Wednesday – Anglesey – Dafarn Rhos Camp-site – The birds are in full song as soon as it is light and this means before 4 o’clock in the morning. Dunnocks and Willow Warblers sing very close to the tent. A Whitethroat is further off as is a Common Pheasant and a passing Raven. The sun is up and by breakfast time the temperature is rising.
Penmon - The village of Penmon is in the south-eastern corner of Anglesey. Instead of entering the village we continue south-east along the edge of the Menai Strait past Porth Penmon. The sea is calm, the north Wales mountains hazy. Penmon Priory stood in a small valley where a spring provides water. The spring is now in a small building of the 18th century. A few coins sit in a shallow square pit of clear water. It is associated with St Seiriol, a 6th century saint. He was a friend of St Cybi who established a monastery at the opposite end of Anglesey in what is now Holyhead. According to legend, the two saints used to meet weekly near Llanerchymedd, near the centre of the island. St Cybi would walk from Holyhead, facing the rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the evening. St Seiriol, travelling in the opposite direction, would have the sun to his back during his journey. They were thus known as Cybi the Dark (since he was tanned during his journey) and Seiriol the Fair. Seiriol moved to a cell on Puffin Island. By the path to the spring is a stream that runs down into a fish pond built by the monks and then under the lane. A Moorhen is by a reed bed from which scuffling noises emerge. A Moorhen chick joins the adult and then the whole brood appear. Several Mallard are watching, either all ducks or a mixture with the drakes in eclipse. The church of St Seiriol is a strange affair. The main body of the church was rebuilt in 1855. Behind the nave is the older stone church built in the 12th century to replace the wooden church burnt by Vikings in 971. The church was enlarged in the 13th century and came under the Augustinians. To the south of this building is the Prior’s house which is now a private residence. Beyond that again is the refectory, now a roofless ruin. Two crosses are in the church. They once stood at the entrance to the monastery. After dissolution in 1537 the land was turned into a deer park by the Bulkeley family who built an impressive dovecote around 1600. The square building, which stands on the opposite side of the lane, has a large domed roof with a small cupola on the top where the birds could fly in and out. Inside were 1000 nesting boxes to accommodate the doves. A pillar in the centre would have supported a revolving ladder to provide access to the boxes.
We leave this little valley and keep heading east until we arrive at the far south-east corner of the island. To the east is Puffin Island, also known as Priestholm or Ynys Seiriol. King Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd is said to have sheltered here in around 630 when fleeing an invasion from the Kingdom of Northumbria. A monastery existed on the island in the late 12th century and was mentioned by Gerald of Wales who visited the area in 1188. He claimed that, whenever there was strife within the community of monks, a plague of mice would devour all their food. Just offshore is a black and white lighthouse at Trwyn Du erected in 1838, at a price of £11,589. A 178 kilogram fog bell rings every half a minute. A large red buoy marks Perch Rock. I have not brought my scope, so it is difficult to identify the numerous birds on the island’s rocky sides. There are certainly Cormorants in plenty but are there any Shags? There are auks, but it is difficult to tell at this distance whether they are Guillemots or Razorbills. One flies in that is obviously much smaller so I can be pretty confident that it is a Puffin. There is another large print of a painting by Anthony Garratt, this one apparently suffered a hailstorm whilst the paint was still wet, which the artist considered completed the picture. House Sparrows are in the scrubby Gorse bushes. On the way back, we pass a field with a large pond in the centre in which cattle are standing. A Little Egret stalks the perimeter.
Beaumaris – Yesterday a man outside a pub recommended the courthouse as being well worth a visit and so it turns out to be. Built in 1614 and renovated in the 19th century, the court gives a powerful impression of justice in former times, although cases are still heard here once a year. Attention is drawn to the limited justice of the old days – most of the defendants spoke only Welsh, the judges spoke only English and much of the legal documentation was in Latin. Examples of cases are given; in 1768 Hugh Jones was publicly whipped in each of the four towns of Anglesey for stealing eight cheeses and a quarter of beef; in 1881, Hugh Owen of Fedw Bach, Llangoed was ordered to pay 2/6 plus 9/6 costs, for letting his ass stray on a highway and in 1910 William Murphy was sentenced to death for killing his mistress on Christmas Day. He was hanged in Caernarfon by the famous hangman, Pierrepoint. Charles Dickens sat in the press seats in 1859 to hear the inquest regarding the loss of the Royal Charter.
