Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Snowdrop Walk at Chirk Castle

On the last day of February Partner-who-loves-tea took me to Chirk Castle in N Wales.  We had set out in mist.

But by the time we arrived at the castle it was gloriously sunny- if cold and with a sky that was still hiding behind misty clouds. It boded well for the walk.

The entrance to this National Trust property is in what were at one time the stables.  Being National Trust members this year (thanks P-w-l-t) we didn’t have to pay anything. Had we come tomorrow it would have been free as well – no admittance charges on St David’s Day!

The stables look to have been built in the sixteenth century but it was the fire in the entrance hall that I had difficulty dragging P-w-l-t away from on this briskly chilly day.  There is a small second-hand book shop in the entrance as well – that necessitated a trip back to the car to leave our little hoard of opuscules.

We decided against attempting to storm the battlements.  Or creep in through the back door.  (This one is for you two, Librarian and Dawn Treader).

 At the main gate the man-at-arms hailed My Lady and allowed us entry.

The castle courtyard which is built in the form of a square.

Everywhere there are lovely medieval doorways.

Mind your head as you go in – folk were less tall in those days.

In the café there were no fish on the menu – just on the walls –

The gardens are full of topiary hedges.

And beautiful statues.

We pass the hawk house.

And suddenly there are masses of Snowdrops.

The camera can’t give you the feeling of what it is like to walk in a wood full of snowdrops.  And I thought one would need a Wordsworth to express it in words.  But when I checked his poem I wasn’t impressed.  Nor was I with those of other obvious poets.  I found one by a modern poet (born the same year as me) called Edward Ryles that I liked but it wasn’t the atmosphere I felt in Chirk Castle woods.

So I have tried my own piece of blank verse……

On walking in Chirk Castle woods

The last day of February as
Two of us, walking in the woods,
Follow the paths of fallen leaves
Through the woodland carpet
Of white, on white, on white.

The sun hits the ground in little spots
But most of the world is in shade.
Even without their leaves the woods
Filter the sunshine away in the treetops.

So the snowdrops, now fully awake
After their wintry sleep, hang their heads
And glimmer from the woodland floor;
Light shining upwards instead of down

Each little flower invites one to scrabble
On hands and knees to see the earth
From their perspective. Petally perfection
With green swords. A whole world
Of white, on white, on white.

And there were lots of Spring Snowflakes as well.

The woods don’t just have Snowdrops and Spring Snowflakes.  There are also lots of lichen.

Larch cones.

And the trees themselves have such character.  At first I thought this splendid tree was a Sweet Chestnut but then I decided it might be a Walnut, a tree I have always wanted in my garden.  But even if I win the lottery I can’t just create a two hundred year old tree.  I’d have to buy a garden with in already in – Thelwell’s perhaps; as shown inA Plank Bridge by a Pool’ (1978) .

The views out to the Cheshire Plain and the Welsh Hills are beautiful.

The ha-ha.

And there was even a Rhododendron out. 

And a little patch of Winter Aconites.

But it's a big thank you to the Snowdrops - the highlight of the day....


  1. Truly a magnificent 'walk'...thank you for taking us along.

  2. Clap-clap-clap. That's applause for your lovely poem. Great job. Lovely pictures too.

  3. Brings back memories for me. Visited Chirk about 7 years ago just before I was a blogger so do not have lots of photos. it was not Snowdrop time either. We were staying in Ellesmere Port.

    We keep getting Lichen on shrubs in the garden where I do not like it.

  4. Oh, I love the poem that you wrote about the snowdrops! And I thank you very much for letting me see all these beautiful growing things! That walnut tree is huge!
    All those snowdrops remind me of my bluebell walk, so many you just don't know where to look!
    Beautiful, thank you!
    Oh! And are those beech trees with the brown leaves clinging on? (In the photo of the snowdrops amongst the trees.)

  5. what a lovely collection of the beauty at Chirk Castle! the first is my very favorite with the misty image of the car.
    but I have a bone to pick with you! what ever are 'opuscules'? I looked in my new CONCISE OXFORD DICTIONARY the 1911 first edition (the one I could afford, and had the storage room for it), and I'm wondering...did you buy literary or music?

    1. Literary! A few small counselling-type books for P-w-l-t's business.

  6. Looks like a wonderful outing - thanks for sharing! I love the door in the door - special thanks for that! - and all the other doors too... and the rest of the castle, and the grounds, and the snowdrops :) I've never seen snowdrops en masse like that. Looks almost like it does here later in the spring when our wood anemones are in bloom. I haven't seen anything in bloom here yet.

  7. What a wonderful walk through the snowdrops. Thank you, I really enjoyed that.

  8. What a beautiful day out, and what a beautiful photo essay. Thanks for sharing. xoxox

  9. What a beautiful walk! A castle! Love it! As I looked at the door handles in your photos I couldn't help but wonder whose hands touched them so many years ago and the stories that are held behind those doors! We had snowdrops this weekend also, but they were the real deal falling from the sky. Not worthy of a poem! Yours was lovely as well as the pics of the blooms. I'm jealous. We won't be seeing any of that for a few months. So thank you for taking us along with you on this outing. It gives me hope for Spring here one day!

  10. A great place it is. I have only ever walked round the outside as it isn't dog friendly.
    I enjoyed the verse.....
    You have joined the ranks of your scouse eating peers. Roger, John and Paul.
    A great post.

  11. I enjoyed this visit to Chirk Castle, and the walk in the garden too.
    I suspect many adventures are heading your way, now that both you and Jo are National Trust members.

  12. Lovely! And your poem... just perfect. Only in the UK would you find a fish named "Lord Howard de Walden"... and with a moustache! (If anyone thinks I really believe that's the fish's name, kick them in the shins for me, eh?)

  13. Happy days at Chirk Castle. I'd love to see the snowdrops. One day.... I wonder if the ha-ha is still in Calderstones Park. That's somewhere else I haven't been for decades. This year? Perhaps a tour of the Liverpool parks.

  14. Thank you, John, for the welcome and refreshing glimpse of spring! The snowdrops remind me too of the bluebell wood I walked through, I think perhaps near Murthley, one late spring day in Perthshire, and of the lavender I once saw in the south of France: a lovely collision of past and present. And your castle. I think I have been fascinated with the idea of castles since the first of the Enid Blyton books I read myself into, The Castle of Adventure. Looking back, I wonder how much the illustrated fairytale books with their watercolour images of countryside (and town), early readings, and vicarious adventures had to do with my sense of history. I think walking through bluebell woods and seeing photos like yours - of snowdrops, and spring snowflakes, and winter aconites - do much the same thing for me as an adult in evoking longing for, as well as establishing a very present sense of the past.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Take care, McGregor

  15. Hmmm... I wonder whether my comment ever got through? I left one earlier this week (or was it on Sunday?), saying thank you for the great door pictures, and mentioning how much I like the snowdrop pictures. I think I also said something about the spring snowdrops which in German are called Märzenbecher = March's cups, and that my grandma gave me a small bunch of them straight out of her garden every year for my birthday.
    Hopefully, this time my comment gets through!


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