Monday, 31 August 2009

Walking The Severn Way: Stage 7

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Llandrinio to Montford Bridge
Only 13.1 miles

In this issue we meet a place where the Roman Legion once crossed, gaze up at Rodney's Tower, have a run-in with a Buzzard, rant about global warming and discover Charles Darwins parents, Plus much much more...

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 source of the river right from its 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 together so far.

As this was a 13-mile stage Pam decided she had a few chores and doubtless a little shopping to do today so I'm on my own... well almost; it's OK I hadn't forgot about you - one of my 750 followers! Gosh, you must be gouging a rut 6' deep in my wake! But you're the quietest walkers I've ever come across and you're most welcome!

Boots on? Ready to go?

I'll catch up with you at Llandrinio - just getting a quick lift from Pam as I couldn't work out where the village bus was going to drop me off in order to catch the train that was not destined to stop at our village station. I had to catch this one in order to get the timing right for an onward bus to the village of Llandrinio.

Train to Shrewsbury was on time. Bus to Llandrinio was 2 minutes late and the driver actually apologised, explaining to me (his only passenger) that it was due to an accident en route. The way he drove in order to get back on time he could well have caused it! Scary ride!

It's a little misty this morning making it feel somewhat cooler than in recent days. It will take us nearly 30 minutes to walk from Llandrinio (our nearest bus stop) to the point where we left The Severn Way on the previous stage so let's get cracking.

Here we are! This is where we leave our temporary liaison with the Offa's Dyke Long Distance Path and rejoin The Severn Way. We could quite easily have walked just 10 minutes along the road through Llandrinio to get here but that wouldn't have been right as it would have meant missing a part of the Severn Way. We're purists, you and I, and that means walking every step of the route. So let's get on with it!

Roman Legion

Half-an-hour later we reach the other end of Llandrinio marked by a sandstone bridge - a Grade I Listed Ancient Monument which was built in 1775 and marks the spot of a crossing point for the Roman Legion. Much later, in the Middle Ages there was a ferry here before the bridge was finally built as a river-crossing.

Rodney's Pillar
As we leave Llandrinio the Breidden Hills come into view once more. Rodney's Pillar was built in 1781 in honour of Sir George Brydges Rodney, an Admiral of some note.

Dog or Bear?

See that group of signs? Even in the countryside the local councils advised by the Health & Safety Executive have a propensity to blight the natural beauty with the most outrageous and nonsensical warning signs. Look at this 'Barrage of Bewares'! In English and Welsh of course;

There was just a few feet drop into a ditch, that was so well fenced off, you'd have to mount an attack on the man-made barriers in order to come anywhere close to accidentally falling 4 feet into 3 inches of water! Nonsense! Absolute nonsense. Don't you agree?

They seem to have forgotten something though; 'Danger from flying butterflies'!

Not far away from this monstrosity we come across the sort of stile I really like;- easy to spot, no thorny, nettley vegetation to climb out of or into, well-marked and above all - low, very low. In fact so low, you wonder why it's there! Even a tortoise could hop over that!

Unlike this one that we have to negotiate further on in the walk. The overgrown nettles and brambles took ages to beat down before we reached a lane. It was only about 10' long but boy was it thick!

Lost a little time there! Let's get a wriggle on. Down a lane and back into fields and a path that once more hugs our River Severn. The village of Crew Green soon comes into view just across the way.

We'll be approaching Crewgreen Bridge in a short while and that's a very significant step in our 210 mile stroll. Why? More in a few minutes. Hark! Can you hear that very distinctive bird call? If you click the play button on the RSPB site you'll hear it again

You're right; it's a buzzard. Can you spot him in that large ash tree?

Actually that sounds quite easy to copy doesn't it? I'll give it a try...

Was that a reply we heard or was it just a coincidence? I'll try again...

Fantastic - he seems to be calling back. Let's carry on walking and calling. We keep this up for some minutes. I call - he calls. Eventually Buteo buteo launches into the air and circles high above us to see what or who we are.

Friend or foe? Suddenly and without warning he dives straight down towards us and swoops up as he nears our heads! Whew - that was close. I foolhardily keep calling. He answers. Swoops again. We duck our heads as he nears. Up he soars once more and circles. Now he's right in front, very low and heading our way at a frightening speed. We almost smell the breath of the beast!

