An October 2005 trip
to Wales by shaunandtrish
Quote: A business trip with one night free to see some stuff. This is what I did see...
Hotel | "Gateway to Wales"
So that's the drawbacks dealt with, now the strengths;
Price: At around £60 per night bed and breakfast, it competes well in the budget hotel/motel class but offers slightly more. I'm aware that people from parts where prices are more reasonable may balk at a daily rate of £60 being described as "budget", but I'm sad to relay that's the way it is here ... Facilities: Leisure facilities are very good. A small, clean well equipped and well maintained gym is free to guests. Downstairs from the gym there's a small but attractive pool and jacuzzi area and very efficient steam and saunas. Spot on. Breakfast: Breakfast gives hot and cold choices, with hot choices including fresh kippers and poached eggs. A personal favourite of mine not often offered. Yum. Food: For some reason the restaurant was not open when I stayed. Not sure if this is the exception or the rule, however, the arrangement that exists for charging to your room any meals and drinks taken in the excellent Leprechaun across the road more than makes up for it. The hotel does have a nice bar area that I did not use, however. Rooms: My room was OK. A bit on the small side with (unusually these days) a single bed. Bathroom was clean with a good shower. TV was a small portable but there were a couple of cable channels in addition to the standard five choices. Staff: Friendly, helpful. Location: Well sited for expeditions further afield. Chester is a ten minute drive, the north Wales coast starts ten minutes away in the opposite direction. I guess that's why they call it "Gateway to Wales". The web-site sort of suggests its in Chester, but its not.
Overall I'd stay here again. Not just with work, but also as a budget choice for Chester and the surrounding area. Good value for money. Here's the web-site.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 5, 2005
Gateway To Wales Hotel (The)
Welsh Road - Garden City - Sealand
Deeside CH5 2HX
+44 (1244) 830332
Restaurant | "The Leprechaun Pub"
Anyway, the routine was about to unfurl in its painfully familiar way once again when I ordered at the "Lep" - they asked, I replied "rare" with a sigh and a heavy heart, and awaited the ineviatble drizabone over my Guiness (the pub was called the Leprechaun after all), until it finally arrived. Rare. The steak was rare. A famous first!!! So the Lep gets a big thumbs up and a VHR rating and well deserved.
In fact the pub does boast a speciality in the old steak line. They even offer (at 24 hours notice) a 250 oz steak on the menu - it's £250 as well, mind. Prices for more normal steaks are on or around the £10 mark. All served with the usual chips, mushroom and onion rings. All in all great value and a famous first. Maybe the legend of the great British Steak Pub is not a myth at all. It just nearly is.
If you're staying at the Gateway to Wales you can charge your meal and drinks to your room. They also take credit cards. Top marks.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 5, 2005
74-78 Welsh Road
Wales, United Kingdom
Attraction | "Flint Castle, Flintshire"
Anyway, I headed off towards Flint, a journey of about 10 miles from the hotel, and wondered what I was seeing after a couple of miles. The road out there is like something out of Bladerunner. There's a spectacularly sci-fi looking suspension bridge over the river Dee for one thing, but there's also a set of massive power generation facilities left and right as you go past Connors Quay. After a bit of this you then stumble upon the unfriendly looking small town/large village of Flint. It does not feel like the type of place that a person might wander awhile within ... at all. In fact you have to keep your peeled open for the tiny signs indicating that you'll find a castle off to your right towards the coast, otherwise you'll miss it. More or less in the centre of town there's a small road off to the left which looks like it's heading into a group of houses, which in fact it does to start off with, before you clear the housing and find the ruins of Flint Castle looking out onto the wonderfully desolate River Dee estuary, next to the car park of a Working Mens Social Club.
The ruins themselves are free to view from outside and in, but gates are locked at sunset each day, so watch out, but it's worth taking the risk of getting locked in because sunset over the Dee, with the ruins looking out, one man and a dog in the near distance ... not much else ... really sets the scene off to good effect.
Anyway, that's what you find, here's the history bit about what it actually is: Flint Castle was constructed over a seven year period starting in 1284 on the orders of Edward I. It was to be a stronghold/foothold during a period of English/Welsh border skirmishes that were a very popular pass time of the age. The town of Flint actually grew up during the period of construction as a settlement for the various craftsmen involved in its construction. Its current state of ruin is due mainly to its deliberate dismantlement by the Parliamentarians during the civil war around 1646. Presumably they'd identified a more pressing need for the stones. If you like free stuff and history and you're in the area, this ones for you.
Here's a web-site giving you a bit more background.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 5, 2005
Flintshire, North Wales
Attraction | "Chester Cathedral at Night"
Historically it was not constructed in anything like a single event. Part of it date back as far as the 10th Century when the site was developed as a monastry to house the remains of St Werburgh... What? You've never heard of him? ... Nor had I. But it has been added to/improved/developed at various times throughout the middle ages.
Seen at night it's commanding silent and a bit spooky. The lights are great for one thing, and then there's the dark arches that lead to the central courtyard. Spooky, especially when there's no-one else around.
It actually has its own web-site, this'll give you more comprehensive and reliable info on its history and how best to use it for its intended purpose like praying.
12 Abbey Square
+44 1244 324 756
Now Chester is old. You can tell that as soon as you arrive. Its older ruins (the walls, the ampitheatre excavations, gardens) date from back to the Romans, but since that time the city has developed and now it's a spectacular mish-mash of Roman/Norman/medieval constructions, sensitively preserved and promoted by the local townspeople. Like York and to a lesser extent Durham, where I'm from, it promotes its history very well and consequently it's a favourite stopover for tourists.
Wander into the city centre on a cold but dry Monday night in October, however, and you'll see another side of Chester. It's spooky. Maybe it's the age of the buildings, or the lack of people, or the way a lot of the streets are kept clear of traffic and are silent as a result, but it is SPOOKY. It came as no surprise when I found out you can go on the occasional "Ghost Tour" of the city. I, on the other hand, on this calm cold night in October, was wandering the streets on my own. Not quite on my own. There were a few young hoodlums hanging about with skateboards or something - the type that so often meet their doom in the early part of a lot of scary movies. Very reassuring I can tell you. The spookyest bit was walking, well ... sprinting ... down the narrow dimly lit path that curves its way to the riverside in such a way that you can never quite see what's round the corner ...
All that said, as it's now obvious by the posting of this journal that I didn't get eaten by ghosts, I can now thoroughly recommend the experience freely to all from the comfort of my ergonomically unsound computer chair.
The town hall in the centre of town near the car parks sets the ball rolling nicely, then there's the cathedral just opposite. Follow the narrow medieval streets round a bit further and you find the main shopping thoroughfare through town, still cobbled and quaint despite the prescence of those pan-globals. Walk on a bit further and you encounter Roman Chester. The ampitheatre currently being excavated on a traffic island, the walls the Roman Gardens and the creepy little path down to the river.
Here's a web-site with a great range of black and white photos of all the things I've gone on about and more.
Durham, United Kingdom