Archive for the ‘Local Walks’ Category

From the River to the Woods   9 comments

An overcast day and a late start had us looking for a walk close to home. Ever keen to try something new, we headed to Mordiford just east of the city to connect a series of riverside and woodland paths into a circuit. I’ve looked at this area on the map for a while so I was interested to see how it worked. Sometimes, lesser frequented paths can be disappointing, poorly marked, overgrown or just not there. Pleased to report that this one was excellent with no issues at all.

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We set off along the levee above the Lugg before heading down to the banks of the river. As ever, looking for possible summer river swimming spots.

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Looking back to West Wood where we’d be later on.

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The Lugg is a pretty little river and in many spots provides a fine swim.

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This is where TBF normally swims after work. Bit chilly this time of year for river swims.

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A nice little stone bridge over the Lugg into Hampton Meadow.

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Hampton Meadow is rather nice. We did note that its home to nesting birds including the increasingly rare Curlew. They therefore ask you nicely to avoid crossing it in spring and early summer so this walk is for Autumn and winter.

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After 3 miles my GPS was telling me we’d done a grand total of 8 feet of ascent so it was time for more of a workout. We passed a superb looking house in Cockshoot and headed up into the wooded hills above Mordiford.

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Despite my reservations this part of the walk was delightful. A mix of woodland and open fields with expansive views over the Shire to the Black Mountains.

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And the collection of wooded hills in the east of the county.

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After dropping into Mordiford we headed out on the Wye Valley Walk through Orchards and more open fields. The trees now in full autumn glory with the sun occasionally lighting them up to great effect.

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The return to Mordiford was through the woodland of Fownhope Park and the previously mentioned West Wood.

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All the paths and tracks marked on the map were exactly where they should be which was a relief.

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It was getting late as the walk had become longer than I’d planned, the route being much more enjoyable than I expected.

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The late afternoon sunlight in the trees was enchanting.

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We put in extra short loop back through the orchards to avoid a few hundred yards of busy main road.

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Really good new route and one I’ll be returning to, especially in the autumn when the trees are in fine form.

Table for One   14 comments

In the lead up to the Bank Holiday weekend, I was home alone with the weather in pattern of gloomy days and brighter afternoons. One those brighter afternoons turned into a glorious cloudless evening. On a whim I decided on an evening walk but rather than the usual after tea excursion, I’d take my evening meal with me. I had some spicy pork stew and freshly baked bread so chucked them in various containers and headed out.

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It was a stunning evening, a complete contrast to the grey gloom of the first part of the day.

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The trees and the golden fields of wheat the perfect backdrop to the blue skies.

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I headed up to Merbach Hill as the closest spot to home, an easy and uneventful stroll other than choosing a circular route that included a very nettle-overgrown stretch of path. I seem to have stung my legs more times this summer than any other!

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Once clear of the woodland, itself somewhat swamped with bracken, the views over mid-Wales and the Wye Valley were as impressive as always.

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I found a nice spot overlooking the Black Mountains and distant Brecon Beacons for my repast.

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Of course a meal on the hill wouldn’t be complete without a beer. This is the same brew that we came to love on our trips to Gran Canaria. I’ve been well pleased to find a UK supply.

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I spent a wonderful hour up there enjoying the views and eating most heartily. The only people I saw were a Mum and Daughter from the Wirrall who’d come across the hill in a walking book while on holiday. We chatted and I told them how surprised I was that anyone other locals could find this place as its so out of the way. They seemed very pleased they’d come across it.

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With completely clear skies the sunset wasn’t spectacular but its so good just to watch the day come to a close in such a wonderful spot while eating your fill.

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Not a bad view from the dining table.

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As the summer draws to a close you do notice that once the sun goes down it gets cold pretty quickly and I was glad of my fleece while I packed up my stuff.

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An easy wander back to the car at Arthurs Stone, satisfied with choice of restaurant for the evening.

