Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Marvellously entertaining this weekend leddies ed jittlemen, much work required to find the answers, though this puzzle would sometimes better be called the 'Where is it?' competition. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be:

Q1. The Moorswater viaduct

Q2. Looe

(N.B. for question one, there seem to be nine listed viaducts on the stretch of railway line that the author is describing, though only one of them is a best fit for the description given, ie the Moorswater viaduct).

The initial clues place us in the town of Lostwithiel, it is around a mile south of a beautiful circa 13th century castle called 'Restormel Castle'. From looking at the photograph of it on the English heritage site, it does seem to be round and sits atop a mound surrounded by an earthworks ditch, next to the river Fowey.

The author now dons his 'crafty so and so' hat as there appear to be nine viaducts, all of them listed, on the railway line between Lostwithiel and Liskeard. From the references, specs and photographs I checked, only one is said to be 147 feet high with eight arches, though the length given differs somewhat from the puzzle description  (954 feet) as opposed to 268 yards which equates to 804 feet on the converter app. A battle fought roughly halfway between Liskeard and Lostwithiel on January 19th 1643, was the battle of Braddock down, which was a Royalists vs Parliamentarians affair, with the Royalists winning this one. Some sources claim that the battle started near a place called Boconnoc, though the battlefield is not shown on the OS map I looked at.

The person appointed MP for Liskeard in 1744 was a guy called Edward Gibbon, he wrote a book called 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' and was said to have been inspired to do so while smoking a bit of Lebanese 'tobacco' and 'seeing' some barefooted friars on Vespas at the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome on the 15th of October 1764. Gibbon was also said to have been involved with the pyramid cult.

The rural branchline at Liskeard looks like it tracks to the north east out of the town, before hair pinning around to the south west, going under the Liskeard viaduct, then turning to the north west until it reaches Coombe Junction Halt, where the train must go to align it correctly for the journey south to the coast, on the Liskeard to Looe line. The track at Coombe Junction Halt is a stone's throw from the Moorswater viaduct and from the satellite pictures, may actually go under it, though it is hard to tell because of all the trees. Once correctly aligned, the train's next or second stop is most likely St Keynes Wishing Well Halt, where a nearby church and a well are dedicated to St Keyne (c 5th century) who was according to some sources, a daughter of King Brychan of Brecon, feast day around 7th or 8th of October, depending which source you check (some of them claim Sept 30th also). The well is said to give the upper hand in a marriage to the partner who drinks from it first.

A poem called 'The Well of St Keyne' was written by Robert Southey who was appointed poet Laureate c1813:

     "A well there is in the west country,
      And a clearer one never was seen;
      There is not a wife in the west-country
      But has heard of the Well of St. Keyne."

Travelling to the end of the branch line brings us to the coastal town of Looe, which has a nature reserve of around 22 acres about a mile offshore called 'St George's' or 'Looe' island.

Link to the competition

Where Was I?

Friday, 29 March 2013

Daily Telegraph Where In the World? Competition

Pretty sure the building in the picture is the Monastery of Alcobaca, which lies around forty miles or so to the north of Lisbon, in Portugal. I looked at several sources which claim that it was designated a UN World Heritage site in 1989.

Where In the World?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

The most likely answers this week, seem to me to be

Q1. Plymouth

Q2. Eugenius Birch

(N.B. for question one, the author is most likely standing on the third Eddystone lighthouse (Smeaton's Tower) on a piece of land called Plymouth Hoe but the city itself is just called Plymouth)

From the initial clues given, it is likely that the puzzle compiler and his navigationally challenged friend are standing on the third Eddystone lighthouse (aka Smeaton's Tower) which according to some references, was moved from its original position on the Eddystone rocks sometime after ceasing operations following the discovery of cracks in its structure circa 1877 and was rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe circa 1882.  The Devon museums web site claims that Smeaton's tower is 72 feet high and that it has 93 steps. The structure they are viewing thirteen miles to the southwest of that position on Plymouth Hoe, is most likely to be the fourth Eddystone lighthouse (built c1882 and said to be 161 feet high), which is still in situ on the Eddystone rocks. Smeaton built the Forth and Clyde canal c1768, and it is reported to be around thirty five miles long, though has some fixed bridges now.

