Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Walking The Severn Way Stage 17

Date: April 27th, 2010
Stage: Worcester to Clifton
Only 6.3 miles

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In this issue…
  • Meet our Hanley Swan friends
  • Why we all felt peeved
  • Barry Puddleduck
  • Fab fly
  • Why are we alone on the campsite?
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.
Writing retrospectively from a tent in the beautiful village of Croyde, Devon, in the August rain…

Hello and welcome again to the next stage of our Severn Way Walk. It’s been a while I know, mainly due to Pam and me exploring various parts of the UK that we haven’t been to before using our fairly new tent as a base. Hence, we’re nowhere near the River Severn as I write.

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Notes from April 27th: The tent accompanies us on this lovely sunny April day, abundant as it is with fabulous bluebells (the day - not the tent!) as we head south for a lovely little village nestling in the foothills of the majestic Malvern Hills in the quintessentially English county of Worcestershire. It has the quaint name of Hanley Swan, with its own pond in the centre, recently and lovingly face-lifted by a dedicated team of village volunteers spearheaded by our very good friends Neil and Gigi who will be joining us today for this next stage of the Severn Way.

Hanley Swan Pond2

We’re camping 3 nights so that we can walk 2 more stages more conveniently than travelling down, doing the walk and travelling all the way back home again.

Do you like camping? Want to join us? Let’s do it…

Hanley Swan, although not exactly at the side of the River Severn, has a convenient and very fine campsite (Blackmore) on the outskirts of the village and less than 2 miles away from the waters’ edge. As we’re here outside of the main and busy camping season we’re given carte blanche to pitch our tent anywhere we like along a very long tree-line with its own rookery at one end. There’s no other tent on site! Now that’s good in one way but then you wonder why no-one else is here! Perhaps we’ll find out shortly!

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The next day (April 27th) we meet up with Neil & Gigi and drop off a car at Clifton, our point B of today’s stretch, so we have an easy return to the campsite at the end of the day. Neil & Gigi are to join us on our 6.3 mile stage. Should be a fun day!

Leaving Worcester along the riverside we’re treated to a scene of some 100 swans enjoying the mild air, a tranquil part of the river and sunshine. Neil explains that this is an official Swan Sanctuary where dozens of Mute Swans congregate for a gossip. Although sedate they’re not always quiet, often prompting me to wonder where the name Mute ever came from!

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A few yards on I stop to have a chat with someone with a very fine canal boat they’ve named Puddleduck. Meet Barry who tells me he is to be featured with his wife Ann and the boat on a television programme next week.

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                             A true ‘rock ‘n’ roller’ if ever I saw one!

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Just leaving Worcester we’re met with an obstacle in our way. A diversion. A BIG diversion.

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Pam & Gigi showing their disdain

Heaven only knows what they’re doing here but we’re directed in a roughly square route away from the river which adds an extra mile to the stage and an uninspiring start as we head off through through an industrial estate and then a housing estate before eventually getting back on course where we enter an enchantingly wonderful Worcestershire woodland.

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As we continue along the edge of the River Severn once more the four of us chat happily but I often get distracted and suddenly have to stop dead in my tracks to take a photo of something I’ve spotted like this tiny green iridescent beetle:-
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There are dozens and dozens of them. And these are their eggs

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They are the Green Dock Beetle (Gastrophysa viridula)

Butterflies are also in profusion today with Orange Tips being the most prominent as they flit around stems of Jack-by-the-Hedge - the foodplant of the caterpillars. The males are easy to spot with their bright orange tips to their otherwise white wings. The females lack the orange splash so are easily passed by as perhaps ‘just another white butterfly’.

We’re greeted by wildflowers round every corner

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I think it would be a good idea to pause here by the river and take a photo of the 4 of us using the camera’s self-timer which is set to give me 10 seconds to set-up the shot and get into position before the shutter opens. OK - let’s see what we can do here…

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3 attempts later - one including an almost full length trip…

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Oh… and there’s a fine Caddis fly species.
Aren’t the vein markings fabulous?

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All to soon we arrive at the waiting car in the small village of Clifton, the last part of the stage passing through a large field of horses and ponies.

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A very pleasant stretch of the River Severn Way made even more entertaining by sharing it with Neil & Gigi and thank you both for the fab meal you cooked for us - a much better option than the tin of baked beans cooked on our camping stove! Talking of camping… why were we the only ones on the campsite? Well… it was early in the year and at night it can get cold… very cold. But we survived.

Readers… we’ll catch you all again very soon and thanks for joining us once more.

Paul & Pam

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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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