Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Walking The Severn Way: Stage 3

Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Llanidloes To Caersws

Only 8.4 miles

In this issue read about;- the gorgeous Welsh pasture land The Severn Way passes through, more about Sabrina, how British transport wins my heart once more, the ladies who paint the buttercups and the odd flying carpet!

Thank you so much for following me on the longest riverside walk in Britain - The Severn Way - all 210 miles of it starting at its source at Plynlimon in Mid Wales right through to its end where it gushes into the Bristol Channel.

This third stage will see me - and you, of course - completing all of 20 miles so far - so only 190 miles to go! Hope you're enjoying it! Don't forget; there's no rush, it's not a challenge walk or a route-march - just a leisurely stroll through some of the finest countryside England and Wales has to offer, stopping on the way whenever we want.

You’ll be pleased to hear, concerned as I know you are, that the train journey to Shrewsbury and onward to Caersws was uneventful especially as I now know where Shrewsbury’s platform 6 is! The bus at Caersws was also spot on time.

As I alighted the bus at Llanidloes I was greeted with a gazebo full of info about a cycle ride for charity.

In front I talked briefly with four guys from an army division who were raising money for 'Help For Heroes' - a charity set up to help with our brave men and women returning from highly dangerous war zones overseas.

My son is actually raising money for the same charity and organising a 24-hour car-pull, attempting to set a Guinness world record. Apparently a team of 4 - which includes Dan – are to pull a car around or along a measured track of some sort (e.g. race-track, airfield) for as many miles as they can in one straight 24 hour period. A major car dealer has sponsored a nice new posh car, they’re receiving training from the teams at Leicester City Football Club, Leicester Tigers Rugby Club and the local Territorial Army. The only thing they desperately need is a track of some sort. Racetracks seem to be out as they are used every day for some event or other and planes keep landing and taking off at local airports! But they’re determined to crack it and with the help of local radio, television and newspapers I know they will.

Anyway, the cycle team here at Llanidloes had left Llandudno Bay right up on the north coast of Wales before 5 o’clock this morning and were due to finish in the evening in Cardiff way down on the Welsh south coast, a distance of 190 miles and traversing the length of Wales. Quite a bike-ride that! Not quite as long as the walk you and I are doing right now but then we never claimed we could do it in a day!

Llanidloes was one of their check points and they were pleased to tell me they were ahead of schedule. They then mounted their machines, gave a cheery wave and they were off on their next leg with loads more money going into the charity coffers including a couple of quid from me of course.

And so it was that I was now starting my third stage by walking through Llanidloes and heading down to the riverside. The photo above is of the three arches where the river gets 'right grown-up’ as Yorkshire folk would say.

An intriguing statue stands close by

This is Sabrina. Who is Sabrina? We came across her, you and I, you may recall, with the Sarn Sabrina Challenge Walk that was depicted on the little blue & white waymarkers on the first stage of our walk. Having heard of the 5 sisters legend before I decided a bit of research would be useful.

And the legend has it that in the hills of the high lands of Mid Wales lived 5 sisters. One day they decided it was time they visited their father The Ocean so they set out the very next day. Each went alone making completely different journeys. Each of the routes they chose now traces one of 5 rivers. Sabrina on her voyage forged the River Severn.

This is the much shortened version for the blog you understand, but if you wanted to learn more of this fascinating story, just have a Google around!

The River Clywedog at its conflence with the River Severn in Llanidloes

Heading up, away from the river, and out of Llanidloes a delightful path takes us through Allt Goch wood, gradually climbing all the way.

Man-made willow arches in the wood

Emerging from the trees we’re greeted with miles and miles of green pasture land stretching as far as the distant hills allow.

Dozens of Painted Lady’s are flitting around in the light breeze feeding on the masses of bright yellow dancing Buttercups. Both seem to be in abundance this year, in fact an unusually large migration of Painted Lady’s has arrived from North Africa, due mainly, I understand, to the failure of the larval foodplant over there. There’s plenty of grub here ladies, so it’s one of the few times we can all open our arms wide to the masses seeking pastures greener and shout ‘you’re all very welcome’. What delightful and colourful insects they are too.

A re-route of the path keeps us in woodland, a much better option than the original which made for a mile or two of busy road walking, now totally avoided by following in part another long-distance path; Glyndwr’s Way. We disturb a Tawny Owl in his slumber as we pass under a large ash tree.