Plas Newydd – This National Trust property lies to the west of the Britannia Bridge. It is the country seat of the Marquis of Anglesey. The house originated in the 14th century and was greatly altered in the 18th century by James Wyatt who made it into the building that stands today. In 1812, the estate passed to Henry William Paget, whose father had changed his surname from Bayly to Paget. Henry William was created the first Marquess of Anglesey in 1815 for his heroism at the Battle of Waterloo, where he lost a leg. The family seat was at Beaudesert in Staffordshire but was sold in the 1930s after all the furniture from Plas Newydd was sold to repay debts run up by the 5th Marquis. He spent lavishly on his acting career and lifestyle. It is recorded that when he died there were 100 sets of silk pyjamas in the house, nearly all still in their original wrapping. Inevitably, much is being made at the house of the connection with the Battle of Waterloo. The story is told Paget was close to Wellington when his leg was hit, and exclaimed, “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” – to which Wellington replied, “By God, sir, so you have!” The gardens are splendid at this time, to the east and Italianate garden, to the west a West Indian one. The views over the Menai Strait are sublime.
Lligwy Bay – Rain falls in bursts but it seems to have passed over now so we head down to the beach. The sand has different properties down to the low tide. Above the high tide line it is soft and deep. The nest band is firm, then an area with much more shingle in it. This is followed by ridges of soft sand and then firmer again. Razor shells and clam shells are mixed with the numerous different types of rock which has been reduced to pebbles. Some gulls linger by a flow of water from the fields, others stand by the water line. Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls are present, all different ages including one very young Black-headed Gull seeking food from an adult. Sandwich Terns fly past rapidly. Cormorants fish out in the bay. Oystercatchers probe the sand for worms, of which there are plenty, evidenced by casts. A young Great Black-backed Gull is attempting to swallow a fair sized Dogfish, without success.
Thursday – Lligwy Bay – Out of the camp site and up the lane. It was a stormy night with the tent being shaken violently by the wind. There is still a gusting breeze this morning. The lane is lined by high hedges and flowers. Field and Dog Roses, some China white, others deepest pink often growing side by side. Hemp Agrimony is about to flower. Red Campion is still bright pink but Herb Robert has turned, note the leaves are red and the seed pods green. Across a field to Capel Lligwy, a ruined chapel. The pale limestone building retains an ethereal quality although it is roofless and abandoned. The main chapel is early 12th century with a 16th century side chapel under which is a burial chamber. On across the fields, Carrion Crows, Common Pheasants and Wood Pigeons scatter at my approach. Into a wood where the scent of Wild Garlic remains strong and pungent. In a clearing stands Din Lligwy, an Iron Age village. The rectangular and circular huts are made of local boulders and stones. Now only two or the courses high they nevertheless clearly define the shape of the village. Excavations in 1905-1907 produced hundreds of Roman period pot sherds of the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, many repaired with iron clamps. Animal bones were found too, some made into tools and one into a musical instrument. The most important economic activity, appears to have been iron working, smithing and perhaps smelting. Although the finds relate to the Roman era, the village was likely to be formerly an Iron Age farming community. I stand on a door step which has been worn by feet over the past 1700 years, a humbling experience that reinforces how our presence on this earth is so fleeting.
Penysarn – We head up the coast. The village of Penysarn is close to the centre of the former copper mining industry. To the west is Parys Mountain, once the largest copper mine in the world. On entering the village from the north there is a hall built in 1924 with a dedication to Lewis William Lewis “Llew Llwyfo” 1831-1901 poet, novelist, and journalist who was born here. The copper mines probably date from the Bronze Age and Roman copper ingots have been found in the area but the heyday was the late 18th century when one sixth of the population of Anglesey were employed in the industry. Overseas competition and a fall in the price of copper in the 1880s saw the end of the mines.
