Saturday, 2 October 2010

Walking The Severn Way Stage 19

Tuesday, 21st September, 2010
Upton-upon-Severn to Tewkesbury
Only 7.5 miles

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In this issue…
  • Henry sells an abbey
  • Unexpected Brimstone
  • September heatwave
  • Magical spiders, swans and sheep
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

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Hello and here we are again, now right back on track. September. Travelling down to Upton - a 90 minute drive - we sing along to one of our favourite Muse tracks ‘Knights of Cydonia’. It’s good to be back. Although the blog posts don’t necessarily reflect it it’s actually almost 5 months since our last walk along the River Severn, but we’re getting closer and closer to the end now. Around 60 miles to go to reach Bristol and the sight of our river opening out into the massive jaws of the Bristol Channel beckons.

Ready for the off? The weather forecast is excellent and the sun looks as if it’s about to break through the early morning mist so we should be in for a fab day. As we leave Upton-upon Severn behind, the moist air reveals a myriad of cobwebs looking for all the world like suspended diamonds shimmering in the light creating a fantastic gossamer wonderland.

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One of our first sights is this huge field full of sleepy sheep who seem to be saying ‘Why do all that walking stuff when you can just lie here and drift with the day’. This field has to be one of the biggest I’ve ever seen in England taking a full 20 minutes to walk along its edge.

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The next field was full of lazy swans who seem to be saying the same. It looks as if they spent the night here and I’m sure they’ll shortly be heading back to the river. I wonder if they go anywhere else or do they - as we do - regard it as their river?

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11:30 and the fog lifts to reveal a wonderful and welcoming warmth which means we need to pause a few minutes and take off a layer or two.
Remember these flowers from last summer?

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Yep! It’s the ubiquitous Himalayan Balsam again. An invasive non-native plant but quite exquisite all the same. And the bees love it! And our bees are having a tough time at the moment so let’s leave these flowers to do their job and give our honey bees a bunk-up. Apparently some of the finest honey is made from bees frequenting these flowers. We walk through a delightful path with 6ft high balsam either side.

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Lunchtime! Let’s all take a break. What have you got in your sarnies today? We have tuna along with our own home-grown tomatoes and cucumber accompanied by a nice cup of English tea or two.

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As we near the M50 the drone of traffic gets louder as we approach. In his day the great composer Sir Edward Elgar was said to be have been greatly inspired by the view from the church porch at Holdfast over the River Severn, but if he could sit in the same spot today he may not be so inspired as the busy motorway runs just 150 yards from the spot!

Severn Way Stage 19 210910 037 Onwards…

Now that’s an odd spot to put a stile;- there’s no fence, hedge or wall either side. I don’t think we’ll bother climbing that one! Let’s walk round!

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I spot a yellow butterfly flitting along the water’s edge enjoying the September sun. I quickly identify at as a Brimstone, which is a butterfly you’d normally see flying in the spring, but as they’re a hibernating species they’re often seen at odd times through the year.

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Phew! It’s getting hotter. Look at that; an almost perfect blue sky. I’ve just checked the thermometer hanging from my rucksack and it’s showing 22 deg C so it’s turned out to be a real nice day.

Another milestone today too - we pass from Worcestershire into Gloucestershire; our final county on the walk.

And then all too soon… we’re here: at the fine old town of Tewkesbury sitting right by the River Severn with it’s 200 Listed Buildings and a rather grandiose Norman abbey. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the townsfolk bought it from Henry VIII in 1540 for the princely sum of £453. Now that’s what I call an investment!

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We’ve done well today - we’re over an hour ahead of schedule so we have time to wander around Tewkesbury a bit before the bus arrives to take us back to Upton-Upon-Severn. There’s a little tea-shop invitingly called Crumpets. Let us stay a while fellow walkers and partake in a little cake and tea.

As we enjoy our fare we discuss how we intend to walk the remainder of The Severn Way as we’re now getting on for a 2 hour drive from home in Shropshire to a start point. We’ve used the tent as a base for a couple of earlier stages but as it’s heading towards late autumn with winter just around the corner Pam is not keen to camp again this year so perhaps we need to find a hotel or hotels as bases to cover the remaining stages unless we wait till next year and use the tent again. Or maybe we’ll cover the next 20 miles or so from a hotel and leave the rest till spring. What do you think?

Food for thought and so was the ice cream we grabbed after leaving the tearoom! Nice spot by the river here. And popular too, with boats moored whilst its caring inhabitants load up with provisions and enjoy a stroll around this historic town.

We still have around 20 minutes before the bus arrives. Fancy a quick pint? C’mon let’s do it - there's a pub here just by the bus stop. Perfect! Mine’s a Hobgoblin. What’s yours?

Catch up with you soon!
Paul Watts and Pam Greenwood

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1 comment:

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