Sunshine in February
The low temperatures of the last few days have made us appreciate some time at home and after our boiler suddenly stopped listening to the thermostat controller and decided to stay on overdrive for a couple of days, we found ourselves a little too cosy and warm here. After a couple of days on manual (ie hero control) the engineer sorted it by fitting a new Hive controller. Once the novelty of being able to control the heating from a distance has worn off, I think it’s going to be great!
We have been on a little adventure in the meantime, though, as my work took me to Wrexham again yesterday. My hero offered chauffeur services too, so we splashed out on a night at the Premier Inn and took the opportunity to enjoy the winter sunshine by exploring a couple of places on the way.
The last time we were in the area we had visited the Chirk aquaduct but a few days afterwards, we realised that we’d missed the chance to see another similarly breathtaking example of engineering, the Pontcysyllte aquaduct. No, we had no idea how to say it either, and we are not alone it seems – help is at hand here. We left the car in the car park at the Trevor basin where a fleet of holiday boats were being spring cleaned ready for the new season.
Setting out onto the pathway, we realised how deceptive that bright sunshine is, because it was bitterly cold up there. Difficult to see, too, because the low winter sun was quite blinding when walking towards it.
With just a narrow pathway by the side of the canal, it was important to watch our step, too!
So we walked to a point just under half way, gazed over the beautiful landscape, marvelled – and shivered – at the view directly down from this great height, and turned around to walk back.
Sadly, no boats moving around at this time of the year, but at least there were not many other visitors. I wouldn’t really want to be passing too many folks walking across here because there’s not much room! What a relief it was to walk with our backs to the sun again, too.
We felt that we’d like to get a good view of the aquaduct from down below, to get a bit more of an overview and some idea of the size of the masterpiece. Seeing a small white van crossing a bridge down there, we decided to aim for that small road and see if we could find a place to stop down there and look back.
Back in the Trevor Basin, we took a look at some of those holiday boats, some of which are available for daily hire to groups of up to ten people. Maybe …or maybe not!
Driving across the tiny bridge down in the valley, then, we looked back to where we had been standing less than an hour ago. We marvelled at the courage, imagination and engineering skills of Thomas Telford once again.
We got out of the car to take another photo from the same place as the person who made the video about the aquaduct on YouTube. It’s difficult to get a feel of the magnitude of the aquaduct from any one spot but having been up there and down here, we were ready to move on. It was way too lovely an afternoon to spend indoors though, so we got out the National Trust cards, perused the app on our phones and decided to drop into Erddig. We spotted that the Wolfs Den was closed and also that the restaurant was being refurbished but neither of those worried us too much.
“Great timing!” said the woman on the welcome desk as we showed our cards, “you’ve just made it in time for the last fireside chat of the day”. We followed another couple through into the yard to the “meeting spot” and looked forward to sitting and listening to some stories by the fire. It seemed like a good way to begin our visit because actually, we knew nothing about Erddig at all.
As we stood waiting, the other couple wandered off, leaving the pair of us wondering if we were in the right place or whether we should have gone to the front door. A clue to what made Erddig special was on the wall beside us – photographs of servants in “Downton Abbey” style, alongside a poem about one of them written by the master of the house. Since no-one had come to meet us, we decided to follow our noses and see what’s what and as we did, we came face to face with about half a dozen people coming out of a side door. “Hello, you must have come for a fireside chat? Come on in”.
We had no choice really. Two volunteer guides and a member of staff stood in an empty space, formerly a dairy, we were told. A small fire burned in the hearth as one of them went off to look for any other punters as we learned that this was it. The House was closed and all there was to do here was to sit and listen to some information about the place and the people who lived there. Of course, we listened politely and expressed our appreciation, but dear me, that’s half an hour of our lives we won’t get back! Sadly, Erddig appears to be an interesting place, but the National Trust did us no favours by not making it quite clear at any stage that there was such a limited offering that day. Our membership meant we hadn’t paid for tickets: if we had, then we’d have been there a little longer, having a rather different conversation.
A warm hotel room and a hot drink suddenly seemed very tempting indeed!