‘Hawarden is a small town in North East Wales, famous for its Gladstone Library…’
Located in Deeside, Hawarden is only a short drive from Chester. It lies on the Wales/England border and has a population of just fewer than 2,000 people.
We arrived in the town by way of some convoluted route because we got lost (we ALWAYS get lost), and made a beeline for Hawarden Estate Farm Shop. I’d had a look at their website the night before and knew they sold alcohol. That’s always a winner for me. And they had a great selection of Welsh ales and English cider, so I really had to go.
Hawarden Farm Shop
Hawarden Farm Shop is well signed with brown tourism signs, which make it easy to locate. Even for us. You can enjoy browsing the range of produce in the farm shop, and kick back and relax with some locally produced food in the Café. If the mood takes you, can even do a spot of fruit picking on the site.
We opted for the shop and café. I had my caffeine fix and LT decided he would try a hot dog. I’ve never seen anything quite so big in my life. I’m led to believe it was, and I quote: ‘amazing’. High praise indeed.
|Seriously good food. This kept LT going for at least an hour.|
|Oh, ok, then, I’ll try a few.|
|Hawarden Farm Shop: full of goodies.|
After Les snarfed his lunch, we snapped up some local ale and cider and bumped into Bim. Bim is the owner of Bim’s Kitchen. It’s an East Wales (via London and Nigeria) business that produces high quality African inspired pastes, sauces and jams.
He kindly let us taste his wares and I bought some African Coconut and Chilli Paste. It was seriously good stuff and extremely spicy. Bim was so passionate about his business and I’ve since seen his products in my local Eurospar.
We headed out of the Farm Shop to find Gladstone’s Library. It’s located pretty much in the centre of the town, so it’s easy to spot. William Gladstone, as well as being Prime Minister 4 times, (4 times!! That’s dedication for you) was also Chancellor and held various other governmental roles. He was born in Liverpool, but spent many years living in Hawarden. These days, the town has a gorgeous old Library in his name.
|William Gladstone. Pretty nice, huh?|
As well as the Library itself, the site boasts a quite massive statue of the man. There’s also a beautiful Chapel and Restaurant, gardens, cemetery, and accommodation.
As it’s a Library, entry is free of charge,. The library does prefer you not to annoy the local people who are actually using the library, you know…for library stuff. We, on the other hand, just wanted to have a peek.
The Library does suggest that you join an informal tour and times states on the chalkboard outside. We didn’t have time for this, so had a quick creep around inside. There was a single person inside and I promise we were really quiet for the five minutes we were there.
I imagine the tours are far more informative than creeping around on your own. However, sneaking around was rather fun as the floorboards are noisy and I felt a bit like a burglar.
|You can find several Gladstone family members in the Library cemetery.|
A Walk around town
After leaving the library so that I could finally make some noise again, we took a walk to The Highway. This is the name of the main street running through the town. It sounds so much better than Main Street, doesn’t it? Anyhoo, it’s such a pretty walk, with the street adorned with colourful flowers and hanging baskets, as well as some beautiful little independent stores for me to nose through the windows of.
The pubs looked especially well maintained and we had a relaxing wander in the sunshine before pushing on to see if we could find neighbouring Ewloe Caste.
|The Fox and Grapes|
|I have no idea what this is, but I like it.|
Ewloe and its Castle
It might seem a little odd, but you abandon your car and take a short walk through a field to access the park. I’m almost certain there are other entrances, but it just so happens that this was the closest one for us. I didn’t see any Bulls or anything, so the field was perfectly safe.
There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information available about the ruin of Ewloe Castle and it is very much a ruin, which lies in the country park. It seems to comprise of two main ‘buildings’ and you can ascend a set of stairs that take you beyond, what I can only assume was a moat, to the level of the castle itself.
You can make your way to the top of the ruin, which is helpfully armed with metal bars to stop you falling to your death on the ground below. Although there isn’t a great deal of the structure remaining, it’s a good walk on a sunny day. After you’ve climbed to the top and proclaimed yourself Queen Of The Castle (and why wouldn’t you?), you can then enjoy the rest of the country park. Muy bien!
|The ruins of Ewloe Castle|
|Even more ruined ruins|
Once you’ve exhausted yourself wandering around the town, head home and test out all those ales and ciders you picked up at the Farm Shop. What could be better?