My usual route to Abergele would have taken me straight down the A55 but my pitch at Manorafon wouldn't be available until 1pm, and as I've been following a very interesting coastal walking blog I decided to use part of the morning to look for some of the recently mentioned places just off the A548 coast road. My first stop was at Flint Castle, situated on a grassy mound between the edge of the small town and the River Dee estuary; constructed in the late 13th century it was the first of a series of castles built during King Edward 1's campaign to conquer Wales, though most of it was demolished in the mid 17th century.
There was no entrance fee to the castle and even though it wasn't yet 9am the gates were already open; it was also dog friendly so I was able to wander round quite freely with Sophie and Poppie. Unfortunately the sun decided to play hide and seek just then and dark grey clouds loomed ominously over the estuary, but by waiting for breaks in the cloud I managed to get several good shots of various parts of the castle.
The next stop on my agenda was to be Greenfield Dock, a tidal creek with a handful of small fishing boats, but finding it proved to be impossible. It wasn't shown on the map book, and though I expected to see a sign somewhere along the main road saying 'Greenfield Dock' I drove right through Greenfield village without seeing anything. I was almost tempted to turn round and go back, and maybe ask someone if necessary, but I still had somewhere else to go so finding Greenfield Dock would have to wait until another day.
My third quest was to find the old Duke of Lancaster ship, lying abandoned and derelict on the estuary at Llanerch-y-Mor. Originally a passenger ship sailing to and from Ireland it was taken out of service in 1979 and beached at Llanerch-y-Mor to start a new life as a 'fun ship', but many legal wranglings over the years led to its eventual closure and it has stood abandoned and unloved ever since. As I approached Llanerch-y-Mor village I could see the top of the ship ahead and to my right and a bit further along I came to a large car park set back off the road; the ship had to be fairly close to there so I pulled in and found I was in luck - going through a gate in the corner of the car park, under the railway bridge and following the path took me straight to it.
Much of the outside of the ship was covered in rust, though an attempt had been made at sometime to brighten it up with specially commissioned spray painted 'artwork' though to be honest I thought the pictures were horrible and the whole thing just looked a mess. Unfortunately various metal fences, locked steel gates and copious amounts of barbed wire threaded over and through the nearby hedges stopped me from getting as close as I wanted to so I had to be content with taking my photos from the path.
To see the other side of the ship I had to go right back along the path to the main road, cross a bridge then down along the path on the far side of the stream. In the sunshine, and with not as much graffiti on that side, the ship did look marginally better - with the rust cleaned off and a decent paint job it could have looked quite smart. Taking the last of my photos I left the ship to rust in peace and returned to the van - it was 10.15am by then and I'd arranged to meet my blogging friend Eileen no later than eleven o' clock. We were meeting for the first time and I didn't want to be late so the fourth place I'd intended going to would have to wait.
It was a few minutes before eleven when I pulled up outside Eileen's house; she came out to greet me then took me indoors to introduce me to her husband Martyn and adorable little dog Annie. I'd been pre-warned that Annie likes to mug people by sniffing out whatever food or treats they may have in their pockets or bags so I'd gone prepared with a dog chew in each pocket but rather disappointingly I didn't get mugged, though I still gave Annie the chews.
It had previously been suggested that it might be nice to take all three dogs for a walk in the park not far from Manorafon so after coffee and a chat we set off in convoy to Abergele. I'd driven past that particular park many times on previous stays at Manorafon but this was the first time I'd actually been in there; with lots of open space the dogs were able to run and explore off the lead and we walked a full circuit of the park before returning to the car park. It was 1pm by then and just the right time for me to book in at the camp site so I said goodbye to Eileen, Martyn and Annie and set off on the short drive to Manorafon, ready for the next part of my day.