Wales and castles

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by sanderx1, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Would like to visit Beumaris, Dinefwr, Caernarfon, Conwy, Carew, Harlech - maybe something else too, but basicly 5-6 locations for about 1 day (max 2) per location during an approx 1 week visit. I know one should stay way longer to do them justice but ... I can return and vacation resources are as they are :sad: I know what the weather in Ireland is like and I'm assuming Wales is similar? So I'm prepared to say "no reason for all this colour film, I'll shoot B&W of castles in rain instead" but it would be nice to minimize that chance. Any particular restrictions on visiting and taking photos in these castles?

    Oh, and I don't drive so I'll be taking trains a lot I guess...
     
  2. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,754
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Caernarfon and Harlech are my favorites and perhaps easiest to reach via train. Conwy is also easily reached by train as I remember. Beumaris is very nice too as are all, but these in my mind are more picturesque and what one imagines castles to be. No real restrictions on taking photos that I know of, but my visits were pre-9/11 and everything might have changed. Be prepared for crowds, especially at Caernarfon depending upon when you plan to visit. Also... most have specific hours of operation and admission fees.

    Have fun!

    Bill
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2006
  3. Dracotype

    Dracotype Member

    Messages:
    63
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Location:
    El Cerrito,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Portmeirion is a great spot photographically. Lots of interesting architechture, flora, and landscapes. There is a fee to get in, but is well worth it. As far as I know, no restrictions on photos. I went post 9/11, so hopefully nothing has changed.

    Drew
     
  4. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,754
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Excellent suggestion!
     
  5. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can spend a lot of time waiting if you use the trains, and some of the smaller inland castles like Llanberis can be hard to get to. However, the area is crawling with helpful hiker and climber minibusses so hitch-hiking is easy, simple and in many cases faster than having your own car.
     
  6. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

    Messages:
    1,152
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Near Tavisto
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi,
    Many of the best-known castles are illuminated at night (at least in June when I normally visit), and although you won't be able to go inside, there are some good external shots to be had. Carnarvon is particularly good, and if conditions are good, scoot over the footbridge for night-time reflection in the harbour entrance!
    If you're getting around by train and can resist the temptations of castles for a while, be sure to take the Conway Valley line from Conway to Blaenau Ffestiniog. It's part of the national rail network rather than one of the private narrow-gauge steam lines and so only costs a few quid for a return ticket. Blaenau is great for b/w photography - huge tips of slate waste towering over rows of smal cottages, and the underground trip around Llechwedd Slate Quarry (partly by train) is spectacular.
    Whatever you do, I'm sure you'll enjoy North Wales, but don't forget your waterproofs!

    Steve
     
  7. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you do go to Ffestiniog there is some fantastic industrial archeology photography do be done in the abandoned slate workings dotted about the Moelwyns. Some steep walking, but nothing too serious.
     
  8. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is a castle at Abergavenny, however, between Abergavenny and Ross-on-Wye on 'The Old Ross Road' (the B4521),there is a castle which is off the usual tourist tracks, Skenfrith Castle. I pass it quite often on my way to Wales because I do not use the motorways. It always seems to be lacking visitors and strikes me as a great spot for uninterrupted photography. It is also not far from Offa's Dyke.
     
  9. markbb

    markbb Member

    Messages:
    585
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2005
    Location:
    SE London.
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Andy,
    there are stacks of Castles like Skenfrith in that area. I was bought up in SW Herefordshire & there must have been a good dozen all within easy cycle reach for teenager.

    To answer Sanderx1's questions. As you will know, Ireland is wetter on the west than the east, So wales *tends* to get less rain than Ireland. So don't expect everyday to be wet. Having said that, if you get up into the hills the weather can change in 5 minutes. Bring some colour tranny/negative film as well.

    As to the locations you mention, I must admit I don't know them well but I would expect 'professional' photography to require a permit. This usually equates to: are you using a tripod? Of course this is only relevant if you are on 'their' land. From a public footpath, car park, street etc. you can photograph what you like with whatever equipment you like (so long as you don't block people's passage).
     
  10. Dracotype

    Dracotype Member

    Messages:
    63
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Location:
    El Cerrito,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    As he said, beware. When I went, the day started out overcast, started raining, and then turned to hail. It stopped long enough for us to get to Portmeirion, and then started raining again. The rain then turned to hail/snow/slush about halfway through our time there. All that said, I had a great time that day. And yes, take some color tranny film. And a good raincoat.

    Drew
     
  11. winger

    winger Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,910
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    southwest PA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've only been to Wales once, but it seemed like every exit from the highways had a sign for a castle. My favorite place wasn't a castle (though all that I saw that have been mentioned were great). I absolutely loved Tintern Abbey. I want to go back there so badly.
    Hope you have fun!
     
  12. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

    Messages:
    2,016
    Joined:
    May 11, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, M
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    I went to Caernarfon at night and it was really neat. I took some slide film there. I took some color IR shots at Harlech (was going to take b/w IR too, but had some technical difficulties, i.e. film leader didn't catch :'(). I took some normal color slides there too. I'd like to go back. If you get a chance to go up into the turret, do so, it's an interesting view. Lots of stairs though. :surprised: Portmeirion is also a neat place. The television show called The Prisoner (I think that's right) was filmed there in the '60's.
     
  13. Brac

    Brac Member

    Messages:
    632
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'd second Tintern Abbey but from memory I don't think there's a railway there (think the nearest station would be Chepstow a few miles away) but I guess there would be a bus service from Chepstow.
     
  14. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Ooh, lots of good information, thanx everybody - I had no idea the castles would be lit at night, I'll definitile want to check that out. No tripod doesn't sound too good - I suck at keeping the camera level - anybody know where would one get a permit to do 'professional' photography? Or is it just not worth the bother?

