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Ross and Moss – Day 1

Ross and Moss – Day 1

Our travelling this year has been severely curtailed because of Covid-19 so no surprises there. When Covid-19 first appeared and the country went into lockdown we were able to only walk locally. Then restrictions on driving eased a little, although we weren’t able to travel far, but eventually those restrictions were also eased to the point that we considered going away for a few days. So when a few days of sunny weather were forecast we decided to bite the bullet and off we went.

We booked accommodation in the Forest of Dean and set off in the sunshine.

Our first port of call was Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire just a short way from our final destination. I had been to Ross-on-Wye about 65 years ago and could remember nothing at all about it so it was like a first visit.

This next picture shows a general view of the town taken from the banks of the River Wye with the famous church spire showing well above the rest of the buildings. There is, of course, a riverside walk here.

When we arrived we parked in a car park in Edde Cross Street then walked back to the junction with High Street . A short distance along High Street brought us to the Old Market Hall at the top of Broad Street. This was built around 1650, and replaced what was probably an earlier wooden building, and markets are still held in it today. It does look rather impressive.

Having had a good look around the Market Place we walked the short distance to the church and, at 205 feet, that is what I call a spire! Although the spire was rebuilt in 1721 the church itself was built in 1316 and is one of the largest churches in Herefordshire.

The attractive interior is certainly spacious and features a number of monuments.

Outside in the churchyard is the Plague Cross which was erected to mark the graves where the three hundred or more townsfolk were buried by night and without coffins during an outbreak of the plague in 1637.

To one side of the church is a small, but beautiful, public park called ‘The Prospect’ which includes some fine trees and also provides an impressive view looking down over the River Wye and the surrounding countryside.

After looking around the church we wanted some lunch so, going back to the Market Square to look round, we found a nice little cafe at the top of Broad Street quite close to the Old Market Hall.

There is a small outside sitting area, seen in the picture below, but we ate inside. We had a small but satisfying, and very tasty, lunch.

After lunch we spotted a few more items of interest on our way back to the car. A rather quaint alley, some old almshouses and a very ancient timber-framed building now used as an antiques shop.

After leaving Ross-on-Wye we drove the 8 miles to our hotel which was not in any town or village but in the middle of the Forest of Dean.

Having registered we moved in to our room, unpacked and went outside to explore the forest .

I took this photograph of the Speech House Hotel before we started walking.

There was a path nearby called Spruce Ride so we started with that and noticed on the map that it went past a lake and decided to walk as far as the lake and back. The forest off to the side of the track looked very pleasant.

We spotted a little stream where the water was very brown. This area, surprisingly, had a lot of mines in the past, some of which were for iron, so it’s not surprising to find water coloured by the iron ore in the ground.

It didn’t take very long to reach the lake which looked very picturesque in the sunshine and it was lovely and quiet.

We were on the lookout for things other than trees and lakes and eventually came across a number of interesting fungi.

On our way back we saw this tree which was covered in moss. Not something one sees every day. A ‘Moss Tree’ perhaps.

The marker on the map below shows our path to the lake and the light area by the junction is the Speech House Hotel. You can zoom in and out using the plus and minus icons.

After returning to the hotel it was time to freshen up and go down to dinner. We had a choice of restaurant and this evening we chose the more formal dining room which, I have to say, was rather nice.

We started off, before ordering our meal, with cocktails. Amanda had an Espresso Martini which was coffee flavoured, which she rather liked, and mine was a Passion Fruit Cocktail. If Amanda’s head looks a little odd it’s the ultra wide angle lens I used to take this photograph.

Our meal turned out to be very nice and afterwards we retired for the night.

Ross -on-Wye was a lovely little town and we do like the Forest of Dean. So there endeth our first day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Four

Sun, Sea and Sand – Day Four

Today is our last full day in Tenby as we leave in the morning to go back home. We are going to look at the Merchants House (National Trust) in Tenby then we will explore the area around South Beach (our hotel is on North Beach).

On our way we pass through some more of Tenby’s narrow, picturesque lanes.

I had to crawl through this next one as my head wouldn’t fit in the narrow bit. Surely they can’t get any narrower than this can they?