Amlwch – On north to Amlwch, the main town in the north-east of the island. The town grew because of Amlwch Port which being in the proximity of the copper mine of Parys Mountain was the main port for shipping out the metal. By the late 18th century, Amlwch had a population of around 10,000 and was the second largest town in Wales after Merthyr Tydfil. After the decline of the copper industry, ship building and repair was the main source of income and employment. The town was home to a brewing industry and also had tobacco works, producing the famous Amlwch Shag Tobacco – “Baco Shag Amlwch”. We wander up the main street, now showing the depression of so many towns these days. The Post Office is full of empty shelves, just the Post Office counter open for business. The church of St Eleth is a parish church built in the Neo-classical style in 1800. Slate gravestones are lined up all around the paths. They tell many a tale of old seamen, death in child birth and the awful succession of deaths of one child after another in the same family. Often occupations are recorded – John Jones, Wheelwright, Parys; Hugh Hughes, Timber Merchant, Amlwch Port; John Gaynor, Master Mariner of the Schooner “Dasher”, Catherine, wife of William Griffiths, Maltster, who was only 26 when she died; a double stone for James Treweek who for “40 years Chief Mine Agent to the Most Noble Marquis of Anglesey and his wife Jane; Owen Hughes, Master of the Barque. “Olindu”, “which was lost with all hands on a voyage from Sundsval to Gloucester, during October 1880”; John Roberts, Releiving (sic) Officer of this Parish; John Owen, Liverpool Pilot on the No. 9 Boat; John Griffiths, Baker; Owen Pritchard, Harbour Master of Amlwch Port; Richard Jones, Merchant; Captain John Hughes, Master of the Schooner “Ann Mulvey”; Hugh Williams, Butcher; Peter Webster who had “serves the most noble Marquis of Anglesey as Assay Master for 56 years”; and finally Jonathan Roose, who was remembered with the extraordinary inscription:
Roose was the mining supervisor whose men first rediscovered copper ore in large quantities on 2nd March 1768.
Amlwch Port – The port is to the east of the main town. It lies in a narrow valley with old houses and pubs at its head. We walk along the side of the valley above the dock. On the opposite side are old, ruined buildings disappearing under bracken. Below them are the original quay and shipyard. Below on this side is a large lime kiln, there were a good number of others on the hillside opposite. Further on was Captain Thomas’s New Yard. Now just the dry dock, a couple of chimneys and the sail-loft remain. The latter is a café and museum. Down on the dock is the Watch Tower and buildings built in 1853. A small display shows the complex geology of Anglesey, Precambrian rocks can be seen to occupy over half the island’s interior in four separate districts. They have considerable geological importance, are very well preserved, and are a good example of processes operating at the boundaries of crustal plates. These fault-bounded blocks or terranes are collectively recognised today as the Monian Composite Terrane. This terrane is made up of smaller crustal fragments known as the Monian Supergroup, the Coedana Complex and the Blueschist Belt. These are overlain by Palaeozoic volcanic and sedimentary rocks.
Cemaes – A delightful village, the most northerly in Wales. Cemaes was originally spelt Cei Maes meaning Quay Area, but over the years the “i” has been dropped. It sits in Cemaes Bay, an area designated as of outstanding natural beauty. Between the end of the 18th and beginning of the 20th century the village was noted for producing salted herring as well as bricks from a nearby works, which was served by a narrow gauge tramway down to the sea. The pier, which was badly needed for trade and fishing, and later tourism, was damaged badly by storms in 1828 and 1889. We walk a short distance up a green gorge carrying the River Wygyr, which flows from just below Parys Mountain to the sea. We then climb a path and back over the little valley and up into the high street. There are many signs of a community coming together to give life to their village, despite the number of empty shops. A small front yard is full of pots of herbs with an invitation to cut a bunch. Community shops are busy. The village hall and chapel are both late Victorian buildings with towers that are looking towards the Art Deco long before that movement existed.
I try to find Cemlyn Bay nature reserve. The first attempt leads us into Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, interesting I am sure but not a nature reserve. The second attempt takes us down a long, very narrow lane. I should stop and check the OS map, the road map in the car is useless. I needed to take an even narrower lane of this one but it is not sign posted and we end up back on the main road. I decide to give up and keep going west.
