Archive for June 2020

Missing the Rain   18 comments

In between the two hots spells we had some mixed weather of sunny, sultry days and showers, Trying to balance between between kids commitments, and visiting parents now rules were more relaxed we picked a day to take stroll around Bradnor Hill. I’d been up here in January in completely different conditions, cold wet and everything with the green lushness of a damp winter.

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Its the site of the highest golf course in England. This is how they keep the fairways trim and tidy.

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Its a fine high level stroll, parking and staying high for most of the walk.

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There are some huge open pastures, home to what looked like thousands of sheep. I don’t think I’ve ever walked through a field so strewn with sheep poo!

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We were following Offas’s Dyke and its one of the places where you can actually see and walk along the dyke itself.

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Looking across to Hergest Ridge and Hanter Hill where we’d walked a few weeks back.

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Back east along the Lugg and Arrow valleys.

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The view from Herrock Hill is a spectacular one, this is looking over Radnorshire and into the barred land of Wales.

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Black Mountains visible in the distance.

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The next couple of images show that bright green that can only mean bracken is starting to flourish. I’m hoping that Wales will open soon and we can access the higher mountains before these smaller hills become smothered in the green stuff.

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Final view, actually taken from one of the tee’s on the Golf Course. Not a bad place to play a round. Forecast had been for heavy showers but we stayed dry and they only arrived with a vengeance after we got home.

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A Bike Ride and a Swim   13 comments

After our Wye Valley walk the day before and the missed wild swim opportunity I wanted to fix that before the weather turned (as it was planned to the next day). Time to combine that with a bike ride. We have as number of swimming spots near home but most are popular and therefore unlikely to be suitable in the current situation. My guide book mentions the Lugg at Bodenham as a good spot so I hoped an early start and the fact its out in the sticks would make it a little quieter.

It was a fine ride, almost exclusively on quiet country lanes (apart from a nervy crossing of the A49 on its only dual carriageway stretch) although a lot further than I thought – 18 miles each way.

Bodenham is a beautiful village with a stunning church, looking especially fine on a clear sunny day. I found a quiet corner to lock my bike and get changed and headed for the river.

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The Lugg is a small river but its deep enough for a swim and was surprisingly cold. There were a few people around but in no way crowded and everyone was being distanced and respectful. I found a quiet shady spot and went for a swim.

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I didn’t stay in long as more people were arriving and I’m not really a sun-bather.

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Happy with a wonderful cooling dip, I headed back to my bike for the return journey.

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The meadow along the riverbank was stunning.

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The bridge over the Lugg on the way back to the Church. There are also some abandoned Quarry pools nearby that are also good for swimming (although you are warned not to enter the water as its perceived to be dangerous due to hidden obstacles). I need to investigate these when I come back here.

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Last couple of shots of the church before cycling the second 18 mile stretch back home.

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Wye Valley Wander   12 comments

Our wonderful spring weather was drawing to a close. One last chance – for now – to set out early for a walk in the sunshine. A change of scene was needed so we stayed local and took a walk in the Wye Valley.

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Parking up in Goodrich we headed up to the top of Coppet Hill for the now regular routine of cooked breakfast.

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Views over Goodrich Village and its castle.

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Our only summit of the day – Coppet Hill. A long spur between the sinuous bends in the river Wye.

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Lazing in the warm sun, bellies full of bacon and eggs.

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Its a lovely high level stroll before descending the long ridge through the woods and down to the river. This was the first time I felt moderately ill-at-ease in the new situation. We were walking a respectful distance behind a family group who were stopping more frequently than us. Not a problem as it was a fine day to pause and enjoy the surroundings while we waited for them to move on. What was unsettling was that under normal circumstances we’d have just walked past and shared our mutual enjoyment, where we were all heading, what a fabulous day it was. This is one of the delights of the outdoors, those brief moments of sharing these joys with like-minded people. It felt like I was avoiding them, almost rude and it felt wrong. Just something we will have to get used to for a while.

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The rest of the walk was a long easy wander along the banks of the Wye.

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The grassy meadows full of buttercups were wonderful.

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Just before we reached the church and hostel at Welsh Bicknor I took a look at the old railway tunnel on the long-abandoned line. Its blocked off now for safety reasons but when I was a kid we visited the hostel on a History field trip and took a walk through. A few hundred yards that slices off a good 2 -3 miles of river walking.

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I’d forgotten what a beautiful church it was, especially under such a clear blue sky.

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As we continued we were looking for a likely spot for a stop and a swim in the river. Unfortunately all the best spots were on the other side of the river and the few on our side were all occupied. The last few miles were protected by what must be one of the longest continuous patches of nettles anywhere.

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Still, the walking was still lovely, albeit it was becoming rather hot. The swim was badly missed.

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A new family enjoying the weather.

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We finished off at Kerne Bridge before a short walk back up the road to Goodrich and the car.

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Something different and another walk that I probably wouldn’t have done had the Welsh Mountains been open. Accentuate the positive!

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Sunshine After the Rain   13 comments

As I point out many times, the fickleness of the British weather never ceases to amaze me. A couple of days after strong winds, heavy rains and cold temperatures, Bank Holiday Monday delivered a complete stunner of a day.