Tenby was never built to accommodate motor vehicles and, in consequence, there are sometimes traffic jams to be had. In Tenby a traffic jam might consist of only a half dozen vehicles, because of the narrow roads, and it doesn’t usually last for long. Because of those narrow roads the traffic moves very slowly anyway so it’s not a real problem.

We later passed this rather fine Victorian Post Box.

The Merchants House, run by the National Trust, is in the back alleys – that’s it facing the camera. It dates from 1500 which makes it the oldest house still standing in Tenby. The front part of the ground floor would have been used as a shop and the rear part as the kitchen.

This next picture shows the kitchen with its huge fireplace and the door to the small courtyard at the rear of the house. The courtyard is shown in the following picture.

Going up the stairs leads into the family’s living quarters. The wooden frame on the right is the banister rail around the stairwell.

On the top floor are the sleeping quarters and everyone would have slept in this room.

We left the Merchants House and walked to South Beach. I’m fairly sure that this beach is significantly longer than North Beach. Have you spotted the palm trees?

We found our way down to the beach and turned towards the town (I wasn’t prepared to walk all the way to the other end of this beach then all the way back again). We noticed this cave and went over to explore.

This was not an enormous cave but we were surprised at how far into the rock it went bearing in mind that it’s formed by the action of the sea.

Further along we noticed the section of the old town wall and tower still surviving.

There are some lovely bits of garden dotted about on the cliffs and this was one of them. Very pretty.

That picture should tell you that we have climbed up from the beach and are, once again, on the cliff top.

That was the end of our fourth day and although we are staying one more night we will be leaving first thing after breakfast and travelling home. Although we intend to call in at Dinefwr Park on our way back I had already mentioned our visit on the way here and used some of the photographs taken on our way back so there is nothing more to add.

There won’t be a ‘Day Five’ report so until next time.

Medieval Mischief

Medieval Mischief

First of all let's set the tone of this trip before we do anything else.

This little alley dates back to medieval times so, knowing that, if you think that you know why it was given that name then you are probably right. They were fairly blunt about names at that time so we will leave it there. 'Nuff said.

Here are some more pictures of that alley:

So where is it and what were we doing there?

It is Shrewsbury and we went shopping. Not only that but as we have a railway station in Knighton we used the railway to get there. The sneaky part is that travelling cost us nothing and I'll explain why. In Britain, when one is over 60, one can apply to the local council for a concessionary travel pass which permits travelling on buses free. In Wales that same pass can apply to some railway routes and one of those is the Heart of Wales Line. Now guess where that line runs through. Yes – Knighton.

The Heart of Wales line, which runs the 120 miles between Swansea and Shrewsbury, could not be described as 'Mainline' and is, in fact, very very rural. This is our train waiting in our station and, as you can see, couldn't be any shorter. It has just one carriage and no locomotive because it is a diesel railcar with engines under the floor.

It may be small but it provides some very nice landscape views.

So back to Shrewsbury.

We were wandering around the town looking at the shops, of which there was a great variety, with an occasional foray into places of interest which was when we found ourselves in the grounds of Shrewsbury Castle.

The original castle was built by the Normans but, apart from the gateway, very little of that building survives. Much of it was demolished during the rebuilding and strengthening of the castle around 1300 when an outer bailey was also added. It was never used as a fortress after that and over the centuries fell into disrepair until the civil war when further alterations were made.

We didn't actually buy very much in Shrewsbury although I did get a new pair of shoes. We plan to go back on further visits.

Up and Down and Round and About.

Up and Down and Round and About.

Two for the price of one! You lucky people!

Work on the house is still progressing satisfactorily and this coming week will be a significant stage as the scaffolding around the house is coming down. smilies

We are, however, still managing to make a few trips and this time we did a half day walk followed a day later by a trip to Leominster ( pronounced Lemster ).

Trip 1. (Powys)

We walked from the top of Panpunton Hill at Knighton along the ridge to Cwm Sanaham Hill near Knucklas. We have walked up Panpunton Hill before and I even took a photograph of Knucklas Viaduct from the top but we didn't get anywhere near Cwm Sanaham Hill that time.

