November 2017 News
Three years ago Richard Bagley didn’t like what he saw when he saw the photographs of him taken at a wedding reception. He decided there and then that his 18 stone weight had to come down. Gym and a strict diet eliminated 7 stone in a year. He then joined Lichfield Ramblers and since then he has done 1000 miles of walking which he celebrated on 12th November at Groby, Leics.
He has more recently taken up cycling. His favourite things are hard-boiled eggs for lunch, water in all its aspects (rivers, canals, lakes, puddles) and Christmas. We wish him well on his next 1000 miles.
Tom and Carmel Baker have left the group and moved to Scotland, where we hope they will have plenty of chance to roam free. They have led walks for us since 2013 and will be missed. They are shown here (3rd and 4th from left) on their last walk with us at Newton Regis on 26th November. Best wishes to them.
Oh! And on a lighter note again Ed and Jean have got engaged. We also wish them the best.
The Harrogate Holiday
Fourteen of us recently had a four day break in Harrogate, organised by Jo and Peter and based at the Belmont Guest House in Kings Road. We drove up from the Midlands on the Monday morning, checked in to the hotel and were ready for a walk in the afternoon. Starting from the guest house for a six mile stroll, we walked around the stylish town of Harrogate itself before setting off to the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr, via the Valley Gardens and pinewoods. Some visited the well-known and beautiful gardens......
....... while others continued the walk, returning to the guest house, admiring some very nice houses along Duchy Road and popping in to look around the huge St Wilfrid’s Church (Grade I listed) and its associated church hall.
In the evening we all had an evening meal together in a private dining room at St Robert’s Club in Robert Street. The catering, provided by Maciej Bujakowski, was of a high standard and great value for money.
After an excellent breakfast the next day, we walked to the very modern bus station and caught the 36 bus to Ripon – a journey of about half an hour. We had a quick look around the cathedral, which has a history going back to the seventh century.........
........ before our eleven mile walk to Studley Royal and Fountains Abbey via the small, pretty village of Studley Roger. Walking through grounds of Fountains Abbey we saw many impressive trees including this twisted sweet chestnut – the tree, not John.
Passing by the Choristers’ cottage – an understandably isolated building, we arrived at the church of St Mary’s where the guide was a friendly Canadian gent.
He let us know that there were some stags under the trees at the back of the church. This is what the stags would have seen!
We then came upon the ruins of Fountains Abbey itself. Founded by the Cistercians in 1132 it was one of the largest monasteries in England before being ruined under Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.
We wandered around this magnificent World Heritage Site for quite a while and took the opportunity to have lunch in its sylvan setting before continuing our walk to Studley Royal, with its magnificent 18th century water gardens......
..... and then returning to Ripon via the Seven Bridges walk.
We then caught the 36 bus back to Harrogate from a bus stop situated by this interesting building. One of the party would have preferred individual transport, but unfortunately the 'hover boost' button did not seem to work. I guess the fuel tanks were empty.....
In the evening we went for dinner at the Harrogate Winter Gardens, which is now a very impressive Wetherspoons.
On the Wednesday, after another substantial and tasty breakfast we walked from the guest house to Knaresborough, using the route of a former branch line, and then passing the Gardeners Arms. The walk took us through the beautiful Nidd Gorge where we stopped for coffee using the boardwalk kindly provided.
Knaresborough is a very interesting and historic town; June is seen here with John Metcalf, better known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough, the well known 18th century road builder.
Mother Shipton aka Ursula Sontheil was a 16th century soothsayer and prophetess born in a cave on the banks of the River Nidd, which is now one of Britain’s oldest tourist attractions – open continuously since 1630......
........and Knaresborough has the oldest established pharmacy in Britain still operating as a retail business - since 1720.
It also boasts an unspoilt traditional railway station with a beautiful floral display .
Kirkgate is an ancient street with an amusing ‘window’ pre-dating Banksy....
but the major attraction hereabouts is Knaresborough Castle, where we stopped for lunch with a view of the railway viaduct (opened 1851 after the first attempt collapsed). Some of us even had an ice-cream.
We then walked back across the fields to Harrogate. Here's Jenny having a quick 40 winks.
On our final day we said goodbye to the Belmont Guest House after breakfast and drove to the southern outskirts of Harrogate. From here we set off on a ten mile circular walk to Almscliffe Crag, a millstone grit outcrop at the top of a hill near the village of North Rigton. This walk was more like our normal Sundays, with mainly field walking and views across the countryside.
We stopped for coffee with a view........
before reaching the bottom of the hill atop which sits the Crag itself.
We rested here and enjoyed the sunshine, the breeze and the views whilst we had lunch.
Walking back across the fields past a nice pond we reached the pleasant village of Pannal – home of the Crimple Beck (which inspired the brand name Crimplene). John and Peter decided to share the stocks (see what i did there?)
After finishing the walk, we drove back to the Midlands, having had a very enjoyable four days.
Thanks are due to Jo and Peter for all their hard work in organising the trip, the walks and the evening entertainments.
Severn Valley Walk
In early August, 16 of us went over to the pleasant Georgian town of Bewdley for a series of walks along the River Severn and through the Wyre Forest, returning via the Severn Valley Railway (SVR); there was a choice of three linear walks – 5 miles from Bewdley to Arley railway station, 7 miles to Highley station and 10 miles to Hampton Loade station.
The walks were organised by Phil and Judith who have both been volunteers on the SVR. They were dedicated to Harry Scott, who has for many years been Footpath Secretary for the Staffordshire Area of Ramblers, but is soon to retire. His tireless work has resulted in the saving and promototion of many paths, and we wish him well for the future.
Starting from the riverside car park, the group were soon walking through the historic streets of the market town with Phil explaining various aspects of the town to the rest of the group.
We then walked along the left bank of the River Severn itself, where we came upon what remained of Dowles Bridge, which once carried the railway track to Tenbury Wells and which was closed in 1964.
Leaving the river, we began to walk through the Wyre Forest and along the bank of the Dowles Brook, adjourning for a coffee/tea break at the National Trust-owned Knowles Mill.
After this, the steepest part of the walk was at least part concreted.
We had to negotiate a very elaborate stile in the Wyre Forest........
before taking the path down to Arley SVR railway station, where we stopped to have lunch (and to watch the trains go by).
Enjoying the occasion were our guests Larraine and Russell from Auckland, New Zealand, who were on a touring holiday of the UK.
Three of the group walked back to Bewdlley along the river, while the remaining 13 of us carried on to Highley (left), where 6 caught the train back to Bewdley, the rest continuing to Country Park Halt where we crossed the railway and continued along the Jack Mytton Way which runs high up on the west side of the Severn.
Finally we dropped down to Hampton Loade (right) where we had tea and cake and bought runner beans while waiting for the train back.
During the day, there was plenty of action on the SVR, with four engines in steam – nos. 43106, 34027 Taw Valley, 2857 - and 7802 Bradley Manor, which we saw whilst we were walking along the banks of the River Severn, passing the works at 'county boundary' designed to reinforce the embankment where it has slipped in the past.
(The header picture of Bewdley is courtesy of Terry Livesey and Bewdley Town Council)