphere tinged b y t he d eep-rooted suspicions of the past.
Official languages: English and Irish Gaelic Currency: Euro Banking hours: Mon – Fri: 10.00 – 16.00 17.00 on Friday Shopping hours: Mon – Sat: 09.00 – 17.30 late night on Thursday or Friday to 20.00-21.00
some 13,000 items in e very medium – oils, w atercolours, miniatures, prints (eng ravings, etc hings, me zzotints and lithographs), drawings and sculptures.
DUBLIN Bounded by Dublin Bay and the 2,000-foot (610-m) Wicklow Mountains, the capital of Eire, Dublin – Gaelic for Dubh Linn – the Black Pool, bustling home to just over one million people or a quarter of the country's population, lies at the mouth of the River Lif fey. Although this d ynamic city of ficially dates fr om AD 988, Norman Vikings are known to have settled here after its capture by the Danes in the 9th centur y. During the three centuries that followed, Dublin was retaken by the unruly Irish in 1052, 1075, 1124 and 1171 when Anglo-Norman King Henry II of England finally ousted the Danes.
The National Museum Opened in 1890, this stroll through history from the prehistory of 7000 BC to the 20th century features some of Europe’s finest Celtic and medieval art, including crosiers, crosses, the Ardagh Chalice dating fr om the 8th centur y, the e xquisitely crafted silver-gilt Tara Brooch and the silver Derrynaflan Hoard as well as an outstanding prehistoric gold collection and a taste of life in Viking Ireland.
By the mid-17th Dub lin was a small, rather ramshac kle walled town of about 9,000 r esidents. After the ar rival of Oliver Cromwell a nd h is tr oops in 1649 w ho transf ormed its landscape, it g rew rapidly as Pr otestant refugees from all o ver the Continent flooded in. Within another century, Dublin had prosperously blossomed into the second city of the British Empire, w here the Pr otestant Ascendan cy, Ang lo-Irish aristocrats w ho had been denied their basic rights, sought refuge. Muc h of the ar chitecture is still 18th centur y, with many imposing Georgian squares and terraces.
The Cathedral of St Patrick
Dublin’s most important public monuments include:
Often dub bed The People’s Cathedral, the national Pr otestant cathedral of the Church of Ireland, built in 1192 on the site of St P atrick’s f irst baptism in Ir eland ar ound AD 450, performed at a w ell in the g rounds. R estored in the 19th century by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, the b uilding is mainl y 13th and 14th centur y, including the strate gically rather than aesthetically designed Minot Tower, and contains a number of 16th to 18th centur y tombs. A uthor Jonathan Swift ser ved as dean here from 1713 to 1745.
Founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592, the University of Dublin is the oldest university in Ireland, w ith a c urrent p opulation of around 10,000 students, set in a 40-acr e parkland in the heart of the city. Among the treasures housed in the Librar y of over three
The National Gallery of Ireland Opened in 1864 b y Act of Parliament, the g allery houses the national collection of Irish ar t fr om the 17th to the 20th centuries, together with an imposing r epresentation of Dutch, Italian, Flemish and Spanish masters – a v aried exhibition of
of Justice of Ireland, the site w as occupied by anti-treaty men in 1922 and shelled by Irish Government troops, destroying the priceless ar chives of the adjoining R ecord Of fice relating to generations of Irish ancestors.
million v olumes, one of Europe’s lar gest, ar e the beautifull y illuminated 9th century Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh, reputedly in part the work of St Patrick.
The Bank of Ireland
Completed in 1729 to house the Irish P arliament, this beautiful b uilding f ell into disuse w hen the British and Irish parliaments became united at Westminster. It no w boasts the magnificent chamber of the Irish House of Lords, fitted with 18th century tapestries and a dazzling 1,233-piece Irish crystal chandelier dating from 1765. An e xhibition staged at the Ar ts Centre in the old bank ar moury, Foster Place, de picts the role of the Bank of Ireland over the last 200 years.
This 13th centur y castle, no w mainl y 18th centur y, w as originally designed as a royal residence and served under British rule as the seat of the Lord Lieutenants of Ireland until 1922 and t he b irth o f the I rish F ree S tate. The Vice-regal Apartments, now the State Apartments, where the President of Ireland is inaugurated, ar e noted f or their splendour . The building once witnessed the proceedings of parliament and the law courts, and even served as a military garrison. In an epochmaking theft, the Irish Cr own Jewels were stolen from the site in 1907.
The Custom House Designed b y J ames Gandon and completed in 1791, the Custom House is one of Dublin’s f inest Geor gian b uildings, with a beautiful symmetricall y proportioned façade of elegant pavilions, arcades and columns. The central dome is capped b y the 16-f oot (4.9-m) statue of Commerce. Set ali ght by Republicans in May 1921 in a b laze that burned for five days, destroying man y Irish r ecords, the site has been w onderfully restored and re-cleaned.
POWERSCOURT HOUSE AND GARDENS
The Four Courts This famous Dublin landmark, visib le along the banks of the River Liffey, derives its name fr om the f our traditional divisions of the Irish judicial system: the Ch ancery, King’ s Bench, Exchequer and Common Pleas. Seat of the High Cour t
In the breathtaking location of Enniskerry in County Wicklow, Ireland’s Gar den, 12 miles (19.2 km) south of Dublin, Powerscourt is a magnif icent statel y home and g arden, commissioned in the 1730’ s b y Ric hard Wingfield, the 3r d Viscount P owerscourt, on the site of an ear ly 14th centur y castle from the g reat Irish ar chitect Richard Cassels or Castle . 28
The stark palladian f açade, f lanked b y tw o r ound domed towers, approached through a majestic avenue of ancient beech trees, is a departure from his usual more sombre style, giving the whole a castle air . P artially destr oyed b y f ire in 1974, the ground floor rooms and ballr oom have since been r estored to their f ormer g lory among the f inest 18th centur y décors in Ireland. The house looks do wn over decorative wrought-iron work to terraced g ardens and an or namental lak e to the Wicklow Mountains bey ond. Laid out in the 1840’ s after a period of neglect with tr emendous vision and completed fr om 1858 to 1875 by the 7th Viscount with items br ought back from his travels, these aristocratic 45-acr e ( 18.2-ha) g rounds wonderfully blend the formal and informal. Japanese, Italian and English gardens, herbaceous borders and ornamental lakes, punctuated b y ele gant statuar y, contrast with secr et hollo ws, walled g ardens, an unusual pet cemeter y, tr ees trails and rambling walks, planted with o ver 200 v aried species of trees and shrubs. Four miles to the west, Ireland’s highest waterfall, Powerscourt Waterfall, cascades dramatically down 4261/2 feet (130 m) into Dargle Valley, its w aters often c louded b y the peat bogs o ver which it f lows fr om its mountain sour ce. Disco vered in the 1760’s, this has long been a favourite picnic spot, now complete with a nature trail.
beauty, par ticularly along the Antrim coast and in the Mountains of Mourne, their 12 rocky summits summits rising to 2,796 feet (852 m) on Slieve Donard, the highest peak.
Although the historic tr oubles, bor n of earlier conf licts, have never totally been resolved, there is an evident willingness to achieve peace. Lik e Eir e, Nor thern Ir eland has witnessed a cultural renaissance in all fields with the Celtic revival – another magnetic draw to visitors.
The moder n pr ovince of Northern Ir eland – Londonder ry, Antrim, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh and Down – was created in 1921 after the par tition of Ireland fr om Ulster , one of Ireland’s f our traditional kingdoms, with the addition of Donegal, Monaghan and Ca van. It is mor e than lik ely that Ulster was the first region to convert from old Celtic beliefs to Christianity upon the arrival of St Patrick at Saul in County Down in AD 432, who founded a church at Armagh. This early Christian period w as dominated b y the s way of the Uí Néill clan, later the O’Neills and the fiercest opponents of the late16th century English conquest. The ensuing Flight of the Earls in 1607, w hen Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone and other Irish lor ds fled to Eur ope in def eat, left empty estates that w ere filled by English and Scottish Protestants. The resulting marginalisation of the Irish Catholics in the nor thern provinces was to lead to 400 years of conflict.