Holy Island – Through Holyhead and out to South Stack. It is raining persistently now. The RSPB café is very busy. After lunch I head off down to Ellin’s Tower. Few of the visitors seem to be following this route. Beyond is a lighthouse and on the cliffs between here and the lighthouse are thousands of Guillemots and Razorbills. The volunteers in Ellin’s Tower tell me numbers of Bottle-nosed Dolphins have been passing through.
Llangefni – This is the county town of Anglesey and contains the principal offices of the Isle of Anglesey County Council. We visit the market although it is getting late in the day. It is quite large with a range of stalls. The high street contains a wide mixture of shops including a number of chain stores. We do not tarry long.
Friday – Lligwy Bay – At 3:45 in the morning I hear the song that seems to have been missing from the large reed bed, a Reed Warbler. Other songsters join in a little later. A female Chaffinch is feeding her chick which is the same size and has the same plumage, of a little fluffier, as the mother birds. After breakfast we depart south for home.
Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – A strong wind blows the trees which creak and squeak. A Chiffchaff is still singing even though it is well into summer now. Evening Primrose is coming into flower with large blowsy yellow petals. Intense red-purple heads of thistles lurk under pink and white brambles. Teasels have their spiny flower heads but the delicate mauve flowers are yet to emerge. Grasses are beginning to look tired, fading from their vibrant green to dun brown. The sky is covered by luminous grey clouds, there had been sporadic periods of rain over the last few days, nowhere near enough for the garden, and more may be arriving. A Willow Warbler wheeps and a Blackcap sings in the waterside trees by the meadow. The recent bright yellow carpet of buttercups across the meadow is now tempered by pale brown grass heads. Centaury with pink petals and a delicate yellow centre are in the meadow along with the strange mace like heads, ringed with purple flowers of Selfheal. The scrape is empty apart from two sleeping Mallard. The Mallard ducklings have grown rapidly and are upended by the reed bed. A group of ten Tufted Duck are in the western half of the lake and beyond the usual gaggle of Canada Geese, all feeding on the bottom of the lake and consequently rather quiet. A Mute Swan with cygnets is on the southern side. Several Cormorants and good number of Mallard, all the drakes now in eclipse, are scattered across the water. St John’s Wort is in flower on the bank. A Reed Warbler sings nearby. A pair of Tufted Duck and a Mute Swan waddle up onto the scrape and start preening themselves. There is a flock of over fifty Canada Geese to the east of the lake which I had not noticed because they are completely silent! A few Coot swim into view. A young Moorhen comes out of the reeds. A few Ringlet butterflies are in the grass in the meadow. Apples in the orchards are getting larger but it will be some weeks yet before they will be ready to pick.
Friday – Hergest – The sun shines but as usual on the Marches, the cloud is building to the west. The roadside grasses and plants are all looking overblown now, the freshness gone, all running to seed. Bird song can hardly justify being called a chorus, but songsters are still calling, Chiffchaffs, Linnets, Wrens and out on the open ridge, Skylarks. A short shower of rain, just spots, falls as I head up towards the summit. Small Heath butterflies dance across the path and over the gorse and bracken. The views from the ridge are misty, the more distant hills nearly hidden. Ponies and sheep are scattered across the top of the ridge, all busy chomping at the grasses. There is a light breeze up here. All the ponds on the top are dry, ample evidence of the ongoing lack of rain. A Kestrel flies off from a stunted Hawthorn. Some sheep graze in the middle of gorse thickets which shake violently as they blunder out and gallop off. Linnets and Meadow Pipits are frequently on the tallest piece of bracken. A helicopter is circling Disgwylfa Hill towards Newchurch. As I watch through my binoculars, a raptor can be seen, large and flying away rapidly, probably a Peregrine Falcon.
Down Broken Bank where new gates have been placed across the track and through Gladestry. I stop off at the church of St Mary’s knowing there is a tap in the nave and I can refill my water bottle. A low wall borders the path by the main gate. In the bank above it is a hole containing a Common Wasp’s nest with much coming and going. A lane leads towards Court of Gladestry. Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Ringlet butterflies are visiting Bramble and Dog Rose flowers. A Common Buzzard is circling very high in the blue but through the binoculars something sizeable is revealed in its claws, a small rabbit perhaps? Swallows are beginning to gather on the wires, are the savannahs of southern Africa already starting to call? A Chiffchaff calls from a dead branch whilst behind, almost invisible to the naked eye as it is so high is a Red Kite.
