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Monday, 18 January 2010

Walking The Severn Way: Stage 12




I absolutely love snow! As I write it is a cold January day here in Shropshire, UK. Yes, I'm still a tad behind with my blog posts for our Severn Way Walk but I'm almost caught-up! I sit here in our cosy little office at the front of the house looking out at a couple of inches of snow - it's mid afternoon and it hasn't stopped snowing since I got out of bed many hours ago! 

The rear garden which I photographed first thing is a true wonderland of winter whiteness. Much more of the fluffy stuff has since fallen but I'm happy that our visiting garden birds are all getting well fed. To waken me from my daydream of enchantment a phone call from my letting agent tells me that my property that I have in Leicestershire has had a burst water pipe causing extensive damage to ceilings, walls, carpets, floors etc etc! This sounds very very costly! There's always something to spoil the moment!

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Anyway... back to The Severn Way Walk...



Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Bridgnorth to Highley
Only 8 miles
 
 Severn Way Stage 12 101009 002
Bridgnorth In Bloom

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In this issue....
  • Steaming ahead
  • High Town, Low Town and a funicular
  • Hello world!
  • Unwanted Harlequins
  • Slip sliding away or… Pam takes a mud bath!
Hello and welcome along again to the next stage of our meandering stroll alongside the River Severn, through some of the most beautiful countryside of Wales and England tracing the whole of its length right from the source at Plynlimon high up in the Mid Wales mountains to its end at the Bristol Channel. Join me now for 210 miles of the stunning River Severn Way with its wonderfully diverse scenery, its fabulous flora and fascinating fauna. 

Click here to see how far we've travelled to date.
 
First Sunday
Boots on? It’s raining so let’s don our waterproofs. OK – Let’s go! Today is our first Sunday walk. We normally choose any day in the week as the footpaths tend to be quieter. But we have to walk today as we have an exciting mode of transport to get back to the car with -  which we’ve just parked in Bridgnorth – we’re all going to take a steam train back from Highley which I’m really excited about – hope you are too! 

For those outside the UK who may not be aware of our steam train companies, these are often run as a trust and operated almost entirely by volunteers and in the season – spring to autumn – they are immensely popular with families and train enthusiasts. Most of the lines are rebuilt from existing rail lines generally using the original stations and platforms and stem back to Victorian times. Some are used in filming when a period drama features a steam train or platform. 

The one we’re going to be travelling on today is The Severn Valley Railway which runs for 16 miles between Bridgnorth, Shropshire and Bewdley, Worcestershire and is a dream – a true step back in time. Nostalgia personified! 
Here is a glimpse of Bridgnorth Station where we’ll conclude our mini-adventure today. The great news is that the railway line roughly follows the course of the River Severn so we expect to hear the sound of steam quite a lot and hope to see one or two trains as they meander their way through the beautiful English countryside. You won’t want to miss this so keep eyes and ears well and truly peeled. 

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Of course, Bridgnorth has a lot more to offer than just a steam railway station. It is indeed a splendid old market town and typically olde English. It is in fact 2 towns in one; High Town and Low Town which are connected by the steepest inland funicular in Britain. As we arrived here today a man was repainting the sign at the bottom of the line 

Severn Way Stage 12 101009 001   


So… let’s get underway. We’ll make our way back to the cafe near the bridge where we enjoyed cream teas last time… 

Oh dear! We can’t pick up our path from here ‘cause there’s no way we can get under the bridge. We’ll have to go back and walk over to the other side. After a delay of a few minutes we’re back on the trail beside our favourite river and walking with the sound of a steam train leaving Bridgnorth station. 

As we walk we talk about our blog and Pam asks how far across the globe our little blog travels. I couldn’t remember exactly but I think it’s followed by people in something like 35 countries so a BIG HELLO to a few that I can recall; HELLO to the USA, New Zealand, Canada and Barbados to name but 4! It’s good to have you along! 

Like so many stages of The River Severn Walk this one is abundant with fisherman and as it’s a Sunday there are, of course, many more than usual. Here’s 3 of them now just heading for the water’s edge for another day’s sport. We ponder on what is the collective noun for a group of fishermen – we think it could be ‘A bank of fishermen’ – as I write I’ve just checked on a website and they claim it is ‘An exaggeration of fishermen’. That would seem about right then! 

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Remember the invasive Himalayan Balsam that we’ve had one or two encounters with when they completely cover parts of the footpath, splendid as they are with their nine-foot high stalks?
Well… they’re dying down as autumn arrives. 

 Severn Way Stage 12 101009 009

So the going should be easier in areas although autumn normally means a bit more rain which often leads to deep, slippery mud and that’s what we’re getting today! Not heavy rain, just rain on and off. 

Did you here that? That whistle? There’s a steam train close by. But it’s gone before we catch a glimpse. Just a puff of smoke through the trees in the distance. The line follows the river for some miles so we’re bound to catch sight of one soon I’m sure. 

We’ve been walking for a couple of hours now. Ready for lunch? I suggest we come off route to see if we can sit on Erdington Station and hopefully spot a steam train as it puffs its way through the Severn Valley. It will add another mile to our walk but what do you think? Yes? OK – lets’ go – there’s a path there leading to the lane with the station at the top. 

