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July 2001

1 July

In some ways this wasn't a proper walk. Beryl and I decided to go up the Wrekin for a bit of exercise on a Sunday afternoon. The idea was to take the tourist path up, drop off the far end via Little Hill and then loop around the northern flank back to the cars.

Wrong! I didn't take a map on the basis that it is very difficult to get lost on the Wrekin. Well the path back split in a couple of places. I obviously took the wrong option. We climbed very gradually on a pleasant grassy path but I knew that it was wrong when it curved back on itself and we started climbing steeply. We emerged just below the summit! So when asked where we'd been  walking we said we'd been up the Wrekin ........ twice.

One really nice feature of the walk was the many large banks of foxgloves on the hillside. The hillside just below this clump was a mass of purple. It resembled those great swathes of bluebells that you find in the Spring. The foxgloves seem to be having a really good year.

Two points to reflect on.


Beryl said that she hoped I knew where I was going because she trusted me implicitly. Surely people who say they are doing something implicitly aren't; they must be doing explicitly simply because they have said so.


On the way up (the first time) we were passed by a 4x4. Well (given my views on the ruddy things) I found this a bit off. They were stopped at a gate just ahead and the driver said he had permission because he had a disabled passenger. I have difficulties over the countryside and disabled access because opening some places up spoils them. But the Wrekin is very populated and I thought it churlish to prevent people being taken up. still I did find it galling that the vehicle had 5 passengers (not all disabled) and they had decamped right by the summit and were in their loungers having a picnic. It spoiled the summit for everyone else and didn't seem  in the spirit of the thing (perhaps, in the spirit of "name and shame", I should have taken pictures and posted them here) They were certainly up there for quite some time as they passed us when we were returning from our second (unintentional) ascent.

8 July

Out with the Ramblers; I did think about going off on our own but Beryl was against it (too much to do) and as it was the first proper A walk in some time we felt we should go out of loyalty.

It was on the programme as Gentleshaw but there were still some problems with the paths there and Ron switched it to start at Wolsey Bridges. This meant that we were all on more familiar territory. Having said that, the first path was one that was new to all of us. We had to walk back towards Stafford along the road for about 600 yards towards South Street. The reason it's not walked much is obviously the lack of parking there. The paths onto the Chase on either side of it both have decent parking.

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Having said this, it is certainly a lovely path. Nice and grassy with rampant bracken on either side. We also saw three deer quite close up at the start of the path (and we later saw a muntjac- I'd not seen one of those before)

However we picked up typical Chase tracks after that and seemed to be on them for much of the day. We worked southwards across the rifle range before picking up the Heart of England Way (Ron can't leave it alone). This took us past the Visitors' Centre and over the Rugeley-Cannock road before we left it at Miflins Valley as we started swinging back. There was a brief section of road towards Slitting Mill before we struck off again on a nice stretch of path towards the Forestry Centre at Birches Valley for lunch.

From lunch we had a section of the Centre's woodland and a brief section of proper footpath into Etchinghill before a long stretch of housing culminating in the crossing of the A51. Down the side of the waterworks to pick up the Staffordshire Canal and back along the towpath. We reached the cars just before it started raining. It was a solid day out covering 13 miles at a lively pace for the Ramblers; it only took 5.5 hours.

15 July

We’re in the middle of decorating the kitchen so we just did the Ramblers short walk, allowing plenty of time for another bout of scraping paper off the ceiling.

It was a very pleasant circuit around Eccleshall led by Stan in bright sunny weather. We headed eastwards parellel with the Stone Road before wheeling right-ish to Ellenhall. This meant crossing grassy fields with the oak trees dominating the seen. The one in the photo was near where we stopped for a drink.

Over the A519 and then through Johnson Hall back to Eccleshall. We crossed the field of not-quite-ripe barley in the photo whilst humming Sting's "Fields of Gold" to ourselves. Eccleshall was looking particularly attractive with lots of hanging baskets and other displays of flowers in the High Street.

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22 July

This was the pre-walk for next week's SRG coach ramble. I'm leading the A walk and Beryl is leading the B party. They are both linear walks and we'd decided that the B walk would basically be the last 6-7 miles of the A walk to make the prewalks easier. We had to take both our cars but Bob came long for some company.

