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Posts Tagged ‘walks in the uk’

Ever since I first visited this area last year I’ve wanted to take a walk to Chirbury across the border in Shropshire. It’s 3 miles to Chirbury and my normal walking pace is 5 miles in 2 hours. My break time is only 2 hours and I can’t leave my client alone for longer than that, so in all 3 visits to this area, I’ve not yet been able to get there and back…6 miles; just over my pace limit.

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However, the daughter came to visit for 2 days, so on Friday I grabbed my chance. The weather was good, no snow or frost, and bright and more or less sunny. I suggested she make lunch for her Dad and keep him company while I took a brisk walk to Chirbury. So that is what we did…..this also gave me a break from meal preparation, which after preparing 3 meals a day for 16 days on the trot, the ‘excitement’ begins to wear a bit thin LOL

Donning thermals and thick socks, my fleece on, but sans hat and gloves (urgh., I cant believe I decided to leave them at home this trip), I grabbed my poles and set off for the 3 miles to Chirbury.

 

The roads here are narrow…..very narrow and at sections there is not even a sliver of space to step safely off the tarmac when traffic whizzes by. The roads are also very winding with a lot of dips and slopes, so often, even though you can hear the traffic approaching, you can’t see it….ergo they can’t see me either. It’s a tad nerve-wracking, so I keep my ears well clear and when I hear traffic approaching I get myself as far off the road as possible and turn to face the oncoming cars/vans/trucks and ensure they can see that I can see them. I wave and sometimes they wave back. It always amuses me when they swing their cars right onto the opposite side of the road….a tad over the top (no pun intended). But they whizz by safely and I get to continue in one piece. I only had to clamber into a hedge once on the whole 2.5 hour walk and that was coz I had heard a car approaching from behind a small incline, so grabbed some branches and pulled myself into the shrub as far as possible till the car went by….except the sound of his engine drowned out the sound of a 2nd car not far behind and I had no sooner returned to the road that the 2nd vehicle came flying over the top….this require split-second action and I jumped into the bush and grabbed whatever came to hand…..which left my hand all bloody and scratched. No worse than when the cat grabs my hand, but unpleasant.

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Welcome to Shropshire – Offa’s Dyke

Other than that, the walk went without incident and I relished the sounds of the countryside; birds tweeting and shrilling, sheep baaing across the fields, the occasional sounds of a tractor chuffing about, a horse snorting from behind a hedge, and a herd of cows snuffing their surprise when my head popped up above the edge of their shed. LOL

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20 miles from Salop

They are gorgeous creatures, such big doleful eyes and pink snouts….especially gorgeous when there’s a wall between me and them ūüėČ Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough for a photo; would have entailed trudging through mud and the farmers property…suffice to say they were pretty. Still young. I always feel sad though when I see them knowing what lies in their future.

Chirbury, situated in the Vale of Montgomery and just over the border from Wales, turned out to be a lot smaller than I anticipated.

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Chirbury, Shropshire, England

The landscape is dotted with farms, a few grain silos give a clue as to the crops, a 12th century church; St Michael’s, the ubiquitous pub, a shop and Post Office,¬†a scattering of houses, a barn turned into a pottery and nothing much else.¬† Apparently, according to the 2001 census it has a population of 971!!! I have no idea where they’re all hiding. Although they do have a nursery and primary school, so I guess there must be more houses than was immediately apparent. It’s more like a hamlet really, right on the crossroads of some connecting byways; namely the¬†A490¬†and B4386 routes, whilst roads and lanes from six directions converge on the village. I’m guessing that’s pretty much how it came into being…..a crossroads developed over time.

According to wikipedia: “The¬†placename¬†was recorded in 915 as¬†ńäyrińčbyrig¬†in the¬†Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and as¬†ńäireberie¬†in the¬†Domesday Book¬†of 1086, and means “the fort with a church”.¬†Its¬†Welsh¬†name,¬†Llanffynhonwen, means “the church of the white well” or “…of the holy well”. The fact that it’s a Domesday Book village is thrilling…now I can add another to the growing list on Project 101.

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Houses in Chirbury

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Black and White House in Chirbury

The only church in Chirbury, St Michael’s, a Grade 1 listed building, is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Built on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon church (circa 915), the current building dates from the 12th century with an addition in 1330 & the 18th century and restoration during the 19th century.¬† I love exploring the old graveyards attached to these country churches, they are so full of history.

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St Michael’s Church Chirbury

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I popped over to the pub; The Herbert Arms just in time for them to have closed up to go shopping! *sigh* I was looking forward to a nice hot cuppa and a scone with jam and cream before heading back. Oh well, no afternoon tea then.

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the Yorkshireman and his Wife

Instead I dropped in at the Post Office, bought a chocolate, used the facilities and made haste on my return to Montgomery. I got wet a couple of times, but managed the home journey without too much stress. I crossed over a couple of streams on the way and the River Camlad running east and north through the parish.

