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Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve and Cilgerran Castle

Bluebells, giant badgers, train spotters and medieval castles

semi-overcast 13 °C
View Boulogne 2013 & Picturesque Pembrokeshire and Skomer Island 2013 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve
We woke to some nice sunshine this morning, and thoroughly enjoyed having breakfast outside overlooking the valley and hearing the birds singing from the hedgerows and the horses (and seriously cute foals) frolicking in the field next door. As we had no idea how long the good weather would last, we decided to make the most of it and head for the open spaces. Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve is part of the Welsh Wildlife Centre, a 264 acre reserve with many habitats to explore, such as river, ponds, reeds, woodland and meadows. The bluebell glades were particularly beautiful, and we enjoyed hiking some of the many trails. In the fabulous modern visitors centre, we savoured an Indian Spiced Carrot Cake while overlooking the giant wicker badger. As you do.

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Castle Kitchen
Heading for the castle at Cilgerran, we decided to stop for lunch at the very quaint and very quirky Castle Kitchen, almost next door. Part restaurant, part museum, part shop, it is run by a model railway enthusiast and his very tolerant wife (his words, not mine). When we arrived we caught him playing with his train set which is set up in one corner of the restaurant; and the walls are filled with (mostly) railway memorabilia. Such a friendly couple, and the food didn't disappoint either – I had the sewin (a local river fish similar to trout and a new one on me!) with a creamy mushroom sauce and David opted for the more traditional steak and kidney pudding. Best of all, the food came served with no less than five different vegetables and three different types of potato. Vegetables are the one thing I miss the most when we travel, so this was a real treat for me!

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Cilgerran Castle
At almost 800 years young and counting, Cilgerran castle occupies a stunning location. Perfect for stunning attackers that is. The striking 13th-century castle is perched on a precipitous, craggy promontory overlooking the spectacular Teifi Gorge and has inspired many artists, including Turner. The Teifi here is just at its tidal limit, so the castle was able to control both a natural crossing point and the passage of seagoing ships. Traditionally, medieval castles were designed with a keep or strong tower at the centre but Cilgerran Castle is unusual because two massive round towers were erected instead.

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The current keeper of the castle, Rob, (or at least the keeper of the till in the ticket booth) obviously became easily lonely in his little 'office' and took great delight in long, in depth conversations with each and every visitor to the castle. Nice chap, but boy did he go on....

Dragon Reptiles
I'd read about this place on the internet before we came, and thought it would be a cool place to visit. David looked up the address on line and found it was in an arcade in Pembroke Docks. We stopped by on the way up here on Monday, but found the whole arcade was closed, probably due to it being a bank holiday. Yesterday it was open, so we wandered down the row of little budget shops until we found Dragon Reptiles. On line it is described as “an exciting indoor exhibition with over 100 enclosures of reptiles, insects, fish and amphibians. This popular attraction bring the exotic life of the rainforest and desert to people of all ages”, so we were dismayed to find it was nothing more than a small shop selling lizards and other little similar creatures. We didn't even bother to go in – the store was no bigger than our living room! Last night, making further searches on the internet, we discovered there are no less than THREE Dragon Reptiles in Wales, and the above description seems to have been liberally applied to all of them, when in fact it only belongs to the attraction near Tenby.

On our way back from Cilgerran, we stopped by the Tenby place (finally the RIGHT place), to find it had shut some ten minutes earlier! It was not to be on this trip. I do find it very strange, however, how attractions in Britain have such short opening hour s– many just open from 10:00 – 16:00. It makes for such a short sightseeing day if you are touring the area.

Getting some fish and chips on the way back to the tipi, we retired to our little den in with a drink and listened to the new arrivals gushing about the facilities as they settled into their weekend accommodation.

Posted by Grete Howard 11:35 Archived in Wales

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