We left one car in Malvern Link and then took the other to the A438 and parked to the east of Rye Street. This wasn't my original paln. I'd been going to start in Malvern and walk most of the ridge of the Malvern Hills before cutting across to Eastnor and Ledbury. However helpful exchanges of e-mails with the footpath sections for Worcestershire and Herefordshire had told me that the paths through Eastnor would be closed for some time. I therefore decided to do a longer section of ridge the but I needed an extra section to make up a full A walk. I was therefore looking at a loop around Birtsmorton.

This wasn't a good plan really. The footpaths were all there but they were badly overgrown with nettles and brambles, had one very dodgy footbridge and were rather boring. Bob had proudly demonstrated his "convertible" trousers before we started (ie he'd detached the lower legs to produce shorts); he had reason to regret this as we hacked through the undergrowth. There was one really good thing about this section though; we passed by Birtsmorton Court, a really beautiful 16/17th century (I think) building complete with a pair of swans  on the moat beside the Court.

If you are really interested, we started at the gatehouse at the back of Birtsmorton Court and walked across to it. We then cut over to Birts Street before returning to Rye Street. I decided that this would actually be a better start point for the "real" walk. We then took the path from the pub to Camers Green and then through corn fields (without a path left) to Perrin's Court and up the road into the gap between Chase End Hill and Ragged Stone Hill. My contacts in the Footpath Sections had told me that Chase End was still closed (perhaps because it is in Gloucestershire and they had different priorities for opening paths) i did check it and it's open now so that's a possible for next week - not that I went up.

We were now on the hills proper. The weather had turned nicely sunny with a lovely cool breeze on top - glorious walking weather. Having lived in Worcester for 5 years, I have a strong feeling towards the Malverns and it must be 7 years since I last walked here. (I can claim that Midsummer Hill was our Andrew's first hill because he was carried up at the age of 6 weeks for a picnic on Midsummer's Day) Beryl hadn't been before and Bob had only been up British Camp. It is hard work in places though with some sharp ups.

I kept snapping away with the camera and was very pleased with the shots I took; do have a look at them 

Whilst there is a samishness about many of the hill two do stand out. The first is British Camp (otherwise known as the Herefordshire Beacon); this contains a wonderful set of earthworks. I once went there on a midnight hike. You could say we were a little underprepared - to paraphrase the Bard, sans map, sans torch, sans moonlight, sans leader (and probably sans common sense); ah the follies of youth.

The second is the high point, the Worcestershire Beacon standing 1394 foot. It has a wonderful graphic on top pointing out surrounding landmaarks, part of a monument to Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. Sadly the original was stolen in 2000 but there is now a replacement in situ. Here is a diagram of it. It's not easy to read but try focussing on the rivers Wye and Severn as they flow from Plynlimon just north of due west.

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We finished at the North Hill which is a favourite of mine. It stands slightly remotely from the rest. When you access the hills from the north it is always a considerable relief to range its top because there is always a severe section of climb. Indeed our route down to the north-east plunged steeply to begin with and beryl was beginning to fear for the B walkers next week. We did however find a nice zig-zag path which took us back to the car in much more gentle fashion.

Photos            Map

29 July

This was the real thing after last week's rehearsal: the SRG coach ramble on the Malverns.

There's not a lot to say about the route after last week's full description. We switched the end from Malvern Link to Gt Malvern because the parking was easier for the coach and, given that the B walk was always going to finish first, there was more for them to do there.

The A walk started at the pub and this gave us chance to take in Chase End Hill. That meant that in walking to the North Hill we could claim to have done the ridge. It was a bit warmer than last week but breezier on top to compensate for it. Unfortunately there was more haze too; we could just make out Bredon Hill but not the Cotswolds behind it. Really it was just a pleasant amble with lots of stops to admire the view. The lunch spot, in the earthworks below British Camp, was very good because we were cut off from the (small) crowd on the top.

The B walk went well too. Beryl was really worried about how well they would cope with far more climbing than is normal on a B trip. She had the bigger party too, 22 as opposed to my 10. This did mean that she had some reliable stronger walkers to help. All worked out nicely apart from a serious case of cramp near the end. They had time to adjourn to the Theatre tea rooms to recover - the A party diverted into the Red Lion rather than going straight back to the coach.




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