Once upon a time there was a little seed which fell onto the soft earth. It felt quite at home there and decided to settle down. Over the years it was sustained by sun and rain and slowly grew.
Some years later we stumbled upon it.
Towards the end of September we visited Hergest Croft Gardens again which is where we found the Purple Beech and what a magnificent tree it is. We have one of those growing in front of the house and we keep it trimmed to prevent it from growing to that size and blocking all the light from the front of the house. I wish we had the space to let it grow.
This fruit is growing on a tree and I’ll give you one guess as to what the tree’s name is. You’re right – it’s a Strawberry Tree.
There were plenty of other trees bearing colourful fruit.
There are also a number of trees in Hergest Croft Gardens which have rather interesting bark.
There were also some impressive, large, fungi.
There are still flowers at this time of year as this Azalea shows. Quite a large colourful specimen.
Flowers are not the only source of colour as the leaves on the trees are starting to turn.
On this trip we saw, growing along both sides of this path, even more Naked Ladies than on our last visit.
This was a rather striking bush where the leaves were much more noticeable than its tiny white flowers.
There is so much to see here that we plan to make a number of return visits and, being in Kington, it is only a 30 minute drive from us.
Do you want to see any more of Hergest Croft Gardens?
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?
Another sunny day – time for another walk. This time we are starting at Offa’s Dyke Centre and walking to just past Nether Skyborry and back on a circular route.
We started from the Offa’s Dyke Centre and this shows the park at the back of the Centre. We set off along the visible path which is actually part of the Offa’s Dyke Path.
Just as we entered the park we saw this rather fine Chestnut Tree in flower.
A little further along the path (still In the park) the grass on the left-hand side was covered in Buttercups and Daisies.
We soon reached the point at which the path divides, the left-hand path leads to a section of Offa’s Dyke, should you want to see that, but we wanted the right-hand fork which follows Offa’s Dyke Path down to the River Teme.
That right-hand path leads to the top of these steps so down we go.
The path levels off briefly, crossing a grassy area, and the bank on the left is the section of dyke mentioned earlier
The path then goes downhill again for a short while to where we turn left still following Offa’s Dyke Path.
We then leave the wooded section into the open where we walk alongside the River Teme for a short while. The hill in the distance is Panpunton Hill.
Leaving the riverside we cross the River Teme on this footbridge
and cross the railway line. There is very good visibility on this crossing as the line is straight for quite a good length and it is very easy to see a train if there is one.
On the other side of the railway line we go through a gate and continue on the path.
The signpost at this point is pointing along the Offa’s Dyle Path, back the way that we have come and off to the right to continue on Offa’s Dyke Path. We, however, are taking a different direction. You should be able to see a very small figure (another walker) in the centre of the picture which is where we are heading. On the left of that figure you may be able to see a patch bare of grass which is the path we are following.
The path continues slightly uphill past a trough and goes through the gate ahead. The gate is held closed by a chain which can be unclipped and, after passing through, do not forget to shut the gate and clip the chain back together.
This section of path passes through this meadow and heads for the far right corner of the field where there is another gate which is very similar to the one we have just passed through..
On the way we passed a number of Hawthorn Trees in blossom. There were also some Bluebells below right.
On the far side of the second field we pass close to the River Teme and start uphill again.
This uphill section is neither long nor steep.
We do, however, soon reach this point where the path appears to go through a tree. That is because the path does go through a tree. When we had a lot of rain earlier in the year it was enough to cause part of the bank on our left to collapse taking the tree with it so that the tree has ended up at an angle although it still appears to be growing. We had to detour around the tree on the right.
On the other side of the tree the path runs along the top of a cliff and you may be able to see that there is quite a drop down to the river. Bearing in mind that we have just seen evidence that this ground is unstable you can see why we were on edge in both senses of the word.
A short way on we saw a number of bright blue Speedwell flowers. Very pretty.
The path continues for some time at about this level. Do you get the impression that Amanda is trying to lose me?
Then we saw some rather attractive Red Campion flowers. There are a lot of wild flowers of various types along this route.
We reach a point where a small stream cuts across the path but what you can’t see is that the path this side is very steeply angled towards the stream but you’ll be sorry to hear that we both made it without getting our feet wet.
Shortly after we saw this splendid example of a coppiced tree and coppicing should not be confused with pollarding.
At this point amanda saw a strange old geezer suffering from OldBufferitis trying to get over a low, very simple stile and making a real meal of it. This is the start of a short section of path which we have named the Assalt Course as there are a number of obstacles to be negotiated.
Just the other side Amanda spotted this Jews Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) which I had missed comletely. The latin name translates to “Judas’s Ear” and is also known as Wood Ear or Jelly Ear.
The strange old geezer made a second appearance when we had to clamber over a fallen tree and made a miserable attempt at making it appear difficult.
There aren’t many choices with this one. Either you clamber over it or crawl under it. We chose the former.
Finally we reached this gate where we left the wooded part and emerged into the open. This gate has an interesting closing mechanism which I haven’t seen before. I won’t attempt to explain it but I managed to work it out so you should also be able to if you attempt the walk.
You may just be able to see a gate in the far hedge in the right half of the picture. It’s above and just left of the left-most sheep. That’s our current target.
