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A Knighton Walk – We’re on edge!

A Knighton Walk – We’re on edge!

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.

A Fortuitous Trip

A Fortuitous Trip

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.

If you’d like to see it on a map then look here https://is.gd/yfd5Ox

Until next time.

The Island in the Sky – Day 1

The Island in the Sky – Day 1

It all started with a boot full. That is to say a car boot not a boot on the foot. “But wait” I hear you cry “Surely you’re not going on another trip so soon after the other one?”

Well, from the look of that boot,with cases, I would say we are going on another trip and, this time, it’s Lake Vyrnwy about 50 miles north of us. The navigation system estimates the journey time to be about one and a half hours. Welsh roads don’t y’ know (one car wide).

The journey proved to be fairly straightforward and we arrived at the hotel without any problems. The hotel is the large building on the hillside in the distance beyond the lake. Just in case you wondered it is all of that building.

It is a nice hotel with two separate seating areas and we had a room overlooking the lake so you’re bound to get some views from the room later on.

The sitting room above had a small balcony outside with some tables and chairs.

Our room isn’t going to be ready until later this afternoon, which we expected anyway, so we decided to drive up to the far end of the lake to have a look at a waterfall.

We parked the car and set off on our walk but hadn’t gone very far when a very friendly local decided he wanted to join us. There was no “Do you mind if I join you?” – he just joined us. Here is Amanda with our new friend.

He eventually became tired of our company and we left him behind. A little further on we spotted these mountaineering sheep on quite a steep slope.


Continuing with our walk we came up to the brow of a hill and suddenly there it was.

We were determined to get to the foot of the falls so we pressed on which involved crossing the river. Not so far to go now.

Then we could see the waterfall in all its glory.

Finally we reached the foot of the falls. The view from here wasn’t quite as good as from further back but it was a lot noisier.

It was now late afternoon so we went back to our hotel. Our room was ready so we took our luggage up and had our first look out of the window. We couldn’t really complain about that could we?

So, dinner this evening, then it’s off to bed ready to wake to a new day.

If at first you don’t succeed …

If at first you don’t succeed …

Tuesday 12th September 2017

This is another late report from an outing we did about 5 weeks ago. Unlike the previous blog post this is not accidentally late. I just haven’t got around to writing it until now. In fact going on to the Blog to write this was when I spotted that my previous report hadn’t been posted.

One of the local things we had on our ‘to do’ list was Holloway Rocks. The map in the link will give you an idea of the situation.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=330695&Y=273615&A=Y&Z=120

It is a short way from Knighton, where we now live, and short enough that we could walk from home but didn’t. The roads around Stowe are only one car’s width so one has to park off-road. We drove to Stowe Church, shown on the map, where we were able to park our car. It’s a lovely little chuch in the middle of nowhere (Stowe has a population of 140).

We had tried this walk before, about a week ago, having set off from Stowe Church. We started off up the wrong path and having realised that we went back down again and then realised why we hadn’t taken the right path. There was a van parked on the beginning of the path and although there was room to walk past it the van had blocked it from our view. We set off again on the right path. In the past year my health has deteriorated such that, sometimes, I can’t walk far uphill without stopping to catch my breath which was what I was having to do here. I did push myself too hard and eventually had to sit down. After a while I began to feel faint and had to lie down. I did eventually recover but we decided to abandon that attempt.

… try, try again.

This time we started up the right path, which is fairly steep, with frequent stops for me to recover my breath and I didn’t push too hard this time. I managed to get through the wooded section but by the time we reached the open I had to stop for a breather especially as the path gets steeper here.

Looking back, in the next picture, the wooded part is visible and you can see that we have gained quite a lot of height; most of it previously in the car.

On that bank to the right were a lot of Hawkbit flowers.

Inexorably upward, stop, puff, repeat and we eventually arrived at an expected junction with another path together with a pond. The path we want continues upward on the other side of the pond curving off to the right.

Having reached the high point in the photograph above we look back in the next picture to see this view. The footpath we turned out of is on the left of this path just before this path splits into two and you can see the pond on the right. The town of Knighton is visible just above the very dark triangle on the left probably better seen In the larger picture.