This part of The Severn Way is mainly through gorgeous green Welsh pasture-land high above the river which winds its way through the charming valley below, yet is rarely seen, hidden as it is by trees, bushes and undergrowth despite its now much engorged width.

In fact we will only get right up close and personal to our river just the once on our Llanidloes to Caersws leg but charming scenery all the way to compensate.

En route, apart from the Tawny Owl and Painted Lady’s we spot a Sparrow Hawk, Buzzards, Dog Roses, Foxgloves, Green Hairstreak, Orange Tips, Small White, Green-Veined White and scores of moths disturbed from their daylight sleep including Silver-ground Carpets and Wood Carpets.

Oops - A sudden dawning; we’ve spent far too much time looking around, taking photo’s and scribbling notes. A quick check of the map and calculation of remaining miles tells us we’re cutting it fine to catch the train home! Come on! Let’s get a wriggle on!

Down the lane, into another set of fields and then into another wood, but hang on… where’s the stile to enter the wood? According to the map it should be here, in this corner! No stile. Do we have the right corner? We don't have time for this! The next 30 minutes are spent wandering around the field looking for said stile in said corner and trying to get our bearings. Time is now running out for the train and if we miss it we have a 2-hour wait in Caersws for the next one! We must go back to the last definite point that we knew for sure where we were. It’s back in the previous field. Come on! No time to dally!

A few minutes later we realise what we’ve done; the stile was there in the corner all the time, where it should be – we just didn’t see it hidden in a dip surrounded by bushes- it was right there in the corner, just where we expected it to be. What are we like – you and I? What do you mean ‘don’t blame me’? – you’re as much a part of this walk as I am – do I have to take all the responsibility myself? OK… OK – I’m sorry – let’s not fall out! There’s no time – we have to trot a little. Nay – we have to trot a lot!

Caersws below – but only 20 minutes to go before the little train arrives at Caersws station. Can you run?

Whew! Just made it with 4 minutes to spare. Well done! Even though I was having to almost drag you the last mile!

And a very pleasant journey back along the delightful single-line track passing through Mid Wales and over the border to England.

Thank you for being my companion for this lovely stretch of The Severn Way, and once more, apart from the start and the finish, we didn’t meet a soul all day did we? Will you join me again in a few days time for Stage 4 of The Severn Way? Hope so – I’m really enjoying your company.

Don't forget to leave a comment below; help, advice, silly banter, words of encouragement are all very much welcomed and I know then you're definitely following me!

Please click this link for the
Stage 3 Slideshow

. . .


Sue Pearson said...

Hi Paul
Thank you for another delightful description of your Journey.
The photographs are superb. Looking forward to the next episode:-)
Sue Pearson

TheBizOasis said...

Sounds marvelous Paul! I could just see everything as if I was there with you, which sounds like a lovely place with all the butterflies and flowers! I often wished I could do the same, but always bottled out. Ah well, maybe someday.. Hope you've packed plenty of sun lotion (and a mac, just in case!) You should write a book you know. You have a gift for making a person feel like they were there!

Roy T. Harrison said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for a very informative ramble in the UK countryside. Brings back happy memories of my Scouting days, First Class journeys. school journeys and many rambles many years ago. I am glad that the beauty has not changed.

I too enjoy the countryside particularly as I followed a seagoing career for some years !

Regards = Roy Harrison

P.S. Photos - good, a progress map could explain more ?

Paul e Watts said...

Thanks Sue for your comment and so glad you're enjoying my ambling rambles!

Paul e Watts said...

Thanks to TheBizOasis for your comment. You're right - it's such a great walk in the countryside midst fabulous flora and fauna.

Thanks for your suggestion of me writing a book. Don't know about that, although they say there's a book in everyone - so who knows?

Maybe this blog will end up as a global bestseller, wining all the book awards all over the world, resulting in much fame and fortune!

You see how I can just get carried away sometimes?!

Paul e Watts said...

Thanks Roy for your comments and encouragement.

A progress map is a great idea. Will work on this - so hopefully will have something ready by the next stage.

Thanks for jogging me on this - it should have been there from the start really shouldn't it?

cecilia said...

Hi Paul
I am out of breath (pant, pant, pant) trotting with you to the station. Living in a city, it is so refreshing to see the beautiful lush greenery.
Looking forward to the next stage of our walk.

Cecilia from Malaysia

Paul e Watts said...

Hi Cecilia (all the way from Malaysia!).

Glad you made it to the train on time! And I'm so pleased you're enjoying the walk. It will keep us very fit I'm sure!

Paul e Watts