Mapleton Walk - Easter Sunday
On a cool and cloudy Easter Sunday, April 13, June had organised a walk from the public car park near the Isaac Walton Hotel in Dovedale. We started off walking along the lovely River Dove.
After a little while we crossed over the famous stepping stones, under June’s careful supervision.
We then climbed up the hill towards Thorpe.
After a long steady climb we then headed through woodland before reaching a spot with a view, where June decided to stop for our coffee break.
Occasionally on our walks, we do a bit of standing around to regroup, admiring the view in the meantime.
Our lunch was taken at the beautiful St Mary’s church in Mappleton, where we inspected the interior before exiting to peruse the graveyard.
Although a church here was first mentioned in records during the reign of Edward 1 (1272 – 1307) the current building was built in the mid-18th century to the design of James Gibbs, a pupil of Christopher Wren. Among his most important works are the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and the Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University.
After that we returned to Dovedale via the river and the scenic countryside near Ilam, having crossed over the impressive Coldwall Bridge near Thorpe.
This is a Grade II listed monument dated 1726 and was originally the main coach road across the River Dove, between the counties of Derbyshire and Staffordshire. When the motor car became popular, it was used less and less because the steep gradient was too much for the first cars. Today, the bridge is only used by farmers and walkers (and sheep) and is really peaceful.
We then returned through the beautifulvillage of Ilam. Despite the weather, we all felt this had been an excellent walk – thanks June!
Pictures of Mapleton Church and Ilam are taken from Wikipedia. The photo of Coldwall Bridge is courtesy of Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.o
Earl's Hill Walk
On Sunday 2 April, we took a fair trip out to Pontesford, SW of Shrewsbury, for a walk starting and ending at Earl’s Hill nature reserve, led by Alison and Lesley.
It was a beautiful spring day, ideal for walking, and the countryside round there is very pretty, with several hills, woods and ponds noted on the walk.
There are also a number of quiet lanes to walk along.
We also passed through the village of Castle Pulverbatch - unfortunately not stopping at the White Horse Inn
– before having a look at what is left of the motte and bailey castle
and then having our lunch on a very pretty and secluded bank
with a lovely view.
Later, we passed around Lawn Hill
before climbing back up to Earl’s Hill to finish the walk. All in all, a really lovely day out.
Staunton Harold Walk 19 Feb 2017
This walk, led by Jo and Peter, started from the beautiful grounds of Staunton Harold Hall, near Ashby de la Zouch. Lying in a green valley is the privately owned house, the church (National Trust) and the stables, now converted to craft shops, workshops, gallery and tearoom.
As it does lie in a valley, naturally we started off by doing a little gentle hill climbing and after reaching the top, walked along the Staunton Ridgeway.
The path has a number of unusual features including a ‘Look through the keyhole’ in the stone wall through which Peter could look back at the church. Honestly - that's what he was doing!
Also, there are 13 stiles, each bearing incised lettering. Stiles 1 and 3 bear a monogram and the date 1994, and nos. 2 to 12 show arts of a quotation from Hilaire Belloc (south to north) and Staunton Harold Hall’s owner John Blunt. (north to south).
Our walk then took us through a field of Highland cattle which, although fierce looking, seemed remarkably docile; Jenny even spent some time chatting to one, even managing to scratch its head. Rather her than me!
After a coffee break we carried on to the outskirts of Melbourne Hall estate, where we had time to ponder over the weir by the bridge over the lake.
Shortly after we came across a field containing a herd of Old English Longhorns (Pics 8 and 9) which were also fierce looking but equally docile.
After walking through the Breedon Priory golf course, we had a short but steep climb past the Bulwarks – remains of Iron Age earthworks - and reached the high point of the walk, the summit of Breedon Hill, 400 feet above sea level. Richard was obviously very pleased to get to the 13th century church at the top where we had our lunch stop.
We also found the historically significant church open to visitors and we all had a leisurely look around inspecting the tombs of the Shirley family.
Before we set off down the hill, we took advantage of the excellent views from its west side, near the beacon. There is a sheer drop into Breedon Quarry from here.
We then went down the hill into Breedon village and over a stream where we found masses of snowdrops. After that it was only a couple of miles over the fields to get back to Staunton Harold Hall.