From the description, the 1942 film is most likely 'In Which We Serve' written by a prolific author and master practitioner of wit, banter and repartee, Mr Noel Coward (he received a special Oscar for it). It was directed by the great British director, David Lean. Some of the scenes in this picture were shot in the dockyards around Plymouth. Coward is most well known for his portrayal of 'Mr Bridger' in 'The Italian Job' (the original and best version).

The 480 foot long structure is most likely to be Plymouth promenade pier which was built by an engineer called Eugenius Birch (born c 1818). Some references claim that he built fourteen piers. The art deco lido is most likely to be Tinside pool on Plymouth Hoe, it is said to be a semi circle with a 180 foot diameter, which was opened circa 1935. The seventeenth century fortress referred to, is most likely to be the royal citadel, which is still being used by the MOD today. The motto of the city of plymouth is "Turris Fortissima est nomen Jehova"  (cue an outbreak of pythonesque laughter ......are there any wimmin 'ere?......)  this translates roughly as "the name of Jehova is the strongest tower" .

Link to the competition

Where Was I?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

They're making you work for the holiday again this week. Near as I can figure it, the most likely answers seem to me to be

Q1. Ballater

Q2. Invermark castle.

The initial clues place us in a dangerous part of the world, the Cairngorm national park. The Eastender himself has been hiking in there and knows well the hazards that lie in wait for the unwary Munro bragger (Urisks, Kelpies, Midges and Bonxies will seem as nothing while stumbling through this place, wait until you bump into the fearsome Am Fear Liath Mor in the mist, you'd best be good at running or be able to puff yourself up to look bigger than him...). The VIP the author is talking about is most likely queen Victoria, as she did not want the GNSR (Great North of Scotland) railway to proceed past the riverside town of Ballater, fearing that an invasion of gawping tourists and stalkers of celebrities would descend upon her house at Balmoral, some six miles to the west. The blurb on the GNSR railway site claims that it ceased transporting passengers c1966 after Dr Beeching decided to make cuts in the railway system.

A castle on the given bearing, of eleven crow miles south-south east from Ballater, is most likely to be Invermark castle. As there are not many roads through that desolate and wind blasted wilderness, to reach it from Ballater, you have to go the long way round via A93, the B974, followed by the B966 and then drive up the Glen Esk road (which doesn't seem to have a number). There are more castles than you can shake a stick at in this neck of the woods but the second castle, fourteen miles north-north east of Ballater, is most likely to be Kildrummy castle, some of the references claim it is of 13th century origin and did have a 'Snow Tower' which is said to have collapsed circa 1805 (not surprising after all the damage the vicious tyrannical psychopath Edward the 1st did to it, although it has to be said, that some good ol' Jacobites did cause a bit of a mess by having a boozy party there during the late unpleasantness in 1689 ).

From Ballater, it seems that the puzzle author is travelling east along the A93 until he turns south onto the B974 before stopping at the viewpoint called the Cairn O' Mount, according to Ordnance Survey, this is 455 metres above sea level or around 1493 feet in old money. The viewpoint seems to be named after a cairn which is believed to have been built circa 2000bc. Continuing south from the viewpoint brings you to 'Fasque House',which was for some time the childhood home of William Ewart Gladstone, a former British prime minister. After leaving the mansion, the directions take us most likely onto the road which follows the North Esk river to Invermark. Some of the sources I checked claim that what remains today of Invermark castle was built in the 16th century (c1526) and was owned by the Lindsay family, though there have been some kind of fortifications there since at least the 13th century.

The water feature is most likely the 'Queen's Well' which is a spring around three miles north west of the castle and queen Victoria and prince Albert are said to have taken a drink from it while travelling in the region. It has got some stones built over it which form a crown shape but it is nowhere near as impressive or as historically significant and important as the Rowan tower cairn on Rowan hill, just west of the village of Tarfside. The lake a mile to the west is most likely loch Lee.

link to the competition

Where Was I?