AT A GLANCE Weather: Mean Temp Rainfall Bangor: July 59ºF/15ºC 2?”/64 mm November 43ºF/6ºC 3”/79 mm Time: GMT+1 (Late March to late October) Official languages: English and Irish Gaelic Currency: Pound Sterling Banking hours: Mon – Fri: 09.30 – 14.30 Shopping hours: Mon – Sat: 09.00 – 17.30 late night on Thursday or Friday to 20.00-21.00
The 18th centur y w as a period of relative stability f or the Anglo-Irish nobility as they built stately homes such as Mount Stewart House, family seat of the Marquesses of Londonderry, whilst the 19th centur y sa w pr osperous g rowth in the shipbuilding, linen and rope industries. Today, with the exception of Belfast, the landscape of Northern Ireland is pr edominantly ag ricultural, known for its remarkable rugged 30
First-time visitors may be surprised at the brightly painted red, white and b lue k erbstones and lampposts, to r epresent the Union J ack, a common f eature of intensely lo yalist ar eas of Northern Ireland.
ANNALONG Lying peacefully against the stir ring backdrop of the Mour ne Mountains, with Slie ves Binnion and Donar d, the small por t and resort of Annalong, named after the Irish Gaelic Áth na Long meaning the Ford of the Ships, probably goes back to Viking days when their long boats sought shelter in the saf ety of Annalong river mouth. The harbour w as later sited at this point, the largest on the Mour ne coast until the g ravel bar w as breached at Kilkeel in the 1870’s. Until World War Two the busy fishing fleet brought in local prawn and lobster as well as whitefish and herring from the Irish Sea. As the port was unable to cope with changing patter ns and lar ger v essels, it mo ved to Kilk eel, although in-shore fishing continued, muc h of the catch being processed for export.
Annalong is our g ateway to the histor y of Mount Stew art House on the banks of Strangford Lough.
ROYAL GREENHOUSE Guarding the entrance to Car lingford Lough in a stir ring setting with panoramic views to the mountains bey ond, this impressive fortress was built by Hugh de Lacy in the 1230’s to defend the southern approaches to Ulster.
Before 1800 Annalong w as famous for its g ranite kerbstones, locally known as kribben and quar ried for export by converted fishing boats to the w est-coast por ts of mainland Britain, to pave the str eets of fast-expanding cities suc h as Manc hester. Purpose-built schooners were put into ser vice to cater f or the developing trade, with a fleet of over 30 vessels in operation by 1900. In response to market demand, large blocks of granite in a whole range of colours are now impor ted from all o ver the world for cutting and polishing in the villag e.
Falling to the Cr own after 1243, r outed by the Irish in 1260 and the pr eferred r esidence of Ireland’s most po werful man, Richard de Bur gh, the R ed Ear l of Ulster, this r oyal castle, Royal Greencastle was besieged by Edward the Br uce in 1316. Captured and largely destroyed by the Irish in 1343 and ag ain in 1375, the castle’s power was reduced with the strength of the royal garrison at the tur n of the century, combined into one unit with Car lingford. Granted to the Earls of Kildare in 1505 and to the Bagnalls from 1534 to 1635, the site w as decimated by Parliamentary forces in 1652.
Now a National Trust pr operty, the ear ly 19th centur y cor n mill near the harbour , one of the last working mills in Ulster , has r ecently been r estored, still po wered b y a w ater w heel – visitors can e ven g rind their o wn cor n. Near the Marina, the ship’s da vit is said to ha ve come fr om the ill-f ated passeng er liner the SS Lusitania which sank off County Cork in 1915.
Today, Greencastle’s main feature is the large 31
rectangular block which originally housed the great hall, with a keep-like aspect r esulting from its r enovation in the late-15th and mid-16th centuries. Every August for centuries, the green below was the stage of the great Ram Fair.
deer, the wildlife haven of Jura is home to over a hundred bird species, wild goats, rabbits, stoats, otters and seals.
BRITISH EXPLORER SOUTHABOUTS
Jura’s famous rounded peaks, the southerly Paps, rise to 2,575 feet (785 m) on Beinn An Oir , Mountain of Gold, f orming Scotland’s largest deposit of ancient quartzite, created hundreds of millions of years ago and weathered by the elements. Beinn Shiantaidh at 2,476 feet (755 m), The Holy Mountain, and Beinn a’ Chaolais at 2,408 f eet (734 m), The Mountain of the Kyle, complete the thr ee. Ir on or e is plentiful and the silica sand deposits on the w est coast w ere once used f or g lass-making, whilst 50 vast caves served as mor tuaries before the dead w ere shipped to Iona or Oronsay.
Scattered remains, including Neolithic and Br onze Age burial cairns, point to settlement since pr ehistoric times. During the Dalriadan period, Jura was the scene of a great battle between the native Picts and the Scots fr om Ireland. Sharing the same destiny as the other Hebridean Isles from the Middle Ages, Jura fell under the sway of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, drawing impor tance from its pr oximity to Isla y. When it lost favour with the Scottish Cr own in the 17th centur y, par ts of the island were granted to the Campbells of Argyll, who ruled for thr ee centuries until 1938 w hen the last Campbell left. Today, its 90,666 acr es (36,692 ha) ar e contr olled as se ven private estates.
Please see page 5 for general information.
JURA, SMALL ISLES The fourth largest island in the He brides, 28 miles (44.8 km) long by eight miles (12.8 km) wide, Jura is one of Britain’s last wildernesses – the wildest isles in the He brides, r ugged, mountainous and bar e, par ticularly to the w est. Of f its northern shores, the waters of the treacherous but spectacular Corryvreckan w hirlpool r oar at inter vals in the Gulf of Corryvreckan, audible for a radius of 10 miles (16 km).
For literar y enthusiasts, a w hite f armhouse at Barnhill in a r emote northern corner of Jura is r enowned as the place w here author George Orw ell wr ote 1984, str uggling to cope with advancing tuberculosis. Moving to
True to its name meaning Deer Island in Old Norse, much of the isle is c loaked in forest, inhabited by some 5,000 r ed deer, far outnumbering the r esident population of 200. In addition to 33
this less than benign climate in 1946, he eventually completed the controversial novel in 1948.
The ship anchors off Craighouse Pier, where guests are landed by the small boats at stone landing ste ps that ar e accessible at most stages of the tide. Lor d Vestey’s jetty to wards the nor th end of Small Isles Bay provides alternative facilities.
Useful information: Depending on the itinerar y, the ship anc hors near Craighouse, Jura House or Loch Tarbert.
The walled garden of privately-owned Jura House on Ardfin or White Promontory contains a collection of trees and shrubs typical of Western Scotland’s g ardens, as w ell as mor e e xotic species from Australia and New Zealand f lourishing in the frost-free climate. Created at the be ginning of the 19th centur y by the Campbells of Jura as a kitc hen garden to suppl y the house of the same period, it was landscaped 25 years ago and opened to the pub lic. F ruit, v egetables, shr ubs and per ennials ar e also grown organically.
Situated on the east coast by Craighouse or Small Isles Bay, the pretty village of Craighouse is sheltered by a natural breakwater of islands – known in Gaelic as Eilean nan Gabhar , Island of the Goats, Eilean Diomhain, Idle Island, Eilean an Coinean, Island of the Rabbits and Pladda and Eilean Bhride, Bridget’s Isle. Whisky has been distilled on the island le gally since 1810 and probably since 1502 in an illicit trade. The Isle of Jura Distillery, b uilt in 1963, pr oduced its f irst malt in 1974, replacing the original mid-19th centur y Campbell site. The single malt w hisky, aged over a period fr om 10 to 36 y ears, is ranked tenth best in the w orld. Craighouse’s facilities include a hotel, a f ew shops and a pub lic tele phone – and, historicall y, one of the two piers was built in 1814 by Thomas Telford.
The story goes that the Laird’s wife had the cr ofting village of Brosdale demolished to allo w an uninter rupted view fr om the House. The new township she built elsewhere to replace it was soon abandoned by its community. Claig Castle, one of the many strongholds of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, which once guarded the entrance to the Sound, lies in r uins on the small isle of Am Fraoch Eilean or Heather Island, of fshore – Fraoch Eilean is still the slog an of the MacDonald clan. On the east is Brosdale Island and to the west, within the Sound of Jura, are the jagged rocks of Glas Eilean – Green Island.
Tropical plants flourish in the warmth of the North Sea Drift, ensuring a mild fr ost-free climate, and attracti ve walks can be made along the shor e road, with stir ring views out o ver Small Isles Ba y, w here the r esident seals can be often be spotted basking on the r ocks b y the Manse.
affairs. After his death b y suicide in 1822, the estate w as inherited by his half-brother Charles, the third Marquess, who engaged Irish ar chitect Vitrivius Mor rison to r efashion the house in the mid-1830’ s. Finished tw o years after Mor rison’s death, the new b lock, the ele ven-bay entrance and porte cochère were in keeping with Dance’s original structure.
NORTHERN IRELAND Please see page 30 for general information.
