As if I wasn’t lucky enough to have spent the last month and a half living in Switzerland, this week, I have the immense pleasure of traveling to England for some family time with Robert’s parents. Great Britain’s beauty takes my breath away every time I visit. In the past, I have been extremely lucky when it comes to the weather. On this occasion however, Mother Nature decided to give us some typical November drizzle, wind and bone chilling humidity. Perhaps because of this gloomy setting, I was in the mood to visit some slightly spooky and mysterious destinations. What would be more fitting than caverns and castles? We started our journey by heading to Caernarfon in Wales to visit the grandest castle I have ever toured.
Built on the shoreline, Caernarfon is architecturally one of the most impressive of all of the castles in Wales. Its defensive capabilities were not as overt or as powerful as those of Edward I’s other castles but it was instead intended as a seat of power – and as a symbol of English dominance over the subdued Welsh. All of the initial building took place as a single operation, starting in the summer of 1283 and was completed in 1287. Charles, Prince of Wales, received his title here in 1969; and Edward VIII was granted his title in 1911. I did a search to see how big this castle is but couldn’t find the info. To give you an idea of its impressive size, just one tower is more than 10 meters across at its base. You could easily get lost within the maze-like hallways and staircases of Caernarfon and that’s all part of the fun!
Caernarfon Castle, Wales
Blue John Cavern
Coming back a little closer to home (Robert’s childhood home that is), we decided to head to Castleton. Blue John is Britain’s rarest mineral first discovered in Castleton by the Romans almost 2000 years ago and Blue John Cavern is the world’s only known deposits of this extremely rare and beautiful stone. The most common explanation for the name is that it derives from the French bleu-jaune, meaning blue-yellow. During excavations at Pompeii two vases of Blue John stone were supposedly unearthed, evidence therefore that the Romans not only discovered the stone but also appreciated it for its ornamental value. Let’s start with some of the spookier views of this 300 feet deep cavern shall we?
This is what it looks like after it’s been processed. They inject pine resin or amber to solidify this semi precious stone.
A flash from the past…
Because I don’t want to leave you with a dark and dreary impression of beautiful England, let’s look back at some sunnier days in the English country side. The pics below are from my first visit in May 2011.
Ah the memories… Hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of the UK and that it has given you a taste for all the beauty it has to offer. If you haven’t done so already, you must book a trip to visit this amazing region. Who knows, if you time things right, you might even have a personal tour guide waiting for you here. ;) If I have now given you wanderlust and you want to keep discovering the most beautiful areas of Europe, just head on over here for my travel diaries on Switzerland, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Costa Rica.