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Walk 244 [9½ miles] - Stowe Hill, Weston & Cwm

OS201 OS137 garmin

Another large turnout as 12 of us set off from Bucknell across the fields to Daffodil Lane - it was good to have Anthony and Christine with us again. This walk was to have been from Norton, but a late recce proved that the walk was impossible due to massive overgrowth in one of the woods of the walk.

Our walk today took us up through Bucknell Wood in dappled shade to "the green gate" where we paused for a coffee break overlooking Chapel Lawn,
New byway way marks

The view from above Chapel Lawn
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We continued over the top of Stowe Hill and eventually entered Ragged Kingdom. Sue spotted three wren’s nest just lying on the track which we examined with interest. The amazing amount of work these little birds put into their homes is quite amazing.

We emerged from the cool shade into the fields above Stowe and skirted the edge of Jutland Plantation, heading uphill at first then down to Weston where we stopped for our lunch break overlooking the Teme valley.
Looking backwards into Knighton from above Jutland Plantation
Our final stretch took us back to Bucknell via the bat sanctuary and Bucknell Wood. Well done to Mary (so lovely to have you back with us again xxxx) who unflinchingly completed the 9½ miles - probably the furthest she has walked in a few weeks.


Walk 243A (#54) [9.8 miles] - Norton, Harley's Mountain & Stapleton Wood

OS201 OS137 garmin

This was the recce for a walk in two days time. We’d done the walk four times before, but just to reassure myself we decided to check it out.

We made a really early start and parked in the lay-by opposite the church in Norton and Geri and I set off - full of optimism.

We eventually climbed almost to the top of Harley’s Mountain, pausing on the way for a coffee break, then continuing to join the Herefordshire Trail and to take note of the interesting information that had been strategically placed to catch the eye of the walker.
Did I really want to spend 30 minutes reading all of this
Of course we 'misplaced' ourselves a few times, but managed to get round most of it. One cause for concern was a rape field above Old Hall. where the footpath across it had not been cleared and the crop was shoulder high. We forced our way through and surprisingly Geri managed to fall twice but we emerged none the worse for wear.

We continued climbing up to Willey Oak, then the road took a long gentle descent to Stapleton wood and after a goodly while I realised we'd gone wrong (again). We retraced our steps to try to find the turn off point, but there was no obvious sign of the bridleway, so we turned around and continued on the wrong path hoping to force our way across to the bridleway. Once there, I left Geri having a rest after our exertions and retraced the bridleway, hoping to find a way back to the main path, but found it to be totally blocked and overgrown after about 150 metres.

Anyway, we ended up walking a distance well out of our comfort zone considering the difficult terrain, and the upshot was that the group didn’t do this walk on Monday
The 'missing' section of bridleway

View of Clun from Sowdley Wood

Walk 243 [8.22 miles] - Hopton Castle, Purslow Wood, Clunton Coppice & Black Hill

OS201 OS137 garmin

12 of us met up at Hopton Castle for our walk today and we welcomed a visitor - Ruth, school friend of Clare for the first time.

We set off and climbed up and out of Hopton Castle; crossing the minor road and entering Purslow Wood where we walked along the well made forestry path, eventually emerging near Ladye Bank.
Emerging from Sowdley Wood
We started the long climb just as the sun started to come out. Various top layers were peeled off as we progressed and got hotter and hotter as we entered Sowdley Wood.
Going up Ladye Bank
Once we had done most of the climb we stopped for a coffee break, perching ourselves on the edge of the track.
Coffee break in Sowdley Wood
There was still a bit of a climb left for us, but we were rewarded by great views across the Clun valley to Clunton and Clun.
Looking across the Clun valley to Clunton from Sowdley Wood
Clun from Sowdley Wood
Once we emerged from Sowdley Wood we were on the top of Black Hill and we started a gentle descent, passing through the cleared areas where foxgloves have taken over now that the trees have gone.

We passed above Cwm and arrived at the minor road that leads down to Twitchen which we had crossed earlier. Not long after Catherine announced we had reached our lunch stop (at her home). So we lined up on a low wall in her back garden and enjoyed the views across the valley to Hopton Titterhill and Black Hill.
Lunch break view from Catherine’s garden
Our final stretch took us initially steeply downhill and then turned right (cattle avoidance procedure) to Llanhowell Farm, then a short climb before the long descent back to Hopton Castle. A most enjoyable walk, and our thanks to Catherine for her careful reconnaissances to ensure we didn’t get lost.

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