The i mpressive a rt c ollections, i ncluding G eorge S tubbs’ magnificent master piece, Hambletonian, pr obably Ir eland’s most celebrated w ork of art, ar e one of the main attractions, displayed with fine porcelain in the ele gant staircase hall at the core of Dance’s house, lit b y an octag onal skylight dome. Nearby, his music r oom with a delicatel y vaulted ceiling and a superb mar quetry f loor, sitting r oom and Castler eagh r oom, housing memorabilia of the life and times of Lord Castlereagh, remain totally unchanged.
MOUNT STEWART HOUSE AND GARDENS
The 22 Empire chairs in Morrison’s spacious dining room, each specially embroidered for delegates to the Vienna Cong ress in 1815, are overlooked by life-sized portraits of the first Earl and Countess of Albermarle by Sir Godfrey Kneller. In contrast, his vast dra wing r oom is still muc h as it w as decorated in the 1930’s by Edith, the 7th Marchioness, one of the great political hostesses of her day, its fur niture still casuall y ar ranged in a n informal grouping.
Ancestral home of the inf luential Londonder ry f amily, this stately 18th centur y mansion is no w better kno wn f or its spectacular 98-acre (39.7-ha) gardens. Begun as Mount Pleasant b y Ale xander Stew art on demesne land purchased in 1744, the house came into its own as Mount Stewart under his son R obert, who was created first Marquess of Londonderry in 1816 and Lord Castlereagh, British Foreign Secretary during the Napoleonic Wars. James Athenian Stuart was thus commissioned to b uild the Temple of the Winds between 1782 and 1785. The west wing design w as entrusted to London ar chitect George Dance betw een 1804 and 1806, leaving muc h of Wyatt’s w ork, initiated b y his f ather, incomplete o wing to his g rowing inter est in par liamentary
Planted in the 1920’ s, the g ardens of Mount Stewart Estate, r ecently nominated a World Heritage Site, ar e among the g reatest in the United Kingdom, although this unri valled collection of rare plants and exotic trees may have thri ved her e f or over 150 y ears in the 35
mild climate of the Ards. Both f ormal and inf ormal in style, they inc lude colourful par terres, Spanish, Italian and sunk en gardens, topiary, dodos and dinosaurs on the terraces, as well as Stuartâ€™s classical folly, the Temple of the Winds, with dramatic views over Strangford Lough.
Downpatrick This is the ancient county to wn of County Down. The burial ground of the muc h r estored 12th centur y Cathedral on the Hill of Down, an ear ly Christian site, contains the g raves of St Columba, St Bridget and St Patrick, although he is thought to have been buried nearby at Saul.
Both house and g ardens are now owned and car ed for by the National Trust.
Castlewellan This small market town, with a characteristic broad main street and squar es laid out in the 17th centur y, is home to the National Arbor etum, located within the beautiful w alled surroundings of Annesley g ardens, dating fr om 1740. Its splendid collections rank in the top thr ee of the British Isles and first in Ireland, with the 18 oldest specimens in the Briti sh Isles, 34 British and 42 Irish c hampion trees.
STRANGFORD LOUGH Extending over 80 square miles (207.2 sq km), this hug e loch is separated from the Irish Sea by the Ards peninsula. Access is by a narrow channel, five miles (8 km) long and half a mile (800 m) broad, past the small town of Portaferry. Its entire shoreline is a wildlife reserve, renowned for wading birds. If a landing is made at Portaferry, a visit may be made to Exploris, one of Europe's finest aquaria.
Tollymore Park Formerly the seat of the Ear ls of Roden and no w a muc h visited forest park with beautiful w alks, the first state forest to be set up, in 1955.
The Mountains of Mourne This g roup of volcanic mountains co vering an ar ea of some 120 square miles (307 square km) is dominated by the highest peak, Slieve Donard at 2,796 feet (852 m).
During the shor t local tour the f ollowing places ma y be seen from the coach:
ISLE OF MAN
Please see page 10 for general information.
Please see page 21 for general information.
The Manx capital since 1863 after souther n Castletown, ferry port and island hub , f acing Blac kpool acr oss the Irish Sea, Douglas exudes the Victorian air of its heyday, with seafr ont terraces and an iron pier. Today, the bustling resort remains the seat of government and f inancial centr e, home to a thri ving population of around 25,000 r esidents. Most of the island's hotels and restaurants are based here as is the Manx Museum documenting the islandâ€™s past from prehistory to the latest TT events. Two old lines, the Manx Electric Railway from Douglas to Lax ey, Ramsey and Snaef ell and the Steam Rail way fr om Douglas to Ballasalla, Castletown and Port Erin offer another window on this most intriguing of islands.
The last-sur viving Celtic poc ket on the Eng lish mainland, which once had its o wn language, Kernewek, in the Br ythonic group that inc luded Welsh, Br eton and ancient Cumbrian, Cornwall is a land of vivid contrasts, of myth and le gend, isolated from the rest of the British Isles in its remotest southwest corner. In a landscape scattered with prehistoric stone circles, standing stones, menhirs, later Celtic cr osses and hol y wells, Cor nwall forlornly displays the abandoned r uins of the tin and copper mineshafts, stone and slate quar ries that once pr ovided its livelihood. China clay is still quarried today. A rugged coastline, notorious f or its ship wrecks, gives way to pictur esque f ishing villages, beaches and coves that were once the haunt of pirates, smugglers and the dr eaded Ex cise or R evenue men, adding another r omantic dimension to its str ong Celtic heritage.
South of Port Erin, 15 miles (24 km) away, are the University of Liverpool's Marine Inter pretation Centre, the Calf of Man bird sanctuar y and Cr egneash Village F olk Museum near Spanish Head staging demonstrations of traditional crafts.
Blessed with a mild c limate, nur tured by the North Atlantic Drift, Cor nwall boasts its own Riviera.
Useful information: The ship will anc hor off Port St Mar y or P ort Erin, w here a coach will be a vailable f or those w ho w ould lik e to see something of the area. 37
Tresco, Bryher, St Agnes and St Martin’s. Havens for naturalists and b ird-watchers t hat a re n ow s ought-after h oliday destinations, the Isles of Scilly suppl y ear ly v egetables and flowers to the London market. Often known as The Fortunate Isles, these paradise isles e xude peace and tranquillity , fring ed b y white beaches and tur quoise waters only a f ew miles fr om the mainland, frost-free in winter – tr uly in a world apart.
ISLES OF SCILLY Situated 28 miles (44.8 km) of f Land’s End in the Duc hy of Cornwall, of which they form part, the Isles of Scilly, too, have close links with the sea as an ar chipelago of some 300 r ocky granitic islands and islets l ying in Atlantic w aters once notorious for shipwrecks. Their history is long, dating back, like mainland Eng land, to occupation b y Stone Ag e hunter gatherers. From 2000 BC the Celts, w ho mined and e xported lead and tin, made the Scillies their main base in Britain. Cel tic culture prevailed more or less untouched, with its own Cornish language, during the Roman occupation of Britain, when the isles ser ved as a place of exile f or con victs. A part fr om the legacy of a coinage and the Christian religion, the Romans left surprisingly f ew lasting traces of their pr esence. The Celtic heritage was to suffer more at the hands of the Vikings and the later Normans.
TRESCO & ABBEY GARDENS Privately o wned f or o ver a centur y and a half by the Dorrien-Smiths, the tin y f loral isle of Tresco, just a mile (1.6 km) by two miles (3.2 km), is quite unique.Their ancestor, Augustus Smith, ar rived on the island in 1834 and, tog ether with a welfare system that was advanced for its time, created the remarkable Abbey Gardens, amassing plants impor ted from all over the w orld by Scillonian sea captains to f lourish outdoors in a frost-free climate.
Just as mainland Cornwall is steeped in Arthurian legend, home to mythical giants and mer maids, so the Scillies ar e reputed to be the site of the long-lost Ar thurian kingdom of Lyonesse. The stor y g oes that a countr y with f ine cities and many churches lying off Land’s End disappeared beneath the waves of a fatal storm in 1099, lea ving only the mountain peaks to the west, toda y kno wn as the Isles of Scilly, and one sur vivor, Trevilian.
