Walk 116B (#35) [10.6 miles] - Bleddfa & Glog Hill

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So impressed were we with our walk near Bledffa last week that Mike conjured up another one for today and so 5 of us pottered off to the car park in Radnor Forest to start the day.

Our route took us back along the ending route of our previous one and we were soon heading uphill toward (the defunct) St Michael's Pool and along an extremely muddy track after which we turned right and headed towards Pitch Hill where we found a convenient gorse bush to shelter behind for our coffee break. Shortly after this and beguiled by the ever-present yellow tape on the field gates we discovered we had wandered off the footpath . A hurried consultation of the map put us right and we were soon taking a long descent towards Hivron where we crossed the A488 and briefly followed the road before turning off and heading up into Forest Wood.

Panorama above Hivron
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In the event we didn't stick to Mike's planned route but made a really long but gentle climb through Forest Wood emerging into bright sunshine and blue skies. We skirted Rhiw Lawr and when we again emerged from the wood we stopped for lunch.

In the gloom of Forest Wood this maple shone like a beacon

Looking across the valley to Glog Hill
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We then started a descent to join up with Mike's original planned track where he confessed that last time he walked the route he had a "bit of bother" finding a footbridge. We found the footbridge quite easily - trouble was that we were the wrong side of a barbed wire fence and as a consequence had to leap a small stream and climb up to a gate which gave us access to the path running up from the footbridge. We climbed again through Fforest Fach and eventually made it back to the car. 10.6 miles of good and at times quite tricky (and muddy) walking. Thanks to Mike for taking us along for the experience.


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Walk 116A (#34) [4.9 miles] - Habberley & The Hollies

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This is the 2011 Times Christmas walk and we thought it might be a good one to try out. 3 of us eventually got to the village of Habberley - my Garmin satnav would not acknowledge the existence of Habberley and so we had to get there the old fashioned way!

Parking opposite the pub we set off along the road and soon branched off along a bridle way and Poles Coppice. Here this walk was marked with signs identifying it as part of the ‘Chris Bagley Walk’ (Chris Bagley was the Parish Paths Partnership (P3) liaison officer with Shropshire County Council until his untimely death at the age of 53 in November 2009).
We followed a tortuous path through this delightful wood and then started a really long climb along the edge of Maddon's Coppice, eventually emerging into a field with a spectacular view to the west (Bromlow Callow) and north where we paused for a coffee.

Panorama looking west from above Maddon's Coppice
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We then started a long descent, eventually entering an area known as the Hollies, the largest and probably the oldest hollins or holly grove in Europe, is cared for by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.

The engine shed chimney of the old lead mines in the Hollies

Having explored this area we continued our descent through Upper Vessons Farm and then Lower Vessons at which point Ian remarked what an easy path it was to follow and then promptly advised the wrong path. More was to follow as we crossed several fields without incident to be confronted by an impenetrable hedge right where the footpath was. We scrabbled around and eventually forced a way through the hedge and picked up out track only to discover a stile about 100 metres east of where it should have been. However we were nearly home and only had to negotiate a short distance on the road to get back to the car. About 4.9 miles of really beautiful countryside.


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Walk 116 [9.9 miles] - Brown Clee via Boulden, Heath & Abdon

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We parked in the hamlet of Boulden and headed off across the fields. Our first port of call was the chapel at Heath, built in the 12th century and a lovely example of a small Norman Church.

Heath Chapel

Mike has the key

Geri & Mike admiring the simple interior

Shortly after the village of Abdon we stopped for coffee, having found a secluded glade out of the wind and before the long climb up Brown Clee. Strangely enough the climb was all it appeared to be, long and steady and getting windier all the time.

New & old phone boxes alongside each other

Just before the start of the climb we came across this pristine telephone box, replaced earlier this year after local fund raising and following its demolition by a motorist.

The view from Brown Clee

Panorama from Brown Clee
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Once we reached the top we debated whether or not we should pop along to the summit, but Mike had promised another walk which took it in on a future occasion so we continued to skirt round it. Suddenly Mike took off seemingly at random, and we found ourselves at a memorial to airmen whose aircraft had crashed on Brown Clee during the last war. As we read through the aircraft types it became clear that the memorial has been extended to later more modern ones, but the majority were WW2 British and German. We collected the wreaths that had been scattered by the wind and replaced them and continued on our way.

The memorial on Brown Clee

We had now started our long descent and after a decent interval we again found a reasonably sheltered bank for our lunch. We continued downwards eventually passing through Cold Weston where we had a good view back towards Brown Clee. Finally we got back to our car after a good 9.9 miles of excellent walking. Only 4 of us this time, and thanks to Mike for taking us with him.


Walk 115A (#33) [10 miles] - Bleddfa & Cwm-y-gaist

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This was a recce for Mike & Beryl and took us to unknown territory near Bleddfa. We parked the car in the Radnor Forest and set off along the road near Fishpools heading east and climbing and skirting round Ireland Plantation. We then descended to a farm at Dolassey then made a left turn heading up gently past Blaen-y-plwyf until we passed the dried up remnants of St Michael's Poll and the derelict St Michael's Hall behind it.

It was now time for coffee after which we continued in our north westerly track until we found that we had missed our path and had arrived at The Rhos. Undaunted we retraced our steps; found the correct track and continued on our way arriving at the small hamlet of Cwm-y-gaist and crossed over the Heart of Wales line shortly afterwards.

Panorama of Coxhead Bank Common
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We now entered the Open Access area know as Coxhead Bank Common and keeping to the southern edge of this joined the minor road which took us towards Cwmaran where we left the road and headed towards Lower Pentre, eventually crossing the Heart of Wales line again and starting the long gentle ascent of Llysin Hill; stopping near Llysin for a spot of lunch.

A new footbridge was real evidence
of major improvements to much of this path

As we came off Llysin Hill we tried to find the path that would take us over Dunn's Rhos - we could clearly see where we needed to go, but the getting there, thanks to barbed wire fencing, made it very difficult. Undaunted we made our way through the tangle of rusty barbed wire and eventually the main road, where a short walk got us back to the Radnor Forest car park. Our walk was was just 10 miles - but should have been 9.5. Shame about the weather which turned quite chilly and damp towards the end, but thanks to Mike and Beryl for their company on this enjoyable walk.



Walk 115 [9.3 miles] - Cwm, Weston, Stowe & Bucknell

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A rather dull and blustery day forced a change of plan to a 'local' walk taking in bits of previous walks but in a different order and some parts reversed. So much so that the walk when completed felt like a completely new one.

4 of us managed to make it to the start line - although a 5th turned up, but Dave decided that as he walked his dog a lot in the area we planned to visit, he'd pass on this occasion.

We crossed the fields opposite the church and then it was up Daffodil Lane to the bat sanctuary at Cwm via Bucknell Wood. As we approached Weston, we paused to exclaim over a young donkey and a very friendly working sheepdog and then we were off again climbing up towards Jutland Plantation where we stopped for coffee in the shelter by the edge of the wood.

Approaching Stowe from Jutland Plantation

Starting the climb out of Stowe

A view across the valley to Stowe church

We passed through Stowe and then took the very long climb around Ragged Kingdom before finally turning back towards Stowe Hill and the long walk back to Bucknell Wood where we stopped for lunch in a sheltered spot. Bless - the sun came out and it felt really pleasant as we downed our refreshments.

We negotiated the long descent back to Bucknell almost at a trot pausing to wash our boots in the Redlake ford at the top of Bridge End Lane. A good workout and 9.3 miles in just about four and a half hours.


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