Stiperstones in October

We’re walking the length of the ridge, from Snailbeach to the Rock, on a fine autumn day with the promise of some sunshine. The starting point is significant – one of our objectives is the Bog Centre for tea and cake – if we’d started there, it might have been closed by the time we returned (and that would never do!). So we’re heading out past Lordshill chapel and the Hollies, and two-thirds of the way around this very enjoyable route we come to the Bog, feeling suitably peckish. We return by the paths skirting Perkins Beach and Crowsnest Dingle, back to Snailbeach past that very fine octagonal chimney high up in the woods. And yes, after a dull start, the sun did shine, though it looked like we’d seen the last of it when we arrived back in Snailbeach. We hadn’t, of course – inevitably, it shone brightly while we drove home, floodlighting the autumn trees against a dark sky. Wonderful – but no photos.

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Warmth under a grey sky

Monday: Barrow to Wyke. An overcast afternoon – the air’s cold, but there’s just the lightest of breezes away from the most open ground. The warmth is in the colours in the hedgerow.

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Gogbatch and the pond

It’s cold on the Mynd this afternoon – the wind’s in the north-east, biting after a few spots of rain. We’re walking from Gogbatch up to the pond on the Portway, a very pleasant and easy ascent. The forecast had suggested brighter conditions, which we begin to enjoy after the first mile or so. The sun’s low in the sky now – the clocks will soon be going back – and it’s dropping noticeably as the afternoon progresses. The light is everything it wasn’t during the summer months – warm in colour and directional, picking out the detail in the landscape like a spotlight. Weather permitting – and today it did – this is a great time to be out on the hills.

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Pumpkin time

We’re having a wander around Attingham Park. It’s dry and bright this afternoon (though breezy and chilly), and there’s a wonderful crop of pumpkins (some of them bearing messages) in the walled garden. There’s a rather fine colony of little pale toadstools on a stump in the woods, not to mention a large wooden frog.

Attingham Park NT

Old ways

We’ve parked at Bedlam, beside the old furnaces (I wonder how they got that name…). Our route takes us up the hill towards Madeley, where we’ll walk around three sides of the old (closed in 1920) Meadow pit mound. On and off, we’re following the trackbeds of the pre-railway age tramways of the Madeley Wood Company – as far as the All Nations (a last remnant of times long before “craft beer”, when pubs brewed their own beer). Now we’re walking down the route of the Coalport branch railway, which closed to passengers more than 60 years ago. Descending to the canal, at the foot of the Hay Incline, we cross the river to Jackfield, and for the first time walk the new path through the stabilisation works. Beyond, we’ll walk where Severn valley railway trains once ran – before crossing the Severn again on the modernistic new “Free Bridge” to return to the car.

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Old Swansea Town…

…is now a city, and has been since 1969. It must have been a very different place when we sang about it at school, back in the days when it was still a town. Yes, we’re visiting courtesy of Arriva Trains and their “club 55” tickets, making the most of the continuing fair weather for an afternoon’s exploration of this fascinating place. There’s evidence of town days in the walk from the railway station to the National Waterfront Museum (lunch!) – more-or-less on the site of the old Swansea Victoria station, one-time terminus of trains from Shrewsbury. My companion for today’s outing is going to remain at the museum a little longer (best place for him? – his legs are not what they were, poor old thing), while I’m heading for the shore, the river and the docks.

The museum is beside the old South Dock, now a marina surrounded by modern apartment buildings; just beyond, the fine sandy beach is practically deserted (it is mid-October). There’s more modern residential development across the Tawe (which, above the barrage, is also full of leisure craft), but (the newer?) parts of the eastern docks still see commercial activity – a very strange-looking boat sets out as I stroll. I realise that time has passed very quickly as I recross the river – I’d better make my way back to the station… Must come again one day – perhaps spend a little longer here. (O for a time machine!)

Around the estate: Barrow, Willey and Shirlett

They sound like a firm of solicitors, don’t they? Wednesday afternoon: we’re walking around the Willey estate. Sadly, there are few public footpaths through this pleasant patch, and a significant part of the route is on roads – very quiet ones, apart from the B-road from Barrow. There’s a fine crop of blackberries along the field edges, though of course the devil’s in them now. The clouds begin to thicken as we make our way through Willey, and though we weren’t expecting rain, we have to shelter for a while (still plenty of leaves on the trees). It soon clears, and we head on up through the forest to Shirlett, where one or two more extensive views open up.

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October on Lyth Hill

We could do with being in Shrewsbury around 4pm – how about a short walk beforehand? Lyth Hill could be good… We’ve walked this route before – out along the dog-walkers’ grassland to Spring Coppice, then along rough tracks and quiet lanes to Exfords Green.  After that inevitable bank of cloud on this otherwise-bright afternoon, the sun comes out again as we pass the Scots pines on the end of the hill.  The stags at the venison farm are bellowing – there’s a public footpath through their field, but we’ll perhaps stick to the road on this occasion, and brave the occasional passing car.

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More steamy birthdays

Birthday boys

Birthday boys

We’ve been to Apedale today, for their mini-gala celebrating the 100th birthdays of two of their locomotives (I’m not sure when the two actually steamed for the first time, but they were built in 1916) – the Kerr Stuart “Joffre” and the Hudswell Clarke no 104. Both were in fine form, steaming well, as was their fellow “Stanhope”. Stanhope is a mere 99 years old, so had to wait down the line while the birthday boys had their cake (coal and wood with Polyfilla icing). Next year perhaps? For more about the day, and several more photos, visit “299 years of steam” on Geoff’s Rail Diaries.

Coalport: season of fruitfulness…

Friday: mellow, yes, but no mists, and it’s very quiet away from the roads. The views are not worth recording under this still day’s grey sky, but there’s plenty of interest in the hedgerows.

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