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Posted September 14, 2021 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Local Walks, Walking

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Summer Sunset Beers   12 comments

Brief post and a few photos of a post-meal evening sunset walk up Garway Hill enlivened with a cold beer.

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Effectively waving goodbye to the heatwave and not a bad farewell

Posted August 26, 2021 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Local Walks, Walking

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No Cheating This Time   7 comments

Our nearest local hill walk is Merbach Hill. Its appeared many times on this blog and has in the past 12 months been a godsend as restrictions on how far you could travel became common place. It tops out at just over 300m but you can drive pretty much to that height with a short walk along the lane from the burial chamber at Arthurs Stone, always our preferred route. This is perfect when you need a short walk but we’ve never walked up from the Wye Valley, from the bottom as it were, to make a proper half day of things. The weather recently seemed set in a pattern of bright, sunny mornings and afternoon showers so we took our opportunity to tackle such a route with a view to having breakfast somewhere up on top.

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When following what are likely to be little used footpaths and rights of way from the OS Map you never know quite what your are going to find. I’d planned what I’d hoped would be a nice circuit but things didn’t start well with an overgrown stile off the road and an initial woodland path, poorly marked and covered in what looked like carelessly felled trees.

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From there, things improved considerably. Paths were clear and well marked taking us around some wonderful open fields full of spring lambs.

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The skies looked a little threatening but added to the atmosphere on what was a warm and sultry day. Luckily they never amounted to anything and we stayed dry.

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The trees are starting put on their summer display of foliage.

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The last of the steep slopes towards the top of the ridge.

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Expansive views over the bucolic Herefordshire countryside.

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Before long we were back on the familiar territory of Merbach Hill Common.

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Last year there was a superb display of bluebells up here. This year we were told by a nice lady on the way up that the purple orchids were blooming. They were magnificent (even though my attempted photo isn’t that great). I’ve been up there again today and they were even better and more of them. Much better than this years slightly disappointing bluebell turnout.

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We found a sheltered spot and settled down to cook breakfast – well I did anyway. TBF is more of a healthy fruit type breakfast person.

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For me this time it was Quesadillas (fried corn tortillas packed with cheese, spring onions, chilli and chorizo).

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Lounging in my lightweight backpacking chair.

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More open meadows and open woodland on our way down.

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We were following what was marked on my map (but not on the ground) as the “Three Rivers Ride” linking together the Lugg, Wye and Usk rivers for horse riders.

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We were enjoying seeing a different side of a route and hill we’ve walked many times.

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Indeed its very surprising that its taken us so long to try such a route out.

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We’d parked by the church at Bredwardine and the final stretch took us through pleasant woods by the Wye and back to the church.

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A great little 6 mile outing. No parking hassle, no crowds, just 15 mins drive and back home just after lunch. Perfect.

More Garway Hill   10 comments

Quick post from another morning stroll up Garway Hill, a firm favourite when a short outing is required.

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Stunning clear morning after our Stiperstones walk.

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Reversing the usual direction of the walk to finish on the summit. The fields that were sodden just a few short weeks ago now dry and a perfect walking carpet.

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The trees along the lane looking superb against the blue sky backdrop.

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Out into the open on Garway Hill Common.

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Hazy views over the Black Mountains and Sugar Loaf

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And no finer way to celebrate a warm spring morning than a fresh brew of tea on the summit.

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Easter “staycation” (I hate that word) working out rather well.

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Posted April 19, 2021 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Local Walks, Walking

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Escape Valve   10 comments

Staying local has needed some places to head for walk away from the crowds and away from being stuck inside the house – hence the post title.

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Garway Hill has been one of those “Escape Valves”, a short 20 minute drive from home and for the most part pretty deserted and unspoilt (although over the Xmas holidays it became a little more popular).

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These photos are taken from 2 or maybe 3 walks up there over the past two months or so. We head up early before breakfast to have the place to ourselves and be back to make something of the rest of the day with TJF.

