Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Saturday/Sunday 2-3 October 2010 – A Visit to Ironbridge and The Wrekin

Ironbridge, built in 1779 by Abraham Darby; cost £6000

Ten of us assembled in The Swan in Ironbridge on Friday evening before adjourning to GS’s range of accommodations, carefully selected from his Observer’s Book of Fawlty Towers.

Saturday morning found us joined by Keith and Carol and lingering at the old iron bridge, with Tove visiting a local café to purchase the continental breakfast that the Robin ‘Music til Late’ Hood* was unable to supply.  It seems that in the absence of a chef, breakfast there had been cooked by the cleaner.  Perhaps the chef had been one of those making merry until 4am in the room below the B&B accommodation.

Those of us staying at the Bird in Hand had been relieved to find that its 12noon to 10.30pm opening hours were strictly observed…


Photocall at the start of our walk

Here’s the route we embarked upon after a photocall in the sunshine.  It was 22km, with over 500 metres ascent, taking around 7 hours.

Saturday's route - 22km, 546 metres ascent, 7 hours

Shortly after gaining the thick woodland that seems abundant in the Ironbridge Gorge, we came across this enticing sign.

"Let's go that way..."

We strolled by museums – there are lots around here – and over chicken wired duck boards, up and down ladders, along grassy paths strewn with conkers, and past some of Telford’s numerous lakes.

A short loop took us through the church yard at Holy Trinity Church in Dawley, a parish in which my grandfather was vicar, before the new town of Telford was even a planner’s dream.

It was hot.  Chocolate caramel shortbread and apple and raisin cake were washed down with tea and coffee.

We passed close by Telford Town Centre.  It appeared to be inhabited by Old Mother Hubbard and some dinosaurs.  We, of course, boosted the dinosaur population.

A brief pause from walking found us transfixed for a while by a magical performance from The Invisible Shakespeare Company.  The audience was sparse, but it was fair value for the price.

It was a poorly attended performance

Further on, not far from Blists Hill Museum, the All Nations Inn provided welcome sustenance by way of some local beers and a black pudding, cheese and onion buttie for Keith.

Refreshments at the All Nations Inn

The beers had a particularly drastic effect on one of our party, who later hastened across the widest level crossing in Britain without realising that the risk of being hit by a train was relatively low.

First aid kits were deployed for the second time in six days, but Graham’s was, luckily, only a flesh wound.

Rail hopping goes wrong

How things change!  I used to come train spotting here!

There are more pictures here.  Or you could wait until the end…

Our day concluded at the Swan, where a reasonable meal was served, though the residents at the Robin Hood were entertained by juke box bandits until ‘late’ – or should that read ‘early’?


Rain hammered down on the thin roof of our penthouse suite.  It was indeed an extremely wet day.  A shame for Robin and Jenny, who had joined us only the previous evening.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.

After which the rain was still hammering down.

Sunday morning - what next?

So whilst half the party had urgent hill-bagging appointments, the remaining seven of us chose to visit the Tile Museum.

Very interesting it was too.

The tile museum (1)

Here are some exhibits – above, a typical butcher’s shop; below, a typical fireplace for a ‘modern home’ of the 1930’s.

The tile museum (2)

I know such fireplaces were still being made in the mid 1960’s, as the memory of carrying them from delivery lorries to the living rooms of Harry Peacock’s lovely new houses is still scarred on what remains of my brain.

They were Heavy.  But not as hot as the bags of cement, fresh from the cement factory, which had to be carried up to a small shed on the top of a hill in a pre-re-enactment of Sean Connery’s performance in ‘The Hill’.  We student workers got all the best jobs in those days!

We spun out the tour of the museum, and a compulsory visit to its coffee shop, until lunch time.

It was still raining, but our resident medic, after holding a brief surgery, prescribed fresh air.  So we went up a nearby hillock known as the Wrekin. 

Here’s our route – 5km, over 250 metres ascent, in 1.5 hours.

Our route up the Wrekin - 5km, 269 metres ascent, 1.5 hours

My father used to take us up here every Christmas morning for a number of years in the 1950’s.  It hasn’t really changed much since then, but today’s views were less than inspiring.

It was still raining...

Even when the rain stopped there was little visibility, and Jenny never did make it to the summit, having become tragically misplaced en route.  She concealed her disappointment well, and was consoled by luckily encountering us at a random point on the descent.

So by the time this photo was taken our 14 strong band was down to 4 plus the photographer (self timing proved impossible due to the camera blowing away), 7 having gone bagging, Jenny having got lost, and Robin having wandered off into the mist.

