Vale Royal

Immediately after the tournament the Prince travelled north, nominally to visit the new abbey at Vale Royal in the Weaver valley and to have discussions with the marcher lords at Chester.

60/Wirral/vale royal/1925 The forest of Vale Royal is shown in green and that of the Wirral in tangerineIn practice he hunted deer; from the hunting lodge at Rocksavage, at the junction of the junction of the Weaver and Mersey rivers, and on the Wirral Peninsula, which lies between the Mersey and the Dee.  Delamere is shown in Green and the forest of wirral in Tangerine.

60/Wirral/The islands/1926 The islands are off the north west corner of the peninsula

The hunt on the Wirral which brings the Prince into contact with John Stanley is centred around the islands at the mouth of the Dee.

John Stanley’s father was the forester for the area and lived on the Wirral. Lord James was a relative of John’s and a good friend of the Prince. Lord James became John’s first mentor.

60/Wirral/Hilbre/556 The islands are clearly visible from the mainland.

The island are clearly visible from the mainland. The beach itself will not have changed much since  the time of the hunt.

60/Wirral/Route/557 It is still possible to walk to the islands at low tide. This sign is from the beach at West Kirby

Today the area is a birdwatchers paradise. it is still possible to walk to the islands at low tide. There is some risk involved and local knowledge is useful. Teenagers ( and some older people) don’t mind being trapped by the tide.

This sign is from the beach at West Kirby

60/Wirral/Willal from Hilbre/558 This is the view from the islands looking back towards the peninsula.

This is what John and the Prince would have seen as the climbed into the tiny boat to make the return trip.

The most dangerous woman in the world

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Extract from The Prisoner of Foix--Chapter 43 -The EntranceNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley-26th April 1355


'Looks like we are going to see a bit of excitement, John. The Captain tried to get an agreement from the Prince that if there is surf running across the channel to Arcachon we will turn back to Bordeaux, but the Prince would hear none of it. Instead, he has offered to provide insurance for all three ships. If they are damaged or sunk, the owners will be compensated and every sailor who makes the passage will be given a bounty payment. What none of this seems to take into account is that if we sink in rough, fast-flowing waters we might all drown.'

John raised his eyebrows. 'But that is what we are going to do?'

'Yes, despite the fact that surf running accross the entrance is not uncommon and the deep water channel moves continually. In the end, the Prince attacked their captains on their weakest point, their professional pride! He threw down the gauntlet. He offered to take the Sally first through the channel, and to take control during the passage.' He raised his brow. 'We are going into the Bay of Arcachon, come what may! '

Extract from The Eagle of Carcassone -- Chapter 24-- A Real GoddessNo need to buy a Kindle. Read it on your computer or tablet

John Stanley - 22 July 1355

An hour later John walked with Ximene close to the river along the valley below St Feriole. It was the very essence of a summer’s day. The sun was fierce but in the shadow of the trees, it was cool and fragrant. The trees and shrubs along the riverbank hid their progress, from the Château, from St Feriole.

Eventually they reached a point where John thought it was safe to emerge from cover. To his satisfaction the stream extended into a pool with a sandy beach, shaded by trees. Where the stream entered the pool there was a flat grassy area, almost circular. Behind this, the bulk of two mountain ridges provided a splendid backdrop. 

He looked around once more ‘Not just a good training ground but a great training ground. If the Greek heroes knew about this they might be tempted to join me, to train with me’

Ximene laughed out loud. He turned to look at her. She had removed her outer clothes and was wearing a white chemise, cut short so that it barely reached her knees. Around her waist, she wore a plaited leather belt, obviously fashioned from the multitude of leather straps to be found in the tackle room.

She ran her hands down over her breasts. ‘When you were unconscious I heard you muttering about gods and goddesses, so  I have decided that from now on, for you, I will be the goddess.’