A wealthy merchant banker, Smith had bought the islands from the Duchy of Cornwall. Although the others were subsequently ceded back to the Duchy, Tresco remained in family ownership, the pr esent o wners being R obert and Luc y Dor rien-Smith. Augustus Smith w as a plant collector and a botanist w ho, realising the potential of the island’s climate, created the worldfamous Abbey Gardens. He built tall wind-breaks and walls to enclose the r uins of the Priory Church of St Nicholas, which
Today, a p opulation o f about 2,000 lives on the f ive inhabited islands, w armed b y the Nor th Atlantic Drift – S t Mar y’s, 38
A thriving fishing industry grew up through time, although the harbour was exposed to easterly gales. In response to pressure from local b usinessmen, lando wners and c lergy, a new inner harbour w as constr ucted in 1774 under the Me vagissey Harbour Act. The outer harbour was added in 1888, destroyed soon afterwards by the g reat blizzard of 1891 and r ebuilt in what was to be an ong oing battle with the elements. When the small po werhouse constr ucted on the West Qua y in 1895, Mevagissey probably became the f irst place in Cor nwall to be lit by electricity.
originally also inc luded graves. Three ter races carved from the south-facing slope facing St Mar y’s provide varied habitats for plants of different origins. Plants fr om South Africa and Australia w ere placed in the higher , drier g round, w hilst the lower terraces, with their higher humidity, proved more suitable for plants from New Zealand and South America. The sheer di versity of the collections accumulated in these flourishing 17 acres (6.9 ha) is astounding, with 20,000 exotic plants from 80 countries ranging fr om Brazil to Bur ma, from the original beds ar ound the Prior y to the new ter raced Mediterranean Garden, and as man y as 300 in b loom even at the Winter Equinox. Cacti, date palms and giant red flame trees border crisscr ossing pathw ays, punctuated b y statues and fountains, w hilst the Valhalla Museum displa ys an ar ray of figureheads from shipwrecks – a reminder of the more ferocious forces of nature off these idyllic shores.
Fishing has f ollowed the boom and b ust of other r egions, pilchards being the main catc h in mor e r ecent y ears. In its heyday in 1912, drifters landed as many as 500 tons in a day at the height of the season. Her ring f ishing dr ew to a c lose in 1936. A total of 63 fishing vessels are currently registered with the port authority, engaged in trawling, wreck netting, sole and ray netting, shellfish with pots, long lining, and hand lining for mackerel.
Boasting miles of white silk en beac hes, Tresco is a w alkers’, cyclists’ and bird-watchers’ haven, with a number of interesting species, especially in spring and autumn.
In a t radition o f non-conformism, t he M evagissey Independents f ounded the United R eform Chur ch betw een 1642 and 1645 during a Ci vil War that sa w a di vided village, with Roundhead soldiers billeted in the Fairfax Campaign at Mevagissey, Tregony and P entewan. As other signif icant landmarks in its religious life, the Puritans demolished the c hurch to wer in 1655 and the f ather of Methodism, John Wesley, made his first visit here in 1753. At the same time, Me vagissey was in volved in the smug gling trade w hich reached its peak in the ear ly 19th centur y and p ress-gangs f requented i ts n arrow harbour-side alleys, luring away unsuspecting locals into the navy and a life at sea.
MEVAGISSEY The small village of Mevagissey, Meva hag Issey or Meva and Issey after the 6th centur y Irish missionaries, w as first recorded as a hamlet in 1313, although local settlements date bac k to the Bronze Ag e. Its f irst qua y w as b uilt b y the Trewolla f amily, Lords of the Manor of Treleaven, in 1470.
Bayard’s Co ve has c hanged little since 1539. The Pilg rim Fathers called her e on 20th A ugust 1620 en r oute fr om Southampton f or the New World. Of the tw o ships The Mayflower and The Speedwell that sailed from Dartmouth only The Mayflower completed the v oyage. Unseaworthy, The Speedwell was forced to abandon the attempt 300 miles (480 km) w est of Land’s End. Ov er 420 y ears later , in 1944, the por t also witnessed the de parture of the historic D-Da y landing craft bound for France.
With a surprisingly eventful history for a small community, this unspoilt fishing village is now one of the most popular holiday resorts on the Cor nish Riviera in a beautiful setting that has appealed to ar tists and writers o ver the y ears. As another dimension to its tourist de velopment, Me vagissey now shar es with other Cor nish por ts its incr easing attractiveness for deep sea anglers, including shark fishing. The narrow streets and steep inclines discourage the use of cars and in summer they ar e frequently banned altog ether, making Mevagissey an ideal place for a pleasant stroll ashore.
Home to a population of some 5,400 residents, Dartmouth is still an acti ve fishing por t as w ell as a popular holida y resort. The river presents a kaleidoscopic array of fishing boats, ferries, yachts and, on occasion, cruise ships, in addition to the frigates and submarines visiting the Britannia Royal Naval College.
Among the historic sites in and near the to wn are:
The a ncient b orough a nd s ea-port o f Dartmouth s its picturesquely on a stee p slope of the w est side of the Dar t estuary, opposite Kingswear, about a mile (1.6 km) upri ver. To the north are the granite heights of Exmoor. Off the main road which stops shor t of the town, the charming narrow streets of Elizabethan half-timbered houses are virtually intact. The main embankment r uns the length of Dartmouth from New Qua y, built on reclaimed land, towards Bayard’s Cove, where the large sheltered harbour , guar ded b y Dar tmouth and Kings wear Castles, has been in use since the Roman period. It was from these shores that Ric hard the Lionhear t set sail f or the Crusades and Edward III rallied 31 vessels f or the Sie ge of Calais in 1347.
The Butterwalk This c harming timber -framed ar cade with intricate car vings, built between 1635 and 1640, was damaged by bombs in 1943 but is now fully restored.
St Petrox Church Originally built in the 12th centur y as a light at the harbour entrance, the c hapel of St Petrox pr obably dates bac k to the 14th centur y, ser ving the r esidents of South Town betw een Bayard’s Cove and the harbour mouth.
Dartmouth Castle Perched on a rocky promontory not far from St Petrox Church, this w ell-preserved, m ainly-15th c entury c astle wi th a distinctive round and squar e tower was one of the first castles 40
2005 will be the RBNC’ s centenar y y ear, e ver f aithful to its mission statement, “To train and educate Young Officers to meet the challenging standards of the front line.”
designed to tak e ar tillery. Def ending the mouth of the Dar t from attack by sea for centuries, it faces Kingswear Castle on the opposite bank, commanding spectacular views fr om its battlements. In time of war a heavy chain was strung between the two fortresses to pr otect ships at anc hor and Dar tmouth’s homes and warehouses beyond.
Dartmoor This unspoilt, timeless tract of open country lies mostly within the boundaries of the 368-square mile (953-sq km) Dartmoor National P ark, w here haunting High Moor f orms one of England’s last wilder nesses, not without its softer , mor e picturesque corners. Created some 280 million years ago by the cooling o f molten g ranite, t he b leak m oors h ave b een weathered, er oded and c hiselled b y wind and hea vy rain into bizarre r ock s tructures, wi th t ors s cattered a cross p eat moorland, cloaked in yellow gorse and purple heather.
The Customs House Dating from 1739, this Geor gian building stands b y Bayard’s Cove.
The Royal Britannia Naval College Set high on a hill abo ve Dartmouth, this imposing colle ge was opened i n 19 05 t o t rain R oyal N aval O fficers, t he re-affirmation of a maritime tradition of over 40 years.
Habitation g oes bac k to pr ehistoric times as attested b y the Neolithic tombs of Spinster’s R ock and the stone r ows at Drizzlecombe. Disused mine shafts stand in silent witness to extensive mining of tin, copper and manganese, one of the West Country’s main industries. The evocative landscape has inspired generations of writers and po ets, the literar y haunt of the hounds of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes and the Doones.
Naval Officers have been trained in Dartmouth since 1863 when HMS Britannia and, a y ear later , HMS Hindostan, w ere moored in the River Dart. The wooden wall HMS Britannia was replaced in time by the HMS Prince of Wales, also r enamed Britannia, as the number of cadets continued to spiral. The riverside land was owned by Sir Walter Raleigh’s estate until the late 19th centur y. As conditions on boar d w ere overcrowded and unhealth y, a site w as sought ashor e and bought b y compulsory purchase of the site. To plans by Sir George Aston Webb, whose earlier commissions included Admiralty Arch and the east fr ont of Buckingham Palace, constr uction work thus began in 1898. The foundation stone was laid b y Edward VII in March 1902 before the official opening in September 1905. Today’s college is the culmination of decades of expansion and now offers a far wider range of courses, recently joining forces with the Uni versity of Plymouth to of fer cadets a c hoice of degrees.
At Princeto wn, the lar gest to wn on the moor , is Dar tmoor Prison, dating from 1806.
The town has many historic buildings, which survived or have been restored after the bomb damag e sustained during World War Two air raids, inc luding the 12th centur y Cathedral, the Round Tower and the bir thplace of writer Charles Dickens in 1812, Portsmouth’s most famous son.
