keller
At A Glance:
  • Upcoming Departures:
    May 2 - 9, 2020

    Tour begins:
    Swansea, Wales

    Tour concludes:
    Chester, England

    Price:
    $3,295/person (DO)
    $3,690/person (SO)

    Combines With:
    Great Castles of Scotland


    Scotch Whisky in Depth

     


  • While a relatively tiny country, Wales is a beautiful mixture of hills, mountains and valleys surrounded by the sea on three sides. All three are dappled with the ruins of castles—some picturesque, some dark and daunting—that help to reveal the fascinating history of this land and its people.

    The Welsh still think of themselves as the true inhabitants of Britannia, pushed back from their heartlands in the east by barbaric waves of Saxons. In the thirteenth century they described themselves as ‘the last of the Trojans’. While in modern Welsh legend their last prince fell in December 1282, other princes of Wales soldiered on for generations, fretting to regain their lost lands which were held firmly in the enemy’s grip quite effectively by the dominance of the castles. In fact, Wales is believed to have more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Today these castles reveal a fascinating glimpse into the past which is waiting to be discovered by those who make the journey.

    To explore the castles of Wales is to study the history of its long forgotten princes and conquerors. The early castles tell the story of the opportunistic Norman and Saxon advances from the East and of the desperate Welsh defence of their homeland. Some of these fortresses were successors to old hillforts built in prehistoric times and some make use of such ancient battlements.

    Later come the great castles of the thirteenth century—intimidating statements by King Edward Longshanks that he and his men were here to stay—massive concentric castles like Kidwelly and glorious residential towers like the great tower of Flint and Grosmont. Between these early and the late fortresses can be found the great marcher castles built to form the boundary between England and Wales before the Conquest of 1282-83.

    Encountering these great stone-built structures conjers a feeling for the long-forgotten past—a past that is brought to life through the stories maintained in the often marvelous, sometimes grim old walls. The Welsh, in fact, are unique in having a special word which describes a yearning for a home that you cannot return to—a home that no longer exists, or perhaps never even was. That word is hiraeth. This is what we shall seek on our sojourn. It may no longer be possible to find the old Wales of legend and lore that lies buried beneath the debris of centuries, but on this journey, we will experience scenic beauty, fascinating history, and a sense of hiraeth, that will surely allow us to catch a fleeting glimpse of what was and what can no longer be.

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