At a crossroads a byway leads straight ahead. The land to the east drops steeply away into Llanhaylow wood. The track is deeply rutted and starts to descend steeply to the Gilwern Brook. The smooth rounded boulders of the track are slippery so the descent needs care. The brook was once crossed by a footbridge but that has rotted and collapsed, so fording is necessary, not difficult as the water is low. Something lands on the underside of my forearm and I squash it as it is removed leaving my fingers covered in blood. The creature is, unfortunately in no condition to identify! The track is now sunken some ten feet below the surrounding land and full of flies. It passes through Dry Wood. The track meets a minor road that runs from Dolyhir to Burl Hill. I turn eastwards towards the quarries of Dolyhir. The road side has Rosebay and Great Willowherbs, Burdock, Red Campion, Meadow Sweet, vetches and many other flowering plants. Hanter Hill and Hergest Ridge lay ahead. Grasshoppers and Whitethroats sing. Across the fields the top of the tower of Old Radnor church rises above a hill this side of which had been torn away by quarrying. Past barns at Pen-lan where the hedgerow rings with the bright chirrup of House Sparrows. The lane runs around Strines quarry. The roadside has little soil and large bedrock is exposed. Here the flowers are Mallows, St John’s Wort, Great Mullein, Nettle-leaved Bellflowers and Ox-eye Daisies. Over Gilwern Brook and down the road to the main road to Gladestry, castle and eventually Hay-on-Wye.
Past Crabtree Collage and at Knowle a track crosses Hales Brook and heads up to the base of Hanter Hill. The track passes through sheep pastures then comes to Roxiana cottage. A footpath runs behind the cottage and starts climbing around the hill through swathes of Bracken and brambles. A fritillary flies past but does not stop to allow identification. It is hot despite a breeze. Another, smaller fritillary pauses very briefly on brambles along with a couple of Red Admirals. I remove another biting insect from my elbow. Past Upper Hanter farm and on round the hill. A Whitethroat sings as it searches Gorse bushes for food, his song a warning “This is my territory, keep out!”. The path is now sunken but not wide enough for a wagon. Sheep have lain and deposited here for years making the soil rich for Stinging Nettles, one of which strokes my calf painfully. A hay meadow lays mown on the other side of the raised bank of Hawthorns. The path reaches the saddle below the path up Hanter Hill and the path up the side of Hergest Ridge. On up past a large erratic to the top of the ridge. A Raven chuckles nastily on Hanter Hill. The path reaches the ridge at the old race course by the Whet Stone. Back now in the realm of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. The wide track curves round to the broad grass paths back down to Ridgebourne Road. Route
Monday – Home – Rain falls during the night and showers continue through the morning. At last the soil is damp. Fruit cropping continued through the weekend. Blackcurrants were turned in sorbet, gooseberries and rhubarb into chutneys and more rhubarb into syrup. Somehow, young Blackbirds are still getting into the fruit-cage and they are remarkably difficult to get out. The door is opened wide but they simply cannot see the considerable open space. One spends forever trying not to fall off the door lintel whilst trying to get through the netting. If it did fall off it would almost certainly have gone gone out but no, it flies back into another corner – again. Another perches on the cherry tree with its back to the open door refusing to turn and fly out. A number of the potato plants are now dead. I dug out the tiny potatoes under the brown, dry leaves. There are a couple of slightly larger tubers but even then one turns out to have slug damage! Almost all the broad beans have been cropped now and I have started picking the mange tout and sugarpeas. The gooseberry bush that has fallen over has numerous small berries on the branches underneath which take to getting to and cropping them results in scratched hands.
The insect bites I received on Friday last have both swollen into red, itchy welts. The one that produced all the blood can now be seen as a slit in the skin, indicating a Horse Fly.