PORTSMOUTH For much of its long history, Portsmouth has been home to the Royal Navy, which forged Britain’s place in the w orld. It was a small port until Henry V founded the Navy in 1415 and based his f leet her e. F ortified b y sea w alls under Henr y VII in the 1490’s, w ho also b uilt the f irst dr y doc k, it de veloped to become the f irst r oyal doc kyard in 1540 under Henr y VIII. Charles I I’s c hief engineer, S ir B ernard d e G omme, strengthened the f ortress at the harbour mouth in 1680, lengthening the bastions to accommodate 28 guns.
Several stone frigates, land-based ships suc h as HMS Excellent – the principal gunner y sc hool, and HMS Vernon – the tor pedo research station, are based in Portsmouth as well as HMS Victory, launched in 1765 and Admiral Nelson ’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, moored in the 300-acre dockyard. Opposite HMS Victory stands the Royal Naval Museum, located in t hree m agnificent G eorgian s torehouses b uilt b y l ocal shipwrights. Originall y f ounded in 1911 as the Doc kyard Museum and refurbished in 1999, it displa ys a rich collection of artefacts – ship models, figureheads, swords, uniforms, medals and paintings – w hich complement f our main a wardwinning e xhibitions: Trafalgar, The Story of HMS Victory, Horatio Nelson and The Sailing Navy.
Thus, Portsmouth was the bac kcloth of the greatest events in history. Porchester Castle on the north side of the harbour, now in r uins, was the rall ying point of Henry V’s ar my before he sailed to France and the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. On 19th July 1588, an Eng lish mer chant f leet assemb led her e in readiness to challenge the troop-carrying ships of the Spanish Armada, whose imminent arrival was signalled from the Lizard by a line of coastal beacons. Commanded b y Char les, Lor d Howard of Effingham fr om his f lagship The Ark Royal, under Captain Thomas Gray of Harwich, Sir Francis Drake was aboard The Revenge. In the 20th centur y, troops sailed fr om the harbour for the D-Day invasion of Europe on 6th June 1944 after the lar gest-scale operation it had e ver witnessed. On the ridge of Portsdown Hill la y the f ort, one of several, w here General Eisenhower made his D-day preparations. More recently still, during the Falklands War in 1982, P ortsmouth ser ved as the vital marine command headquarters and the point of departure for British troops.
Whichever route Hebridean Princess takes, her journey ends on a historic cr uise up the Ri ver Thames to Tower Bridg e, as described on page 56.
and fossil-incrusted cliffs fringes wild, dramatic landscapes that are reminiscent of Skye, remote in parts and only accessible on foot, giving way to f latter areas. Geologically, however, Mull is quite unique and, with phenomena suc h as the Loc h Baring dyke or the xenoliths, is a source of fascination to geologists the world o ver. F or c limbers, Mull also boasts the onl y Munr o outside the mainland or Sky e, Ben Mor e, rising to o ver 3,169 feet (966 m) and its wealth of flora, fauna and birds is equally outstanding.
BRITISH EXPLORER NORTHABOUTS
MULL, INNER HEBRIDES
The islandâ€™s history dates from about 3000 BC w hen the first Neolithic farmers ar rived and is still to be witnessed toda y in chambered cairns, standing stones, stone cir cles, vitrified forts, duns and br ochs as w ell as strate gic castles. Ear ly Christian chapels are also f ound at P ennygown, Kilvickeon and on Inc h Kenneth. Despite its ar chaeological wealth, traces of the 400year Viking occupation ar e surprisingly rare. From 1266 Mull was ruled from Islay by the Lord of the Isles. Embroiled in the long centuries of inter-clan conflict, the MacKinnons and the MacLeans of Mull w ere allied to the MacDonalds, w hilst maintaining th eir r elationship with the Campbells b y subterfuge. Bloody Bay to the north of Tobermory was notably the scene of a historic battle in 1480 betw een Angus, Lord of the Isles, and the Earls of Huntley and Crawford.
From Meall in Gaelic, meaning A Rounded Hill, possibly referring to Ben Mor e, Mull is the thir d largest of the Inner He brides, half the area of the largest isle of Skye. Thirty miles (48 km) in length and v arying fr om two miles (3.2 km) to f ive miles (8 km) in width, it is divided from mainland Ardnamurchan and Mor vern b y the Sound of Mull. An unspoilt 300-mile (480-km) coastline, highl y indented, with beautiful beac hes
In the early 17th century, James VI-I, intent on breaking the strang lehold of Gaelic cultur e summoned Hebridean chiefs to a conference at Aros Castle, headed b y Lor d Oc hiltree and the Bishop of the Isles. All were seized and imprisoned upon ar rival. The Ear ly of Argyllâ€™s A rmy o f the C ovenant u nder
SCOTLAND Please see page 5 for general information.
Mull’s capital and an impor tant f erry link to the r est of the Hebrides. The town’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly its picture-postcard pretty harbour-front of Georgian houses and shops, brightly painted in yellow, pink and blue.
Charles I incr eased r eligious tension betw een the Catholic MacLaines of Lochbuie and the Pr otestant MacLeans of Duart. In 1674 Ar gyll landed with an ar my of 2,000 men to occupy Duar t and Ar os w hich MacLean had r efused to sign away. In retaliation the Campbells swept through Mull, causing considerable damage. Despite Campbell occupation of Aros and the presence of government troops at Duart, the MacLeans still continued to contr ol half the island. It w as the 5th Duk e of Argyll with his enlightened regime who changed its fortunes, introducing a 19-year lease system for tenants and establishing Tobermory.
Tobermory Bay is well-known as the site of the sinking of the Spanish Ar mada ship, the Santa Maria de Gracia y San Juan Bautista, on 5th November 1588. Having sailed off course into the ba y and tak en on stor es locall y without pa yment, it w as boarded b y Donald MacLean of Duart w ho, in r etaliation, ignited the po wder magazine, blowing up the 371 tr oops and crew on board – and himself. Rumour has it that the vessel was laden with a hug e car go of gold, still undisco vered despite numerous salv age attempts. Accor ding to one theor y, its identity may have been confused with the Almirante de Florencia, which went down of f Mull on the 15th of the same month with the wages for the Spanish fleet in gold on board.
Of the total population of 2,600, some two-thirds live in the capital of Tobermory, whilst the main ferry terminal is located at Craignure in the south-east.
From 1940 to 1946, Tobermory served as a Royal Naval training base f or anti-submarine and escor t v essels, mostl y corvettes, more than a thousand of which passed through the eccentric but effective school run by Commodore (retired ViceAdmiral) S ir Gilbert S tephenson, t he s ubject of Richard Baker's book, The Terror of Tobermory. The Western Isles Hotel above the Caledonian MacBra yne pier w as opened in 1883, a favourite of the many yachtsmen (and women) who have used the excellent anchorage in the bay.
Tobermory, from the Gaelic Tobar-mhoire, meaning the Well of Mary, was founded in 1788 as a f ishing station b y the British Fisheries Society under the 5th Duk e of Argyll, although Mull’s location and the lac k of fish stoc ks meant that the original plan was never fully realised. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell had visited the inn and Er ray House in 1773 during their e pic Highland tour . By 1821 the b urgeoning township had a population of over 1,500, rising to 1,800 b y 1845. Although figures d ropped w hen O ban became a rail way terminal in 1888, T obermory remained
There are pleasant w alks to Ar os P ark in the w est and east towards Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse, opened in 1857, although local knowledge should be sought about the state of the paths.
current population of around 20. Otters and seals can be spotted around its shor es. Also a bird haven, white-tailed sea eagles, reintroduced to Scotland betw een 1975 and 1985, ar e breeding successfull y and Britain ’s lar gest colon y of Manx shearwaters, totalling 120,000 pairs, can be seen floating in rafts of fshore during the summer . Other nesting seabir ds include guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and kittiw akes. The geological contrasts of Rum’s rugged landscape are marked – to the south, the jagged S-shaped ridge of the Cuillin is the root of an ancient v olcano, w hilst the nor th is composed of red Torridonian sandstone.
Tobermory’s amenities include a post of fice, public telephones (located at the pier), hotels, gift shops, general stores, a whisky distillery, a local museum – and tw o rar e Ed ward VIII postboxes.
Useful information: Hebridean Princess nor mally ber ths alongside the pier in Tobermory. Ho wever, if the ber th is una vailable, the v essel anchors in the ba y and guests ar e landed at the concr ete steps next to the Caledonian MacBra yne pier, accessible at all stag es of the tide.
