Shropshire – high and low

You’ve not heard of Wild Edric?  Unfortunately, you’re not alone.  There is a book, but it’s been out of print for a while, and I’ve not laid hands on a copy.  His way is also referenced in the little freebie leaflet for Clun.

We had a fine day at the Great Yorkshire show; most of the shearing I watched was with hand shears and I find it impressive that there seem still to be plenty of practitioners of this craft.

exciting when there are 6 competing
exciting when there are 6 competing

And, of course, I watched the pole climbing; an 80 foot pole.  Imagine climbing that!  and what if you’re 84 years old?  in less than a minute.  The youngsters strive to do it in 10 seconds.

The next day saw us on a train to Church Stretton.  Wild Edric was a Saxon who seems to have had the same approach to the Normans as Asterix & Obelix had to the Romans.  I presume he met a sticky end though I cannot confirm that.  He rampaged around Shropshire & vicinity apparently, and a bit of the Shropshire Way is said to be named after him.  Not that anybody would know.  Or does.

Here in Calderdale, we have the Calderdale Way – a loop around the area.  Like the Rossendale Way.  And plenty of others.  They do it differently in the West Midlands.  Rather like a cross between an octopus and a deranged spider’s web, the Shropshire Way has tentacles going off in all sorts of directions.  I don’t think one can walk the Shropshire Way – only walk on the Shropshire Way.

So we went up the Carding Mill Valley – been there before for fell races, and it’s lovely.  Over the Long Mynd and down to Bridges.  Could have stayed there for a day or two; the pub was nice, the beer good, and, though we didn’t have any, I gather the food is good.  Then on and up to Stiperstones.

Really pleased I’ve been there.  A ridge, some similarity (alright then, not a lot) to the Long Mynd, but these individual great big rocky outcrops on the top.  We climbed one of them so that we could say we’d nabbed another trig point.

Down and down to Bishop’s Castle.  A fine town.  We stayed in an absolutely amazing B&B; a 1564 house.  Constructed of oak.  On the main street.  Rescued from dereliction 30 years ago by the previous owners and then by the current ones who laboured for ten years before setting up the B&B.  We will go again.

We got to Newcastle, Clun, Craven Arms and finally to Ludlow, another place very well worth visiting.  When high – lovely walking with breathtaking views.  Lower down, Shropshire appears to be a land of nettles, thistles and brambles, largely strategically positioned around stiles and gates one has to go through, as there is no alternative route.  Plus one large field of inquisitive young cattle, which, en masse, did prove a little disconcerting.  Next time we might stick to the upland walking.  Though it was of interest to walk through varied chest high crops (sometimes varied within the same field).  And I guess Shropshire is one of the few areas where arable and livestock farming continue cheek by jowl.  Not what we have in Yorkshire.

Other than the stinging plants, Shropshire also has an impressive density of castles to the square mile; and impressive castles, at that.  I liked Clun.

Here it is
Here it is

Though it’s actually much more impressive as you approach along the Shropshire Way.




Sedbergh Sports Fell Race – British and English Championship race

Since the Dales Way walk I’ve managed one evening training with the Search & Rescue team; one pack run (now back in Yorkshire, as it’s a new month); one team call out; one evening marshaling junior fell races at Greenfield; and in the meantime  to see the 2 Euro semi finals.  Hyperactive obviously, in an attempt to overcome the pain of the referendum result.

The junior races were an absolute joy.  Youngsters coming from all directions (they didn’t actually lose any of the runners), many of them sliding on their backsides past me down the wet grass of the steep hillside, road shoes not quite the thing considering the conditions.  One hilarious sight was of four big 15 year old lads proceeding very gingerly down the steep hillside with its wet grassy/stony surface; two tiny boys in club vests (?U10’s?) appeared and went skipping down past the big lads, who were left open mouthed and way behind.  And I received really nice thanks from several of the runners, for marshaling.

This weekend Joyce is in London; it’s another of her more or less annual reunions with the ladies with whom she trained as a nurse now virtually 50 years ago.  Amazing that once again there will be about 8 of them together this weekend.

5.6km, 400 m of climb.  Weather conditions much as last Saturday, when we were at the highest point of the Dales Way; warm, windy and wet.  Just shorts and a vest.  I was in very grave danger of being last today; that would have been a first for me, I’ve never yet come in  last in a race.  I managed to get past a nice chap from  Pennine Runners about half way up the first peak, but I was not that far ahead, and he’s always been better than me on the downhill.  So after the second peak, going back down, I was expecting all the time that he would come hurtling past me.  He didn’t – and, indeed, we waited a long time for him to come in behind me.  I did beat him at each of the two previous EC races this year; and the reason is that his descending is now impeded by knee problems.  My benefit from his bad luck.  I think I got 6 EC points.

Well in front of me, it seems, were huge numbers of runners going down the steep grassy hillside on their backsides – perhaps I should have taken a leaf out of the juniors’ book from Thursday, too.

I found the race hard; maybe I should not have had so many sandwiches in the car on the way up.  After the race I was not particularly hungry until well into the evening, though I’d only had a piece of cake shortly after finishing and nothing else.  I guess if you over fill the fuel tank then the vehicle moves more slowly.  I’ll try without next time and see what difference that makes – if any.

View of Sedbergh – Howgills behind.


We’d walked past Sedbergh on the Dales Way; nice to be back in the same area so soon.

Dales Way

A long packrun, rather soggy underfoot, with some steep climbing; then into a train first thing, walk across Bradford, and arrive at Ilkley to walk to Bowness on Windermere over 5 days.  We’ll be back at Windermere later this month for another family holiday in the big bouse, albeit on a smaller scale than last year.  And a day at Ambleside sports.

Highlights include walking beside some stunning rivers; the bootleg Beatles at Grassington; lots of birds; excellent accommodation, especially for our last night, at Burneside; the nice teenager on his rather damp Duke of Edinburgh expedition, stopping us just outside Hubberholme – can I ask you some questions?  we’re doing a survey.  Where have you come from today?  what is the purpose of your journey; lots of other people we met; sitting on the bench on the green at Buckden; the lovely church at Hubberholme; excellent food – at Burneside, for breakfast, I had a giant American pancake, 2 pancakes arranged as a double decker with summer fruits and lashings of maple syrup; and, I thought, the bracing crossing from upper Wharfedale over to upper Dentdale, though Joyce thought it unpleasant as she would have liked to linger to enjoy the lovely scenery.  Not something either of us was going to do in the weather conditions we met there.

Shropshire next, for another 5 days walking.

Kettlewell typical small dales town
typical small dales town
Bowness culture shock after 5 days' walking
culture shock after 5 days’ walking