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River Camlad

“CHIRBURY, or Cherbury, a village and a parish in Salop; and a sub-district in Salop and Montgomery. The village stands in a fine vale, near the Welsh boundary, Offa’s dyke”

It was fab to see the border; Offa’s Dyke, between the two countries of Wales and England. I love that although there is a border on paper, the countryside doesn’t have any indication and just flows across hill and dale without a care.

By the time I got back, the light had faded and it was getting quite dark, the sun had disappeared behind a foggy cloud and I pondered the probability of carrying my visibility vest in future.

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welcome to Wales

In all a fantastic walk of 9.70kms/6.06 miles added to my January total of 36.9 kms / 23.06 miles – ergo 976.94 miles to go till 31.12.2018 LOL

Today my joints were quite achy and my feet felt really sore from pounding along the tarmac. Tarmac really is not kind to the old body.

I’m so glad I managed to get to Chirbury.

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Yesterday’s Camino 2018 practice walk took me up to Montgomery Castle. I hadn’t been up for a fair while; snow and frost. Well mostly frost, since the snow was so last year ūüėČ and I have actually been up once since I arrived here on the 3rd…

I’m trying to get in at least an hour of walking every day now. I remember training most days for at least 2 hours over 18 month for my previous Camino, but I’m hoping some of that fitness still lingers and that 9 months of training will be sufficient this year. It’s not a far distance, but it is all uphill and that final stretch sure stretches my lungs LOL My legs too complain loudly by the time I reach the ridge.

Although not as substantial as some of the castles we get in Wales and the rest of the UK, Montgomery Castle is stupendous, albeit just ruins and a fraction of what it used to be. I love the history attached and wish the walls could talk. The English considered it to be the Key to the Kingdom; the kingdom being Wales, since the border with England (Shropshire) is just a stones throw away and easily accessible with a fair walk.

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Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

Built more as a defensive position than a luxurious palace, it played a key role in many turning point dates in the history of the UK…from Offa’s day till the 17th century, when in 1643 the castle was surrendered to Parliamentary troops in the Civil war by Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirchury.

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The Battle of Montgomery 1644 – map my walk

Originally a motte and bailey (a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte and accompanied by an enclosed courtyard or bailey), it was eventually rebuilt in stone. Rebuilding commenced in the late summer of 1223; the 16th birthday of Henry III of England. The castle was eventually reduced to a backwater prison and later demolished by order of Parliament.

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; the ruined gatehouse to the inner ward seen from the south

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; imposing walls built of stone

One of my favourite things to do when I get up to the castle is to sit on the ruined walls and just enjoy the quiet and the stupendous views. I can clearly see Offa’s Dyke from there as well as the Berwyns (range of Welsh Mountains). I believe there are number of Roman camps and mottes dotted about the country and it’s really frustrating to not be able to get to see them. I shall have to include a visit to this area when I have my motor home. A misty kind of day, in the distance you can see the promised cold front approaching.

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fantastic views across Wales and Shropshire from Montgomery Castle

Before leaving I took a walk right around the perimeter of the castle – looking up at the rocks on which the castle is built I am awed at the workmanship that went into this imposing edifice.

Distance walked: 1.86 miles (2.98 kms) – not much as far as distance goes and certainly not anywhere near the distances I covered during my breaks last year, but it’s building. At the moment I have quite a few projects I’m working on so have to split my 2 hour break between walking and working ūüôā

 

 

 

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After a number of overcast, wintry days, yesterday dawned bright and sunny and no frost… Perfect for an adventure. Our neighbour loaned me his map of the Montgomery area showing various walks (yellow publications), and suggested a local walk that would take in a section of Offa’s Dyke; (Offa, the¬†Anglo-Saxon¬†king of¬†Mercia¬†from 757 until his death in July 796 – had a great dyke built between Wales and Mercia from sea to sea). This border between Wales and England was built to prevent the Welsh from infiltrating the country. Not sure why they thought it was a good idea, but on closer research it may well have been a defensive wall.

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can’t complain about that view

Kitted out with shoes and poles I set off with determination. To reach the section where I planned to walk was a fair trot from the village and my initial terrain was a good solid tarmac road. The route goes through Lymore Park and farmland. All went well, I passed the Lower Pond and a farm, crossing multiple cattle grids and eventually reached the border between Montgomeryshire and Shropshire where I encountered #4 cattle grid (urgh, they are horrible to walk across), and a field of dozy sheep. They are such silly creatures.

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dozy sheep. Offa’s Dyke path

Starting off along the path, I was sceptical as to how good an idea this was going to be…the path was a slushy, muddy morass…mostly churned up by previous walkers and a few horses, and I considered retracing my steps and leaving it for another day. But my philosophy in life is: do it while you are here, it may be the only opportunity you have.