The oldest kno wn settlement in Scotland dating back 8,500 years, it was volcanic bloodstone, used as a substitute f or flint, rather than the a vailability of fertile land that attracted Mesolithic settlers to R um. Whilst 7th and 8th centur y Christian hermits left carved crosses behind them, few traces of the Viking presence survived, except in place and mountain names, after the island was taken by Somerled in 1156, ancestor of the Lord of the Isles. Ruled by the Clan Ranald branc h of the MacDonalds until 1266 w hen it w as subjug ated to the Scottish cr own, R um e xperienced the inter -clan tensions prevailing elsewhere and eventually passed to the MacLeans of Coll, who retained control until 1845. In the late-18th century potatoes w ere added to the island’ s cr ops, boosting the population to 450 in 1795. The strain on resources resulted in non-pa yment of rents to landlor d MacLean of Coll and the hear tless eviction of 300 tenants to No va Scotia, Canada in J uly 1826 under the notorious Clearances. Two years later, the last families but one followed suit.
RUM, SMALL ISLES This mountainous island, eight miles by eight (12.8 by 12.8 km) in ar ea, is a National Natur e R eserve o wned b y Scottish Natural Heritage. Between 1888 and 1957, Rum was a private island, often known as dubbed The Forbidden Isle, belonging to the Bullough f amily of Lancashire. The sour ce of its name is in doubt, possibly pre-Celtic, Old Norse or e ven Gaelic meaning Isle of the Ridge – and its spelling was briefly changed to Rhum by Sir George Bullough during his tenur e, reverting to its origina l form in 1991. With about 30 per manent residents, this wild, almost desolate expanse of moors and mountains has been home to the R um Red Deer Pr oject since 1971, dedicated to r esearch into the island’s lar ge her ds. The annual cull is g athered up on R um ponies, a special Western Hebridean breed still thriving with a 45
Rum’s jew el is Kinloc h Castle, a 20-minute w alk fr om the slipway. This delightful Edwardian time capsule was built from red Annan sandstone in pseudo-Bar onial mode betw een 1897 and 1901 f or Sir Geor ge Bullough, the Lancashir e cotton magnate and playboy, whose father John had bought the island as a spor ting estate. A memorial to the e xtravagance of La Belle Epoque, Kinloch was the last word in elegance and style teeming with objets d'art including memorabilia of Sir George's Far East steam y acht v oyages. The f eminine F rench Empir e décor of Lady Bullough’s rooms contrasts with his mor e manly imprint, all lit by electricity from the castle’s own generator, the second electrical installation in all Scotland after Glasg ow. The Orchestrion, still in perfect working order, and numerous other gadgets were original f eatures of its luxurious fur nishings and fittings. Soil w as speciall y impor ted fr om A yrshire f or the equally lavish landscaped Italian g ardens, also incor porating a bowling g reen and a g olf course. In 1957, Lad y Bullough, Countess of Durham, sold Kinloc h to the then Natur e Conservancy Council for £26,000. She assigned control of the Mausoleum to her trustees and gifted the castle contents to the nation.
Castle visitors are requested to remain at the main entrance to be met by the guide. Owing to the highl y polished floors, they may be ask ed to r emove outdoor sho es and mak e the tour in stocking feet. Alternatively, slippers may be taken. The ship anc hors in Loc h Scr esort, a shor t distance fr om a good slip way, and a number of pleasant w alks ar e possib le. Guests ar e also ask ed to k eep to the paths, f or w hich g ood walking shoes are highly recommended. Unfortunately, midges are to be found in abundance in summer.
By way of facilities, a small shop , opening infr equently, and a public tele phone can be f ound near the castle, w hilst pub lic toilets are located just past the pier. For mor e serious F ootloose w alkers, the moor land Glen Dibidil trail along the river valley south of Ben More commands stir ring views to Eig g and the R um Cuillin and the chance to enjo y island’s bir dlife and unusual wild flowers.
Plockton is a small fishing and crofting village situated on a bay off Loch Car ron, r enowned f or its pictur e-postcard setting , looking nor thwards to the mountains of Applecross and Torridon. It w as originall y planned as a her ring f ishing community to halt the emig ration of the local population and most of the pictur esque w hitewashed houses date fr om the 18th and 19th centuries. Palm trees grow in the small detached gardens along the idyllic shores of the loch, reflecting like an oil painting in its shimmering w aters. To the east stands 19th century Duncraig Castle, b uilt in imposing Bar onial style b y James Matheson of the Matheson Jardine shipping company. A residential catering college for many years, the property is now in pri vate o wnership. Ploc kton and K yle of Lochalsh ar e situated within 8,000-acr e Balmacara Estate, gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1946.
began in 1810. After Napoleonâ€™s demise in 1815, however, the men were never called to ar ms. The Church was built in 1825 and the sc hool followed at the end of the 19th centur y. The Free Pr esbyterian Chur ch, f ounded jointl y in 1893 with the Raasay cong regation, has had considerab le inf luence on local life.
Across the causew ay fr om the villag e to the g reen, a small thatched black-house has sur vived the ad vance of time. There are general stor es, a craft shop kno wn as The Studio, and a public telephone. Past the old F ree Church, now converted into a home, and the Thomas Telford church, the winding broom-lined road leads on the right-hand side to the site of the Open Air Chur ch, still used for wedding ceremonies. A circular walk continues uphill.
Whitewashed houses spill pictur esquely onto the banks of Loch Shieldaig in a beautiful south-f acing setting, within easy reach of the Torridon mountains. Just offshore, Shieldaig Island is clothed in a thick mantle of fir trees, mainly Scots pine, like the g reat Caledonian F orest w hich co vered most of the Highlands man y centuries ag o. Planted in the 1870â€™ s, they supplied the villag e with poles f or ships and f ishing nets. Designated a place of Special Scientific Interest, the isle no w belongs to The National Trust for Scotland. Its thri ving bird population inc ludes her ons, mer gansers, b lack guillemots, kestrels and long-eared owls.
Useful information: The ship anc hors in the ba y about half a mile (800 m) fr om the stone jetty , which is accessible at all stag es of the tide, a short walk from the village.
A number of trails can be tak en fr om Shieldaig . At a g entle pace, a w alk along the f ootpath fr om the villag e leads to the cairn on the headland. The pictur esque r oute fr om Shieldaig past the Crash Site, w here an air craft fr om Pr estwick came down in 1945, killing its cr ew and passengers, up to the r ocky spurs of the Fairy Lochs at 500 f eet (152.4 m), looks o ver to Gairloch.
With a population of about 175, Shieldaig is the main village of the Applecross district, its name derived from the Norse SildVik meaning Herring Bay. The her ring, fished since Viking days and its main sour ce of prosperity, are long g one and the local fishing industry is now limited to prawns and mussels. The village was founded in 1800 to attract f amilies to fishing and, more significantly, to raise and train sailors f or the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Admiralty grants were given to build boats and houses and constr uction of the main street 47
heralded another new era of Islands.
travel in the Highlands and
A walk along the Flo werdale Estate paths and up the Glen to the picturesque waterfalls and br eathtaking views is a r elaxing alternative to In verewe Gar dens. Another trail leads thr ough conifer trees to Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria who visited them in 1877.
Located at the head of Gair Loc h, Gaelic f or Short Loch, this typical Highland village, strung out along its main road, enjoys a beautiful mountain bac kdrop. Stir ring views encompass the peaks of Fisherdale, Flowerdale and Shieldaig F orests and to Long Island, the Outer Hebrides, on the horizon across the magnificent sand and shingle beaches along its shores.
The district w as traditionall y MacLeod ter ritory until the MacKenzies took Gairloch in 1494. Set amid trees to the south of the village, Flowerdale House, built in 1738, w as their clan seat, where Osgood MacKenzie, creator of Inverewe Gardens, was bor n and raised in the 19th centur y. The award-winning Gairloch Heritage Museum imaginatively traces its history, with a replica of a croft and e xhibits ranging fr om the ear ly Stone Age to the pr esent-day. The local econom y is still based on fishing, boats returning in the morning with catches of salmon and in the after noon with prawns, lobster and crabs, as w ell as a growing tourist industry.
The delightful 50-acr e w oodland g arden at P oolewe on the north bank of Loch Ew e w as cr eated b y Osg ood Hanb ury MacKenzie, onl y son of the second wif e of Sir F rancis MacKenzie, laird of Gairloch, in 1842. When his two elder brothers inherited Gairloch Estate upon their fatherâ€™s death, his mother gave him the nearby 12,000-acre Inverewe and Kernsary Estate. At the y oung age of 20, he thus c hose a r ocky, bar ren headland, once kno wn in Gaelic as Am Ploc Ard, the Big Lump, reputedly with only one tree, a dwarf willow, as the site of his new home, a Scottish Bar onial mansion set in g ardens. Both were well under way by 1870.