We have now gained more height but we are by no means near the top yet but we do have a lovely view and the sky has cleared a little which makes it even better.

We are still climbing but we are now not too far from the top.

You can see the path levelling off now and you should also be able to see the path plunging downward as it curves to the left. We have just come up that bit and the town in the distance is, of course, Knighton.

Finally, after crossing two large fields (fairly flat), we reach the top with its Ordnance Survey trigonometry point with Amanda trying to stop it from falling over. The next picture gives an idea of the view with sheep in the foreground and those black blobs on the left are actually cows.

So where do the rocks in Holloway Rocks come in? There isn’t really much in the way of visible rocks although we passed an old quarry on the way up. Perhaps that’s where the name comes from. The hill we climbed is, unsurprisingly, Stowe Hill.

Well I managed to get there even though it took me about three times as long as it would have done a year ago. Measured over the ground it was probably less than a mile but pretty steep for most of the way. I don’t think that I would like to try walking it from home. That would be about 2 miles each way and although I’m fairly sure I could get there I couldn’t be certain that I could get back again which would be a little embarrassing.

So did I get back from this trip? Well, I’ll leave you to work that out.

Autumn

Autumn

This is our first autumn since moving into our new house so we thought to go on a short walk to look at the autumn colours. Nothing special to report except perhaps for the sheep. When I looked over the gate to take the photograph they all stopped and looked at me but they didn't smile for the photograph. sad

Pretty don't ya think? I've made the pictures a little smaller than usual so that they could be arranged in pairs but clicking on each picture will display the usual larger version.

You know what autumn means don't you? The next stage is winter. crying

 

Keeping our trip on track

Keeping our trip on track

First of all we'll do the inevitable bit about the weather. About a week ago Thursday of this week was given as sunny but by the weekend it had changed to sunny intervals and on Wednesday it was going to be mostly cloudy. Thursday morning about 7:00 AM the forecast was still mostly cloudy but 30 minutes later it had changed to mostly sunny. That's british weather forecasting for you.

We decided to re-visit Welshpool and travel on the narrow gauge Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway which first opened in 1903. I bought tickets online using my smartphone before we left and that was straightforward enough. It provided us with a PDF version of the ticket for two which I was able to show on the train. All very satisfactory.

We arrived at Welshpool about an hour after we left home and parked in the station's free car park. The train had arrived a few minutes earlier and stays in the station for about 30 minutes so there was plenty of time.

The trains start from Llanfair Caereinion, which is where the engine sheds are, and the locomotive runs in reverse as far as Welshpool. You can see what I mean if you look at the previous blog post. The locomotive then runs around the train to couple on to the other end when it will then be facing forwards. The locomotive is called 'Joan' and was built in 1927 by Kerr Stuart of Stoke-on-Trent which makes her just 9 years older than me. She is a lovely old lady.

The carriages are wooden with wooden seats and have a raised platform at each end, known as a balcony, with a door to the interior. This photograph was taken from inside looking through the window as the locomotive was starting its run around the train.

You can see in this next picure that our carriage has a partition across it about halfway along but another similar carriage did not have this partition.

At 11:15 AM we set off and started climbing almost immediately. Looking out of a side window I was able to see the track ahead and the gradient was easily discernable. Much steeper than a 'normal' railway but then these narrow gauge railways were built to work in this type of countryside. The curves on the track are also much sharper than you'd normally expect and I was able to get this photograph, on one such curve, by leaning out of the window.

The train passes through a visual feast of welsh countryside views on its 8 mile journey. Some views include the inevitable sheep and we also saw a lot of pheasants.



Amanda, who was sitting in the seat opposite mine, was far more interested in the countryside than she was in me. smilies

It took 45 minutes to arrive in Llanfair Caereinion Station and we were there by 12:00 midday.

They have a nice little tea shop at the station where we had a light lunch. I had carrot and coriander soup with a crusty roll and Amanda had a ham sandwich. We both had some coffee cake for our dessert. Yum!