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along the dyke….the walking was not pleasant…although the scenery was lovely

So with that in mind, I started walking along the path… Mud, mud not so glorious mud. Slushy, mushy, slimy, grimy mud. The first 3 sections were just bloody awful and I spent a lot of time trying to find stable spots to place my shoes without slipping or getting too dirty. Sloshing through craftily hidden pooled water, standing on tussocks that were not as stable as they looked, slipping and sliding as I attempted to get from one spot to another and accompanied with lots of laughter, cussing and wtf am I doing, I later forded a small rushing stream; a very tricky section that was a sheer, unadulterated quagmire. Creeping gingerly beneath overhanging branches, my poles planted firmly before advancing, I made it safely and relatively dry, albeit a tad more muddy, across the wee bridge, but after walking some distance further I realised /discovered I’d gone off course, so had to back-track and ford the stream once again. OMG!! Seriously.

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this is where I went wrong…

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going back….fording a stream…the ground on the other side of the stile was a quagmire

I didn’t escape unscathed this time around. After crossing back over the bridge and stile, I surveyed the immediate terrain and spotted what looked like a stable spot. Alas it was not so…instead, as I trod down my foot sank ankle deep into mud that sucked at my shoe, reluctant to let it go¬†ūüėĪūüėĪ¬† After a bit of a tussle, hanging onto my walking poles for dear life trying to stay upright, I won….The mud finally released my shoe with a sucky slurk. However my shoe was now completely covered in thick mucky mud.

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I won the tussle ūüôā

Onwards…. I found the track once again (thank you mapmywalk), and from thereon the terrain was fairly stable and a lot less muddy albeit still churned up in places..and those hidden pools. Sigh.

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Offa’s Dyke as I thought it would be….how gorgeous is that stream

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Offa’s Dyke; now that’s more like it

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Offa’s Dyke – a long distance walk on the border between England and Wales

6.53 kms and 1.55 hours later and my shoes and walking pants were in the washing machine. ūü§Ēūü§Ēūü§Ēūü§Ē¬†That was a quite insane walk.

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map my walk

Well worth it though, the countryside here is astoundingly beautiful. As with most of the UK, Wales and the bordering English county of Shropshire are stunning. Much of the land here is given over to farming and raising sheep or horses. Dotted across green fields are huge trees, now bereft of their summer greenery, but nonetheless absolutely stunning. I actually prefer to see trees without their leaves; far more interesting.

And as weird and exhausting as it was, I felt it was good practice for any UK walks I have planned… It rains a lot in this country (duh!! who’d have guessed?) and there’s no way I’ll enjoy the kind of weather I had in Portugal and Spain in September 2017.

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I loved walking alongside the ocean. I stopped off in this area to rest and just enjoy the scenery

It’s given me pause for thought in terms of my shoes. I may/will have to invest in something more hardy. I was just glad I didn’t have my backpack on when my shoe got stuck in the mud… That could have caused a different outcome in my tussle for possession. and once again I had occasion to be thankful for my walking poles. Truly, I will never walk any long distances without them ever again. They have saved my ass so many times; on the Camino and certainly on the many walks I have undertaken in the UK; my Canterbury Tales & Way of St Augustine

More about Offa’s Dyke: ref wikipedia

Offa’s Dyke¬†(Welsh:¬†Clawdd Offa) is a large linear¬†earthwork¬†that roughly follows the¬†current border¬†between¬†England¬†and¬†Wales. The structure is named after¬†Offa, the¬†Anglo-Saxon¬†king of¬†Mercia¬†from AD 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between¬†Anglian¬†Mercia and the Welsh¬†kingdom of Powys.

The Dyke, which was up to 65 feet (20¬†m) wide (including its flanking ditch) and 8 feet (2.4¬†m) high, traversed low ground, hills and rivers. Today the earthwork is protected as a¬†scheduled monument. Some of its route is followed by the¬†Offa’s Dyke Path; a 176-mile (283¬†km)¬†long-distance footpath¬†that runs between¬†Liverpool Bay¬†in the north and the¬†Severn Estuary¬†in the south.

A¬†scheduled monument¬†is a “nationally important”¬†archaeological site¬†or historic building, given protection against unauthorised change.

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So excited to be part of this fantastic challenge #walk1000miles 2017

It’s literally changed, improved and saved lives, and taken people of all ages, from toddlers to oldies, from all walks of life, in all manner of situations, out and about; in cities, towns, villages, hamlets and the countryside, to and from and in all parts of the world – whether it’s 500 or 5,000 the members have risen to the challenge and gone walking ūüôā

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….one foot in front of the other…

Join us along with Country Walking for 2018 and walk 1,000 miles or maybe even 5,000 – yes, some people have walked in excess of 5,000 miles this year. Awesome ūüôā

Walk 1000 miles in 2018 from Country Walking on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/245014566

 

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