Monday 29th May 2017
Our weekend away in Snowdonia was drawing to a close, along with the end of May Bank Holiday weekend. A small number of group members were determined to tackle the three-and-a-half hour drive home ASAP. My suggestion, was to divide the journey with a walk along the way.
So, we crossed the border and arrived at Church Stretton in Shropshire; ninety-minutes down and now only two-hours from home. But first, eight-miles of hiking!
My intention was to follow The Walking Englishman’s route: Church Stretton and the Long Mynd, which I walked on my own in August of last year [see links at the bottom of this post].
From the car park opposite the driveway entrance to Longmynd House, we would climb slightly higher, up an intimidating series of steps that I didn’t encounter on my first walk here (having accidentally gone ‘the wrong way’ but still found it very steep in the beginning).
Further on and we descended in to Carding Mill Valley, with the quantity of other people beginning to increase.
I remember donning waterproof over-trousers before leaving the cars (along with my coat) and I’d encouraged others to do the same, as it look like a downpour was due at any moment… I would come to regret this decision, as we began to ascend once more from Lightspout Waterfall towards the western end of the valley; overheating as we walked and without a drop of rain in sight.
Before we even reached 400m above sea level, we could see that the visibility was going to be poor. A great shame, as I’d found excellent views here, less than one year earlier. From my own point of view, I was going to have to pay close attention to my compass and keep the group on course.
I successfully led us on to a recognisable and distinct footpath that would lead us most of the way to the trig point at Pole Bank. There really wasn’t much to look at but I still wish I’d taken a photo… I think I was too concerned with the compass-bearing challenge, which I don’t do very often!
It was very much like a walk I did in the Black Mountains in December [see The Cat’s Back], with visibility reduced to below 50m. Less cold but there was enough perspiration in the clouds to leave our hair wet without a single drop of rain.
At this high point, around 487m above sea level, I made the decision to shorten the walk and make a direct and (mostly) downhill course towards the cars. I was tired, as were other members. We still had to drive home and there was little point in hiking up and down any further with nothing to admire beyond our own nostrils.
I mostly followed the road, initially (yes, in Shropshire, they have roads crossing the hill tops around 500m above sea level) and for that sense of confidence. Waymarking was sufficient in allowing me to lead us on to a footpath for Townbrook Valley but, we really did have to watch out for cars from both directions, before leaving the road.
Given this time again, I’d think I’d have equipped my head torch as the leader and lent the fluorescent rain cover of my backpack to the walker at the rear. Or, one of those tiny LED lights I bought in Lidl last year but haven’t even activated yet, even though they go with me on every single walk…
It was quite a pleasant walk down towards the reservoir we’d passed earlier on, with visibility slowly improving relative to our loss of height… Only to be followed by another sharp ascent – it seems I had forgotten about the true nature of our outward route but, we were soon back at the cars.
People commended me for having done really well to navigate in such conditions and I can take that, while also admitting that I found it quite scary. I would’ve been less concerned on my own but, when you’re somewhat responsible for others, well, you need to consider more.
A memorable walk but for reasons different to my first time here! A reasonable and warming way to end what had been a very good weekend and my first time camping away with the group.