It was a fine warm day, which is unusual this summer smilies, and we set off towards Cwm Sanaham Hill with Amanda in the lead; quite a bit in the lead actually (that's her on the skyline).

You can see that there is plenty of Gorse in flower at this time of year and you should be able to see that we are still going up. Then we get our first sighting of Cwm Sanaham Hill; the one dead ahead.

As we cross another path we can see Knucklas down below and if you look carefully you should be able to see the railway viaduct.

Cwm Sanaham Hill is getting nearer and, on the extreme right of the next picture, you can see our path curving round the edge of the trees just below the horizon.

We have been following undulating ground all the way along this route but this is the final undulation. We are now going downhill into a small valley and then we start our final climb along the path which passes just below the trees on the left.

We finally reach the summit to be rewarded with some tremendous views and Amanda tries to stop the trigonometry point from falling over.

We didn't stop here for long as we were soon accosted by a big buzzy fly which we suspected was some sort of biting fly looking for a free meal and we didn't intend to supply it. So with much wild waving of arms we descended below the summit and, luckily, the fly didn't follow.

I took this photograph just below the top looking homeward as we set off back. The total distance travelled out and back was 4 miles and for most of that time the only sounds were sheep bleating in the distance and the breeze rustling in the trees. Wonderful!

We returned home without incident.

Trip 2. (Herefordshire)

We weren't able to go out the following day (building work y'know) but the day after we set off in the car to Leominster which is just under 30 miles from us. We hadn't been there before so we were looking forward to exploring.

The weather forecast for today was sunny and clear skies. There was, of course, about 80% cloud cover and little sun when we arrived and it stayed like that until the afternoon when the amount of sun did increase.

Our nearest point of interest was the church so we went there first. The church was once part of Leominster Priory, which no longer exists, and it was huge. There were three naves the earliest of which was Norman but there was also an interesting object now stored in the church.

Although the church was Norman and was very large it didn't really have much of interest although the roof over the earliest of the three Naves was nicely decorated.

I didn't take any photographs of the exterior of the church because of the lack of sun and because we will go to Leominster again hopefully on a better day.

By this time it was actually getting near lunchtime so we found somewhere for lunch and after lunch, when the sun appeared, we wandered off to see Grange Court.

Built in 1633 it is the last surviving market house, built by John Abel a local master carpenter, which originally stood at the top of Broad Street and housed the weekly butter market, selling chickens, eggs, and butter. It was then known as the Butter Crosse.

By the mid nineteenth century the market hall was proving to be a traffic hazard so the building was dismantled and lay in pieces in a builder's yard until 1859 when the building was bought and then rebuilt on the park known as the Grange.

This is Broad Street.

Although it is perhaps wider than usual it's not that wide and I'm sure a building like Grange Court plonked in the middle of the road would have been a significant traffic hazard.

This view of Corn Street which is like a little square shows where we had our lunch in the Merchant's House. The Merchant's House is the black and white timber-framed house on the left-hand edge of the picture.

There is an alley running down the left-hand side of the Merchant's House which leads to Grange Court and in the centre of the picture you should be able to see a small gap in the buildings which is the entrance to a little lane called School Lane. This is School Lane:

Another nice little lane is Drapers Lane.

There were also a number of alleyways of which these are two:

We'll leave you with this view of High Street.

As I said above we will be back for further explorations.

Chains, Chapters and a Challenge

Chains, Chapters and a Challenge

In the week starting Monday 18th July we were going to have the builders in only on Monday and Friday and as the weather forecast for Tuesday was sunny all day we did the obvious – a day trip out.

We thought that Hereford would be a good place to go because it's only an hours drive away and we had never been there. We duly arrived in Hereford without incident and walked towards the city centre. The temperature was forecast to go up to 88 F, which is rare for this country, but at this time of the morning it wasn't uncomfortable (yet).

You may realise that Hereford has a cathedral and has the River Wye running throught it (through the city not the cathedral). There is a modern bridge across the river which takes most of the traffic but a short way away is the old bridge, just one vehicle wide, which can be seen from the new bridge.