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Now there’s a place I could easily call home once I’d fitted a door! 

We arrive at Erdington station only to find that there doesn’t appear to be a way in. It seems to be closed so maybe it’s no longer used. The trains pass through of course but none stop and there’s nowhere suitable to sit for lunch either! Sorry! My fault entirely. We’ll have to head back to the river and eat at the side of the water as we usually do. It’s stopped raining now so we should have a dry stop. 

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I spot a Harlequin Ladybird which is not good news! Why? Because they’re an introduced species and seem resilient to all predation, they’re actually breeding faster than any of our native species of which there are 46 in the UK. Our native species are getting their noses pushed out as the Harlequins compete favourably for food. If you find a Harlequin any where in the UK can you report it please on this website Report a Harlequin Thank you! Doing our bit to conserve British ecology.


Oh! Did you hear that? As we sit eating our sarnies and crisps – the sound of a train whistle. It’s coming our way but we can’t see the track. But there’s steam coming through the tree line. Ahhhh! Here she comes!  

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What a wonderful moment! The sight, the sound and the smell. Magical. 


Slip Sliding Away 

Lunch over and the sun comes out so off with our waterproofs. It’s getting quite warm now thankfully. We’re on time to catch our steam train at Highley so at this stage there’s no need to rush. 

As we enter woodland I spot a pony. And then another. They look like Exmoor Ponies which are often brought in to manage woodland and moorland because they eat the scrub. Not sure whether they are or not but they’re certainly not cared for by human hand, both their manes are very unkempt, knotted and embedded with bramble. But they’re charming. And inquisitive. They want to know why I'm interested in them. I take out the camera and take a couple of shots. They come closer. They want to chat I’m sure.


Then suddenly I hear a cry.

It’s Pam. I run towards where I left her to find her struggling to climb out of a deep rut full of mud! It’s splattered on her face. Her hands are covered and her trousers down one side have changed from grey to a dirty brown. Oooopps! Now my first instinct, as you can imagine, is to take a picture! However, I resist the temptation and help her to her feet. She’s not a happy bunny. It’s alright you lot laughing but where were you when it happened? Anyway, no broken bones, just a covering of very wet mud and damaged pride. We spend some time with tissues, grass and hankies and do what we can to make Pam a little more presentable. 

Her main concern is getting on the train looking like a tramp. We need to catch it at Highley to take us back to Bridgnorth. Anyway, let’s move on. Hopefully, what's left of the mud on her trousers will dry in the sun as we continue our walk. Pam vehemently resists all attempts to be photographed for the blog but I did manage to snap this one when she wasn't looking. The ponies seem concerned though. 

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The rest of the walk continues without mishap and we enjoy brilliant sunshine all the way to Highley. 

As we reach the station I realise that this is a significant moment in our walk together – Highley is our half-way point along The Severn Way. It’s exactly 105 miles since we left the source high up in the welsh mountain of Plynlimon way back in May. So well down everyone and thank you for being such great pals! 

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Here’s our train. Waiting in steam for its passengers to board. It’s a busy little station this.

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And whilst Pam forces a tiny smile as she tries to hide behind a pillar to cover her muddied leg, I leave her there to buy the tickets.



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The journey back on our steam train is a journey back in time made even the more splendid with the scenery of the fabulous Severn Valley. 

Enchanting. 

Fortunately, we secure a compartment to ourselves and Pam covers her very muddy leg with her coat.

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Come on Pam – just one little picture… 

Severn Way Stage 12 101009 110 

Thank you. The end of another pleasantly wonderful stretch of The Severn Way. Catch you shortly with the next instalment where we'll walk from Highley to Bewdley together. Hope you can make it! Make sure you've left your email address top right to receive an email alert as soon as the next post is published. Don't see the email box? It's because you're reading this post in an email or RSS feed - just click here to go to the main blog:- www.followmywalks.com 

Walking Companions 
If you'd like a friend or friends to come along too just send them the link:– 

www.FollowMyWalks.com
 
We'll make them most welcome. The more the merrier! I know I've said before I prefer to walk on my own but you're so quiet I hardly notice you're there. Walking The Severn Way together it's really only at the end of each stage you tend to make a comment, and talking of comments... Don't forget to leave one below; help, advice, silly banter, words of encouragement are all very much welcomed and I know then you're definitely following me along the enchanting Severn Way!

Don't see 'Comments' below? It's because you're reading this post in an email or RSS feed - just click here to go to the main blog:- www.followmywalks.com
 

3 comments:

Steve said...

Hello Paul

I have no ideas about how to make a better blog.You have great pictures and all of the back links work fine all contributing to not only a great blog but a great way of saving your trip to review in the future for the fun of it.I like to look at other areas of the world where my wife and I will never get to travel.Tell your wife I said hello and that there is no good reason why she wouldn't want to be photographed.Tell her to be careful during your walk.I just recently purchased an old sled on craigs list and added skis and a new seat.Here is a result as I took it to a snow covered hill for my grand kids and their Dad to try out.http://snowb111.blogspot.com/

Paul e Watts said...

Hi Steve and thanks sooooo much for your comment. Great sled video! Well done!

Paul

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