We boarded the train once again, after lunch, for the journey back to Welshpool. This particular train stops here for an hour probably because it is around lunchtime and then sets off for Welshpool at 1:00 PM to arrive back at 1:45 PM.

I don't know what speed the train reaches but I would estimate that at times we were hurtling along at 20 MPH. smilies

We enjoyed that little trip and will have to re-visit that railway again.
 

‘Hello Dolley’ then ‘Up, Up and Away’

‘Hello Dolley’ then ‘Up, Up and Away’

This is where it all started:

It looks pretty inocuous doesn't it? The start of a path in a little place called Dolley Green. This is part of Offa's Dyke Path where it passes through Dolley Green on its way to Knighton. From here to Knighton is 5 miles which is what I'll be walking having been dropped off by Amanda.

I watched our car disappear into the distance and started up the path. The only sounds were those of the birds and along each side of the path were Red Campion (red), Bluebells (blue) and Greater Stitchwort (white) – lovely!

I new that I'd be going over some significant hills so the fact that the path angled gently upwards wasn't a surprise and the highest point was some way away so I wasn't expecting anything steep. The path was lined with trees so that I couldn't see any of the surrounding landscape until I came out into the open.

That small group of buildings to the right is where I started; not a big place. I still couldn't see anything ahead because of the rising ground until I came to the brow of the hill.

Now that isn't a bad view and look at all those buttercups. Then the path became a little steeper. I expected to see a lot of sheep and I wasn't disappointed. This one was curious enough to come and get a good look at me.

It didn't come very near and eventually decided that I was decidedly boring and moved away so I moved on too. A little further on I stopped to look back.

Dolley Green is still visible but you can see that I've gained more height. My little black friend is also still visible on the path. I carried on along the path and then it started to get steeper and steeper and I went up, up and up. Remember me saying that I wasn't expecting anything steep? Well I was wrong.

 Having gained significantly more height I took two more photographs. The first looking back and the second looking ahead.


I was glad to see that the slope reduced a bit but I was still climbing. The path is well waymarked with signs such as this, english on the right, welsh on the left although some features such as gates or styles show just the acorn symbol.

The acorn denotes that this path is a 'National Path' and, as this is the only national path around here, it shows that you are on Offa's Dyke Path. The 'National Paths' are long distance paths including ones such as the Pennine Way.

The views from up here were tremendous, as you might expect, and included the inevitable sheep. There are changes of direction on this path but they are well signed.

I have just come through that gate having turned a right-angle and you can see the 'National Path' symbol not to mention the view beyond. I must now have reached maximum elevation, thank goodness, and still the views are endless but that, of course, is one of the reasons for coming.


One thing you may have noticed and that is that there has been no sign of Offa's Dyke. That is about to change as I reach a part where the dyke is apparent. The dyke bank in the first picture should be visible with the ditch on the right and in the second picture the dyke is decorated with bluebells along its length.


I mentioned earlier about the acorn symbol and this is another example:

The acorn symbol is visible on the left-hand gatepost which tells you that you are on the right path. Just beyond is a lovely patch of Bluebells and the line of trees is actually growing on the dyke which is well formed along this length.

This next section shows the dyke very well as the bank is quite high and has a well formed ditch this side of it.

I am now approaching Knighton and I see that the rounded hump off to my left is in fact Garth Hill which is very near our house. The TV transmitter mast on the top is also just visible.

Soon after that I start down the wooded slope which will take back into Knighton. It's not very steep at first but I know, from looking at the closely packed contours on the map, that it's going to get steeper and it does.

I can now see the buildings in Knighton below me, through the trees, and the slope is steep enough that the ends of my toes are resting against the front of my boots which becomes uncomfortable after a while. However I am soon back down and it's a short walk home.

The GPS statistics for my walk are below but you may want to skip them.

Distance 5.45 miles
Total time 3 hours 10 minutes
Of that time I was actually moving for 2 hours 4 minutes
Average speed 2.62 MPH
Maximum altitude 1112 feet starting from an altitude of 314 feet
I was climbing for 1 hour 11 minutes and descending for 1 hour 37 minutes