The 12th century Norman cathedral is obvious beyond the bridge and the bridge itself is also 12th century.

By this time it was around mid-day and it was starting to feel hot. This is now the middle of July and it's the first day this year I have felt able to wear a short sleeved shirt. Having seen the cathedral from the bridge we now made our way to see the cathedral close up.

It was much cooler inside which was a great relief. The fact that this is a Norman cathedral becomes obvious when one sees the arches on either side of the nave.

The font is also Norman and does look rather worn but the base is of a later date.

There is also a crypt under the Chancel.

Entry to the cathedral is free but this cathedral does have some unique features for which  entry is chargeable but which we couldn't afford to miss. One of those features is the Chained Library.

This is how the library looked in the 1600s. The books are attached to their bookcase by a chain, which is sufficiently long to allow the books to be taken from their shelves and read, but they cannot be removed from the library itself. This would prevent theft of the library's books The practice was usual for reference libraries from the Middle Ages to approximately the 18th century. However, since the chaining process was also expensive, it was not used on all books. Only the more valuable books in a collection were chained.

One thing you may notice is that the books are the 'wrong' way round i.e. with the spines on the inner end. It was standard for chained libraries to have the chain fitted to the corner or cover of a book. This is because if the chain were to be placed on the spine the book would suffer greater wear from the stress of moving it on and off the shelf. Because of the location of the chain attached to the book (via a ringlet) the books are housed with their spine facing away from the reader with only the pages' fore-edges visible (that is, the 'wrong' way round to people accustomed to contemporary libraries). This is so that each book can be removed and opened without needing to be turned around, hence avoiding tangling its chain. To remove the book from the chain, the librarian would use a key.

The other unique feature at Hereford Cathedral is the Mappa Mundi (Map of the World).


Dating from 1300 it is the largest medieval map known still to exist. It represents the known world with Jerusalem being drawn at the centre of the circle, east is on top, showing the Garden of Eden in a circle at the edge of the world. Curiously, the labels for Africa and Europe are reversed, with Europe scribed in red and gold as 'Africa', and vice versa.

Great Britain is drawn at the north-western border (bottom left) and shown below enlarged. In the enlarged version Scotland is the island on the left with England to its right. Wales is shown as a separate island below England with Ireland shown as two islands below that.

Needless to say America and Australasia are not shown at all.

This is a reproduction showing the detail with more clarity.

We eventually decided we'd have to venture out of the cathedral to see more of the city and that's where the challenge is involved. The temperature must have reached its forecast maximum of 88 F because it was HOT! It was also very humid which didn't help at all and we found that we were walking in the shade at any and every opportunity. It is interesting to note that since 2001, extremes at Hereford have ranged from 92.5 F (33.6 C) during July 2006, to as low as 3.6 F ( -15.8 C ) during December 2010.

We walked away from the cathedral along Church Street going past The Grapes, a 16th century coaching inn, and into High Town.

High Town is the old market square and is now the main main shopping area in the city. It also features the Old House; a Jacobean (early 17th century) timber framed house which I must say is rather impressive. It is open to the public, entry is free, and it is worth a look inside.

That Hereford Bull is looking at me very suspiciously and, taking into account the look on its face, I don't think I shall hang around.

We were melting by this time and decided that if we could actually make it back to the car we would go home. We did and we did.

Is there Much Wenlock?

Is there Much Wenlock?

Is there Much Wenlock? There is actually Little Wenlock!

Confused? I'll explain. Little Wenlock is a village, a little south of the town of Wellington in Shropshire, and Much Wenlock is a small market town also in Shropshire. The 'Much' part indicates that it is larger than Little Wenlock. We stayed in Much Wenlock for three nights at the Talbot Inn in High Street. High Street is only one vehicle wide which may give you an idea of the size of the place.

It is a nice little inn with a courtyard accessed through the arch.

The accommodation was basic but comfortable with the bedroom and bathroom ensuite and the food was good.

Immediately opposite the Talbot Inn was Raynald's Mansion dating from the early 1400s. A very impressive building but privately owned and not open to the public.

Near the end of High Street is The George pub and next to that is an alley.

