Friday, 29 October 2010

Walking The Severn Way - Stage 21

Tuesday, 19th October, 2010
Norton to Gloucester
Only 8.2 miles

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In this issue…
  • A big Stinger
  • Hopping dragons
  • Elephant appears through hedge
  • Elvering enigma solved
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 

Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 013-1

Bit of an unusual photo to start today’s ramblings but it’s a superb year for fungi over here in England. They seem to be everywhere you look. Many variable shapes, wonderful colours and when you get right up close some of them have delightful aromas too!

Great to see you all here in Norton and ready for the second of our three day trip where we intend to walk 21 miles of the Severn Way. Good to have you along! 

Boots on? Limbered up? Let’s get cracking!

We’ve parked the car not far from where we left the walk yesterday to catch our bus. We’ve just over 8 miles to walk today and the first couple of miles will be across fields to get back on track at the side of ‘Our River’. This is because we had to come off route, you may recall, to reach the nearest bus stop here in Norton.

Once more we’re blessed with a fine and sunny morn, perfect for a stroll in the English countryside. It’s 10:20am. We have to get to Gloucester Bus Station to catch the 15:55 bus. Shouldn’t be a   problem. Everything’s meticulously planned. Who muttered ‘famous last words’? 

We head off down a footpath and into woodland with the girls doing a rendition of ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ as we plod along. And they managed to harmonise too. Good job Gary and I didn’t join in!

It’s a bit of a struggle heading back to the river to pick up the Severn Way once more as the footpath has strangely disappeared depositing us into a recently ploughed field. Oh well… we’ll just have to walk straight across it. It turns out to be not to much of a problem and we arrive back at the Red Lion pub putting us back on course.

  Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 011-1 Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 020-1

As the four of us stride out (yes we’re blessed with the company of  Gary and Rossy once more for this second day of three) I notice we’ve settled into a pattern, especially when the track is only wide enough to walk single file; Gary in front, then the girls and I usually bring up the rear, charged as I am with making notes, pointing out places of interest, taking photos, not to mention navigating - not sure how that works with the navigator at the back though. 

It isn’t long before we see the spire of the village of Ashleworth’s church mysteriously pushing out above the trees. Apparently, there used to be a ferry here to carry people across to Ashleworth Quay which is where the original village stood. There are buildings still surviving from the 15th century. How do I know all this? Well… sometimes I manage to do a bit of research before we leave.

Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 008-1  

I forgot to mention I’m also the official flora and fauna spotter in the group (!) so I'll have to call you all back to take a look at this huge European Hornet. Looks like a Common Wasp but it’s much bigger - this fella was about 30mm in length. The queens can be as large as 50mm! They have a painful sting but fortunately they’re not  very aggressive but I guess if you picked one up to take a closer look he’d probably not be too pleased!

And I think this is a species of Horse Fly. They sting too and are, unlike the Hornet, very aggressive. They love nothing more than sitting on your bare arm drinking your blood, given half the chance.

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Remember yesterday when we came across the Elver sign? Well. here’s another. Now I did find out what this was all about last night back in the hotel. I’m sure many of you, if not all, will know that Elvers are baby eels. 

They apparently drift for three years across the Atlantic Ocean from the Sargossa Sea which has to be a couple of thousand miles away and many of them arrive in the Severn Estuary and then swim upstream as far as Tewkesbury and often beyond. When fully grown they make the long journey back to breed and start the process all over again. Amazing lives creatures have don’t they? I find it absolutely fascinating all the stuff that happens every minute of every hour without us even giving a thought.

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Elvers are becoming quite a scarcity these days and are highly prized as restaurant dishes and now very expensive. They’re also sold as breeding stock to other countries but they can only be caught under special licence. Some years back there used to be an annual Elver-eating contest at nearby Frampton-upon-Severn but it’s been stopped due to the scarcity of these amazing sea creatures. It takes up to 15 years before they are fully grown. So now we know.


Now there’s a tranquil scene. It’s another pool which geographically puts the 4 of us right in the middle of a water sandwich with the river the other side. 

Talking of sandwiches…

Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 032-1 

Time for our lunch break and once more the obligatory lunch-time pic. 

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Just a thirty minute break - we’re spot on course to catch the 15:55 bus but there’s little time to linger longer.

We spot a wild Hop bush - as in beer-making hops.

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So that’s what happens when the flooded river returns to normal - it leaves canal barges high and dry! I jest, of course, it must be in dry-dock for needy repairs.

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As we round a corner and emerge from a small copse we’re greeted with two happy little dogs who seem to be saying ‘Hello, who are you?Look at us!’ Then as we turn and walk a few more steps we’re met with…

Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 052-1 

Now… I don’t know about you but I’m thinking that can’t be right, we don’t often see elephants wild in England. In fact - never!Fortunately, it seems to be someone’s idea of a joke - although it looks very real it’s not - and it’s just a head. Very effective though.

Common Toadflax Severn Way Walk Stage 20 191010 050-1

A beautiful snapdragon-type wild flower smiles at us as we pass by.

A Common Toadflax.

Although I don’t have any pics there are still a few butterflies on the wing. I noted Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Small Copper.

And the sun has shone for us all day again. Aren’t we lucky?

Eventually we arrive in Gloucester and just a few minutes ahead of schedule.

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The bus leaves dead on time and 30 minutes later we’re back in Tewkesbury whereupon the heavens open and a sudden downpour catches us by surprise. Oh well… best head for the our next stop; a hotel just north of Gloucester where we’ll have a shower and then a meal along with copious amounts of red wine in the hotel restaurant. Let’s drink to that!

Catch up with you VERY soon! The third and final day of this particular trip is tomorrow. After that there’s just 48 miles to go to the end of The Severn Way.
Will you be there raring to go in the morning? Great stuff! See you back at Gloucester then for a walk to Elmore. Have a good night’s sleep.

Paul Watts and Pam Greenwood

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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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Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

I did not do much walking today.I have 4 vertebrae misbehavin'.

I have enjoyed your walks and especially the scenery.

Are you going to publish your walks?I would like an autographed book by you and Pam.what a treasure to sit wrapped up in a warm afghan and read and enjoy the scenery (on a cold day in the winter) about your walks.

The best to you and Pam.


Paul e Watts said...

Hi Glenna, Thank you so much for your comments. Sorry to hear about your back - best stick to 'armchair walking' for a while!

We've been asked many times about publishing a book based on our adventures and who knows - one day we may just try to do that.


Anonymous said...

Following your blog with great interest as we are following in your footsteps, completed 3 stages - lots of helpful tips and great pics.

We also live near the Severn at Frampton-on-Severn a stone's throw from Splatt bridge. If you have not completed this section yet please feel free to let us know when you are passing and we can offer tea and cake for you and your fellow travellers.


Sally Hall

Paul e Watts said...

Thanks for your comments Sally.

We're very close to Frampton-on-Severn now so would love to take up your offer of tea and cake - can you cater for all 850 of us?!

I jest!

That would be lovely - we'll let you know when we've planned that stage - it may well be into the New Year now though as I doubt we'll find time for another 3-4 day stint this year.