Last Saturday after a glorious month or more on the Llangollen Canal, our little convoy arrived at Hurleston Junction again and headed north west towards Chester and Ellesmere Port. The Sun was shining for us and there was little breeze to hinder our run.
We tied up for the night to the rings on the towpath supplied at the visitor moorings just above Wharton’s Lock, in a beautiful rural setting about half a mile away from the crag that rises steeply up to about three hundred feet above the otherwise flat Cheshire Plain. At its peak are the remains of the almost impregnable Beeston Castle, a Fourteenth Century fortress built in stone by Hugh Lupus (Hugh the Wolf), who was the Earl of Chester at that time and lord of the area. The ruins sparkled in the bright afternoon sunshine and with the thick green mantle of trees around its slopes, it cast a long dark shadow across the patchwork of pastures as the Sun set lower in the late afternoon.
Beeston Castle across the plain
Janis and I, as we sat out in the balmy evening air after our day’s travel, enjoying our gin and tonics decided to visit the ruins the following day and true to our wishes the Sun returned in full on the Sunday morning as we set off along the footpaths towards the hill.
As we made our way through scented green cow pastures and arable fields of young corn the butterflies appeared and we saw our first Small Tortoiseshell of the year. His colours were bright and he was a fine specimen.
The Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
On the way to the top
We arrived at last at the ticket office, a tidy Victorian copy of a medieval gatehouse, about halfway up the hill and were persuaded by the lady taking the money, a volunteer at English Heritage, to become members. Since there are many of these sites on our projected route we decided it was good value for money and quickly made out our direct debits.
The Sunshine had brought the families out on this Sunday and there were many visitors as we arrived at the ruins.
There were a few walls still impressively standing and one could imagine the way the castle must have looked in all its grandeur and such a daunting sight to an invader. But the spooky quality of decay was evident all around too in collapsed towers leaving foundations only visible at times.
But the young families were oblivious to this as they munched their picnics and played knightly games with plastic swords and various forms or armour bought at the ticket office.
Surprise surprise! There was even a Batman there with his cape blowing in the breeze.
View towards the south through a ‘window’
Oxeye Daisy and Common Ragwort thriving on the Walls
Battlements, tower and steep ditch
The woodland walk with dappled sunshine sparkling through the thick mantle overhead was shaded as we walked down to the base of the hill on our way home and it wasn’t till we returned to the open corn fields that we realised how cooling the effect had been.
The weather remained fine all day and in the evening we sat out again with our G & T’s chatting happily of our adventure while enjoying our barbequed pork and salad. Eventually the Sun went down beneath a sky of many shades of pink and dark silhouetted clouds.
The day had been a glorious one.