A witch’s tale…

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Blake Mere Pool

Take the A53 north of Leek in Staffordshire, and then the first turning on the right after you pass Ramshaw Rocks and The Roaches, and along the road across Morridge moor you’ll find a small pool with a spooky story…

Officially known as Blake Mere, locally it’s also known as Mermaid’s Pool, and the legend tells of a beautiful young woman who rejected the advances of a local man named Joshua Linnet. Unable to accept the rejection, Joshua accused the woman of being a witch and persuaded the local townsfolk to drown her in Blake Mere Pond. With her final breath however, the young woman muttered a curse against Joshua and three days later his body was found by the pool, his life claimed by the ghost of the woman he wronged, his face covered with claw marks. It is said that her spirit still haunts the pool in the form of a demon mermaid…

The Roaches & Ramshaw Rocks

The Roaches after sunset

If you are not afraid of witches it’s a great spot for a photograph. From the roadside, there’s a clear view of The Roaches and Ramshaw Rocks, and on a still day, the skies above are reflected in the pool. In summer the sun sets directly in front of you, and at the twilight hour casts an eerie glow across the moorland grasses. Just don’t stay around after night falls – you never know when the mermaid will show herself!

For a spot of refreshment, carry on along the road towards Leek, and after a couple of miles you’ll arrive at the welcoming Reform Inn – a great pub with good food.

A sunny day in Wales…

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Seafront – Aberdovey

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t always rain in Wales – just most of the time! But when the sun shines, it’s glorious, especially by the sea. Here in Shropshire we are actually quite close to Wales, but about as far from the sea as it’s possible to get – it’s well over 2 hours drive through mid-Wales to the coast (a little closer to the North Wales coast, but you have to pick your spots there.)

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The only ‘crocs’ you’ll find here!

We do love the sea, so despite the fact it was still school holiday time, we decided to take a trip to our favourite haunt, Aberdovey. After a fairly grim journey – not holiday traffic, just the dreaded roadworks – we arrived to glorious sunshine in Aberdovey around noon.  Although it was the middle of the holidays, there were still a few car parking spaces on the seafront car park, so that’s where we settled. It’s a typical seaside town, with a harbour, pretty-painted houses along the seafront, a few decent pubs and the usual seaside shops – buckets and spades, and a few gift/clothing shops. And the beach of course – beautiful fine sand all the way from the road and car park, right down to the sea itself. Then there are the views – across the Dyfi estuary to Ynyslas (more later!), across sand dunes, and with the hills as a backdrop – what’s not to like on a sunny day?

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Fish & chips from Shelleys

A quick paddle in the sea (no Mediterranean temperatures here), and chance to also take a few photos. Then the highlight of any trip to the seaside – fish and chips! Only one chip shop in Aberdovey – Shelleys, on the seafront, but definitely up with the best (as evidenced by the queue out of the doors and up the street…) Well worth the wait, we came out with our fish and chips and settled on a bench overlooking the beach to scoff them.  Wary of the seagulls that were ready to pounce, I kept a very close eye on mine! And good they were too – 10 out of 10 for taste, and pretty good value too.

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The sand dunes of Ynyslas Nature Reserve

M reminded me that as a child she went to Borth – just across the estuary, so off we set.  It’s a bit of a drive – back into Machynlleth, then south towards Aberystwyth, before picking up the coast road again. Borth itself isn’t that special (not to me anyway) – its a bit of a sprawl along the beach road, and for most of it you can’t really see the sea as there is a huge concrete seawall holding back the stoney beach. Anyway, we backtracked and found the spot that M remembered – Ynyslas.  There was the caravan site where she stayed and the sand dunes she crossed to get to the sandy beach.  A long time ago!

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Mr Whippy ’99’ ice cream

We parked at the very end of the road, right on the beach (it floods at high tide, so watch out!).  Fabulous views back across the estuary to Aberdovey, and then we took a walk through the sand dunes (now a very well organised nature reserve.) More great views from the top of the sand dunes!

After partaking of that other Great British Seaside Tradition – a Mr Whippy ’99’ ice cream – it was time to turn our back on the sea and head home. What a great day, and it didn’t rain once!

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Aberdovey (from Ynyslas Beach)

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