Tuesday – Kidderminster – Off with the Civic Society to visit the Carpet Museum and tour the town to see what remains of this once major industry. The history of carpet production in the town is recorded here based on a talk we had earlier in the year by David Mills, former Production Director at Brinton’s Carpets. We arrive at the museum, which is in the former Woodford and Grosvenor’s Stour Vale Mill and probably the first thing I learn is that locals call the town “Kiddyminster”. We are shown how carpets were designed and various changes in those designs. We then see two examples of hand-powered looms. These wove a heavy cloth used for floor coverings – “Kidderminster stuff”. The looms are at the same time both simple but intricate in operation. The pattern depends on moving the thread in four “harnesses” which can be in an up or down position. The positions are set by rollers with pegs set in them. Next we see a massive power-loom, a Jaquard Wilton loom dating from around 1880. Here the pattern is set by punch cards, three for each row of carpet, ten rows to the inch. The cards are stitched into a long chain which is threaded onto the machine. The noise of the working machine is considerable,
which makes one wonder what a weaving shed full of these looms much have sounded like. We then see a Spool Axminster carpet loom dates from the mid-20th century, and is the last working example of a type of loom. Here thread of the pattern colours are wound onto a spool, one for each row of carpet, according to a design printed on graph paper. The spools, 288 of them are on a vast conveyor belt over the loom and moved around with the thread being guillotined off as each tuft is woven. We are told that unlike the Wilton looms and earlier, women operated these looms, usually six for each operator.
After lunch we walk around Kidderminster on a tour with Melvyn Thompson, a former carpet industry engineer, to see what remains of the industry. Unfortunately, it rains for the entire tour. A number of buildings are old weaving sheds and carpet mills, all being used for other purposes now, although some are empty. Some are listed buildings, a few nationally listed, others on a local heritage protection list. We pass a large glass-faced Art Deco building built in 1937 with a long, older mill attached. In a yard off the road is a long building, a former dying shed with a louvred roof. Paddington House, built in 1870, has a tall tower on the road junction with a water tank behind it. One of the chimney stacks has a gap in it to house a bell which would be rung in the event of fire. On down Castle Street over the River Stour, past an Art Deco fire station built in 1929 and the octagonal Caldwall Tower, a 15th century remnant of Caldwall House, a fortified manor house occupied in the 16th century by Sir Ralph Clare, 1st High Steward of Kidderminster. Next are the former Art Deco swimming baths and dance hall of Castle Locks, now a housing development. On the opposite side of the road are the former Brinton Mills. At the end of the mill is the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal built by James Brindley. Down the tow-path and over a number of small bridges under which were narrow water passages into the mills where boats could unload raw materials and load up finished carpets. The area is now Weavers’ Wharf shopping centre. We had been rather disparaging of Kidderminster last time we were here but obviously visited the wrong area as this is new and busy, albeit with national chain stores. Some of the carpet mills façades have been retained. The “Piano Building”, a Brinton’s mill which when seen from the air looks like a giant grand piano is Grade II listed. It is this shape because Brinton’s always built right up to the edge of any property they owned. In this case a public right of way curved their land so the building was curved too. The next building is Slingfield Mill, built in 1864 by Thomas Lea. The architects were Lockwood and Mawson of Bradford who designed Salt’s Mill in Saltaire. In 1920, Lea’s was sold to Carpet Trades and then on to Brinton’s in 1948. The engine house is now a themed restaurant, but the five arches can be seen. An engine would have been behind each arch which could be opened up so the boiler rods could be extracted. The last remaining chimney stands beside the engine house; there were 25 across the town until recent years. The mill opposite is now a hotel and a rather unsightly national clothing shop has been tacked onto it. On the wall is the Brinton’s Bell, again used to summon the fire brigade. However, in 1878 there was a devastating fire in the Piano Building but the fire brigade did not hear the bell. It was subsequently decided at replace it and on a wall on the other side of the precinct is the “Brinton Bull” installed in Exchange Street in 1882. It was a ship’s horn and in later life was used to single working times. It was sounded at 7.20am and 7.30am to signal the start of the working day, at midday for lunchtime, 12.50pm and 1pm to mark the end of lunch, and finally at 4.30pm. It was finally silenced in March 1999.