The Wrekin - The Summit

Here’s the view on a day with slightly better visibility in the direction of Snowdon, a pimple on the horizon some 71 miles distant.

A view from The Wrekin on a sunny day

So, another jolly weekend was over (not so jolly for those kept awake by the antics of the Robin Hood’s clientele), and everyone dispersed, with Blackpool and Manchester City supporters in nearly as euphoric moods as the European Ryder Cup golfing team.

In case you didn’t click on the earlier link, there’s a slide show of the weekend’s photos here, if anyone is interested. 

The weekend wasn’t over for everyone.  There is now a short postscript of three final images provided by our illustrious hill-bagging department, who report as follows:

“Not a good menu choice for us….car got stuck in a flooded stream. Needed a tractor to pull us out. There was water up to the gear stick... see if you can see the hidden sign saying ford / unsuitable for motors…they say things go in threes – no sleep in the pub, smashed up leg, flooded car…hope that’s the lot for now!”

At least there were no ripped hands on barbed wire fences, though I suppose that’s of little comfort just now…

* I suppose you could always be the first to record your experiences at The Robin Hood on the proliferation of pub ‘appreciation’ websites.


Paul said...

Nice write-up and pics Martin. Sounds like quite an eventful weekend -- glad you had at least one day of reasonable weather.

Now, for some reason, I feel like causing trouble, so I'm going to point you in the direction of this very interesting article that I came across a few months back.

Seriously, I love it that there are folk about who are prepared to put that much time and effort into such detailed research. Something I've no doubt of is that I can regularly see The Wrekin from the top of Shining Tor.

The Odyssee said...

Not an area i know at all so it made a pleasant read. Looks like you had a good weekend.Good photo's too.

Sir Hugh said...

That sounds like "proper" walking - highly organised to pass through many points of refreshment.

My journalist brother encourages me to take photos of disasters and untoward events - he says they are more interesting than boring hills. You obviously have journalistic talents in that direction.

I passed through Ironbridge on 11th May 2008 on my LEJOG walk. I had a cheese pasty and tea at a cafe just over the bridge. My journal says about Ironbridge: "It has all been restored to an almost too pretty state - it is like being in a museum".

Trekking Britain said...

I remember visiting the Blists Hill open air museum with school and was fasinated by it.

Phreerunner said...

The wonders of youth! Blists Hill museum hadn't even been thought of when I was at school in the area, Jamie. But ALL the trains were steam powered - and that was great...

Conrad - I agree up to a point. I just didn't have the stomach to photograph Alan's hand last week.

Paul - I had difficulty accessing that article, though I guessed the content. As with many of these toposcopes, some of the places alleged to be visible are perhaps just a measure of the distance to them. Here's an extract from the learned paper you linked me to:

"One of the casualties was Wrekin-Snowdon. Confirming Jesty's work, if one examines the Viewfinder for the Wrekin (Fig. 4) at the relevant place (294º), it can be seen that the line of sight to Snowdon is blocked by Cadair Berwyn, 38 miles away. It is like trying to see someone on the other side of a high wall."

Even though the diagram shows Cadair Berwyn to be about 3200 feet in height, I suspect they are correct!

Paul said...

You're right, those profile diagrams look dodgy at first sight. If those were ASL heights, then Cadair Berwyn would make the Welsh 3000s a whole lot harder!

They're correct though -- the height scale on the profiles isn't the standard ASL height with respect to the OSGB36 Datum that we're used to (and which is based on a reference ellipsoid).

Rather, the profile scale assumes a flat earth, and so shows a genuine (minus refraction in the first case) line of sight. The grey curve *beneath* the profile shows the actual earth curvature (or the Airy ellipsoid presumably). If you measure Cadair Berwyn down to where the grey shading stops, you should get something more sensible :-)

An alternative way of looking at it, is to imagine the height lines also curving away from the base, thus mirroring the curvature of the earth. Then they could be read as ASL heights, and Cadair Berwyn would again measure up about right.

(It's well worth reading that article if you manage to access it though [should be straightforward to right-click and download the PDF] -- there's lots of interesting historical information in there, not just the dry theoretical stuff.)

Phreerunner said...

Wow!!! Thanks, Paul.
I did read it, actually, but I skimmed some of the more scientific bits (shame on me!) - I had to read it really, to find the extract to include above.
Very interesting, as you say.

Pennine Ranger said...

That article was very interesting, though I read the science bits and skimmed much of the rest :) I didn't know of the existence of Ferranti's Viewfinders and have added a link on my blog to the website where you can download them for different hills.

Blists Hill is a wonderful 'museum'. Some years ago, I was there with the kids and we saw Fred Dibnah filming.