Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 14 April 2023

Monday 11 April 2023 - A Visit to Bridgnorth

Easter Monday saw us meeting up with my old University pal, Peter, his wife Cassie, and his even older school mate Rod and wife Kate. Peter and Cassie are over from Calgary, and we all met up in Bridgnorth, recalling our previous meeting in Wales on 1 November 2017.

Anyway, whilst we spent most of the day chatting and enjoying a fine luncheon spread, Peter, Sue and I did, in between hefty showers, manage a 5km stroll around Bridgnorth. First we headed down to the river Severn on a good path under the Severn Valley railway viaduct and past Daniels Mill, which may have been mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Soon the riverside path was gained, along which we walked into the low level part of the town.

The following pictures trace our route up to the high level and through Bridgnorth's well maintained antiquities.

Window tax!

Friary remains that used to be the site of a carpet factory

St Leonard's Church

The old grammar school

Inside the church, where lots of nice 'bric a brac' china and jigsaw puzzles were being sold

Town Hall - built on stilts to provide a covered market place for the town

Remains of the C12 castle, which leans four times a much as the tower in Pisa!

A view towards the railway from the lovely Castle Gardens

The church of St Mary Magdalene was designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1792-95

There's a good view to the river from the path below the church

We made our way down to the railway station, where the 'pre-Beeching' era is alive and well. My Iain Allan trainspotter's bible is in the loft, or I'd tell you whether I've spotted Pendennis Castle before (almost certainly 'yes' - I think I spotted all the 'Castle' class as they ran through Albrighton, where I used to go trainspotting after junior school.

After lunch, the sun came out and we were able to enjoy tea and cake outside Rod and Kate's house, where Jane, who had driven over from Denby Dale for a few days, joined the party.

L to R: Cassie, Kate, Rod, Peter Jane and Sue

Then Sue and I went home, via Great Grandma Dot (now 98) in Eccleshall. What a lovely day out.

Thursday 13 April 2023

Saturday 9 April 2023 - Wythenshawe parkrun #517

Here are some of this week's team, assembled before the start - Jeanette (stress fractured foot, so marshalling - get better soon!), Laura, Paul, Rufus, Jenny, Isabella, Mike, Sue and Owen.

Conditions were deemed to be good, as 292 participants assembled at the start.

Mike and Isabella and Ted assumed their usual position under a tree from which they could cheer us on from the start.

The run went particularly well for Sue, who on her 262nd parkrun managed to go half a minute quicker than ever before, bringing her PB down to 23:50! How did that happen?

Some of us adjourned to the stables cafe, and Isabella soon insisted on a visit to the neighbouring playground.

A lovely way to start the weekend.

And Sunday brought more fun, by way of the Wythenshawe Community Run.

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Friday 7 April 2023 - Around Shocklach

This walk from Jen Darling's 'More Pub Walks in Cheshire and Wirral' book starts at the Bull in Shocklach. Other parking places are available all around the route, but today the Bull was deserted. Closed on Good Friday. A bit of research reveals a tale of a celebrity chef and a closure, re-opening, and currently a closure. A lady we met en route thought there had been distressing times at the pub, which used to be busy with diners. No longer.

Across the road, it looks as if the house provides its residents with a quick exit from which to mount their horses.

It was a lovely morning near the border with Wales. The stiles here have not yet suffered the 'metal kissing gate' treatment seen in other parts of Cheshire, and some of them were in need of repair.

On the sunny morning, we strolled happily through the countryside, passing what Jen rockons is a marlpit. Marl is an earthy material rich in carbonate materials, used as a soil conditioner, and in the manufacture of cement.

Soon afterwards we came across an old stable, renovated by locals in 1993. The date of 1700 is carved into a beam above the door, and some locals may still remember back to times when the building was used to stable horses while their owners were in the church across the lane - St Edith's. Now there's a car park at the end of the quiet lane.

The stable may have been built originally as a two storey dwelling.

St Edith's dates from at least 1150. It sports a Norman doorway with an ornately carved semi-circular arch.

The cross beside which Sue is standing may have been a meeting place for hiring labourers, buying and selling goods, and passing on news. The interior is apparently interesting, but we didn't venture inside as there was a service in progress.

Back on the field paths, we passed the skeleton of an old tree, and hedges full of blackthorn blossom.

There were good views across to Wales, from fields that appeared to be used for grazing rather than for crops, unless dandelions rank as a crop!

After passing another marlpit, we reached a road that led to the site of an ancient castle (aka motte and bailey defence) near appropriately named Castletown Rough. The site is really just a raised area in the corner of a field, but at one time it would have been a site of importance.

Daffodils and snowdrops are giving way to a wider range of spring flowers of the hedgerow, such a the red dead nettle shown below.

Lesser celandine is still abundant below the blackthorn and hawthorn.

After a few yards along a green lane, another wooden stile led to a deep bog. With boots and gaiters I could just paddle through the ankle deep mud, but in her trail shoes, Sue did well to avoid wetting her feet!

A good path then led through electrically fenced fields to the outskirts of Tilston and a suitable spot for elevenses either side of a stile, in view of the chimneyed mansion of Grafton Hall.

On the outskirts of Tilston we encountered a rare instance of an error in Jen Darling's route description. We walked down the drive of Lane End Cottage and up the lawn, as per Jen's description. But there was no stile, just a lady (fortunately) gardening. "Oh yes" she mused " the book is wrong, you need to go past Honeysuckle Cottage, not Lane End." We finished up having a long chat - the only person we encountered all morning, despite it being a public holiday.

The correct route was actually signposted, and we soon found ourselves at St Mary's Church, which apparently dates from C14 and has a long history.

Continuing on the pleasant field paths that dominate this walk, we at last arrived at a planted crop - a field of bright yellow mustard.

At the village green in Horton Green, we turned left past Horton Grange - "built by HG in 1629" - a pretty building with a nice garden.

Continuing along green lanes bursting with fresh greenery thanks to some warm, showery weather, we emerged to a final stroll across more fields that were clearly divided into smaller units at one time - judging by lone gate posts that we passed - to reach the village of Shocklach.

We lunched on a bench in front of the pub, which is situated in the centre of the village and in its present closed state is rather sad, as it's the focal point of the village. No need to ask permission to park today.

That concluded a delightful 11km walk, taking less than 3.5 hours, and involving minimal climbing (but quite a few stiles). Here's the route we took. (Click on any picture for a slideshow.)