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As before we were up and out early to make best efforts at avoiding any crowds. Heading back to Shropshire and the bristling tors of Stiperstones we were parked up by 9am and heading onto the ridge for breakfast. The other advantage this has is its often the best part of the day. The air was clear and the views all around were superb.

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A zoom shot of Cadair Idris on the horizon.

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South to the Marches and Black Mountains

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Manstone Rock.

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We managed to construct a decent spot for breakfast and enjoyed our usual repast of bacon and egg butties and a cuppa. It’s a fine tradition that I intend to stick to through the summer.

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There are flatter and grassier spots but they were a further away and we were hungry.

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Corndon Hill, one of new favourites but sadly the Welsh Border makes a little wrinkle to include it so it’s out of bounds at the moment.

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Whilst the ridge is a fine walk, the path is one of the most awkward one’s I know. It’s a knobbly, rocky path with all said rocks seemingly angled in all sorts of odd opposing directions. Its really frustrating to walk on but luckily the views more than made up for that.

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Looking back to Manstone Rock.

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The Devils Chair. The long spine of rock at the northern end. Tackled direct and along the crest is quite a challenge. I bailed on a couple of sections figuring it wasn’t the best of times to be risking a visit to hospital. It’s really very narrow and exposed in places and would not be out of place in the Alps.

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A view from one of the pinnacles.

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And looking back to the arête.

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Looking out east, The Wrekin prominent in the distance.

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We carried on past the path we usually take down the east side where we’ve always parked at the fine pub of The Bridges Inn. This time we carried on north with a plan to head down to the west side and explore one of the steep sided valleys (or dingles as they seem to be called here) that carve that side.

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This is Mytton Dingle which looked very fine from above but fancying a longer walk we carried on with a view to descending Crows Nest Dingle.

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After a pointless detour through a field looking for a path that wasn’t there we finally found the right way in to the dingle via a stop on Oak Hill. Worth it for the birds-eye view of Mytton Dingle and the village of Stiperstones.

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It was worth the effort. Crows Nest Dingle was lovely. A narrow valley, green and lush with splashes of colour from the Gorse and Broom.

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It even had a picture-perfect cottage.

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The last few hundred yards were a mess of farm clutter and scabby sheep before some road walking, a wooded path along the base of Oak Hill, a wander through the village (with another wonderful looking pub, sadly closed of course) before a steep grassy field to climb.

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The views across the Shropshire countryside and the dramatic edge of Mytton Dingle were so fine it seemed entirely correct to make another long stop for a cuppa and snacks.

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More road walking and a nice track through the fields brought us to the old mine workings of The Bog. This was the only place I’ve been since lockdown that was even remotely busy. There were several families enjoying the sunshine but unlike other scenes across the UK, everyone was quiet and respectful (and distanced).

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We finished off the walk with a wander through the forest and down to the end of ridge near Nipstone Rock.

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We found a nice grassy hollow for another rest to soak up the warm sunshine.

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All that was left was to wander through Nipstone Woods and across this field. It always seems to have long grass and I love the way it ripples in the breeze.

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Even the short stretch of path back to the car was a delight, winding through the Gorse with views across to the Long Mynd.

Another wonderful warm spring day walk, clocking up 10 miles. Whilst its a little frustrating to be so close to the Welsh Mountains at home, without being able to visit, we are so lucky to have areas like this so close to home. Despite their scenic grandeur they don’t seem to have attracted anything like the hordes that have descended on the more popular honeypots. Its delivered a couple of fine days without ever feeling we were breaking the lockdown constraints. It already seems like a long time ago now that lovely spell of weather seems to have come to an end.

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The Storm Before the Calm   12 comments

Well, storm is overstating things a bit but it gives the idea just how much the weather changed over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. The Saturday was grey, cold, windy with the feel of rain in the air. Eager for some fresh air and exercise we headed out for a brief stroll around Hergest Ridge near Kington, taking in the main sights. First on the list is the small grove of Monkey Puzzle trees.

This time it provided shelter as we were hit by a nasty cold rain shower. I’ve been wearing shorts since lockdown began but this was not a day for shorts!

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At this point we didn’t know what to do as the summit area is pretty exposed and dark clouds were all around. We pressed onwards but after another short dousing the sun came out and we had a glorious half an hour of sunshine, blue skies and clear views.

Looking across to the Gwaunceste and Gladestry Hills – never walked in there.

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The shower receding behind us.

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On to the next of the “sights” the small pool near the summit. Completely dried out after the stunning spring weather.

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The Radnor Hills

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The Trig Pillar

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The true summit.

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And off to Hanter Hill.

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Now I have to admit to being a little naughty here. Whilst the majority of Hergest Ridge and this walk is in England, the col between there and Hanter Hill marks the border with Wales. The short steep, climb out and back to the top meant we were in forbidden territory for 20 minutes. I don’t think anyone saw us and as with all the other times I’ve been up there we didn’t see a soul.

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Herrock Hill and Bradnor Hill.

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And back to Hergest Ridge

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The dis-used racetrack that runs around the summit. No idea what they raced up here.

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And the final sight, the Whet Stone (the one that supposedly walks down to Kington every night for a drink)

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The sunshine belies the fact the clouds were gathering again and we raced down the ridge back to the car. The weather on our next walk was rather different!

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