On our way to the gate we passed quite close to one of the locals.
When we finally reached the gate we stopped to look back at the view. That hill on the left with the mast on the top is Garth Hill and we have walked on Garth Hill a number of times.
We left the field via a gate and emerged onto the road. The route we are going to take now is from that gate towards and behind the camera which is back towards Nether Skyborry and, thence, Knighton.
It was a bit of a puff going uphill to Nether Skyborry but we managed and the gate on the left had a nameplate on it which read ‘ Nether Skyborry’.
A little further along the road we had this rather nice view of Knighton.
Eventually we reached the point at which Offa’s Dyke Path crosses the road. This view is looking back the way we have come and the gate on the right gives access to Offa’s Dyke Path up Panpunton Hill. The gate on the left takes us back towards Knighton to the point at which, earlier on the route, we branched off the Offa’s Dyke Path.
There is a choice here of going through the gate back to Knighton which will mean the total length of the walk will be three miles or of continuing along the road to Knighton Station and then right along Station Road back into town which would mean a total length of four miles.
We went back home after a delightful walk with a lot of interesting features. We have done it before and we’ll probably do it again.
We have had a lot of rain here recently and we were very surprised to see that the weather forecast for Monday (yesterday) was that it would be sunny. We couldn’t miss this opportunity to do something that we had planned to do some while ago so we set off from Knighton for the little hamlet of Chapel Lawn in Shropshire about 6 miles from us.
As we leave Knighton and cross the River Teme we are now in Shropshire and after the long and arduous 10 minute journey (well, Ok, I like to exaggerate sometimes) we parked in the Village Hall car park and prepared to set off on our walk.
That walk is to be to the top of the hill in the photograph below. We don’t intend to go straight up the side as it’s just too steep so we’ll be going off to the the right and, eventually, back left to the top. It may be longer that way but the gradient is far more manageable.
Just off to the right of the car was the village sign which I though was nice enough to warrant a photograph.
You’ll remeber that earlier I said we had had a lot of rain and because of that we found ourselves walking along the lane which was awash with water.
We pressed on, however, and soon spotted something interesting in the form of some large fungi on the roadside verge which we have yet to try and identify. Perhaps it’s Fungus biggus. :-))
We started going uphill very shortly after leaving the car park and the views from the lane were starting to get impressive.
After walking about three quarters of a mile up the lane we found the start of the footpath and a short while after leaving the lane I stopped to take this photograph looking back along the footpath to the gate in the hedge.
About 15 minutes later I stopped to take another photograph looking back along the footpath because the moon was showing high above in the sky. You should be able to see it not far from the top of the picture.
There were, of course, the inevitable sheep about.
And we stopped soon after for this rather nice view of Chapel Lawn where we had started from. If you can spot the church then our car is parked immediately to its left. It now looks a long way down and we haven’t yet stopped going uphill.
Now this sign looks as though it has been there a very long time and it is pointing to the place we are going to – Caer Caradoc. It is a hill about 1300 feet high and it’s not just a hill but we’ll get to that later.
We spotted some more fungi along the way which isn’t surprising at this time of year and, again, we have yet to identify them.
Soon after, with much puffing and blowing, we reached our destination – the Caer Caradoc Hill Fort which turned out to be the most impressive hill fort we’ve seen so far. This photograph is taken at the eastern entrance and shows a well defined ditch with a bank on both sides.
The next picture shows Amanda going through this entrance and you may notice that although we have reached the fort we have not yet stopped going uphill. You can see that the bank beyond Amanda stops for the entrance opening and in the foreground is the drop into the ditch with the left-hand bank above it.
Just inside the fort we find yet another little fungus, about the size of a little fingernail, which Amanda is fairly sure is a Wax Cap.
We walked across the inside of the fort and I am relieved to say that we have reached the highest point at around 1300 feet. Whew!
We are now approaching the west entrance seen just in front of Amanda having moved further into the interior of the fort.
Oh no, not another one! Oh yes, I’m afraid so, yet another fungus which, so far, remains unidentified.
At the west entrance to the fort we find that the banks and ditches are much more well defined compared with the east entrance. These next two photographs show two of the three parallel banks and a ditch seen from the top of one of the banks plus another very well defined ditch.
The views from up here are phenomenal and, as the sun at this time of year is very low, you can see my shadow.
Amanda is at the bottom of one of the ditches and it gives a good idea of the scale of this place. The distance from the top of a bank to the bottom of the adjacent ditch is quite considerable. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken to build something like this especially with the tools which were available at the time.
There were beautiful views in every direction and on a warm, dry summer’s day one could look for hours. We are now on our way back to the eastern entrance and you should be able to see the gap in the outer bank and the view beyond.
We made our way back to the lane and on the way down towards Chapel Lawn we saw these Hawthorn trees with a multitude of red berries.
That was a really enjoyable walk, if a little strenuous but one has to ask why did these iron age people go to such lengths to fortify their living enclosures? Who were they protecting themselves from? We probably may never know.
Incidentally there is another Caer Caradoc in Shropshire, near Church Stretton, but I gather that the Hill Fort on that one is not as good. Don’t get the two confused.
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.
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.