Volcanic Delights   4 comments

When we drive up north we often take the scenic route up through the Welsh borders. Just beyond Welshpool are a group of small steep hills rising out of Severn Valley that have always caught my eye. Me and UF have been discussing a day out on them and while the Funsters were away we decided to head out and play.

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Our original plan had us completing the walk and then heading to the pub afterwards for a meal and a pint. The Admiral Rodney sits nearby and looked like a fine country pub with great reviews. Sadly they were fully booked in the evening (first weekend after lockdown restrictions on eating out eased). However they did say lunchtime would be no problem so we just re-structured the plan. We met up in the car park in Criggion and decided to walk up Breidden Hill first before heading back down to the pub for lunch.

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Forecast was mixed for the morning, better in the afternoon and we were doused with a shower as we reached the top. The views even in the rain were superb and promised great things for the afternoon. After all the recent rains the Severn looked like it had burst its banks in a few places.

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Even though relatively low in height, these hills position over the Severn Valley and the Cheshire Plain give them an exaggerated feel of altitude. As you can see, even in the midst of a rain shower the views are extensive.

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This is Admiral Rodney’s Pillar on the summit. Some Victorian bloke who won naval battles in the American War of Independence. Not quite sure what his connection to the area was but its a fine monument with a great view.

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The surrounding hills and bumps of the Breidden Forest were a mix of woods, grass and bluebells.

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Adding interest for our descent back down to the bottom and our appointment with lunch and beers at the pub.

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And very fine it was too. Great food and a couple of pints of Butty Bach beer to add to the spirit of things. It felt great for another small piece of normality and only a shame it wasn’t quite warm enough to sit outside. When we returned outdoors ready to continue our route the weather seemed to improving.

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Trouble is, a large two course lunch and couple of pints are not terribly conducive to swift walking progress (although UF made rather a bigger deal of things). Especially in the Breidden Hills where up and down are the order of the day.

Onwards and upwards to the next summit of Bulthy Hill, the gorse adding a splash of colour.

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Breidden Hill.

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And on to the next one, Middletown Hill. Looking back from near the top to Bulthy Hill and beyond to the rain storms over the Cheshire Plain.

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Middletown Hill summit where we stopped for more refreshment and to let the beer/lunch combo settle a bit.

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Looking out over the Shropshire Hills.

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An onwards to the last and highest summit in the range, Moel y Golfa.

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Sunshine over Breidden Hill and Forest.

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Oh, and I forgot, the Volcanic reference in the post title refers to the fact that Moel y Golfa and Breidden Hill are the remnants of an old Volcano, while the other hills are the ash and cinder cones that formed around it.

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Looking back to Middletown Hill.

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The only downside to this route is there is no direct right of way between Middletown Hill and Moel y Golfa. Strictly speaking you have to walk right down to the bottom of the hill to pick up the path all the way back to the top. About a third of the way down, my map showed a path, on the ground lots of signs saying “no footpath”. The pedant in me says that’s not correct as there was a path, just not a right of way. Regardless we snuck through and saved about 200m of descent and re-ascent. I’ve since learned that you can cut across fields from the col as its recognised as an unofficial path. Once on the top the views were spectacular.

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Another summit and another monument, this one to some Traveller type who frequented the area.

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This is a feature called the Roundabout where the Severn twists and turns almost back on itself leaving a neck of land only a few meters wide that will surely cut through at some near point in time, geomorphologically speaking.

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Distant view of the Stiperstones.

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And Corndon Hill above Churchstoke (another on my list of post-lockdown hills to revisit)

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Cadair Idris, the Dovey Hills, the Arans and the Berwyns visible in the distance.

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Breidden Hill has a quite enormous quarry dug out almost from top to bottom. Its something of an impressive if rather ugly scar when viewed from the west but walking around these hills you barely notice it other than from here.

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Long Mountain. Certainly very long but pushing it a bit to describe it as a Mountain.

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The descent of Moel y Golfa was very steep indeed with a couple of surprising little rocky steps to keep us interested. It would be something of a challenge in snow or icy conditions.

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To complete the walk we had a wander around the lane at the bottom and then through Breidden Forest. The weather was now stunning, much better than forecast with abundant blue sky and sunshine.

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The forest was wonderful in the evening sunshine. Easy grassy paths with bluebells dotting the open meadows.

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I had an idea I could return to the top of Breidden Hill until I realised it was already past 7pm and we still had a bit of walk left and a long drive home.

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I settled for enjoying these fine woodland glades.

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And grassy paths.

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When planning the walk we’d invited a few others who for a variety of reasons couldn’t join us. Before setting off we’d remarked that perhaps these hills were not worth the long drive. As we neared the end of the walk we agreed that this small and perfectly formed range of hills were well worth any effort to reach them. The combination of summits, ridges and forest (and a nice pub with fine food and beer) was and is irresistible.

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As a final point I’d always wondered whether you could extract a full days walk from these hills. Nine hours after setting off (admittedly with two hours spent in the pub) and with 12 miles and 3500 foot of climbing I think I can safely say it was a very full day’s effort.

Always great when a speculative plan pays such huge dividends. Another for the book (Small Hills etc etc) and another favourite that needs a regular repeat.

4 responses to “Volcanic Delights

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  1. What spectacular ‘little’ hills. As ever, love the views of patchwork farmland and, in this case, the twisting course of the Severn. Very nice. All that and two hours in the pub!

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    beatingthebounds
    • It’s that quintessential British landscape. Quite why its taken me and UF so long to get round to walking these hills I’m not sure but they are well worth the drive. Tough little day out, although you save quite a bit of effort by not going to pub of course. The fact the weather turned so stunning at the end of the day was a bonus we weren’t expecting

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  2. Totally irresistable!

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