Old Iron

Shropshire is well-known for its role in the industrial revolution, with the iron bridge at – er – Ironbridge being both world-renowned and a very popular venue for tourists and others. That bridge was built in 1779, the first iron bridge in the world. Seventeen years later, Thomas Telford completed what is now the oldest iron aqueduct in the world (a much smaller aqueduct, completed just a month earlier on for the Derby canal, no longer exists). The aqueduct at Longden-on-Tern carried the Shrewsbury canal over the river Tern. It continues to cross the Tern to this day, though the canal is long-gone, and is both a scheduled ancient monument and a grade I listed building. Shame to say that, though we’ve lived in this area for more than 40 years, and driven past many times, we’d never taken a closer look. Until last Sunday, that is, killing time before seeing the Duchess (previous post – yes, we’re out of sync again…). Unlike Ironbridge, we were alone.

Longdon-on-Tern Aqueduct on Engineering Timelines website

The Duchess in Shropshire

46233 “Duchess of Sutherland”, that is, hauling the return “Cathedrals Express” from Crewe, via Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, back to London. There haven’t been many Duchess pacifics in Shropshire recently. Sister locomotive 46229 “Duchess of Hamilton” was active in the area perhaps 30 or more years ago, and 46233 has been to the Severn Valley, but I don’t think there can have many occasions – ever – when one of these Stanier locomotives has pulled a train along this line. Shame about the weather… and the exhaust. The train was heavy enough – eleven and a diesel at the back – but the Duchess had shut off steam when it passed us, already running a minute or two early.

Catherton Common

Sunday 6 August: we’ve parked here before, but always headed upwards onto Magpie Hill and beyond. Today, we’ll walk in the other direction, to explore the common lands of Silvington and Catherton. At the lowest point (but certainly not the nadir) of our wander, we cross the stream at Cramer Gutter, before heading back past colourful heather and ling. It’s a very absorbing little bit of countryside – scattered cottages, patches of heather and bracken, small stands of birch, clumps of gorse and one particularly fine blackberry bush, which delayed our onward progress for a minute or two…

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=363110&Y=278621&A=Y&Z=120

Jaws (the Pocklington version)

Saturday 5 August: a necessarily very gentle amble around the gardens and lake at Burnby Hall, Pocklington, in Yorkshire’s East Riding. The lake is noted for its nationally-significant collection of water lilies. To thousands of small children (and their anxious parents, trying to prevent them from falling in), the lake is more memorable as the home of hundreds of giant carp, which gather round the water’s edge, hoping for a tasty titbit (sold for the purpose in the small shop at the entrance).

Photographic note: We’re travelling light today, so I’m using the camera built into the phone. Tricky – the half-second delay means the shutter opens at the precise moment the fish close their mouths…


Oats and beans and barley…

…grow near the Munslows in August. A familiar route starting from Aston Munslow – across the sheepy field, up the lane to the edge and along to Munslow Common, then down the lane to Munslow and back across the fields (battling, in the last half mile, with 7′ tall maize) to the start. Very pleasant, even though the undergrowth makes some stretches almost impassable, where the sun can get through the trees.

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=351115&Y=287836&A=Y&Z=120


A much-needed leg-stretch down to Coalport (for well-earned tea and cake…), on a grey Saturday afternoon. We may not be past July, but there are signs of seasonal change – the wheat looks ready for harvest, there are some hefty (but undoubtedly sour) apples by the farm, and ripe (but rather blobby) blackberries, with many better-looking specimens to come. Could be an excellent crop in a few weeks time… And at last the butterflies are playing to the camera!