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Tag: Forests & Woods

Meadow and Medieval

Meadow and Medieval

A few years ago our friend Marie from the USA came over here and on one day we took her to Stokesay Castle near Craven Arms in Shropshire. We travelled by car and parked in the Stokesay Castle car park as that seemed to be the most obvious thing to do.

We recently decided to visit Stokesay Castle again but this time we were planning to park in the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre on the outskirts of Craven Arms and walk to Stokesay Castle. Marie will probably recognise the views of Stokesay Castle. The Discovery Centre is on the edge of Onny Meadows; a large area of very nice water meadows with numerous footpaths.

We parked and then set off from the Discovery Centre to find the path that would take us across to the other side of the River Onny. We probably would have missed it if it wasn’t for the fact that I had my smartphone in my hand which showed us our position on a map. At the point at which it showed that we had reached the start of the path there was a rather insignificant gap in the hedge and that was the path we wanted. We probably wouldn’t have recognised it otherwise.

We were now heading for the river and on the way we passed some rather nice timber framed cottages.

Then we soon arrived at the ‘White Bridge’ over the river.

I stopped on the bridge to take a photograph of the river so there are no prizes for guessing whose shadow that is.

On the other side of the river we started to climb whilst travelling parallel to the river. The path went through some nice landscapes until it was fairly high above the river and then began to drop slowly until we reached river level again.

The River Onny here is quite deep and so flows very slowly. The overall impression is that of a pond rather than a river and there were plenty of dragonflies about.

As we walked alongside the river I spotted this Reed Canary-Grass which I thought looked rather nice. It is, unsurprisingly, a waterside grass.

Where the river was very shallow at the edges we saw a lot of fry, possibly Minnow, in large shoals. Each fish was only about one inch long.

It didn’t take us very long to get to Stokesay Castle which was looking its usual splendid self. This is an English Heritage property and all visits currently have to be pre-booked because of the Covid-19 situation but entry was quite straight forward. Needless to say there are plenty of features to look at and it really is interesting. They do have a nice gift shop at the entrance and we left carrying three jars of assorted fruit preserves and a bottle of liqueur. I don’t know how that happened.

Having had a good look around we decided that it was time to leave and started to walk back to the Discovery Centre. We passed this recently harvested field and I couldn’t resist a photograph partly because those large hills on the horizon are actually clouds.

We returned on a different path which passed through this wooded area of mainly Ash trees which looked very nice in their silvery bark.

Onward through the meadows were these Tansey flowers which I haven’t seen for some time and this is probably the largest bunch that I’ve seen.

As we approached the Discovery Centre we passed through these wooden representations of Mammoth tusks. These are here because there is, in the Discovery Centre, a full sized replica of Woolly Mammoth remains which were found near Condover, Shrewsbury.

The Discovery Centre is a modern building with a low profile and a grass roof.

The interior is very pleasant with a large gift shop and a well stocked cafe where we had lunch including, of course, finishing up with ice cream ( a very good selection of flavours). This is the passageway to the cafe.

That was the end of another interesting and enjoyable little trip.

Victorian Valve House

Victorian Valve House

This morning we set off to find a footpath. Yes I know, there are dozens around here but we were looking for a particular path. We had seen it on the map but had never walked it so, perhaps, now was the time.

It started in Presteigne Road so we walked over there then started up the road, phone in hand so I could see our progress and position on the map, until our position showed as being at the start of the path. There is housing along here and we could not see an obvious path. There was a small wooden gate which looked like the entrance to someone’s garden but nothing else. We went up to the gate and could see in the relatively lush undergrowth that there was a small plate on the gatepost with a footpath sign on it. It would have been very easy to miss.

Once through the gate it was very obviously a footpath which eventually leds us to another similar gate. Through the gate brought us to open ground and we could see the Victorian Valve House right in front of us.

This was built as part of the aqueduct which runs from the Elan Valley reservoirs to Birmingham to provide a water supply. We knew that if we walked up the hill to the top corner of the hill we could get on to another footpath that we had used before but in the reverse direction.

Unfortunately for us this hill is very steep and some of us needed a rest. Still, it gave me the opportunity to take a photograph of the view.

When we reached the top we joined the other path which took us back home through the wooded area of Frydd Hill.

It was a short trip but it did satisfy our curiosity regarding the Valve House path.

On the road to nowhere

On the road to nowhere

In April 2017 we traversed the Cambrian Mountains, on our way to Devil’s Bridge, on one of only two roads which go over the Cambrian Mountains. This is the blog that covers that trip. https://www.beenthere-donethat.org.uk/deoprrssw/?p=2428

We now decided that it was time to explore that second road. We weren’t going to a particular destination but purely to see what that road was like (Have you ever had a premonition that you are about to make a mistake?).

We headed off, on a warm sunny day, towards Beulah. Yes, I know, you’ve never heard of it. Well it’s a small village about 8 miles south-west of Newbridge-on-Wye in Powys. This is where the mountain road starts and having turned on to it, and before we’d left Beulah, we spotted a nice little church which we had to explore. The original path into the churchyard went over this cute little bridge but the current path bypasses the bridge.

