Monthly Archives: January 2011

Make Way for the Welsh Patron Saint of Love

Hit the North wasn’t feeling very romantic last week: a heady cocktail of flu and computer crash. Ugh.

But it was St Dwynwen’s Day last Tuesday and I was meaning to post about how the season of love comes early to romantic-souled Welsh folk each January.

Dwynwen’s is the Welsh patron saint of friendship and love. Her story is one of the most tragic fables taken from the Mabinogion, the ancient book of Welsh folk tales.

She is closely associated with Anglesey and the remains of her church can still be found at Llanddwyn, southwest Anglesey.

Despite being waylaid by events last week, I’m still planning to return to this story and follow her legacy around Anglesey.

But, for now, and somewhat belatedly, some background reading from the National Museum of Wales here.

And if you’ve got tales of Dwynwen to share, then please post below.

I’d love to learn more about Wales’ little-known saint.

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Filed under Travel writing, Uncategorized, Wales

Telling Tales of Tallinn

Hit the North has been further north than usual this week: Estonia.

You can read more of my brushes with modern art from the European Capital of Culture programme in weeks to come.

Meanwhile, a thought from Tallinn Old Town:

Beware of idiot pickpockets.

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Conquering Offa’s Dyke – eventually

It was a case of third time lucky. Commissioned to write a feature for a walking magazine about the Offa’s Dyke National Trail, I had attempted to walk a section of the trail from Oswestry to Llangollen several times.

Every time I stepped off the train in Shropshire it snowed on me. Heavily.

World Heritage

Still, the story was worth pursuing. The earthwork bank, which stretched for 80 miles along the English-Welsh border, is bidding for Unesco World Heritage List. The accompanying long-distance walking trail celebrates its 40th anniversary this summer.

“Offa’s Dyke is very strong in ‘outstanding universal value’, the basic test for Unesco to consider the project,” says Ian Bapty, Secretary of the Offa’s Dyke Association. “The path helped to create English and Welsh identity.”

High wire

So myself and the assigned photographer tried again. And again.

Eventually the snow subsided and we got some images of me striding purposefully over Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Thomas Telford’s engineering masterpiece some 127ft above the River Dee near Llangollen.

Non runner

While sitting around, waiting for a break in the weather, I was reading I Wouldn’t Star From Here, a collection of travel writing by Andrew Mueller.

What I enjoyed most was the behind-the-scenes stuff – when the jobbing writer finds his assignment untangling before his eyes through no fault of his own, or battles against common sense to fulfil an editor’s impossible brief.

Here’s his take on Jerusalem:

… to suggest to a mainstream readership that they might enjoy a holiday in a place which had, in preceding years, been at best slightly dicey, at worst an outright war zone … My cheerful travel feature on Jerusalem is yet to run.

As freelance writers, we are judged on results. Come ice storms and political crisis, we have to deliver.

That’s a freelancer’s lot and I accept it as such. But it’s great to find a writer willing to explode some myths about the process to arrive at that final printed version.

Your shout

Shropshire was a minor delay and we eventually got the story. You can even read the final version when published in walk magazine in March.

But I’ve had stories spiked, trips fall apart and angles shot down in flames plenty of times before.

As we stare hopefully down the barrel of another year, maybe I’ll share some behind-the-scenes insights on this blog.


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Filed under Northwest, Travel writing

Hit the North is one

Thanks to for mulling over how Hit the North did in 2010. Post below what you’d like to read more of here in 2011.

Meanwhile, we start the new year with a high-level summary of its blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Number crunching

Featured image

This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010.

In 2010, there were 44 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 45 posts. There were 98 pictures uploaded. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 8, 2010 with 70 views. The most popular post that day was Manchester Airport’s new mile-high club.

Referring on

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for chris ofili, duncan barkes talksport, darryl lonsbrough, and father ted.

Top five posts

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

Manchester Airport’s new mile-high club February 2010

David Atkinson December 2009

Straight talking at Travellers’ Tales February 2010

When Hilton gets it right – and wrong February 2010

On the heritage trail in Leeds August 2010

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