As we hurried through the castle grounds in Beaumaris, a lone seagull was dancing. He seems to be marching on the spot, marking a rhythmic time with his feet. Worm-charming, said my companion. I didn’t even stop to take a picture. We were late.
With fond farewells, just in case, we had taken a temporary leave of our companions in the car park of Bryn Celli Ddu. They would go on to Penmon Priory with its tenth century stone crosses and wonderful views before heading to Beaumaris. We, however, were heading back across the island to the hotel to collect the forgotten bag. With luck, we would meet again in time for lunch.
It was a shame, but could not be helped. Off we went, sailing down the roads to retrieve the bag. By the time our mission was accomplished, we knew it was too late to head for Penmon… and too early for Beaumaris. And we had said we would have to go back to Bryn Celli Ddu…the road back there was also the only route we really knew. It was almost as if we had no choice… just pawns in the hand of the gods… but that is a whole other story, outside the scope of the Silent Eye weekend.
Traffic delayed us on the road between Bryn Celli Ddu and Beaumaris and we were beginning to wonder if we would make lunch at all. We headed for the car-park Steve had recommended, feeling like guilty children… and parked between our companions’ cars. Even if we could not find them in the town and missed them completely, they would at least know we had tried to join them. But, as luck would have it, we bumped into them almost immediately. Sadly, they had already eaten and were about to leave. Even so, it gave us a chance for hugs and decent farewells. It had been a spectacular weekend, with amazing sites and wonderful weather, so we were glad of the chance to thank Steve and Barbara again for what they had organised.
And suddenly, there was no rush. We were never going to make it home before dark, so we had what was left of the fading afternoon light to enjoy. I had not seen Beaumaris for the past forty years, but I remembered it well and had walked the castle ramparts, looking down to a moat that seemed alive with eels. Then, it had been high summer and the streets had been crowded with tourists. Now it was winter and the streets were almost empty, a perfect time to get a few decent shots of the castle.
Beaumaris Castle is a concentric design castle and at one point the town itself sheltered behind walls that were connected to the castle. The curtain wall of the outer ward is moated and was once accessible by sea, making supplying the castle a simple matter. Within that is the inner ward designed to hold domestic buildings. It completely overlooks the outer ward all round, which must have made defensive sense. It was built as part of Edward I’s campaign to conquer North Wales in the 13thC. Building commenced in 1295, and by 1330, it has already cost £15,000 an astronomical sum in those days…and it was still not complete. This seems odd when today it is one of the best surviving examples of its kind in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was time to leave Anglesey though. The late afternoon light was becoming thin and misty as we headed back to the car. Our worm=charming friend was still doing his worm-dance, and this time the camera was in my hand. The mountains of Snowdonia beckoned, their foothills green and russet, their peaks crowned with snow…and the passes that run between them better driven in at least a modicum of daylight. Reluctantly, we turned the car towards the Menai Bridge and the mainland for the long drive home, with a final gift awaiting as we passed the distant beauty of Snowdon and Tryfan. It had been a wonderful weekend.