And this is the little church. It is not very old, having been built in 1867, but it is very attractive.

Having had a quick look round ( what else can you do with a church that small?) we set off again along the road. This road is just one car’s width and does have passing places but you can bet that you won’t be near one when you meet a car coming the other way.

The first part of this road is mainly wooded but eventually after a gentle climb of some miles we came out into the open. We continue to head upwards through that valley round to the left.

We carried on to the village of Abergwesyn where we’d heard there was a ruined church. We couldn’t find the ruined church, if it still exists, but we did find the old churchyard with a mega Yew tree.

We carried on and soon went into another wooded section of the road with an unprotected steep slope on one side. No barrier to stop you driving off the edge and you do have to drive relatively near the edge because the road is so narrow.

I was quite pleased when that was over. Next we reached the Devil’s Staircase – a steep bit of read with some hairpin bends. The name is more worrying than the actual road and we successfully negotiated that section without problems. We reached another open area and we are still climbing but the views were getting better.

The road was beginning to get interesting now. It was bending in three dimensions and they tended to be sharp bends. When the bend was in the vertical plane the road beyond the top of the hill couldn’t be seen until the car was beginning to tip down the other side so one couldn’t see which way the road was going to go and there was always the possibility of a car coming the other way. Travelling was slow and if there was a short stretch where one could attain 20 MPH then that would be considered very fortunate. The same applied to bends in the horizontal plane – it meant driving really quite slowly. Don’t pick an argument with a rock – you won’t win.

Having reached the top we took a 7 mile detour to have a look at a reservoir we had heard about, Llyn Brianne, and it turned out to be a worthwhile detour. But it certainly increased our bend count.

Our road was now going downhill again but the bends didn’t get any better.

We finally reached the end of the road in a small town called Tregaron which was a relief from the bends – but not for long. We now had to return home which meant travelling the same route in the opposite direction. I was really looking forward to doing all those bends again. :(

I can tell you that by the time we reached Beulah again I was rather tired and we still had an hour to go to reach home. However we did reach home without incident and I don’t intend doing that journey again in a hurry!

A Knighton walk – what a rush!

A Knighton walk – what a rush!

It was nice and sunny this morning with the forecast that it would cloud up around lunchtime so we decided on a little walk before that happened. It was cool with a cold wind but still pleasant enough.

We left our house and went via the secret path (I’m not telling you where that is because it’s secret) onto Larkey Lane and thence to Ffrydd Road where we turned right, away from the town. After a short walk we turned up the little lane that goes up to Knighton Golf Course but only for a few yards when we turned right along a public footpath through Great Ffrydd Wood.

That’s when we encountered the rush. Wood Rush in fact. All that ‘grass’ in the picture below isn’t – it’s all Wood Rush.

In the next two pictures you can see the flower heads lit up in the sun.

We followed the current path to a point where it doubles back the way we came but traverses diagonally uphill. At this point we hopped over a stile into a field to try and photograph the Victorian Elan Aqueduct which used to carry carry water from the Elan Valley in Wales to Birmingham. The aqueduct, built in 1896, is difficult to see because of so many surrounding trees and in these next views one of the arches is visible plus part of the horizontal stone structure.

We then went back on to the path through Great Ffrydd Wood and continued uphill. It is a pleasant but long and winding path through the wood and eventually leads back onto the Knighton Golf Course road which, incedentally,is a private road but is also a public right of way.

We finally emerged onto open ground above Knighton. The far hill in the top picture is Kinsley Wood and the open ground on the very left is Panpunton Hill.

The next view, from the same viewpoint is of the Teme Valley running toward Ludlow. The red tree at the foot of the slope appears in both pictures.

Finally a rather nice view of St. Edwards Church, Knighton. This is a Victorian Gothic rebuilding of an earlier church of which the medieval west tower is the only surviving part.

That was the end point of our little walk so we went home.

I caught a rainbow and other stories.

I caught a rainbow and other stories.

I won’t be posting about new trips for some time so I expect blog posts will be few and far between. Here are some ramblings,

I found this rainbow in our conservatory and now I don’t know what to do with it. Perhaps I should put it in the freezer for later.

For most of the past week the weather has been good (naturally as we can’t go on any trips) and we sat in the garden in the sun on three different days. After the first day when I fell asleep for about an hour my face ended up being noticeably redder than usual but it didn’t feel like sunburn and this is in March.

We have both been doing some garden maintenance. I am just the manual labourer doing grass cutting, leaf raking (I hate beech leaves) and the like. On my rounds I noticed that part of a stream bank retaining wall on our neighbours property was laying on the bottom of the syream probably caused by the recent flooding. The stream didn’t overflow out of its bed but it was a raging torrent for a time.

We have seen a number of butterflies in the garden (Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma) and some bumble bees during the warm weather which will have over-wintered here. Our Magnolia tree now has a lot of flower buds on it:

and our Camelias are beginning to bloom.

