Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Walking The Severn Way: Stage 8

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Montford Bridge to Shrewsbury
Only 6.7 miles

If you're reading this in an email or RSS feed please
click here to enhance the experience by reading it in the blog

In this issue.... find out what 'Sanjay' means, meet a bunch of Gatekeepers and a fast-walking 'gazelle', discover why a police helicopter was so interested in us, battle with the weeds, walk through a foliage tunnel and catch up with Charles Darwins' past!
And 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.

Boots on?
Clean socks? No?
What are you like?

On the train to Shrewsbury Pam asked what happens when we arrive at the station. Where do we go and what do we do in order to get to the start of this stage's walk at Montford Bridge. I told her. She thought. Then said 'I don't know what you mean'. I repeated the simple instruction. She thought. Then said 'What do you mean nine forty-five stanjay?'. I replied with slight frustration 'Exactly that - we catch the nine forty-five bus at Stand J!' 'Sorry' was the reply 'I though you said stanjay'. 'I did!' said I.

Not the best of starts but maybe we were feeling a little tired this morning - 9 0'clock is a bit early for us to be out and about but hey-ho - we all have to make sacrifices!

Arriving at our starting point bang on time we headed out of the village of Montford Bridge and crossed over the bridge which spans the River Severn and the start of another leg and a short one today just 6.7 miles on our quest to complete all 210 miles of The Severn Way before our knees, legs or feet give up on us.
A tent was pitched in this tranquil place at the side of the river and I once more broached the subject of camping to my beloved who clearly has no intention, and never will have it seems, of joining me in my passion for wild-camping. 'How would I dry my hair without a hairdryer?' was her retort. 'You don't wash it' I said. 'You've got to be joking!' Pam replied. I'm still working on it!

Our first footpath of the day was through a hedge opening up into a lovely meadow on the south bank of the river.

The sun was shining and within a few yards we were blessed with dozens of butterflies; a couple of Red Admirals darted about, whilst a Green-veined White nectared on thistle.

Oh... and there goes a Painted Lady. Did you see it? There's been a gap of a few weeks between the first brood and the now newly emerged progeny. This in fact was the first of the years' second brood that I've seen. There were thousands and thousands of these beautiful insects migrating across from North Africa earlier in the year - far more than usual. They've since done their bit for the reproduction of the species and died away leaving eggs on their foodplants (mainly thistle) all over the country. These have subsequently hatched into larva and having stuffed themselves silly, pupated and emerged into beautiful fluttering and dancing butterflies - all in the space of about 6 weeks. Isn't that just so amazing?

It's just 30 minutes into the walk and Pam nips for her sixth pit stop of the day blaming it on the coffee we had whilst waiting for our bus at 'stanjay'!

Although the sun greeted us at Montford Bridge, the cloud has now moved across and it's quite cool. Got a sweater? Well, this is England you know - we have to walk prepared for all weathers. Even in the height of summer with nothing but blue skies you'll always find a thin, lightweight waterproof jacket in my rucksack. You just never know. You see - here comes a spot of rain. And more. We need to don our waterproofs. I think that's the first rain since our first day when we climbed up to the River Severn source in Plynlimon when it never stopped the whole trip so... mustn't grumble as they say!

Oh... that was short. Sun out. Waterproofs off!

Lords & Ladies

Walking along a woodland path someone approaches from behind us in a bit of a rush and thinking about it apart from parts of the Montgomery Canal that's the first person we've seen on The Severn Way since leaving the source! A brief conversation tells us he's also walking the whole of The Severn Way but obviously much quicker than we are. He does 2-3 days at a stint whenever he finds the time. He was hoping to get to Bridgnorth today (about 32 miles away!) but that seemed very ambitious, and in fact, as he said it I think he realised it himself as he quickly said 'I might only make Ironbridge though! Which was still 23 miles away but I suppose achievable. But wouldn't he be just missing all the splendid scenery with no time to just stand and marvel at what nature presents to us every minute of every day?

