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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 walk in the woods.

A walk in the woods.

Another nice sunny day today so we went for a walk in Kinsley Wood. We noticed many Bluebell plants around but only some in flower with a lot not even showing buds. There were some, however, that were in bloom.

A little further on we found some Coltsfoot with quite a lot of them in flower.

Then just a little further we found a patch of Coltsfoot both flowering and gone to seed with heads a bit like dandelions but instead of being spherical they were flat.

The next wild flower to be found was Yellow Pimpernel, like little five pointed stars, which is to be found in damp woodlands. Yep! Kinsley Wood can be DAMP.

There is also a plant called “Scarlet Pimpernel” which is bright red but tends to appear a little later and is an arable weed. A little further along the path we came across this Broom. This is a yellow flowered shrub a bit like Gorse but Broom doesn’t have spines. It does, however smell like Vanilla.

There is some bedrock exposed in a few places which is rather thinly bedded like most of the rock around here and, consequently, is rather friable. It is Silurian in age, when there were a lot of trilobites around, but I don’t think any have ever been found in this area.

We were now approaching the point at which we started and were now in the coniferous part. This wood is mixed deciduous and coniferous and some of the coniferous trees are rather tall.

One strange thing about this wood is that, in four years, we have yet to see any birds in it.

Still, it was a nice walk and we were back home in time for lunch.

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 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!

Bike and Hike

Bike and Hike

This post is basically in two parts; the first part is about our Volt Metro LS electric folding bicycles and the second part is not about our bicycles so if you are not the slightest bit interested about electric folding bicycles then skip to the second part.

We bought two Volt Metro LS bicycles earlier this year and haven’t ridden them much so far because we still have to become used to them and that takes time especially when we are fairweather cyclists. This shows one in ‘ready to ride’ mode and the other folded.

They have advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: Being electric they take little effort to ride. My longest trip so far is 10 miles in about an hour. The only after effects were related to a slight soreness caused by the saddle as I don’t have much padding in the right places. They, obviously, can be folded but there is no built in mechanism to keep them securely folded. We have purchased, at no great cost, two Velcro straps, one for each bicycle, that can be wrapped around the folded frame to stop it flapping about when being moved in the folded mode.

Disadvantages: They are very heavy at 40 pounds (21.7 kg) each. I find that I cannot lift one into the car on my own (remember I’m 83) and even with the two of us I wouldn’t call it easy. They are difficult,when riding, to keep on a narrow track and, sometimes seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to steering. This, I am told, is because of the small (20″) wheel size.

General: They have derailleur type gears, 8 in all, and the changing mechanism is very easy to use. It is also possible to vary the battery power output and, from experience, ‘Low’ is normally sufficient for an easy ride leaving ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Power’ in reserve for the worst (steep) hills.

I set off for my second test run this morning intending to go from home in Knighton to a village called Leintwardine where Amanda was to be waiting for me in her car and we were then intending to go into the local tearoom for cake and coffee. The journey would be around 10 miles.

A lot of my journey would be on back roads such as Weston Road out of Knighton to Bucknell. Then a short spell on a main road until I, once again, moved on to a back road. One trouble with back roads is that the surface can vary considerably from reasonable, like this one

to pretty poor like this one.

You may also notice the road width. It is about one vehicle wide and if you meet someone coming the other way or someone coming up behind you’ll need to find a passing place.

I did, finally, meet Amanda at Leintwardine at around 10:30 and we went into the Wood ‘n’ Ribbon Tea Room for refreshments.

After we had coffee and cake (very nice) we left at about 11:30 to walk along a nearby public footpath as far as Jay Bridge. Setting off down the side of the tea room it wasn’t long before we spotted something interesting.

You may notice some ‘lumps’ hanging in the tree in the picture above; they are Mistletoe.

Soon we emerged into a rather nice meadow which was covered in a pinkish grass – Bent Grass.