An alley in the Shropshire dialect is a 'shut'. The name, apparently, comes from old english.

Opposite the far end of High Street in Wilmore Street is the 16th century Guildhall another impressive timber-framed building with an interesting interior. The Guildhall is open to the public between April and October on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

A little further along Wilmore Street is the church built in 1150 by the Cluniac monks of Wenlock Priory.

A little further along the same road we found this rather interesting old police station. Victorian I imagine.

The following day we drove to Church Stretton and into Carding Mill Valley owned by the National Trust. This valley forms part of the Long Mynd which is a heath and moorland plateau and is, itself, part of the Shropshire Hills. The Long Mynd geology is mostly Pre-Cambrian and the high ground is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I realised at this point that I had left my camera back at the inn. Bother! (or something like that). So for this walk I had to use my smartphone camera.

We set off walking up the valley alongside the small stream.

You may have noticed that there is plenty of heather about. We reached the Lightspout Waterfall which may be  only 12 feet high but attractive nevertheless.

I'm sorry about the strange lady but she just wouldn't get out of the way. At this point we decided that we'd had enough and went back the same way to the car. Driving back to Much Wenlock we stopped en-route to try and get a view from Wenlock Edge.

It was tricky finding a place where trees were not completely obscuring the view and that was the best that we could do.

The following day we went to Ludlow where we've been twice before and there are plenty of pictures of that town already on the web site so I didn't take any more especially as it was dull and cloudy.

From Ludlow we went to Bishops Castle; a little town near the Welsh border and this time I remembered to take my camera.

It was a nice little town but we felt that it had an odd atmosphere. We later decided it was because there were so few people around. I don't know why that would have been as there were plenty of shops and it was only late afternoon. Perhaps they had wind of our visit.

The following, and last, day we went to Shrewsbury on the bus. This is Shropshire's county town and I had been here once before about 60 years ago but could remember nothing about it and Amanda had not been here before.

We both liked Shrewsbury and it had plenty of interesting buildings, many of them timber-framed, and many interesting streets. We got off the bus in the Square right near the Old Market Hall (Elizabethan); the stone building on the left in the next photograph.

This next view is a short way from the bus stop.

Shrewsbury has plenty of narrow alleyways or 'shuts' as they are known in the local dialect although in the last of these three pictures the alley is labelled 'Compasses Passage'. I suppose that alley may have been built or renamed at a date when the term 'shut' had fallen into disuse.

Those steps in the corner of the next picture are Bear Steps named supposedly after a pub called The Bear which no longer exists. These steps take you through the 15th century building, part of which is visible to the left of the steps, and into St Alkmund's Place shown in the second picture below.

The next photograph is Henry Tudor House, in Barracks Passage, built in the early 15th century.

We walked to Shrewsbury Castle and had a brief look from the outside. The original castle was Norman but very little of that remains and the current building, in red sandstone, looks much more modern so we didn't go in.

However we did see this lovely timber-framed building by the castle entrance but I haven't been able to find out anything about it.

Shrewsbury was our last day so after returning to Much Wenlock for the night we travelled back home, without incident, the next day.


Tunnels, tribulations and lots of time.

Tunnels, tribulations and lots of time.

Late last year I mentioned Brunel’s tunnel under the Thames in our Return from Rotherhithe trip but I wasn’t able to show you the actual tunnel. We can now rectify that omission. Isambard Brunel was nearly drowned whilst building this tunnel and you can read the story  here should you be interested.

We travelled to London although not as far as Liverpool Street Station this time. We changed at Stratford onto the Piccadilly Line and travelled to Canada Water where we changed once more onto the Overground.

Naturally, at this point, the Overground is underground and why not? The Underground runs overground in places so why shouldn’t the Overground run underground? It’s all very logical. When you’ve re-organised your thinking processes we’ll continue.

We then travelled one stop to Rotherhithe. This is the southern end of Brunel’s tunnel and it’s where we encountered the first tribulation.

I was hoping that, as this tunnel is of particular historical interest, the tunnel lights would be on most of the time but no, all was dark. The southern end of Brunel’s tunnel is some way from the station platform so I could see no sign of it. Bother!

