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March 2002


3 March

Ramblers annual dinner ramble from Woodseaves with lunch at the Reform Tavern

Ron was leading. Much of the walk was the reverse of one I did for CAGS in 1994. However I must say that the stiles and waymarking has improved considerably since then. Some of this is down to the fact that a good section followed the route of the Norbury Millennium Boulder Trail. I have seen waymarks for this before. The route has a series of glacial boulders along its course; the one in the photo is at Westonjones. This is a village where I once had a very surreal conversation with a farmer stood on top of a pile of used car tyres (he was on the look-out for something or other) He was telling how he blocked off the footpath that round down the side of his mother's cottage because she was in her 80s and was nervous of strangers. And somehow it all sounded perfectly reasonable!

The route was around the south side of Woodseaves and High Offley before cutting across diagonally to cross the Shropshire Union at Peggs Lane. A little bit of road work around Shebdon before walking south to Westonjones and Sutton. Across the main road and then on to Oulton, Norbury and Loynton before crossing the canal again and back to Woodseaves. Just under 10 miles.  

A good meal to follow with over 40 members present.


17 March

A good long walk with the Ramblers. In fact it was so long that it took us over 7 hours. We were all swearing at Stan, the leader, that it was longer than the 12.5 miles on the programme. I measured it when I got home - exactly 12.5 miles.

The walk followed one of John Merrill's routes. It went from Hartington to Sheen and then Moorhouse and back down to Brund, where we had coffee. We were in the Manifold Valley by this time and followed the path to the east of the river all the way to Longnor. There was then a bit of road work (a blessed relief after lots of mud) almost into Hollinsclough (stopping for lunch with a lovely view of Chrome Hill - this is one of the delights of the White Peak, the remnant of an ancient coral reef). One left the road shortly before Hollinsclough following the path at the foot of Chrome and Parkhouse Hills and then had a sharp pull up into East Sterndale, stooping to look at the politically-incorrect inn sign at the Quiet Woman. Back over the same ridge to drop down into Dovedale following the track to Crowdecote and then fields to Pilsbury Castles, an outcrop not a fortress.

A steep pull back up on to the valley side and skirting Carder Low we picked up the road near Bank Top farm and followed that back to Hartington. The rain which had been threatening all day was just starting in earnest by then so we were glad to finish before getting soaked.

A really god day. The short bursts of sunshine helped to make some of the views. Some hard ups and lots of mud slowing us down.

Photos                Map

24 March

Beryl and I had a really good day out on a pleasant stroll from Dilhorne. I’d never walked around here before even though it is relatively close to home and pleasantly rolling in aspect. The sun gradually broke through to bring out all the colours and give a real feeling of Spring to the walk. Some of the fields were still a bit heavy but nothing on the scale of last week. The only disappointing aspect to the day was that I couldn’t find anywhere with enough parking to make this into a walk of the Ramblers.

We parked in Dilhorne itself – just enough room for a couple of cars. We took the footpath behind Charlie Bassett’s pub and then struck north-westwards, crossing the Foxfield steam railway and Tickhill, to reach the lane to Sheepwash. We did a slightly pointless loop to the ford and back on the other side before going north through the woods (Cresswell’s Piece?) and then curving round to Windycote Farm and Windycote Lane. This was the highest section of the walk but the climbing had been gradual and easy. The walk through the woodlands was very pleasant.

We turned right at the end of Windycote and then down Dairyhouse Lane for a section of relaxing downhill. The stretch from Dairyhouse to Whitehurst Farm was probably the wettest of the day. I hate these fields where the cows have left holes in the mud which then just fill up with water.

A bit more roadwork to Godleybrook (a lovely name) and down Godleybarn Lane before going northeast across to the fields; we stopped for lunch here taking advantage of a particularly sunny spell. Turn right on reaching the lane but then take the footpath to Harewood Hall.

The route back was mainly on the Staffordshire Moorlands Walk even though it was not marked as such on the map.  This went to Parkhall Farm, Newclose and then the longest climb of the day up Dilhorne Common, from where there were good views of Cheadle, before returning to Dilhorne down the side of the church.

We didn’t rush, nearly 5 hours to do 10.5 miles. Just a nice, relaxing day in the fresh air.  


30 March

A really good day out on my own. Well the Nuttalls call this walk "the Boring Berwyns" and I didn't feel that I could inflict that on anyone else. It turned out to be a much better walk than I expected from the write-up, much helped by a sunny day. It is certainly peaceful up there - I didn't see another walker (although there was one 4x4 coming down the Forestry track so I had all the tops to myself and I could listen to the birdsong. The only disappointment was that this is red kite country and I didn't see one. Well I did see one large bird but it was too far off for a precise spot - it looked more like a buzzard than a kite.

