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I was so excited to visit Farnham Castle that I left the AirBnb earlier than I left my previous venues. Walking back along the roads towards Farnham in the daylight was soooo much easier than the night before…..LOL

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imagine walking along here in the dark!! it wasn’t fun

The castle was just a short 15 minute walk and I was soon immersed in ancient history.

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I LOVE visiting castles and towns with an ancient history and my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way gave me so many wonderful opportunities to explore ancient churches, Domesday Book villages and of course castles. A huge boost to Project 101.

Founded in 1138 by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, grandson of William the Conqueror and brother of King Stephen, all that remains is the keep…which is way impressive. The Castle was the home of the Bishops of Winchester for over 800 years.farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

The Bishops’ Castles and Palaces – in today’s terms, the medieval estate earned million of pounds each year. The bishops could afford to build on a lavish scale and many did; churches and colleges, castles and palaces. The bishops travelled widely, visiting their manors and their parishes. They frequently made the two-day journey between London and Winchester. Farnham, lying halfway between, providing a convenient stopping place between London and Winchester, would have been a good place to rest overnight.

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The history of the castle is phenomenal and well worth exploring. Don’t miss the historical exhibition at the entrance.

English monarchs, from bad King John to Queen Victoria have visited or stayed at Farnham Castle.

Climbing the stairs gave me a thrill as I imagined what it must have been like in the days when it was first built.farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

climbing the steps of the castle keep

I spent a good 40 minutes exploring the grounds of the keep and so enjoyed the historical exhibition.

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The gated entrance – The Bishop’s Palace, Farnham

The castle keep is managed by English Heritage and free to visit.

The Bishop’s Palace is open for fascinating historic guided tours on Wednesday afternoons (from 2pm to 4pm, with the last tour starting at 3:30pm). You can reserve your space by calling 01252 721194.

 

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As mentioned in yesterday’s post I didn’t get out till 3rd January to start my #walk1000miles challenge for 2018. Mostly due to the mooky weather. I’ve been in North East Wales since the evening of the 3rd and yesterday was only the 2nd day I’ve managed to get a decent walk in.

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a mooky day

The day dawned bright, clear and stunningly beautiful. We have the most amazing view from the barn across the fields and valleys to the Berwyns and as usual I was enchanted by the colours of the sunrise. We had a thick covering of frost in the morning and because the village is in a groove between the mountain and the hill the sun doesn’t really make much of an impact as how it’s so far back on it’s winter trajectory.

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a frosty day

I started out at 2pm during my break time and initially I had planned to walk up to the castle but at the point where the road curves up the hill and becomes really steep, I had barely made 6 steps up the road when I started to slide back downhill. Thankfully I had my walking poles or I would have fallen over for sure. I then decided to go downhill along a more traffic frequented road and made my way across the fields using a shortcut utilised by horse riders, joggers and walkers alike and to my delight I happened upon the lake; Lower Pool, that I had seen from the castle so many times.  I initially thought it was the River Severn but on closer inspection using Google maps I saw it was merely a lake, albeit a rather large one.

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Lower Pool, Montgomery

It was truly beautiful and a bevy of swans have made their home on a wee island in the middle…..too far for photos but I could see them quite easily.

The ground was totally sodden and before long my feet started to get wet so I headed back to the road where I met a lovely lady by the name of Suzanne. We chatted all the way back to the village and swapped walking stories. I told her about my 3 pilgrimages and she was inspired to learn more about the Camino 🙂

I slipped a fair number of times heading back through the village. I had wanted to reach the crest of the hill on the other side of the village I had seen from the castle.

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view from the Kerry Road – in the distance is Corndon Hill

Again I slipped and slid most alarmingly and again my poles saved the day. I can assure you that I will never walk any distances again without them. I was though really puzzled as to why I was slipping about so much. When I got home I checked the bottom of my walking shoes and noticed that the treads  have worn down substantially, so it was no wonder I spent a lot of time slipping and sliding on the roads…thankfully I had my walking poles which averted any tumbles, but it was most unpleasant…although the weather was wonderful.

I have another 2.5 weeks here in Wales so I must try to get to the river at least once. The other walk I mentioned was the day after I arrived….the morning was muggy and dismal but by 2pm it had cleared up quite a lot so I set off for my favourite place; Montgomery Castle. The view from there is quite sumptuous; right across the valley of the River Camlad (forms part of the border between Wales and England in places) and Montgomery Ford, a vital crossing of the River Severn towards the Berwyn Mountains. Known as the ‘The Key to the Kingdom’, a Norman castle, Montgomery Castle was built at the order of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, sometime between 1071 and 1074.

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Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

As with most castles in Britain it underwent a number of changes and changed hands a number of times and was substantially developed during the reign of Henry III. In 1227 Montgomery was granted a Royal Charter by the king, making it the oldest borough in Wales. I love to sit on the walls and visualise the deer hunting that must have taken place in the surrounding forests and the sight of soldiers marching across the valley.

It was very windy that day and I was hard put to remain stead on my feet whilst positing myself on the walls to take photos. I’m surprised they weren’t all blurred. I eventually gave up and staggered downhill with a blustery wind at my back. Reminded me a bit of my walk along the beaches on the Isle of Thanet the day before.

On the way back to the house I called in at the Dragon Hotel (must stay there sometime) and enquired about the swimming pool. It seems we can book an hour for £3.50. Hmmm. Glad I brought my swimsuit. I just loved the wee cottages leaning up against the hotel.

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the Dragon Hotel, Montgomery, Wales

As I meandered through the graveyard I spotted a gorgeous rainbow emanating from within the castle walls and touching ground in the valley below….

if I could just get there in time I may have found that pot of gold they’re always talking about!!! LOL

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oh to be free to walk and walk and walk

Walked 01.01.2018 – 07.01.2018 : 12.88 kms / Miles 8.05 – 991.95 miles to go ….hmmm.

I’ve been told that the Offa’s Dyke walk is accessible from the road I had walked along earlier so as soon as the weather warms up enough to not be leaving frosty roads I shall head along and try walk as much of it as I can. However I believe that it’s 177 miles /285 kms; a tad more than I can fit into a 2 hour break.  I’d love to walk the whole route though, but that will have to wait for another year…if I am ever up this way in 2019 I’ll try add it to the ever growing list of walks I want to undertake.

One of my walking plans for 2018 is along the cliffs from Broadstairs to Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Dover and onto Folkestone as well as the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury and the Camino Inglés from Ferrol to Santiago. I hope I can squeeze them all in. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but work does rather get in the way of my walking dreams LOL.

 

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