"THE WILD EAST" - EPISODE 2 / GREAT WELSH ROADS 3
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Mike Parker's camper van takes to the road again, starting at the most famous road side café in Wales. Located 1500' above sea level, the Ponderosa café looks down at the breathtaking views of the Horseshoe Pass. Particularly popular with bikers, it's been a legendary stop off for eighty years.
The "cream dream" van takes the dramatic road down to Wrexham, where Mike finds that the tower of Wrexham church replicates a tower at Yale University, Connecticut. This is easily explained - Elihu Yale, a Wrexham boy, was responsible for both. This fact wasn't appreciated by the University who sued Wrexham council in 1999 - the Americans lost.
The village of Rhosllannerchrugog has an unbelievable four choirs - all of whom rehearse in the newly renovated Miners' Institute or the Stiwt. This grand old theatre was rescued from dereliction by the local community, which is a bastion of Welsh language and culture .
Mike and his faithful companion Patsy stroll along Watt's Dyke, a demarcation line between squabbling neighbours, that predates Offa's Dyke by some three centuries. They then cross the Dee into the pastoral landscape of Maelor , remaining in Wales but on the eastern side of Offa's Dyke. Until 1974 this was a detached part of Flintshire sandwiched between Welsh Denbighshire and English Cheshire and Shropshire. It still retains it's unique identity.
The author Lorna Sage described Maelor as "a little rounded isthmus of Wales sticking out into England". Her autobiography describing her unhappy childhood in Hanmer brought unwelcome publicity to the quiet village, but it has other, happier, claims to fame - the poet R.S. Thomas was a curate in Hanmer church and Owain Glyndwr married Margaret Hanmer in the village.
Mike returns to the river Dee which loops around the famous race course of Bangor on Dee. It's Ladies Day at the races and equestrian author, Rachel Wilson is Mike's expert guide. But will he win the battle of the bookmakers?
GREAT WELSH ROADS is a Beca TV production for ITV 1 Wales. It is presented by Mike Parker and produced by Helen Williams-Ellis.