Monday, 19 April 2010

Walking The Severn Way Stage 15

Sunday, April 11, 2010
Stourport-on-Severn to Grimley 
Only 7.7miles

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In this issue…

  • Scintillating sounds and sights of spring
  • Loss of a little friend
  • First Peacock of the year
  • Mrs Blackerby’s Nature Walks
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 us 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.
Hello and welcome along to the first of our 2010 stages of The Severn Way. Although the recent harsh winter appears to have finally deserted us it keeps sending us timely reminders that it’s probably not quite finished with us yet as overnight frosts are still threatening our new garden plants.

However, today it’s a fine sunny morn and I don’t know about you - our faithful followers - but we’re ready booted, our rucksacks stuffed with lunchtime fare and our heads and limbs awash with renewed vigour keen to flush the chilly cold of the past winter months out of our system. So… ready? Shall we carry on?

OK - let’s do it!

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We leave the busy streets of Stourport-on-Severn via the edge of the permanent funfair here, a feature, along with it’s proximity to the riverside, that makes this delightful town attractive to so many throughout all months of the year but today there seems to be a real buzz as people tumble out of their cars and breathe in the fresh crisp spring air.

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Within just 3 short minutes walking we’re away from the bustle and back into the quiet peacefulness of the countryside and the return to what’s become known to Pam and me as ‘our river’.

An early over-wintering Peacock butterfly descends on our path just in front of us and seems to be saying '”Welcome back!”
Severn Way Stage 15 075 “Thank you. It’s good to be back!”

People are not just glad to be out of hibernation themselves but they're getting on with the business of spring-cleaning and getting things ready for what we all hope is to be a glorious summer. The Stourport-on-Severn marina is a hive of activity as people tend to their boats getting everything ship-shape once more.
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What a spectacular weeping willow greets us as we leave the town

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We soon arrive at Lincomb Lock. We’re spot-on time but we must keep a watchful eye on the time today as we have a bus to catch at a village called Grimley nearly 8 miles south of Stourport-on-Severn to get us back to our car and if we miss it we’ll have a 2 hour wait until the next one!

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Do you see the traffic light in the above picture? It’s on red. Now I don’t know about you but I’m thinking how could you possibly get through that lock with your boat or barge when there’s a huge 18”- thick wooden barrier damning off the river?! Seems a little unnecessary to me but then what do I know about the intricacies of waterway ways? You’re right:- zilch, diddly squat!
We enter a delightful stretch of woodland that has its own aroma, a natural perfume that fills the air as buds everywhere burst with life and spring flowers add small but perfect carpets of colour to the brown earth and winter-dead leaves.

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An early cowslip pushes its way through the ground-cover as if to say “I’m sooooo pleased that that winter is behind me!”

The bluebells are not yet in flower but I doubt it’ll be long - the foliage is in profusion all around. Soon we’ll be walking together amidst carpets of blue, savouring their heady scent.

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There are also vast swathes of white Wood Anemone scattered with the purple of violets, the bright yellow of Lesser Celandine and the blue of the delightful Germander Speedwell. Don’t miss the slideshow (click collage at bottom when you’ve done with the write-up - don’t go there yet though!) which features some of these beautiful spring flowers along with other delights like this little chappy brand new to the world.

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Talking of lamb - we’re soon feeling slight pangs of hunger indicating time for a rest and a bite to eat! Could one of you just take a quick pic for the blog please?

Thank you!

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Thirty minutes is all we’re allowed - we can’t afford to miss that bus you know!  At our Hampstall Inn checkpoint - a pleasant pub by the riverside - we see we’re bang-on schedule so, thankfully, no danger at the moment.

Once more we see some fabulous-looking houses perched by the riverside and become - as we often do - quite envious as their occupants look over ‘our river’.

Another Peacock butterfly joins a just-out-of-hibernation Small Tortoiseshell as we approach Shrawley Wood which for me is to be the site of a forthcoming night out under the stars trapping and identifying the moths of this quite unusual habitat blessed as it is with its profusion of small-leaved lime trees and in fact Shrawley Wood carries the distinction of being one of Britain’s best lime woods attracting species of moth unlikely to be found in any other habitat especially with its proximity to the river too.

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Walking in spring-time is just the best. It’s generally easier than any other part of the year; the stinging nettles are not knee high, the Himalayan Balsam is not around our ears and it’s usually not too muddy either.

As we marvel at the new spring growth Pam reminisces about life as a child in Mrs Blackerby’s class where her then legendary Nature Walks were a high part of education in the late 50’s (ooops - hope that’s not given away Pam’s age which apparently women of all ages like to keep secret from everyone!). Coltsfoot and Pussy willow are called to mind with reverence, along with tales of walks collecting leaves and then identifying them in the classroom where they were then displayed proudly in a special nature book. Ahhh - if life were still that simple. Still… we have no complaints do we? We’re all out here enjoying this walk.

