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)
The Lawley Walk
On a sunny day in July, we drove 50 miles to the Church Stretton area for a walk (and climb) up The Lawley, led by Jo and Peter.
The Lawley is one of a stunning complex of hills and ridges known as the Shropshire Hills, and whilst one of the smaller of these hills, still forms an impressive two mile long ridge rising to 377m above the surrounding countryside.
We started from the car park of The Pound, an excellent country pub based on the A49 in the village of Leebotwood. Very soon afterwards, we met these three ‘kids’ who seemingly had their own property.
We then passed by Penkridge Hall, a beautiful old half-timbered house of 1590 built on the site of a 13th century Preceptory (the headquarters of the local Knights Templars land holdings).
Shortly after, we stopped for coffee with a tremendous view of The Lawley ahead.
Taking advantage of the fine weather, we strolled along the lane which circumvents The Lawley before turning sharp right for a steep climb up to see the raven at the top.
It was tough but worth it for the fabulous views of the surrounding countryside, including Caer Caradoc, a neighbouring hill of 271m height.
We could also see Penkridge Hall about a thousand feet below us.
After descending about halfway down, we stopped for lunch with a view, before reaching the path at the bottom, with views of the surrounding countryside. which took us back for an easy walk back to the pub. Some of us stopped there for refreshment (and would recommend the Ludlow Gold).
On Sunday 11 June, we drove down to the pleasant village of Harbury near Leamington Spa for a ten mile walk led by Stuart and Margaret.
After a couple of miles we came upon Ufton Fields Nature Reserve, where we re-grouped.
The reserve was formed after limestone excavations ceased and noted for its abundance of butterflies, dragonflies, wild flowers and birds. It was lovely to walk through.
Although we were nowhere near Tottenham, we then went up White Hart Lane......
........and passed the 13th century church in the village of Ufton itself. It turned out that the local pub is called the White Hart, which may explain things.
Interestingly, the village still has its stocks, but none of us volunteered to be photographed in them!
We then did some road walking up to Bascote Heath, passing the first world war memorial by Long Itchington Wood on the way......
..........before reaching the four-flighted Bascote Locks on the Grand Union Canal, where we had our coffee break.Taking a canal boat through seemed a complicated affair.
Making our way then towards Southam, we crossed a bridge over a disused mill pond.........
........before walking through several fields.
Upon reaching the Holy Well near Southam, we stopped for lunch.
Reputedly the most ancient holy well in the country. It is certainly a remarkable survival, having been first mentioned in the year 998 and featuring mediaeval and 18th century restoration. Its two main properties were that it was very cold but never froze, and that it was very good for treating sore eyes. The public footpath to the well was made permanent by a 1760 Act of Parliament.
After lunch, our journey took us through some very pleasant woodland by the Royal Leamington Spa Polo Club, which, curiously, is in Southam.
Nobody was having a chukka at the time, so we carried on back to Harbury. Although there were plenty of clouds about, it never rained, and although it was windy at times, it was a very interesting walk.