We cross the Stour once again and walk round to the Town Hall. On the way we pass near to Crown House, a 1960’s block in dirty white declared one of the ugliest buildings in Britain. One can see why and it is probably a relief to all that it will soon be demolished. Opposite the Town Hall is Exchange Street and the site of the town centre Brinton Mill. Outside the Town Hall, is an area where John Brinton wanted to build a fountain for the people of Kidderminster. However, the Council refused it and put up a statue to Sir Rowland Hill, who invented the postage stamp and was born in the town. John Brindley was not happy about this and placed the fountain at the other end of Oxford Street. It was erected in 1876 on the site of a toll house. It is now in poor repair. The octagonal building in limestone, granite and marble has three drinking fountains and bowls, grotesques under the gables and three clock faces. Just around the corner is the museum again.
Thursday – Saltdean – We are visiting Kitty, our granddaughter and her parents. Over Telscombe Tye to the pub. The Tye is covered in long grass with only a few flowers, mainly thistles and Lady’s Bedstraw. There are only a few sheep as well. We sit outside the pub on the cliff-top. Worthing is hazy and the Isle of Wight cannot be seen. We have a meal and whilst, fortunately, Kitty and Lara are away from the table, a Herring Gull swoops down and grabs a piece of fish skin from Lara’s plate. It is when one of these gulls are in one’s face that one realises how large they are. A large flock of Starlings lands on a nearby fence looking like notes on a musical score. We head back over the Tye to be caught in a brief shower of rain.
Friday – London – I am attending the Civic Voice Design Awards presentation in central London. The Civic Society had nominated Grange Court but it has not been short-listed, but nonetheless the event should be interesting. The train from Woking heads to Waterloo. Past Clapham Junction where there is still an astonishing number of lines crossing one another as trains feed in from across the south of the country. Beyond the city skyline comes into view with its newly iconic buildings, the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and the Walkie-Talkie rising above old London. Personally I think they add nothing to the skyline but many regard these buildings as essential proof of a modern metropolis. A number of the late 20th century blocks in South London are looking tatty as green and brown strains spread across the façades. Waterloo is busy as ever. Down to the Southbank and Festival Hall. Stalls selling street food from every continent, OK not Antarctica, are setting up. A graduation ceremony is going to take place and the thoroughfare is full of young people in gowns and mortarboards standing with proud parents. Up onto the Hungerford Bridge. Packs of tourists pass whilst a few feet away the trains cross the Thames on Blackfriars Railway Bridge built in 1886.
Across the river are great landmarks, Embankment Place, 1987; the Adelphi, 1936; The Strand, 1930; Savoy Hotel, 1889; Somerset House, 1776-1856; Royal Courts of Justice, 1871; then St Paul’s Cathedral, 1680. As the river bend the city skyscrapers mentioned above start. The only traffic on the Thames are tourist sightseeing boats. Along the Embankment to Cleopatra’s Needle. It is made of red granite, stands about 69 ft high, weighs about 224 tons and is inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs. It was originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. It was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 by the ruler of Egypt and Sudan Muhammad Ali, in commemoration of the victories of Lord Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and Sir Ralph Abercromby at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. Over the road, past a monument donated by the People of Belgium for British involvement in the First World War and then into Victoria Embankment Park. Between 1865 and 1870 the northern embankment and sewer was built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette. In 1874 gardens were created on the reclaimed land on the inward side of the roadway named Victoria Embankment. There are a number of bronze monuments, Arthur Sullivan, Robert Burns, Sir Wilfred Lawson, Robert Raikes, the Imperial Camel Corps and an equatorial sundial made from stainless steel in the main garden under the Savoy, dedicated to Richard D’Oyly Carte.
Out of the gardens and into Savoy Place where a statue of Michael Faraday stands outside the Institute for Electrical Engineers. Up Savoy Street where the Queen’s Church of the Savoy stands, very locked up – no commoners here”! The original church was part of Peter of Savoy’s Palace, destroyed in 1381 during the Peasant’s Revolt. The present chapel building commenced in the 1490s (being completed in 1512) by Henry VII as a side chapel off the Savoy Hospital’s 200-foot long nave (the nave was secular rather than sacred, held 100 beds and was demolished in the 19th century). The chapel remains governed by the Duchy of Lancaster and as such is a royal peculiar, not being under the jurisdiction of a bishop, but under that of the reigning monarch.
