Day 78 (4.1.17): 4,000 years old? Let’s climb it!

On Saturday, we headed back to Wales.  This time, we planned to stay overnight, which allowed us to head further west than on our last trip.  It was a bit of a rocky start, what with it being April Fool’s Day.  The kids started with a science test (not a prank), but I caught Lydie trying to put hot sauce on my tooth brush.  She wrapped Siracha in paper towels to smuggle it up stairs.  She would have gotten away with it, but Julie waved her off.  Whew!

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By 2 p.m., we reached Kidwelly Castle, but it was pouring rain when we arrived.  Team Hubbard travels prepared, so we geared up in rain coats, rain pants, and so-called wellies, which is British for “rain boots.”  Of course, shortly after getting all dressed up, the rain started to slacken.

Kidwelly is a great castle.  It was built in the late 1300s, with construction not wrapping up until the early 1400s.  But more important (for us at least) is that it’s the right amount of ruined.  Enough to explore and climb a bit, but not so destroyed as to be boring.

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To start, it’s got an underground dungeon that was particularly damp with the rain.  It was also stocked with a real convict, imprisoned for attempted hot-saucing no doubt.IMG_9058.JPG

There was a small display on the history of the castle, which the kids had no interest in reading.  The most they could muster was a bit of cosplay.

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Soon enough, the kids were off.  I caught up to them briefly when they hit a dead end.

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The girls insisted that I wait on this walkway until they ran around to the bottom of the tower behind them.  Once they were there, they yelled for me to go inside.  Here’s what I saw:

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Yep.  That’s water.  Gross, muddy water.  The kids only splashed each other a little as they ran off again.  We next corned them up on top of a tower.

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Lydie found a snail in the castle, and set up a little diorama for it, including a small meal.

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From Kidwelly, we headed to Manorbier Castle, which was about an hour away.  Unfortunately, when we got there the castle was closed for a wedding.

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It was very disappointing, and I was more than a little frustrated.  The girls had a great attitude and reminded me of one of our mantras:  “There are no mistakes in travelling.”  They were right, of course, and we decided to search for some Neolithic stones that were about an our away.

The drive was beautiful.  Julie *had* to stop to take a picture of one of the beautiful bridges we encountered as we winded our way through the countryside.

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After quite a few twists and turns, we made it to a road with a small lay-by where you could park.  It’s about a ten minute walk to get to the stones, along a path that runs between two pastures that were filled with sheep and lambs, lambs, and more lambs.  More on them in a minute, but first Pentre Ifan.  The stones are the remains of a burial chamber that was erected more than 5000 years ago.  So, naturally, we had to climb it.  I visited the stones 20 years ago with my parents, and had climbed on top back then, so I was sure it was possible.  (My mom had been worried that I would knock the stones down at the time.)  We walked around the stones scouting for a good route to the top.

IMG_9158I was pretty certain I had climbed up using those bigger stones on the left.  It was about this time that the magic power of the druids started to restore my failing memory of that ascent two decades past.  I remembered that I had climbed up on the stones and then stepped onto my dad’s shoulder to reach the top.  Completely unrelated to that my dad later developed some shoulder trouble.  Druid curse?  It was going to take another paternal push for Lydie and Cassie to get on top.  Lydie went first.

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Cassie was next.  I fear that the druid curse may go after my lower back in the coming years.

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The kids had a great time scrambling around on top.  The capstone weighs 16 tons, but only touches the supporting stones at sharp, narrow points.

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The kids jumped down, and Julie and I even managed to get Cassie to take a picture of us.  *gasp!*

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After thoroughly enjoying the stones, we jumped the fence to walk with the lambs.  They were undeniably adorable.  Lydie tried with all her might to get close to some of them, but the lambs were to skittish.  We hopped back to the other side of the fence, and she tried to cajole them into eating some grass she picked.

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The lambs would get close, but at the last minute panic, jump up in the air, and run away.  We have adopted this technique for getting away from danger, which we call “Lamb Escape.”

We ended our day by driving to the small village of Laugharne, where we checked in to the Carpenter’s Arms and watched rugby in the pub as if we understood the rules.  It had been another great, busy day, and we all fell asleep quickly.

-Will

 

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