As I ponder on that thought we emerge from Spring Coppice where we're greeted by scores of Gatekeeper butterflies dancing around us in the light breeze. What a fabulous sight! See what I mean - I bet our 'gazelle' didn't even notice them. But then each to his own and to be fair he's probably in full-time employ so has to use his annual holiday allowance carefully.

We're on a very pleasant bridleway now heading towards Shelton - a suburb of Shrewsbury - our stage-end today. Parts of the bridleway are tree-lined with holly, ash, sycamore, beech and accompanied by lots of ivy dangling from the canopy forming a marvellous foliage tunnel.
We stop for a while in this rather enchanting place and feast on blackberries and raspberries from the hedgerows - the first of the year. Delicious. Want a few?

At Shenton we reach the River Severn once again and sit by it's tranquil waters for lunch.

As I munch into my cheese and egg sarnies I think back to the start of this walk way back on May 18 when I saw the source of the river way up in the hills of Mid Wales. It was just a trickle leaving a boggy puddle then. And now, at this point it's around 60' wide! Amazing. I think back to the adventures we've had since then and the sights we've seen, the wonderfully diverse countryside and nature in all its splendour and at its very best.

The peace is soon shattered! A police helicopter on some sort of surveillance operation hovers nearby for several minutes. Then it moves in closer. And closer.

It's right above us now just circling. It's so close we can see the crew. They're having a good look at us. Are we doing something wrong? I don't think so. We guess they must be searching for someone. They decide we're not who they're after and swiftly move away. No apology for destroying our lunch. Not so much as a bye or leave.

The rain descends again so on with the waterproofs once more.

We move on...

Do you see that church spire?

That's a sign that we're nearing the end of today's walk - Shrewsbury. But not before encountering a veritable forest of the invasive Himalayan Balsam - a pretty plant but it quite often forms an almost impenetrable barrier when left to run its own course. This is Pam emerging from several yards of the stuff!

In parts it's about 3' taller than her and proves to be quite a challenge!

We reach Charles Darwin country. He was born in these parts and as a child would have spent many a happy hour marvelling at the abundant wildlife on the banks of the river. We pass by the house he lived in high up on the hillside. It's 200 years this year since his birth so there's a lot happening in Shrewsbury to commemorate this great man, with exhibitions, festivals and plays.

Now closely hugging our river the walk into Shrewsbury itself is a true delight emerging from the countryside and slipping almost seamlessly into this wonderfully historic market town. And midst the old comes new inspiring architecture. Here's the town's new theatre which opened earlier this year sitting majestically on the river bank, nestling midst the trees. And a splendidly comfortable theatre too with fantastic acoustics.

We went to see the exciting yet poignant 'Blood Brothers' musical recently. Fabulous. Have you seen it yet? No? Oh... you should. It's brilliant!

In no time at all we're at the train station which is just up a long series of steps that seems to go on forever. Just what you need at the end of a walk!

We've all made good time today. So good in fact we can catch an earlier train! Thanks once more for your company and we'll see you again soon. Don't forget to leave a comment below. Pam and I love hearing from you. Just click 'Comments', select a profile if prompted and if you're not sure what this is choose 'Anonymous'. Introduce yourself to the other 800 or so followers of this blog. Bye for now.

Walking Companions

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


SueP said...

Hi Paul and Pam, what a great walk this was, thanks for identifying that lovely colorful invasive Himalayan Balsam, it grows along the hedgerows around where I live and I have often wondered what it was called.

Paul e Watts said...

No probs Sue. It was introduced to the UK in the 1800's apparently and has steadily spread from just one source!

Glad you're still enjoying the walk.

wally58 said...

Hi, great blog, found you on Twitter.
Really beautiful nature in your area,
i live in South Norway, near the sea.
Will see if i can do something similar to your blog.

Paul e Watts said...

Thanks for your comments Wally. We're really enjoying the walk and it's great to be able to tell so many people about it.

Thanks also for telling me where you found the blog.