At one time, scheduled ferry services to Tobermory, Portree and Oban operated from the 19th centur y steamer pier and coaches ran regularly to Achnasheen Railway Station, east of scenic Loch Maree. The i nauguration o f a 3 6passenger f erry s ervice f rom Gairloch to P ortree in 2004
As pr otection ag ainst the biting salt-spra y winds, MacK enzie planted shelter belts of Scots and Scandina vian pine, Pinus Sylvestris. Impor ting soil, pr obably from Ireland, to r eclaim the seashore, he cr eated a w alled g arden and pathw ays thr ough woodlands w hich he planted with species fr om all o ver the 48
world in k eeping with the f ashion of the da y. Despite its northerly location on the same latitude as Hudson Ba y in Canada, 57°8’, Inverewe thrives in a mild c limate. Fostered by the North Atlantic Drift, rhododendrons, eucalyptuses, azaleas, mecanopses and other exotic plants survive in the open air – a unique international collection totalling 2,500 species toda y.
ULLAPOOL, MAINLAND Founded by the British Fisheries Society in 1788 to pr omote the herring industry, the attractive town of Ullapool is situated on the north shore of Loch Broom. More recently, the port was the base of a f ishing f leet suppl ying the Klond ykers or f ishfactory v essels fr om Easter n Eur ope and the Mediter ranean which visited Loc h Br oom during the mac kerel season as catches of herring declined. Since the economic crisis in Russia, the Klondykers have rarely been seen in these waters.
Osgood MacKenzie continued to tend and de velop the garden until he died in 1922, w hen his daughter Mrs Mairi Sa wyer took up his lif e’s work. A y ear before her death in 1953, she presented Inverewe Gardens and an endowment for their upkeep to the National Trust for Scotland. Inverewe’s history is displayed at an e xcellent e xhibition in the Visitors’ Centre, which also houses a w ell-stocked shop, with a compr ehensive selection of books on Scottish topics, as w ell as pub lic toilets and a payphone. Refreshments are available at the restaurant in the car park, between the centre and the main road.
Today, Ullapool is also a highly popular and busy tourist resort, terminus for the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Stornoway on Lewis in the Outer He brides. With a r esident population of some 800, Ullapool has hotels, g eneral stor es, a post of fice, public conveniences, phone boxes and other amenities. The Museum and Visitor Centre in West Argyle Street is housed in the former Telford Parliamentary Church dating from 1829 and contains f ascinating displa ys on local g eology, cr ofting and wildlife – the perfect setting.
Useful information: The shor t coac h r un usuall y tak es guests fr om our ber th in Gairloch to Poolewe and Inverewe Gardens, although the jetty on the western side of the site may be used from time to time. Inverewe’s maze-like paths, more frequent to the west and north of Inverewe House, are generally well-surfaced, though possibly muddy after rain, and clearly marked. For easier orientation, a guidebook is on sale at Reception on board, which identifies the location of species of particular interest.
The to wn is a pleasant spot to w ander along a number of scenic walks and, onl y a shor t drive away b y coac h, is the a wesome c hasm of Corrieshalloch Gorge and the dramatic 150foot (46-m) Falls of Measach.
Please note that good walking shoes are necessary.
Settled by Neolithic farmers from 4000 BC, ruled by the Picts (700 BC to AD 800), Orkney fell under Norse dominion from 875 until the 15th centur y. In 1468, it ser ved as a warranty of 8,000 florins for Princess Margrethe of Denmark’s dowry upon her mar riage to J ames III of Scotland. The pledg e was ne ver redeemed and fr om 1472, Orkney , with Shetland, r emained under Scottish sovereignty.
Berths are sometimes difficult to arrange alongside the pier due to the r equirements of the Caledonian MacBra yne f erry and fishing boats. If an anchorage proves necessary, this will be close to the pier and guests will land at the steps adjacent to the pier, which are clean, dry and accessible at all stages of the tide.
Steeped in histor y and natural beauty , Orkney also of fers abundant birdlife in its reserves as well as a wide variety of flora.
ORKNEY Located onl y six miles (9.5 km) fr om mainland Scotland, across the P entland Fir th, the Orkney ar chipelago consists of 70 isles and islets, only 16 of which are inhabited. First named Orca, a place of immense waves, b y Roman g eographer Diodor us Siculus ar ound 56 BC, the isles w ere the Orcades to another Roman geographer Pomponius Mela in the first century AD and included in Gr eek Ptolemy of Alexander’s AD 140 map . The name was still current during the 16th centur y. Dramatic coastlines of soaring cliffs and w hite sandy beaches are warmed by the mild effects of the North Atlantic Drift. In contrast, the landscape of Mainland is almost tr eeless, lusher and lower, home to the Or cadian capital of Kirkwall and the major por t of Stromness. Not onl y kno wn f or its attracti ve scenery, Orkney boasts an astounding le gacy of over a thousand pr ehistoric sites, the best in Eur ope, which ear ned UNESCO’ s r ecognition in 1999 under the World Heritage scheme. Ranked among the most impressive are Skara Brae, Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar on Mainland. 50
Originally known as Hrossey or Horse Island, covering a total area of 382 square miles (990 sq km), Mainland is made up of two distinct regions, East and West, separated by an isthmus about a mile wide. West Mainland is the lar gest sing le r egion in Orkney and home to the historic to wns of Kirkwall and Stromness. On British Explorer Stromness is our por t and gateway to Kirkwall and the isle’s prehistoric and more recent heritage.
Stromness is an old traditional stone town of attractive narrow, flagged and cob bled streets and small-windo wed houses, built gable-end to the sea and the str eet, many with a private pier or slipway. Its numer ous points of interest inc lude the 18th century warehouse near the pier, converted to a Tourist Office with an exhibition, This Place called Orkney, an Arts Centre and an excellent museum; Login's Well, sealed in 1931, which supplied water to the Hudson Bay Company ships as well as Captain Cook’s Discovery and Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition; and a cannon fr om the American pri vateer on Stang er’s Brae, The Liberty, captured in 1813, which was regularly fired to sound the arrival of the Hudson Bay Company fleets.
The second lar gest town in Orkney and main f erry por t for mainland Scrabster , b uilt along one main r oad, Str omness huddles between the shores of Hamnavoe in the Scapa Flow and Brinkie’ s Brae, shelter ed of fshore b y Outer and Inner Holm. A fishing port and supply depot for the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, the modern-day town is enjoying the growing fruits of tourism.
With a population of some 7,000, the ancient r oyal burgh of Kirkwall, Norse f or Church Place, is the capital of Orkney, equipped with the infrastr ucture and f acilities of a busy por t and service centre for the other islands.
Stromness rose to prominence as a maritime supply base during the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries when the dangers of the Eng lish Channel compelled trans-Atlantic ships to head north about Britain. It was also important as a whaling station, serving as the main r ecruitment ar ea f or the Hudson Ba y Company, three-quarters of whose Canadian w orkforce in the 18th century came originally from Orkney. During bothWorld Wars, the port also supplied water and provisions to the Royal Navy base in Scapa Flow.
This attractive town, with a winding main str eet, is dominated by the r ed and y ellow sandstone Cathedral of St Magnus, commissioned b y Ear l R ognvald on behalf of his martyred unc le Magnus Er lendsson, killed on Egilsay in 1117 b y Ear l Haak on K olsson. Although work began in 1137, the impressive structure t ook 3 00 y ears t o c omplete, incorporating the R omanesque, transitional and Gothic styles of their da y, and houses the tombs of both its f ounder and patr on saint. 51
Other b uildings of note inc lude 17th centur y Ear l's P alace, probably once Scotland’ s f inest R enaissance b uilding; the Bishop's P alace, 16th centur y on 12th centur y f oundations, where King Haakon died after def eat at the Battle of Largs in 1263; and Tankerness House and Gar dens, a r estored 16th century merchant laird’s home that is now an excellent museum of Orkney life from prehistory to the present day.
Maes Howe Located 9 1/2 miles (15 km) east of Kirkwall, Maes Ho we, meaning Great Mound in Old Norse, is the lar gest c hambered cairn in Britain and one of the finest in Eur ope, aligned with the winter solstice. Built ar ound 2,800 BC, it is thought to post-date Skara Brae by a few hundred years and fell into disuse about 2000 BC. Its pr ecise function is still under de bate – although linked in some w ay with b urials, excavations car ried out in 1861 r evealed onl y one bone. The site w as raided b y 12th centur y Vikings, w ho left behind as man y as 20 r unic inscriptions, a significant legacy to the moder n world.