Are we threatening his territory? Is he simply playing with us or maybe he wants to mate with us! Perhaps best not hang around to find out, one way or another it could be messy! Let's get to Crewgreen Bridge a couple of fields away.

(Footnote: By pure coincidence, on reaching home later, I read with alarm an article in a national newspaper about a buzzard attacking a jogger who needed hospital treatment from sharp talon blows in his head! But I like to think our Buteo buteo was just being inquisitive and perhaps a little playful. But I could be wrong!)

On the approach to Crewgreen Bridge another river joins the Severn; the River Vyrnwy which has been meandering through the Welsh and English countryside for almost 40 miles, starting from its source at Lake Vyrnwy's dam which was built in the 1880's changing the original source of the river as water cascaded from the mountains into the Vyrnwy valley from its many streams and rivulets. This all runs now into the lake thereby creating the new source at its dam.

Crewgreen Bridge denotes the crossing from Wales into England - from one country into another - a significant milestone along the Severn Way as we leave the fabulous Welsh countryside behind and step into a different landscape with the gently rolling hills of Shropshire, England.

So wave bye bye to Wales - we won't see her again on this trip, it's England all the way down to the Bristol Channel still 145 miles away. So let's not dally - plenty more to do and we have a bus to catch at Milford Bridge and guess what? Messing around with that flaming buzzard has now put us around 15 minutes behind schedule. We might not make Milford Bridge in time!

Soon we arrive in the tiny but delightful village of Melverley with its ancient houses and, As we walk into a wonderful sun-lit meadow, literally clouds of Meadow Brown butterflies are to be seen. Such profusion. It certainly is a fabulous year for butterflies; the most beautiful of insects and after two disastrously wet years it's a reminder that somehow, no matter what is thrown at nature, whether it be the elements, earthquakes or man's intervention, nature always, always fights back!

Global Warming Rant! Sorry!
Don't know about you but I'm not a subscriber to the 'global warming' philosophy with its warning of impending doom if we don't do something about it. I firmly believe that man really is minuscule and insignificant when it comes to the power of nature and whatever we do to harm our enchanting planet (and we do) nature will ultimately balance out our misdemeanors. Nature always wins! Just a personal opinion but just think of the millions spent (wasted) finding ways to combat what many believe to be a man-made phenomenon, when there's probably nothing we can do about it. Nature, in time, will balance the scales and address the problem in its own inimitable way.

Enough of my mental rambling - let's get on with our physical rambling!

Out of Melverley, a charming little village which I will re-visit when time allows, we find our first indication that we are nearing the county town of Shropshire; Shrewsbury and a bit of a personal milestone as it's close to home on the east of the county.

We can now look back and see the full range of the Breidden Hills

On the way to our next delightfully sleepy village of Shrawardine we pass the tranquil and oddly named Folly Pool situated just at the side of the lane. This years green algae growth seems to have taken its toll on the surface of the water.

Shrawardine; An interesting and little-known ruin of a Norman castle sits here in this wonderfully tranquil part of Shropshire.

There seems to be some debate as to when the castle was built. First records of it appear in 1165 so it's likely to be early 12th century. Gazing at it now you get a sense of its checkered history, the hands it has passed through and the conflicts won and lost.

It's here where we catch a glimpse of our river again. Oops! A short sharp shower - on with our waterproofs!

Just before reaching Montford Bridge itself and the end of today's walk we pass through the wonderful little Shropshire village of Montford with the church of St Chad's, where the great Charles Darwin's parents are buried, here in its churchyard.

And there's our stage end; Montford Bridge - just over the bridge crossing the busy A5 and we've made up our lost time so no need to rush. We can afford a leisurely stroll into the village to catch the bus back to Shrewsbury train station.
Thanks again for your company which I've enjoyed immensely. See you soon for Stage 8 of the wonderful Severn Way walk.

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

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. It's 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! 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:-


Sally Hall said...

Yes we came across the buzzard and were bombed by him in May 2011.

Let us know when you are walking past Frampton on Severn.

Sally Hall

Paul e Watts said...

Oh my goodness! He's obviously protecting his territory. Scary biscuits! Hope you weren't 'taloned'!


Paul e Watts said...

We've reached and past Frampton Sally! Didn't know you were down that neck of the woods. Sorry we missed you! It's a lovely village. See Stage 24