We reached Jay bridge to find that it wasn’t at all attractive but purely utilitarian. Still, never mind, it was a lovely walk and the scenery by the bridge (second picture) was delightful.

Standing on the bridge afforded the view of the River Clun below which was the reason for the bridge of course. The original bridge was probably wooden and, I imagine, has been replaced a number of times.

We covered just over a mile, which took us about 30 minutes, to reach the bridge (we were dawdling and looking at the plants and butterflies) and the same to get back. It was now around lunchtime, 12:30, so we went back into the Wood ‘n’ Ribbon Tea Room and had some lunch (again very nice). It’s a hard life.

My bicycle was folded, put into the back of the car and we drove home.

One Old, One New – Day 1

One Old, One New – Day 1

We were sitting in the No. 2 bus in a traffic jam, with the sea on our left, wondering whether it would be quicker to get out and walk but we decided that, as we were averaging about walking pace, we might as well sit and let the bus do the work.

Perhaps we should go back earlier today to give you the full story.

It was forecast to be a sunny day today and tomorrow but cloudy thereafter so we hoped to take advantage of that short sunny spell and go on a little trip. We left home at about 08:30 AM and drove two and a half hours to Swansea. You may remember we came here before but travelled by train ( The Other End – Day 2 ) whereas this time it would be by car.

We arrived at Morgan’s Hotel near the Waterfront, where we had stayed on our previous trip, and parked in their car park then announced our arrival at Reception. We then walked the short distance to the bus station and caught the No. 2 bus to Oystermouth although we weren’t going that far. We intended to alight at Clyne Gardens for a second visit which is how we ended up in that traffic jam. We didn’t want to drive to Clyne Gardens although there is a small car park by the entrance because we couldn’t be sure of finding a space and the charge was £3 for 3 hours and there wasn’t any other option.

The bus did eventually get us to Clyne Gardens 15 minutes late on a 15 minute journey. We were here to see the Rhododendrons again and we weren’t disappointed.

When we were here last time I photographed ‘The Tower’ which was included on the main web site pages but not in the Blog post. I repeat that image here so that you can see how badly lit the tower is such that it’s not at all easy to interpret what you’re seeing. We were significantly later in the day on this visit and I photographed it again. The lighting is much better and the detail on the tower is much clearer. That shows what a difference to a photograph the time of day can make.

As we were about 2 weeks later on this visit some of the Rhododendrons were shedding their petals which was a shame in one way but also a benefit in that it produced a carpet of colour.

As we were walking along we spotted this little Tree Fern which was one of a number in the garden. There are lots of other plants in this garden besides Rhododendrons and Azaleas.

One of the reasons we came here again was the colour and it was here in profusion. You want colour? We can give you colour.

Amanda did like the mega-rhubarb which is properly called Giant or Elephant Rhubarb and that’s it on the left next to her.

This is it underneath showing a strange looking flower.

And finally showing how much taller it is than Amanda.

Some of those leaves were about 6 feet across but that pales into insignificance compared with other species that have leaves up to 12 feet across. Put that in a pie if you can.

Another interesting example of how conditions can change a view. On our first visit here I took this photograph of Swansea Bay from the high ground in Clyne Gardens which does look a little murky.

But on this trip the photograph from the same view point is obviously clearer.

This, of course, has nothing to do with the time of year but depends on the atmospheric conditions which can change at any time.

On our way back towards the exit we spotted this mega-tree. Well it would be hard to miss wouldn’t it? It appears to be a conifer but I can’t tell you which one.

And finally I looked in a mirror.

Well that was the end of our Clyne Gardens trip and we went back to our hotel briefly then walked to the waterfront for a cup of tea/coffee. We sat outside next to the Marina in the sun hoping that those seagulls wheeling overhead were not going to drop something on us that we would possibly find unpleasant. Luckily they didn’t.

Back to the hotel for dinner and thence to bed. In the morning we finish our repeat of an old trip and start something new.