A fine but cold day. Westerly wing blowing off the Atlantic Ocean and showers expected in Liverpool about the time we were due to arrive. And that's what happened.
Our first target for today was a little town of Ironbridge located in Ironbridge Gorge. Very picturesque town with its old buildings and the River Severn flowing through the gorge. We didn't pick a very good day for a visit here. As we approached town through a roundabout, we took the exit, drove about 1.5 klms and came to a road closed sign and a "Diversion" sign pointing back the way we had come. Back to the roundabout and sure enough there was a sign on our road pointing to a different exit. A shame it wasn't showing on our approach. This is at least the third time we have been caught out by this type of diversion signage.
The town is named after the cast iron bridge built over the river in 1779. This was the first cast Iron bridge built and at the time was quite a feat of engineering. All the cast parts for the bridge were made in steel works in the gorge and the stone was also quarried locally. The bridge has a 30 metre span and is 16.5 metres off the water. There were concerns over the strength of the bridge when it was first built but after withstanding a large flood that destroyed a lot of other things soon after construction, there was no further argument. Building with the cast iron components was of course a new process so it was interesting to see that the sections were assembled using tried and true timber working techniques. The pieces were fastened together using dovetail and mortise and tenon joints and wedges. The flexibility in these joints are thought to be the reason why the bridge has withstood geological movements of the gorge over the years.
After looking over town, the bridge and the museum, we headed out of town only to meet the other end of the diversion, again, no warning until we got to it, so that meant back tracking to the same roundabout to find a different way out.
Next stop was Wroxeter Roman City, once the 4th largest city in Roman Britain. Established as a fort around 55AD through until around 88AD when the Roman Legion moved to Chester. The fort was then replaced by the city which flourished for three centuries. When the Legions were recalled to Rome, the city which had a population of up to 15,000 gradually declined without the legions to maintain it. The city was rediscovered in 1859 as with all these old stone ruins, most of the stones had been carried away over the years to build other establishments. Most of the ruins of the city are still buried but aerial mapping has been performed to identify the location. Very little of the area has actually been built on. The landscape change is clearly visible in an uncovered row of column bases for a building facade where these are now around 1.5 metres underground. The temperature was around 13 degrees and the westerly wind wind chill would have reduced that by a good margin.
Continuing north through Shrewsbury to Ellesmere, established beside one of the largest glacial meres in Britain. A mere is a lake in a depression left over from a glacier of the last Ice Age. The mere is not fed by a stream. Quite a nice peaceful road along the edge of the mere.
Continuing on through Wrexham we arrived in Chester. Another city with a long history. The city in earlier times was a walled city for defensive purposes and most of that wall remains although these days there is more of the city outside the walls. Great to drive through the old section of the city through the narrow cobblestone streets and see the historic buildings.
From Chester it was on to Liverpool arriving through the Queensway Tunnel under the River Mersey. Great tunnel, actually curves through and under the river, 4 lanes wide and lined to provide an enjoyable drive even if restricted to the usual populated speed limit of 48 Klms/hr.
In a hotel right on the docks this evening. We had planned a walk this afternoon but when we headed out, it was raining, just like forecast. We will explore in the morning as the forecast is looking pretty good.