Oh… look at that barge - do you remember seeing that moored at Stourport-on-Severn a couple of hours ago? Well… here it is in full flow as we approach Doleham Bridge - the Black Prince…

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At Holt Fleet Bridge we have to cross the river as The Severn Way continues on the west side - the east side becomes the Wychavon Way. Which reminds me of one of many ‘Blonde Jokes’ that came my way via email from an acquaintance of mine - so thanks to Terry Hancock for this and apologies to blondes everywhere, especially followers to this blog - you know we’re only joking! We love you all! And don’t forget Pam’s a blonde too!

There's this blonde out for a walk. She comes to a river and sees another blonde on the opposite bank 'Yoo-hoo!' she shouts, 'How can I get to the other side?'
The second blonde looks up the river then down the river and shouts back, 'You ARE on the other side.'

Anyway, we can’t seem to find the steps leading to the bridge in order to cross to the other side of the river (who’s ‘blonde’ now?!) so we’ll walk along the lane leading away from the river to try to find a way to get up on to the bridge. After a few minutes Pam announces she saw some steps way back… Doh… see what I mean? Enough said! We return to the river, find the steps and cross to an inviting pub right on the riverside with tables and chairs set out on the water's edge. We check our timing and see we have around 20 minutes to spare - just time for a quick pint (or half in Pam’s case) of best ale.

And wonderfully thirst-quenching it is too.

Last couple of miles to go for Grimley and still well in time. Let’s get back on the trail.

I relate to Pam and other walking companions within earshot a tale of a little friend - a small pencil which I’ve grown quite accustomed to over the last 2 years. I take it on all walks and nature surveys to make notes and record what I see. I’ve ‘lost’ this little pencil more times than I care to remember but it somehow keeps reappearing a day or so later, so it has some sentimental value. Just last week whilst out on one of my solo Shropshire walks I arrived back home to discover it wasn’t in my pocket with my notes. So that was it - slipped out somewhere near Merrington Green I guess. Lost for good, until 2 days later when I find it in the footwell of the car. It just refuses to get itself lost.

Oh look… our first view, right in the distance, of the magnificent Malvern Hills offering a great 8-mile walk along the tops which we did with our friends Neil & Gigi a summer ago. What an excellent day that was too!
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Having said earlier that this time of the year tends to be not too muddy we walk into a quagmire that’s impossible to avoid without climbing through undergrowth and/or barbed wire fences. Having kept our boots nice and clean the whole way so far our last mile offers us an unwelcome mud-bath! Just right for climbing onto the bus in!

We clean up as best we can and shortly see our stage-end landmark - Grimley Church. We have to come off route here to head to the main road about half-a-mile away for the bus stop, I reach for my notes and realise we have a big problem. No… I mean a BIG problem: the sacred little pencil isn’t there. I look on the floor. I crawl on the floor. ‘Tis gone. I’m gutted! It must have dropped out whilst negotiating the mud about 15 minutes back. Guess it’s lost for good now. Oh well… it was only a pencil.

On reaching the main road we discover there’s no bus stop to be seen anywhere. We have a few minutes before the bus should arrive so we’ll walk along the road a couple of hundred yards. We meet a family along the path and I ask if they know of a bus stop. They tell us there’s not one on the main road - in fact there wouldn’t be anywhere for a bus to stop - it’s a very busy trunk road. The guy suggests we walk on and turn left down a lane - there’s a bus shelter there and he feels sure all the buses turn off the main road here to pick up passengers. So we walk there. And we wait. What do you think? I’m getting a bad feeling about this. My instructions imply that the bus stops on the main road, but it seems unlikely. The minute comes when the bus should arrive. We can see the main road from the lane and right on time - guess what?  Yep! The bus flashes straight by along the main road missing us completely!Bus drawingFaced with a 2-hour wait for the next one and still no wiser as to where the bus stop is we decide on a taxi which, because it’s Sunday costs us £30 (that’s 30 GBP for our overseas followers) to get us back to the car at Stourport-on-Severn. It’s the first time the buses have let us down - or maybe it was our fault. Perhaps we’ll find out on the next stage where we actually have to get off at this point on our return from Worcester - our next port of call on the fascinating River Severn Way.

Thanks for joining us for the first stage of 2010 and both Pam and I hope you can join us next week for the next stage after which I think we’ll be using our tent as a springboard for at least 2 stages of the next part of the walk. See you then…

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We'll make them most welcome. The more the merrier! I know I've said before that I quite like walking 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 us along the enchanting Severn Way!

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     Click collage below for Stage 15 SlideshowSevern Way Stage 15 110410

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Cheri Madison said...

I love your writeups and slide shows! Just wanted to point out there's no link at the bottom to Stage 14, so I had to read that trip in my email.

Paul e Watts said...

Hi Cheryl, thanks for your comment and for pointing out the missing link, which has now been corrected.