31st March – Shifnal to Penkridge

20190331 Lunch by Shropshire Union Canal
Lunch stop by the Shropshire Union Canal

After a good nights sleep and a wholesome breakfast Karen and I returned to Shifnal to resume my walk at 9.30.  It was good to have some company as unfortunately today’s walk consisted of lots of road walking interspersed with field paths.

20190331 Typical field path near Longnor
Typical field path near Longnor

The trail mainly followed the Monarch’s Way, the route taken by Charles 2nd when fleeing from the Battle of Worcester.  We were hoping to get coffees at the Royal Oak at Bishop’s Wood but they seemed to be closed – perhaps the only pub in the UK closed at lunchtime on Mothering Sunday!

We continued on our way via Black Ladies’ Priory, and stopped at the Shropshire Union Canal for lunch. From there we split up, Karen returning to Shifnal whilst I continued to Mitton and Penkridge arriving around 4.20.

20190331 Penkridge church
Penkridge church

My room at the Littleton Arms is small but comfortable and I managed to get a table in the restaurant, where I sat surrounded by families celebrating Mothering Sunday.

On a practical note I am pleased that I brought OS maps with me and am not totally dependent on my guidebook.  Inevitably things have changed since the guide was written and it is true to say that in places a good deal of interpretation is required.

30th March – Much Wenlock to Shifnal

20190330 Talbot Inn Much Wenlock
The Talbot Inn, Much Wenlock

The Talbot Inn was very comfortable, and after a cooked breakfast I left at 8.45.

20190329 Guildhall Much Wenlock
The Guildhall

My route took me past the Guildhall, the scene of a minor epic many years ago.  In 1976 Linda and I had a camping holiday in the area and stopped in the town to find a campsite and to get some provisions.  Like most newly married couples we did not have much money, I seem to remember that we subsisted mainly on liver and onions with mashed potato and carrots.  While Lin did the food shopping I went to the Tourist Information which was in the Guildhall. When I was ready to leave I discovered that the door was locked and as the windows were barred I could not get out.

20190330 Barred window at the Guildhall
No escape by this route…

I went up into the council chamber and luckily managed to call down to Lin and explain what had happened.  She eventually tracked down the person responsible who was not very happy about having his lunch disturbed!

The walk over to Ironbridge was in thick mist and I managed to make a small navigation error leading me to walk 360 degrees around a field before finally finding the exit.  Bentall Woods above Ironbridge has many footpaths and can be confusing: I would have done better to just follow the Shropshire Way signs rather than the book.

20190330 Canal at Coalport
The Coalport Canal

Ironbridge finally came into view and crossing the famous bridge I stopped for coffee at the YHA hostel in Coalport.

20190330 Steps beside the Hay incline
Steps beside the Hay Incline

After climbing up beside the Hay Incline and crossing a golf course I entered Brockton, a very pretty village. I met a delightful young lady riding a horse and we chatted away for a while before she turned into Brockton Grange, an enormous Georgian house.  She stopped at the large decorative gates and used her mobile phone to dial in the code to get them to open!!

I carried on to Shifnal arriving at the station 3.01 pm. Unfortunately Karen was at the station car park and it took a few minutes to sort things out. We finally met up and went for tea and cakes at a garden centre where Karen had the most enormous piece of Victoria sponge that we had ever seen.

20190330 Karen about to enjoy her slice of cake
Karen poised to enjoy her cake!

Arriving at Karen’s house she very kindly cooked us a delicious dinner, which we enjoyed with a bottle of Malbec.  Despite this we remembered to change the clocks.

29th March – Craven Arms to Much Wenlock

20190329 Stokesay Inn
The Stokesay Inn shrouded in morning mist

A perfect day to restart my walk. All went well yesterday. Pam, my neighbour, very kindly took me to Didcot station. All the trains ran on time and I reached the Stokesay Arms by mid afternoon.

20190329 path left the trees
One of the few times the path left the trees

I left the pub at 7.00 this morning, and Subway provided a bacon roll and coffee for breakfast.  I departed Craven Arms at 7.45 and used field paths, basically following the Quinney Brook, to reach Strefford.  From there the path climbed steeply up to Wenlock Edge, which I was to follow for the rest of the day.  Once in Strefford Wood I hit the first problem, a large notice saying no entry due to felling operations.  As it was still quite early, I could not hear any activity and there was no real alternative route I ignored the sign.  Sure enough there was nothing happening and I quickly reached the top and with some relief walked out of the affected area.

20190329 Long Mynd
Temperature inversion – the Long Mynd floats above the mist

The walking on Wenlock Edge is mostly in woods with very restricted views across to the Long Mynd. There was however a good example of temperature inversion with cloud filling the valley and Wenlock Edge and the Long Mynd in sunshine. Despite the lack of views the walking was wonderful with large expanses of wood anemones, violets and some primroses all with the background scent of wild garlic.

20190329 Wood anemones
Wood anemones

I must remember that my guidebook author has a tendency to leave the obvious route and wander up hill and down dale for no sensible reason.  Today I followed his route hoping to see Ippikins Rock, which could just be glimpsed through the trees.  It certainly did not justify leaving an old railway track, ascending and descending about 50m on a muddy path to come back down the the track I had just left!

20190329 Guildhall Much Wenlock
Much Wenlock Guildhall

I reached Much Wenlock at 3.30 having covered around 29k.  The Talbot Inn is very comfortable and provided an excellent meal.

1st August – Knighton to Craven Arms

20180801Looking down on Knighton from Stowe Hill
Looking down on Knighton from Stowe Hill

Tuesday

Finally this morning, having rested my leg for 3 days, I felt able to leave Knighton.  The people at the George and Dragon could not have been more helpful and it was an excellent place to stay and eat.

20180801 North from Stowe Hill to the Long Mynd
North from Stowe Hill to the Long Mynd

It was another “Grand Old Duke of York” day.  First I was marched to the top of Stowe Hill before descending to the River Redtake at Lower Lye.

Then it was up again to Hopton Hatterhill and down to Hopton Castle.

20180801Looking down on Abcott
Looking down towards Abcott

Up again over the ridge to drop down to Abcott and the famous Rocke Cottage Tearoom, which was closed.

20180801 Rocke Tearoom at Abcott
Rocke Tearoom

A short flat section led to Clugunford where I found a bench in the bus shelter and stopped for a late lunch.  This was followed by another ascent to join the old Roman road to Craven Arms.  Once on the Roman road I was surrounded by sheep, which were enjoying the cereals in the adjacent fields.  A small flock preceded me up the road and eventually turned off into what turned out to be the field they were supposed to be in.  I stopped someone in a pickup who was working for the farmer and who went off to try to sort things out.  He said that they had all been out earlier in the day.  As there was a large gap between the gate and the hedge I was not too surprised.

The descent into Craven Arms was painful as my leg had swollen up again and I was pleased when I hobbled up to the Stokesay Inn at 4.00.

In the evening over dinner I got chatting with a couple on an adjacent table. In conversation it turned out that he had rowed across the Atlantic on two occasions.  They were planning a Land’s End to John O’Groats for next year.