The Highland Park Distillery has manufactured a famous single malt whisky since 1798. Kirkwall is a door to some of Britain’s best-preserved Stone and Bronze Age monuments – the villag e of Skara Brae, Maes Howe tomb and the Ring of Brodgar – and modern history at Scapa Flo w, the Chur chill Bar riers and the Italian Chapel, enduring symbols of the two World Wars.
Ring of Brodgar On a narrow exposed isthmus between freshwater Loch Harray and seawater Loch Stenness, about a mile (1.6 km) north of the famous Standing Stones of Stenness – the Temple of the Moon, stand the 27 stones of the dramatic Ring of Brodgar – the Temple of the Sun. Although the centr e of the circle has never been excavated, the henge is believed to be late Neolithi c or early Bronze Age, probably erected from 2500 to 2000 BC. Originally 60 in number, the stones are smaller than those of Stennness, ranging fr om 7 f eet to 15 f eet 3 inc hes (2.1 to 4.7 m).
Skara Brae Probably Europe’s best-preserved prehistoric site, manag ed by Historic Scotland, located b y Skaill Ba y on the w est coast of Mainland. In 1850, a hea vy stor m unear thed traces of a Neolithic village on a g rassy mound known as Skerrabra, where it lay buried in midden under the sands for millennia. Initial excavations b y local lair d William Watt of Skaill, soon abandoned in 1868, uncovered four dwellings. It was not until 1928 to 1930 that another four were fully unearthed. Carbon dating showed that the site w as ear lier than originall y thought and pr obably inhabited betw een 3200 and 2200 BC.
Scapa Flow An impor tant shipping ha ven for over a millennium, pr obably fished by the b uilders of Maes Howe 5,000 y ears ago, Scapa Flow extends 12 1/2 miles (20 km) fr om east to w est and 9 1/2 miles (15 km) fr om nor th to south, shelter ed b y the surrounding Orkney islands. One of the world’s largest natural harbours, with a flat bottom and safe from strong currents, its waters range in depth from 60 to 150 feet (18.3 to 45.7 m). A 52
vital base during the two World Wars, in the 1970â€™s Scapa Flow became home to a major oil ter minal at Flotta, handling 10% of the UKâ€™s oil.
Churchill Barriers As a r esult of this disaster , o ver thr ee miles (4.8 km) of causeway were constructed to link the easter n islands. By 1943 over 1,700 men, including 1,200 Italian prisoners of war, were engaged on the project, some of whom were also involved in the construction of the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm.
Martello Towers These were built during the Napoleonic wars to protect shipping from French and American privateers.
World War One
At its height, the base emplo yed o ver 230 WRNS in the communication centre and oil storag e facilities. An inter esting museum, a udio-visual d isplay a nd a b eautifully k ept Commonwealth Graves Commission cemeter y are to be f ound a short distance from the quay.
At the outbreak of war in 1914 there were over a hundred naval ships in the Flow. Anti-submarine nets were extended across the main entrances and b lock-ships w ere sunk in the easter n channels. On 30th Ma y 1916, 72 ships of the Grand Fleet, including 16 battleships and thr ee battle-cr uisers, sailed fr om Scapa to the Battle of Jutland. Less than a week after the battle, the cruiser HMS Hampshire, en route for Russia with the Minister of War, Field Marshall Lord Kitchener on board, struck a mine off Marwick Head and sank with the loss of 643 men.
Flotta In 1969 oil and g as were discovered in the Nor th Sea. Flotta was c hosen as the end of the pipeline fr om the Piper and Claymore fields, cr ude oil being loaded onto lar ge tankers for export worldwide.
The worst disaster w as the accidental e xplosion in J uly 1917 aboard the battleship HMS Vanguard off Flotta, when over a thousand men perished. On 21st J une 1919 the sur rendered German Fleet w as scuttled on the or ders of Admiral Von Reuter. Although most of the wrecks were later raised by the firm of Cox and Danks, the r emainder on the ocean f loor attract divers from around the world.
Italian Chapel Begun on Lamb Holm in late 1943 and completed shor tly before the end of World War Two, the delightful Italian Chapel was created from two Nissen huts by Italian prisoners of Camp 60. Restored to its f ormer g lory in 1960 b y their leader, Signor Domenico Chiocc hetti, who also crafted the sanctuar y, it is an astounding tribute to their workmanship and dedication.
World War Two On the night of 14th October 1939, the U47 sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak with the loss of 833 men. Orkney was subjected to 16 air raids.
In the meantime, shipbuilding was gaining ground. From a few yards along the seafront producing wooden sailing ships in the early 19th centur y, the business expanded to meet the demand for faster and bigger vessels such as large clippers and bulk cargo boats. Rationalised and con verted from wood and sail to ir on and steam by the close of the century, the industr y centred on a small nuc leus of firms that inc luded Alexander Stephen and Sons, the Caledonia Yard and Gourlay Brothers.
DUNDEE, MAINLAND Dundee is a li vely, friendly por t in a dramatic location at the mouth of the River Tay on Scotland’s north-east coast, enjoying more hours of sunshine, purer air and more green spaces than any other Scottish city. The fourth largest conurbation in Scotland, its population totals 145,000 r esidents. Cr eated a Royal Burgh by the Charter of King John in 1190, Robert the Bruce g ranted Dundee the right to ser ve as the por t f or the Sheriffdom of Forfarshire, with a fr ee harbour , in the 14th century.
The expertise acquired in building whalers that could withstand extreme w eather c onditions m ade D undee t he C ity o f Discovery. In 1899, the National Antar ctic Expedition Committee commissioned the Dundee Shipb uilding Company to constr uct an adapted w haler, the R oyal R esearch Ship Discovery, launched in 1901 to car ry Captain Scott on his f irst Antarctic voyage. The vessel is preserved in Dundee to this da y at Discovery Point. The broader heritage of whaling and local military histor y ar e w ell documented at Castle Br oughty Museum, an imposing 15th century fort that once guarded the Tay – r esurrected fr om its r uins in the 1860’ s under the Crimean War effort and a piece of history in itself, pockmarked by cannon shot.
Traditionally the city of the three J’s – Jute, Jam and Journalism – Dundee’ s commer cial landscape has c hanged considerab ly during the last centur y. The to wn w as an estab lished te xtile centre b y the 18th centur y, specialising mainl y in linen fr om which lar ge quantities of sail c loth were woven for export to Europe. By the 1830’s, jute had been introduced to supplement linen manufacture, which it gradually replaced, earning Dundee the nickname, Juteopolis. The industry’s rapid rise was matched by population growth, 50,000 people being employed in the mills and factories in their heyday. Production fell dramatically in the 1920’s, mainl y in the f ace of fierce competition fr om India, and has now ceased, a dec line that has adversely affected the city.
Claypotts Castle Located in nor th-eastern Dundee, this unusual and impr essive tower house is reputed to have been haunted by a White Lady, the ghost of Marion Ogilvie, mistr ess of Cardinal Da vid Beaton, w ho w as mur dered at St Andr ew’s Castle in 1546. Owned by the Abbott of Lindores, the land w as rented to the Strachan family who built the castle in the second half of the 16th centur y. Later sold to the Grahams of Claverhouse, the site is now managed by Historic Scotland. 54
Dudhope Castle Built in the 13th century, Dudhope Castle was the home of the Hereditary Constables of Dundee and standard-bearers to the King of Scotland, the Scr ymageurs. Sold in 1668 to J ohn Graham of Claverhouse, better known as Bonnie Dundee, who perished in the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, by the mid-18th century it had been converted into a woollen mill, then a barracks. R estored in 1989, the site no w f orms par t of the University of Abertay.
Picture courtesy of Martin Guppy
BRITISH EXPLORER BOTH DIRECTIONS RIVER THAMES The royal River Thames flows through millennia of history on its 215-mile (344-km) course fr om the White Tower to Tower Bridge and the hear t of the metropolitan capital, the P ool of London. Stone axes dating back 6,000 to 7,000 years have been lifted from the river bottom. Surveyed b y the g randiose palaces of Hampton Cour t and Windsor Castle, the R oyal Gr eenwich Obser vatory, home of the prime zero meridian and Greenwich mean time, and a host of other great monuments, the journey along this atmospheric stretch of river is a f itting end to the f inal Hebridean Princess cruise of the season.
Cover image supplied by Martin Guppy at Island Blue www.island-blue.com