Friday, 18 December 2009

Walking The Severn Way: Stage 11

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
Ironbridge to Bridgnorth

Only 9 miles

Pam joins us again for this stage

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In this issue....  
  • strange encounters with an infernal gadget
  • news of camp-base for some stages
  • fabulous autumnal pics
  • the railway-coach house
  • invitation to join us on the steam train

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.

Here we go again and a pleasant 9.5 miles to cover today on our next stage of our Severn Way Walk. Are you enjoying it? Well... it's good to have you on board to share the experience and the adventure. Thanks for turning up again. You're most welcome!

My apologies by the way if you're confused by the fact that this autumnal write-up falls in the middle of our UK winter, it's the result of me not keeping on top of the posts - the walking is way ahead of the writing at the moment. We'll catch up shortly as we're taking a few weeks off  due to flooding of the River Severn in certain areas and the path disappearing under water! Plus the fact that as we get further away from our home in Shropshire it's getting difficult to organise a stage of the Severn Way walk and get back before the 4pm end-of-daylight curfew. From early spring this will be much easier - in fact we might take our tent and do a few stages from a camp-base. What do you think? Want to join us?

Anyone, on with today's stretch...

As we leave Ironbridge which you may recall was where we ended the previous stage we can see more remnants of the area's industrial heritage as we gaze across the River Severn towards Bedlam Furnaces built in the 1750's which probably supplied iron for the building of the famous Iron Bridge - the first of its kind in the world - built entirely of iron.

A cloudy start to the walk, but very soon the sun dapples through the trees revealing a glorious autumn day on this first day of October. Leaves slowly fall in a light breeze looking for all the world like big brown snowflakes.

Before too long we come across these railway coaches that appear to be in a siding, yet there is no through rail traffic here. In fact we quickly realise that they are permanently static, in fact it soon becomes obvious that there are people living in them - how divine!

We walk on and just as I was thinking there were no butterflies today a lone Speckled Wood flutters towards me enjoying what could be the last of the sunshine for if its age doesn't kill it, (they only live in the adult stage for a week or two) the oncoming cold of the winter will certainly see its demise.
    Its progeny will either be 
    overwintering as a pupa 
    or a larva.

    That's Apley Hall over the river there set in the beautiful grounds of Apley Park. This splendid Gothic mansion built in 1811 for the Bridgnorth MP Thomas Whitmore has seen many guises including a school but is now a retirement home.

    And this lovely white-painted suspension bridge, now privately owned and not open to the public, was built to link the house and park with Linley Station on the Severn Valley railway line. By the way, our onward journey after arriving in Bridgnorth will make use of this fine steam railway for a couple of our Severn Way stages - so don't miss that - you're all invited to join us and we'll even pay for your tickets!

    And isn't this just one of the most tranquil scenes we've come across on our adventures together? Quintessentially English - just look at that majestic willow cascading into the river. Magnificent!

    It's not all plain-sailing though is it? Although there is an alternative route, taking this designated path marked with the distinctive Severn Way logo, would deposit us into a mini-jungle!

    And it's my turn for the lunchtime photo-shoot!

    Off we go again, and for some reason without noticing it we seem to have come off the path and are now following a dismantled railway line running some distance from the river's edge but parallel to it. After a while we encounter a group of workmen with earthmovers and heavy rollers.

    We start chatting and find this is a National Cycle Route that eventually will run right through to Swindon some 90 miles away. We discover, rather bewilderingly, that we shouldn't be on it just yet as it won't be opening for a week or two - seems we are the first to try it! Not sure how we came off route but we headed back to the riverside as soon as we could to allow the path-makers to continue unhindered.

    Don't know about you but I'm really enjoying this stretch of the walk, there are some lovely isolated cottages clinging close to the river - some of these you will encounter in the slideshow at the bottom of this post. I have to confess though, to feeling a little tired and slightly jaded today as a result of a Teasmade that someone bought us as a present. 

    This delightful gadget - a throw-back from the seventies I believe - is supposed to gently wake us up at an allotted time in the morning with a freshly brewed cup of tea. Not so with this particular infernal contraption. Pam set it up the first night for its inaugural run duly filling the container with the exact amount of water, the pot with tea bags, and then setting the timer for an 8:30am pot of tea - all precisely as per instructions. 

    We awoke with a start to a very loud hissing sound similar to what you'd expect to hear if a gigantic steam engine came suddenly thundering and crashing through your bedroom wall snorting smoke and embers! It was still dark. It was very early. And we did not need a cup of tea at 12:30am!

    Two more attempts woke us at 3:00am and 5:15am!

    Undeterred, Pam tried again the following night and this time - oh bliss - we managed to sleep right through and actually awoke before this infernal gadget came out of its own slumber. We lay waiting for the onslaught. It didn't happen. There was no tea!

    Not being a fan of gadgets (at best I find the instructions ambiguous, at worst totally indecipherable) but convinced that Pam was perhaps not following procedures, I offered to have a go but not wishing to be woken at some unearthly hour in the night again I set it up downstairs in the kitchen. I carefully read through the instructions, following them to the letter, setting it for a 9:00am cuppa. There couldn't be anything wrong this time I thought as we retired for the night.

    Excitement gripped us when we awoke the next morning. It was only 8:00 but we wanted to be up and ready to witness the 9:00am show. We sat at the kitchen table waiting for the start. 9:05 and no tea. 9:15 and still no tea. Pam inspects the pot. The tea had already been made at some time during the night and was now stone cold. That was it! Last straw. Away it must go! 

    Life is now simpler, once more!

    As I recall this in my mind and smile with a strange unease I realise we've arrived at the golf course just on the edge of Bridgnorth.

    A few minutes later we're in the wonderful market town of Bridgnorth with its unusual High Town and Low Town, connected by England's only remaining inland electric funicular railway which you can just see in the middle distance as it heads up the hillside.

    We arrive at this charming location still blessed with sunshine and with plenty of time before catching the bus back to Ironbridge. Fancy a cream tea? Come on!

    On the bus coming back I was so hot I decided to take my jumper off and inadvertently took the t-shirt with it and sat there for a few seconds half-naked much to the amusement of fellow passengers!


    The end of another pleasantly wonderful stretch of The Severn Way. Catch you shortly with the next instalment where we'll walk from Bridgnorth to Highley 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:-

    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. 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!

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    Steve said...

    Hey Paul.People like me from Ohio in the USA will probably never get to travel out of the country.So thanks for those pictures you have posted.I like to fish here in Ohio.I fish for small mouth bass and catfish for example.What were you fishing for in the river.Interesting landscape and old structure pictures are great.Looks like you and your wife are having a grand time with the walk.Looks very relaxing as you just take you time while taking some good shots.

    Paul e Watts said...

    Thanks for the comment Steve.

    Good to hear our little blog is being received favourably over the pond!

    I'm not a fisherman myself but can see the merit in spending hours in total relaxation by the riverside - tha wasn't me in the pic by the way.

    Pam was very interested to hear she had finally got herself married to me as she wasn't aware (neither was I come to that!) - she's actually my wifette - she's still in training!

    Bertold Goehrum said...

    Wish I could do the walk, what beautiful pictures. We here in Ontario/Canada have what is called the Bruce trail, some 250 miles long. Also very scenic, but those pics of ye olde England are really nice.


    Paul e Watts said...

    Hi Bertold - Thanks for the comments - it's always great to get feedback and know that people appreciate the blog and the pics. I haven't heard of the Bruce Trail over there in Ontario. Have you walked it?