Nothing for it but to get on the next train and proceed to the northern end, Wapping Station, to find out what we can see there. There appears to be a train every three minutes on this stretch of the Overground network so not long to wait.

We soon arrived at Wapping and were pleased to discover that we could see this end of Brunel’s tunnel. One thing I had noticed was that the platforms at both Rotherhithe and Wapping were very narrow – not more than six feet I should say. Just enough for two people to pass without going too near the edge.

There are two separate tunnels running parallel and this is the view from Wapping Station platform.

You should be able to see that the tunnel is horseshoe shaped which makes it quite distinctive. The next picture shows the view looking along one of the two tunnels. You should be able to see that the tunnel floor slopes downward and then upward with the two railway lines reflecting light in the far distance.

Time to move on so it’s back on the train northwards one stop to Shadwell to get the DLR to Tower Gateway which is where we find our next tribulation – it’s raining. There wasn’t any rain in the weather forecast. Oh gosh they can’t have got it wrong can they?

We wait a short time for it to stop and walk the short distance to Tower Hill Station on the District Line where we travel to Embankment. When we did our Strand-ed walk I photographed Watergate Walk but omitted to photograph the actual Watergate so here it is.

When it was built in 1626 it was on the shoreline of the River Thames with those steps going down into the water and was intended for visitors to the Duke of Buckingham’s house but then later the Embankment was built making the shoreline much further south.

Back on to the Underground we travel back east to Blackfriars. We were on our way to Blackfriars Lane and passed The Blackfriar pub which I have photographed before but I had the opportunity this time to include the whole building showing its shape rather well.

Very soon after that we were walking along the narrow Blackfriars Lane.

We passed Apothecaries Hall where The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London is based. The hall was originally part of the Dominican priory of Black Friars but was purchased by the Society of Apothecaries in 1632. The original building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and a new hall was built on the same site and completed in 1672.

We continued along Blackfriars Lane until we reached Carter Lane which we turned into. It is interesting to note that this was, at one time, one of London’s main thoroughfares.

Part the way along Carter Lane we arrived at the junction with Burgon Street where there were a number of little narrow lanes round about.

A little further along Carter Lane we spotted this YHA building (hostel) with interesting decoration on it and it turns out that the building was originally the St. Paul’s Choir School, built in 1874, hence the latin inscription and the ecclesiastical motifs on the facade.

A short way on and we were opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral and as it was lunch time a visit to St. Paul’s Crypt Cafe was in order and that was where we hit our next tribulation – it was manic. The place seemed to be full of school parties so we turned round and left. The best thing to do seemed to be to go straight to the British Museum, our next port of call anyway, and get some lunch there and that is what we did.

Their Gallery Cafe was much more civilised. Afterwards we went up to the upper floor where we had plenty of time.

There was a variety of clocks and watches here from the very old to the relatively modern including this early wooden clock and it is all wood even the gear wheels.

There was a rather fine watch dating from 1625 which shows the date, the age and phase of the moon, the seasons, month, day of the week, quarter hours, the time and alarm setting. Anything else you want to know?

There was even a clock dating from the early 1500s.

We moved on to the the dead body department (Egyptian Mummies) where we saw Gebelein Man dating from 3500 BC. He looks as though he could do with feeding up a bit. Just in case you are a little confused his legs are on the left and his arms on the right.

After looking at many Egyptian mummies we had had enough and headed for home but we went the long way. Walking from the British Museum to Holborn Station we continued walking along Holborn to just past Chancery Lane station and thence to Hatton Garden. We weren’t there for the jewellery but for this:

Easily bypassed as ‘just another doorway’ but a closer look produces this:

It’s one of those intriguing narrow alleyways. Walking a short way in we reach Ye Olde Mitre pub built in 1546 and extended in 1782. Henry VIII was married in St.Ethelredas near by and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth, is said to have danced around the cherry tree at the pub door with Sir Christopher Hatton.

Well that’s it for today. A walk back to Chancery Lane Station and thence home. Do keep reading these posts as I’m sure one day an interesting one will come along when I’ve had enough practice.