Browsing "Strolling in the UK"

Day 1 Setting off at last

This morning was interesting as there was more to do than we thought. I should really have put the bacon on earlier but there you go.
It was really nice to get a real send off from Gravels Bank which included a full size Italian flag and wonderful friends.

IMG_0005 the goodbye

As we approached Stapeley Hill the snow became deeper than I had expected, although not much more than ankle deep for much of the hill.

IMG_0008 John Davies clearing snow on the way to Corndon

The difficulties started shortly after another couple, coming in the opposite direction, said “You might have a problem in the track from Mitchell’s Fold to Weston Bank!”. We blundered confidently onwards until both Jnet and I ended up to our waists in snow drifts. Seeing Janet rolling about and swimming through the snow was certainly diverting.

IMG_0013 Janet in deep snow

The deep snow took longer to get through than I thought it would and we started to panic as it looked as though the pub might be shut before we got to it. The Court House Pub at Churchstoke was very welcoming and open and after a glass or two we were able to continue to the Drewin B&B and a great welcome.

IMG_0025 the Drewin and a good night's sleep

Day 2 The Drewin to Newcastle

another snowy day

Not another hill!

The breakfast at the Drewin was a marvel and I ate too much of it as result, which was a mistake as the first up was straighaway and apparently vertical.

I wish that I had paid more attention to the map before departure. We didn’t get lost but it would have meant that I would have been prepared for the steep ups and steep downs. This section of the Offa’s Dyke path is really spectacular but is a challenge for the heavily encumbered sedentary stroller. It was quite a relief to be picked up by Bobby Britnell from outside the pub in Newcastle as the pub was shut and the village shop was also shut, unknown to me it (the shop) had been shut for years.

View Day 2 The Drewin to Newcastle on Clun by grittite on Breadcrumbs

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Day 3 Newcastle on Clun to Knighton

Having eaten Martin and Bobby out of house and home we set out to do the same to more friends, Mattie and Sheila, at Knighton. Just before setting out I noticed, with some considerable dismay, that my waterproof jacket was missing. This waterproof jacket was the best that Charlie’s Stores could sell and cost me some £15, I must have lost it when rolling about in the snow at Corndon. Luckily Martin had a spare coat which I have borrowed. I have been warned that this coat must travel with me to Italy.

Offa’s Dyke, or at least the Shropshire section of Offa’s Dyke, is not for the faint-hearted but this section was not quite as heart breaking as the Churchtown section. Snow was not really a problem today and the views were truly spectacular. It really was a great treat to sit munching our nosh in the lea of Offa’s Dyke and just listening to the skylarks.
As we approached Knighton we heard a mighty bellow from afar “Hello Mr Higgins”.

Lots of tea and bara brith were the next obstacles eagerly overcome before a fabulous supper and a certain quantity of beer and whisky.

Day 4 Knighton to Abcott

Mattie and Sheila, being keen walkers and local to Knighton, suggested an interesting route which would take us to Abcott and to Mick and Marion. More delightful scenery on this walk and a lot less demanding on sinews and resolve.

Another delicious supper and a rather tasty nightcap.

01/11/2012 Addition
A quick glance has revealed that I hadn’t really got into the swing of blogging at this point in our travels. I have added a few photos to try and fill in the gaps.

We were delighted to get a visit from Sarah, who turned up at Mattie and Sheila’s house in order to have breakfast and to stroll some of the way with us.

Leaving Knighton via the A488

Sarah stayed with us until Stowe and, as is usual with us, we managed to lose the footpath and found ourselves walking through a farmyard, with the path clearly visible about 200 yards away.

Back on track again we soon found ourselves at Hopton Castle.

Day 5 A day of rest in Abcott

Shame that I had an attack of the munchies before retiring to bed last night. It is somewhat disconcerting to rise out of bed in the morning after having dropped bits of chocolate the night before into one’s bed.

Today is Easter Monday and the first dancing day of the year for The Shropshire Bedlams and Martha Rhoden’s Tuppenny Dish. We are very pleased to be dancing today as it will probably be the last one for quite a long time. When I said that today was a day of rest I didn’t really mean it.

Day 6 Abcott to Orleton

Yesterday was quite rain sodden so it was with a stifled “phew” when the sun shone for us this morning. After taking leave of Mick and thanking him and Marion for their generosity we set out once more. Each day that we have travelled the terrain seems to have become more and more level, making the pack seem lighter and lighter.
Our destination was Perseverance Cottage at Orleton which turned out to be a self contained cottage in the garden of a rather nice house. Having dumped the packs we decided to go for a stroll aroud Orleton and to see if there might be a village shop etc. The shop was shut but the Boot Inn looked very friendly so we decided to eat there.

One of the peculiarities of Orleton was the complete lack of a mobile signal anywhere, odd these days.

Day 7 Orleton to Leominster

I am uploading the daily trail to a page called Progress Map, not sure if it is working properly.

We attempted to follow the Herefordshire Way today. It has been quite an eye opener for me to see how poorly maintained this route has become. Many of the stiles are in disrepair and the route markers have either fallen off or are difficult to read. We felt that some of the land over which we were walking was owned by people who found the whole idea of the path distasteful and were making it as difficult as possible for walkers. I suppose that we should be pleased that our powers of navigation were tested and that we eventually triumphed.

A mighty hail storm overtook us as we approached Leominster with stones like lead shot clacking into my pale and pasty legs. Luckily, there was a wood yard with a shed into which we could scuttle for shelter.

Both Janet and I like railways so criss crossing over the track, legally, was quite a treat as we approached Leominster.

I have been quite surprised by the grandeur of the priory and its environs. I had always had a jaundiced view of the town which I must now revise. I got up for a moment at about three this morning and the clock sounded marvelous.

Day 8 Leominster to Docklow


Sanctuary from the gathering storm


Amazing to think that a week has passed since we set out from Gravels Bank for Italy. Last night was a first for us in that we spent the night in a double room in a Youth Hostel, rather elderly for youths I should say.

Breakfast was a traditional english breakfast eaten at a Wetherspoon’s pub in Leominster. I felt rather odd being one of the few patrons not quaffing a swift pint, although I’m not sure that this is a habit to cultivate. After yesterday’s rather unpleasant experience on the Herefordshire Way we decided to use the little byways today rather than go off road. One of the delights of Englsnd is the frequency with which one passes churches, each little hamlet and village has a church even if there is no pub, school or village shop. For the traveller on foot the church is a real haven. There is usually a seat in the graveyard on which to sit and relax or, if it is raining, hailing or snowing, there is the porch in which to take shelter. From now on we will make sure that there will be a church on our daily stroll each day in which to take shelter.

We are enjoying a comfortable evening in our cottage after a good dinner and a glass or two.