Thursday Doors – Keepers Cottage, Berkhamsted Castle

This rather lovely front door belongs to a cottage built within the ancient walls of Berkhamsted Castle, not far from where I live.

The castle is Norman, motte and bailey, and has an important part in the history of Britain. It was a Saxon holding before William the Conqueror arrived in 1066, and is the place where he accepted the surrender of the Saxon nobles before heading to London and the crown.

The Norman castle building commenced in the same year, as Berkhamsted lay on a key route from London into the Midlands, and so was seen as vitally strategic. It was a royal castle for centuries, and eventually formed part of the holdings of the Duchy of Cornwall. It remained so until 1930, when what remained of the castle was gifted to English Heritage, who manage the place to this day.

The castle, as you can see, has been plundered over the years, with much of the stone being taken for use elsewhere after it fell into ruin and was abandoned in 1495. In the mid 1800s, it narrowly escaped complete destruction – the new London Birmingham railway was being constructed, with the optimum route seen as being directly through the castle grounds. Luckily, there was a growing movement to preserve ancient buildings and so, when the railway route was sanctioned, the castle was protected, the first building to be protected from development in this way. Nonetheless, the railway route still ran through the outer fortifications, destroying the gatehouse and ditches in the process.

The Keepers cottage sits in the grounds and is occupied still – I think it must be completely wonderful to wake up and look out at a nearly one-thousand year old castle in your back garden, especially one with such an illustrious history. And so that takes us back to the little white door.

This is my response to Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors challenge. For more doors, or to add one of your own, head over to Norm’s blog and click the link.


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander – Snowdon, Wales

The results of a public poll to decide the best view in Britain were recently announced, and the winner was the spectacular view you see below. This is the view from the top of Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales, and it’s where I’ve chosen to wander this week.

By Fallschirmjäger (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3
However, unlike previous weeks, this fabulous photograph is not mine (it’s via Wikimedia Commons). I have been to the top of Snowdon, via the Snowdon Mountain Railway, but my experience was, shall we say, a little different.

Let us travel back in time quite a few years, to a family holiday. The decision was taken to ride to the top of Snowdon, something we’d never done before despite regular visits to Wales. We (my parents, brother and I) boarded the train, sitting by the window, and set off into what soon became a world of grey.

The weather changed, as it often does in the mountains, and thick cloud descended, our journey taking place in a tunnel of pale grey mist. At one point I remember looking out of the window and seeing the mist clear slightly – to reveal a precipitous drop down a green slope and, below, small white dots of sheep grazing. In some ways, I was glad I couldn’t see more.

When we reached the top of the mountain the visitor centre was under construction, so many of the large plate glass windows had been replaced with plastic sheeting that flapped and rustled incessantly in the unseasonable weather. But it wouldn’t have mattered had the windows been there, for all we could see was a solid, uniform grey. It was bitterly cold so we didn’t end up staying too long, catching the train back down to the valley and to green summertime once more.

These two photos are mine, taken on another visit as we went through the Llanberis pass, heading for the coast. It was a glorious day, and there were plenty of hikers heading up the mountain – no doubt the train would have been full as well. However, we had somewhere to be and couldn’t stop, so I was only able to take photographs from below as we went past.

So, while I can say that I have been to the top of Snowdon, I can’t say I’ve seen any of the legendary views. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not marking this as a negative experience. The mountains of North Wales are one of my favourite places on earth, and part of their magic is the mist wreathing their summits like dragon’s breath, a place where legends are made. I know I’ll take the railway again one day and hopefully, next time, I’ll be able to see the view.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.