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A couple of the days were cold and frosty, hence the frozen pond on the summit.

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Fading sunrise in the east.

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Views over The Shire.

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The summit.

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Across to Wales, Ysgyryd Fawr and The Sugar Loaf.

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Monmouthshire and The Forest of Dean

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Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

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Wild Ponies and Sheep living in perfect harmony.

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Orcop Hill.

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Took us a few years of living here to appreciate its charms (one of which is being able to drive most of the way up!) We have a standard walk with a couple of options (or just walk the route the other way round). Its been one of Lockdown escapes to release the pressure

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Notes On a Small Village   8 comments

A few photos going back to January. In between the cold snowy weather and blue skies there were some spells of dreary greyness and wet roads/floods that made cycling for my daily exercise a rather undesirable option. Instead after a long day sat in front of screen, in the same room I have a local circuit of the village around the fields.

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I always head out just as the sun goes down which gives some nice light effects.

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Our local Norman Church.

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Fantastic clouds.

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And my personal favourite, winter trees without the cloak of leaves.

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Looking back to the village.

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Golden trees.

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The walk takes less than an hour and I’m never more than a few minutes from the front door as my house is at the centre of the circle.

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In this most difficult of times I’ve sometimes found myself grumbling about the restrictions, the fact that my local Welsh Mountains have been out of bounds for pretty much a whole year, that this walk is often muddy and “boring” . When I look at these photos it makes me realise just what a foolish standpoint that is. To have this on my doorstep I should be counting my blessings and remembering how many millions of people don’t have such an escape valve.

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Posted March 9, 2021 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Local Walks

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Local Walks for Local People   17 comments

So back into Lockdown we went. As with everything this government does with the pandemic the rules and guidelines are vague, ambiguous and confusing. This is especially true when it comes to outdoor exercise. Having checked the legislation, travel and the associated distance to take exercise is not specifically limited. Its just states “local”, wahtever that means – different things to different people. Personally I don’t see an issue at all with a short drive to take a walk, providing you take your common sense with you. Here are two walks on consecutive days to illustrate my point.

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On the Saturday we needed some food shopping and drove into Hereford, our nearest location for Supermarkets. We decided to take a walk while we there, trying to follow the guidelines to keep it local, much as we would have done if we lived in the City. I’d worked out a walk along both banks of the river that would likely be about 3-4 miles and give us some fresh air and exercise on a largely gloomy day. We parked up in a far-flung and quiet corner of the car park.

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Despite having lived in the area for 18 years I know little of the city outside its shopping areas. It was nice to take some time out to see the local sights. Some classic views of the cathedral and old river bridge and this pedestrian crossing, named either the Jubilee or Victoria Bridge depending on who you talk to.

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We were lucky to take the walk when we did as a few days later this entire area was completely underwater after heavy rains. As I write those floodwaters are rising again after another wet weekend.

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Sadly the walk didn’t work out as well as expected. The riverside path on the south bank is no more and looks like its hasn’t been there for years. We had to resort to walking through housing estates, along busy main roads and then cycle paths to reach this, the Canary Bridge (no idea why its called that)

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An unusual construction and not something I even knew existed although TBF uses it a lot as she works round there and uses her bike to get to work some days.

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We squelched back into town across a few very muddy fields (likely they get regular deluges of flood water). There was a path along the north bank but the first section is by a large sewage works so I didn’t fancy that.

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Some more classic views of the cathedral from the Victoria Bridge. Finishing the walk through Castle Green Park and the very pretty back streets that surround it. Again not an area I’ve ever strolled through before.

So keeping it local. Number of people encountered or passed during the walk, I’d estimate around 100.

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Next day we did the unspeakable thing of driving a short distance (around 10 miles, maybe 3-4 miles further than we drive to collect shopping) for a walk from the small village of Longtown. It was a cold and dreary grey day so we planned a walk across the fields and along the base of the Black Mountains ridge and then back.