The Boring Berwyns are the western edge of the range cut off from the high ridge by the Llangynog-Bala road. They are much lower - the high point, Cyrniau Nod, is 667 metres - and protects by tough heather. Much of the walk was only really possible by utilising a forestry track to cut down on the heather-bashing.

I parked on the Bala-Lake Vyrnwy road. It's a matter of grabbing what you can. I used a slight widening at the start of a side track, worrying that I might be blocking it. I needn't have worried - when I got back there were two other cars there. I started to the west of the road (not strictly part of the boring bit). I know I'm not very fit but the climb up Foel Goch is somewhat savage. You aim at the edge of the woodland which is pretty steep. However when you climb the fence at the corner and follow he second fence up the side of the forest it is killing. Not just steep but there's not much of a track in the heather.

But you do eventually reach the ridge and from then on it is only a short walk to the top of Foel Goch, not the most distinguished summit. But it does have splendid views all round even if there was a haze taking the edge off the distant view of the Arans. There is a good track along the top and it didn't take me long to reach Foel y Geifr (the Goat's Hill) via Trum y Gwrgedd. This was the second Hewitt of the day and a more distinguished top, helped by brighter sunshine and a trig station.

A big drop off the side back down into Cwm Hirnant. No paths on this section and a bit boggy in places. This was very much the watershed at the top of the valley. Still I had a good point to aim at - the forestry track as it left the road to Lake Vyrnwy. This tracks was my companion for the rest of the walk. It climbs up on to the boring stretch at a very civilised angle. It also gave a very good view of the less civilised ascent of Foel Goch.  It wound its way along until it was time to pop off to take in the summit of Foel y Boncyn Trefeilw. Actually the heather I had to cross was very short and the summit is grassy - although it's one of those tops where you're not quite sure where the summit is. I followed the grassy ridge along for a fair way rather than go straight back to the track. It made a change. 

Back on the track it descended a little way before starting an extended pull up towards Cyrniau Nod. I probably left the track a little early and had to walk about 200 yards across difficult heather before reaching a fence. There's another fence joins it at right angles and this has a better path to the summit. This is a truly lonely place; heather to the right of you, heather to the left of you and just a glimpse of Lake Vyrnwy. Actually I quite liked it I was trying to pick out the line of my walk over Post Gwyn Sadly there was still a haze just spoiling the view of Cader Berwyn.

Whilst I'd been following the Nuttalls' walk description I'd avoided their two non-Hweitts that lay off the path - I'd not fancied the heather bashing. However when I got to Y Groes Fagl, there was a nice tempting path up a short climb so I went for it - it was probably the nicest section of path all day being dry and quite wide.

The return trip was all on track through the Penllyn forest mainly following Nant Ystrad y Groes. Then the last pull out of that up a side valley to get back to the car without having to yomp back up the road.

Photos                Map

31 March

Clunbury, Clunton,
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the quietest places
Under the sun.

So wrote AE Houseman at the end of the nineteenth century and the Clun Valley is still pretty quiet even today. The Ramblers walk started at Hopesay, just above the main valley and possibly even quieter as a result. What followed was possibly the best group walk of the year.

We started by climbing up the Shropshire Way on to the northern edge of Burrow Hill, passing some extravagant clumps of primroses; the first I’ve seen this year. We didn’t actually make it to the top, a slight same because it is a Marilyn. It has a wonderful view on a clear day – when I went up I could see Cader Idris in one direction and (I think) Hergist Ridge in another. We were high enough to get good views around but these were limited by a bit of haziness. What we could see was an enormous stretch of daffodils and narcissi being grown commercially.

We dropped down to Kempton (picking up Wild Edric's Way as well as the Shropshire Way - Edric led the resistance against William the Conqueror in this area) and then went up a long valley past  Lodge Farm and Stanley Cottage before emerging for a final pull up Bury Ditches, a prehistoric hill fort. It has been turned into a country park with waymarked walks and a diorama on top. It remains a lovely spot though. Charles and I came up here some years ago (1994?) on a walk from Clun.

We left the Shropshire Way and circled the hill before descending via Stepple Knoll to Clunton (stopping for lunch on the way). A bit of road walking before climbing over he south-east edge of Clunton Hill.

We walked through the middle of Kempton and climbed back up the southern side of Burrow. We eventually picked up the bridleway from Aston on Clun (another path I’ve walked before) but then turned sharp left to go first through fields and then along a green lane back to Hopesay. 

Photos                Map


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