    Tintern Abbey looks really cool - I'll definitely add that to the plans. I like cicercian architecture and want to go to France for it at some point ... no definit year number yet though.
     
  15. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

    Messages:
    1,152
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Near Tavisto
    Shooter:
    35mm
    As far as getting permission goes, I suppose it's a case of how much kit is involved. If you show up bristling with gear then someone might have something to say, mainly because these days the Health and Safety aspect is what they are largely concerned about, ie someone tripping over a tripod leg and going a*s over t*t down their forty foot flight of 14th century granite steps! I rather like the old maxim "Tis far, far easier to beg forgiveness than to seek permission."

    Tintern Abbey is superb, but usually either crawling with people or engulfed in scaffolding, possibly both if you're really unlucky. A little further down the Wye Valley towards Chepstow is a place called "The 365 Steps", where there are ... I sense you're ahead of me here ... and if you go up them there are superb views across the meanderings of the Wye to the Severn and the Severn Bridges.

    Steve
     
  16. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Carry a monopod, you can always claim it's a hiking stick. Or get one of these.
    I recently visited The Great Britain, Brunel's iron steamship, and used a monopod for almost every interior shot because I was using available light and slow speeds . No one said anything and it wasn't too much of a chore to collapse the leg after each shot.
    You can see the results it is possible to get using a monopod in the attached pictures (note these are just some neg scans I quickly ran off for this post).
     
  17. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

    Messages:
    1,152
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Location:
    Near Tavisto
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I visited the Great Britain for the first (and only) time twenty years ago, when the hull was being botched with what looked like Plastic Padding and Dulux gloss paint. Looks like things have moved on a bit since then and I should pay another visit. Nice pics too!
    Steve
     
  18. Simon E

    Simon E Member

    Messages:
    87
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2005
    Location:
    Shropshire,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Welsh weather is pretty fickle too, particularly on the Western fringes. I wouldn't rule out colour film entirely, mind. Conwy is lit by night too - see http://www.uk-photo-library.co.uk/wales/conwy/pages/6.htm

    Some links you might find useful:

    A site covering all the Welsh castles in detail (and Abbeys too):
    http://www.castlewales.com/

    Wales' official heritage body that is charged with looking after most of them:
    http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/
    The homepage says there is free entry to 12 of the castles on 1 March, St David's Day (Dydd Dewi Sant).

    Conwy and Harlech are two that I know are near train stations. More info from http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/

    BTW check your spelling before you try to garner info via searches e.g. Beaumaris (I think there's a bus service of some sorts from Bangor to this one). Local Tourist Information Centres will be able to assist too. Official tourism websites:

    http://www.visitwales.com/
    http://www.nwt.co.uk/
    http://www.wtbonline.gov.uk/

    Simon.
     
  19. Rob Archer

    Rob Archer Member

    Messages:
    517
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    King's Lynn,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi
    My favourite has got to be Harlech. If you walk south through the town, just past the library you will come to a rocky outcrop overlooking the castle, with the Snowdon range in the background - one of Britains most stunning views! the light is good most of the day except in the morning in mid-winter, when the sun in behind the hill. happy shooting!

    Rob
     
  20. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,984
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Without a car, your biggest problem is going to be transport. Out of season, buses run far less frequently (if at all) and may only run two or three times a day even to popular locations. Contrariwise, if you arrive in mid-season you get zillions of people crowding the place. So, I would recommend visiting at one end or the other of the peak holiday season: say May or June (school holidays start in July) or September (schools go back 1st week in September). This would also help with finding suitable accommodation.

    Have fun, Bob.

    P.S. Useful sites: Trains: http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/ there are maps and timetables in there... Click on "Travelling With Us"

    Buses: list of links to the various Welsh bus companies: http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/travel/pages/buses.shtml
     
  21. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My advice would be to hire a car for the duration of your time in Wales. Public Transport in Britain is not as good as it used to be. In rural areas it is almost non-existent. For example, when I stay in our cottage in mid-Wales (4 miles north of Lampeter close to Llangeitho) the local bus runs twice a week. The nearest rail station is in Aberystwyth, 15 miles away.
     
  22. Ron Clark

    Ron Clark Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2006
    Location:
    Bedworth, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There's lots of suggestions here but don't forget the National Trust sites too. The three that come to mind are Penhryn (just outside Bangor and off the A5), Chirk (just over the border and off the A5 too), and Powis (just outside Welshpool).

    I agree about needing indipendant transport though - very important indeed.

    Ron
     
  23. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Like I said in the beginning of the thread, I don't drive, so car rental is out. See, the problem is that I don't know how to drive and don't have a driving licence. And given that I have rather strong glasses ( -8 plus cylinders) and really bad reaction times I'm not really considering getting one either. Yes, it can be a bit limiting at times.
     
  24. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's worth repeating: put on a rucksack and a pair of walking boots and stick your thumb out. I never hitch hike anywhere else, but in Snowdonia it's a doddle, even if you are not accompanied by a supermodel in a bikini.
     
  25. Rob Archer

    Rob Archer Member

    Messages:
    517
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    King's Lynn,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Don't get hung up about poor public transport - it's not as bad as people make out. Most of wales has good bus services, and the rail service along the coasts is at least every 2 hours in summer ( a bit less in winter.) Also consider cycling (if you don't mind hills) there are plenty of cycle hire places. I often carry a medium format kit complete with tripod on my bike. In my opinion the blinkered 'can't do anything without a car' mentality is destroying our landscapes - try photographing the Llanberis pass on a bank holiday!

    Rob