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While there I took another chance to see a local sight I’ve never visited before. Longtown Castle. Its small and free and would make a very nice spot for a summer picnic.

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There is a local myth that there is an underground passage from the castle to Llanthony Priory on the other side of the Black Mountains ridge. This would be a major acheivement seeing as the castle actually sits on a ridge of its own that falls away a few hundred feet down to the valley floor before the ridge rises. Its a nice story though!

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There are a whole array of paths across the fields so its always something of a voyage of discovery as to how easy they are to find and how muddy they might. The route up was excellent, paths well marked and not all that muddy. This is the path that runs along the bottom of the access land and for a half a mile or so was a rather fine grassy trod.

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It then deteriorated into more of a mud-bath with a built-in water supply so we decided to head back down. The route across the fields from here was the best part of the day with some fine walking across dry grassy fields with expansive views.

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Our planned route down was via the church and riverside walk at Clodock. However one of the fields had a mix of dense crops protected by an electric fence with sheep that had turned the rest of the field into an extreme muddy mess. Not fancying a slide or electrocution, we just headed back down, happy with our walk and the required exercise and fresh air.

So driving 10 miles out into the countryside to take a walk. Number of people encountered or passed during the walk, an exact 4. I know which walk I think was the best and safest option in the circumstances.

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End of the Festivities   10 comments

Last day of the Xmas break, another gloomy start to the day, replaced by blue skies after lunch. Time to head out for another short walk.

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Back to Kington and Hergest Ridge, busier than I’ve ever seen it, forcing us to park right at the bottom of the road. When we emerged from the darkness of the trees, the skies were equally dark. What looked like a very heavy shower was on its way.

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As luck would have it, it was bitterly cold, the ground pretty much frozen solid and micro-spikes a great idea if only I’d remembered them!

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What came out of the sky was snow, which at these cold temperatures was dry and powdery and despite the dark clouds not very heavy.

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I was pretty sure I could see brightness behind and the snow stopped as quickly as its started.

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Patches of blue appeared with the remaining flakes of snow. It was all rather pretty.

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However the eye-catching features in the sky were the clouds. Huge booming shapes, racing across the skies and catching the late afternoon light.

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The small glade of Monkey Puzzle Trees on the summit.

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Time was short so just a trip to the highest point today, no visit to Hanter Hill this time.

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Another massive cloud formation tearing across the sky.

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The frozen summit pond, clearly some people had braved wet feet to test the thickness of the ice.

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Looking out over the Radnor Hills.

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And a view into the lonely hills of mid-Wales from the summit high point.

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Time to head back and hope for some more light shows from the setting sun.

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You can feel the cold seeping into your bones from these photos!

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We got our wish as the light show behind the glade of trees was wonderful.

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I was left along way behind my family team while I took loads of photos.

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And a selfie.

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Looking across to the sunlit uplands of Bradnor and Herrock Hills from my last outing. Most of the snow had gone over the intervening couple of days.

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And this last shot – “Fire in the Sky”

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A short walk, a little over an hour but a fine way to finish of the holiday break

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Released Back Into the Wild   14 comments

After a period of self isolation for the family over Xmas (everyone all now fit, healthy and no major symptoms) we’ve been allowed back out into the world. A short post from a little celebratory stroll up on our local Merbach Hill.

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Some nice winter colours in the forest but it was extremely soggy and slick with mud in there. A far cry from the bluebell displays when we were up here in the early summer during lockdown 1.

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Views out to mid-Wales from the summit.

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And back towards the Marches, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

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Out to the Black Mountains.

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Looking back to the summit from the pastures on the way back. The sun was out by this time. Seems a different world than when we sat up here on my Birthday in May enjoying an al fresco breakfast in the warm summer sunshine.

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Winter trees always attract my photographic eye.

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This tree on the road back to the car at Arthurs Stone is always striking whatever the season.

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Posted January 1, 2021 by surfnslide in herefordshire, Local Walks, Walking

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