I’ve been doing my usual walk, which includes a stretch by the River Teme, and the ground has become drier to the point that I can now do it wearing normal shoes rather than walking boots or wellington boots and all the water that has been running down Kinsley Road has now disappeared. This is how it was recently:

The road is now completely dry.

We went for a walk recently in Kinsley Wood and discovered this little picnic site which we hadn’t realised was there.

It is not possible to drive here so any picnic would need to carried in a rucsack.

I stopped a little later to take this photograph partly to try the extra-wide angle lens on my smartphone. The little white blob on the left is Amanda’s head and the ‘normal’ view would not have stretched further than the larger of the two trees in the centre. That lens could be very useful in confined spaces such as some interiors.

We have recently registered with our local support group so that we can have some kind person fetch our shopping for us (although we haven’t used it yet) and we have some cooked meals delivered to our door by the local ‘Little Black Sheep Cafe’.

We had a number of trips planned for this season and they are now on hold. What a drag this all is (That’s the polite version).

After all that excitement you will probably need a rest. Till next time.

The Fungal Jungle

The Fungal Jungle

We have just been up into Kinsley Wood on the top of Panpunton Hill in Knighton to look for fungi. We found a number of different sorts some of which we think we have identified and some we haven’t. If you can identify any of them do please let me know.

1. Calocera viscosa – Orange Stagshorn (Coniferous)
2. Amanita musceria – Fly Agaric (Deciduous)
3. Helvella crispa (Deciduous)
4. Unknown (Cortinarius/Russula/Bolete ?)
5. Unknown
6. Unknown
7. Unknown
8. Unknown (Clitocybe ? – may be the same as 6)
9. Xylaria hypoxylon – Candle-snuff

These are pictures of Kinsley Wood where we found the fungi. Kinsley Wood is a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees which means a greater variety of fungi as some of them prefer deciduous and others prefer coniferous.

The Island in the Sky – Day 3

The Island in the Sky – Day 3

The weather forecast for today was cloudy but dry so I opened the curtains with a little trepidation, especially after yesterday, to find this.

If that’s the sort of cloudy they meant I’m all for it. Today we go home but not straight home. We plan to go to Lake Bala for a ride on the Lake Bala Railway and to do that we have to go over the Hellfire Pass. We first have to drive along the edge of the lake and passed these rather fine, large trees.

We did notice that there are a goodly number of these very tall, very straight trees in various places around the lake. Nice to see.

We reached the start of the backroad which leads us up to the Hellfire Pass and found that it was a typical Welsh backroad – one car’s width and rather bendy both laterally and vertically.

We were climbing along the side of a valley to our left which Amanda could get a good look at, I didn’t want to take my eyes off the road, and she said it looks really beautiful with a stream running along the bottom and, apparently, waterfalls every few yards.

We managed that road easily enough especially as we didn’t meet any other vehicles (makes life easier) and we eventually turned right on to the Hellfire Pass road. Very soon after a short climb this came into view. There are very, very few places where one could stop off road so, to take this photograph, I just stopped where I was in the road. Again there were no other vehicles and that view is rather dramatic.

We went on a short way to the point at which we could see around that left-hand bend in the valley and I had to stop in the road again for this view.

What a view!

Soon after this we reached the top of the pass where there was a car park – the only one we encountered since we left Lake Vyrnwy so I had to take some more photographs of the views. Incidentally this is the second highest pass in Wales. I mentioned in a previous blog post that we had been over the highest pass in Wales – the Gospel Pass. I wonder where the third highest is?

Now we started down the other side which proved interesting. At times there was level ground either side of the road and at times there wasn’t. There was a very steep slope on the left and there was sometimes a crash barrier and sometimes there was nothing. This, remember, is on a road which is just wide enough to take one car. We did make it down safely and made our way to the Lake Bala Railway terminus.

The train above, waiting in the station, was the one we caught but not before we had a good look around.

This is our rather cute little locomotive called ‘Winifred’. It apparently wasn’t the intended locomotive for today but had to be used because the other one developed a fault this morning.

You may notice that it does not have a cab, so no protection from the elements for the crew, and there isn’t exactly a lot of room on the footplate.

The seating in the carriage wasn’t exactly plush but comfortable enough for a short journey – 30 minutes each way.

This is ‘Maid Marion’ the locomotive that was going to be used today until she got the hump. At least the crew would have had some protection from the weather in that little cab.

This train rockets along at about 10 miles per hour so I was able to take this next photograph of Lake Bala on the move without being joggled about too much. Pretty ain’t it?

When we reached the far end of the line, and the lake, the locomotive had to be uncoupled and moved round the train to the other end which is what’s happening below.

It looks cosy on that small footplate and it’s a good job that it wasn’t raining hard – they don’t even have an umbrella.

I apologise for this next video. It stops prematurely because storage on the camera had filled up. Bother!

That was the end of our trip so it’s time to go home. That was a rather short trip but we didn’t have any idea what the area was like or what the hotel was like so it was a trial trip really. We did like the area and the hotel very much so we would certainly like to re-visit Lake Vyrnwy again, if we can. Until next time!