Into The Strand. Great buildings tower either side of a street full of traffic. St Mary le Strand was the first of the fifty new churches built in London under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, at a cost of some £16,000. Construction began in February 1714 under the architect James Gibbs. It now stands locked and dusty in the middle of a busy thoroughfare. Statue of William Gladstone in front of St Clements Danes church. The first church on the site was reputedly founded in the 9th century by the Danes who may have occupied the village of Aldwych, the current building was completed in 1682 by Sir Christopher Wren. Wren’s building was gutted during the Blitz and not restored until 1958, when it was adapted to its current function as the central church of the Royal Air Force. It is wonderfully peaceful and cool inside. Down to the crypt where the walls contain small memorial plaques to those buried here. There is also a brass plaque to a Huguenot family: Francois Vaillant and his wife Jacqueline Guillemin and five children who fled Saumur for England in 1685 on the revocation of the Treaty of Nantes. Francois started his bookseller’s business in the following year, perhaps with his brother, Paul at 87 Strand. Across the road are the Royal Courts of Justice. Facing the church. on the junction of The Strand and Aldwych is Australia House. It seems strange that large educational establishments are here in some of the most expensive land in the world, but I pass King’s College and the LSE. Past Bush House former home of the BBC Overseas Services, now offices to let; India House, Drury Lane, the Waldorf Hotel and Theatre-land.
Back into The Strand and westwards. Note the shops and eating places are more likely to be major chains, although there are still specialist ships such as a Spanish ham shop, Stanley Gibbons stamp shop etc. Down a side street and into the Princess of Wales pub, unspectacular but not messed about with! The beer is good if a trifle expensive for someone up from the wilds of the west. However a sandwich is thick with plenty of cheese accompanied by a decent portion of chips and is very good value. Back to The Strand and into Trafalgar Square. Describing one of the most famous squares in the world seems pointless. The crowds of people are now oppressive and it does not improve as I head down Whitehall to Parliament Square. Around the corner where the bells of Westminster Cathedral mercifully drown out the sound of the traffic and into Methodist Central Hall.
The Civic Voice Awards are interesting and it is inspirational to hear what communities can achieve. The overall winner was Gloucester South Service Station – an extraordinary state of affairs when a service station wins a Civic Award, but its foundations and commitment are all with the local community.
I return to Waterloo by crossing the Thames via Westminster Bridge. The tourists are in such dense crowds I frequently have to walk in the road. I am glad to get out of these crowds even if it is onto a crowded train, which mercifully does not stop until Woking.
Monday – Radnor Forest – Up Mutton Dingle. The brook beside the road is low but still bubbling merrily. A Great Spotted Woodpecker chips from a garden. Jackdaws chack up on the castle mound. Sheep are noisy on the hillside. Meadow Brown butterflies rest on Bracken and hover-flies feed on Hogweed. A Blue Tit chatters briefly. Churchwardens once encouraged the killing of Blue Tits on the grounds they destroyed fruit buds. In fact the birds were after grubs in the buds and any fruit from these buds would almost certainly have been wormed. A lamb seems to have got itself into a field empty of the rest of the flock and stands calling pathetically. It starts to rain. My waterproofs are of limited value as I am sweating copiously in the warm, humid air. The raspberry canes beside the plantation track seem to be overwhelmed by Bracken and Rosebay Willowherbs. Flies are irritating. Up onto the track below Whimble. The views are limited by mist and cloud now sits on the hilltops. A Wren sings loudly from a thicket of Elder, Willow and Rowan saplings. The field below the track had been completely scarified. Along the track across Bache Hill. A couple of Field Mushrooms grow in the short grass beside the track. A deep valley cuts deep into the hillside below. The cloud is thickening and visibility decreasing. Meadow Pipits squeak from the top of Bracken near Stanlo Pool. It is getting gloomy as I enter Ednol Hill Forestry Commission plantation. A moth is in the Bracken, possibly a Brown Silver-line. Flies are back now I am in the plantation. The mist flows through the trees like smoke. A few twitterings are all that can be heard. Pink Herb Robert and blue Forget-me-nots sparkle in the grasses. In the more open areas stands of Foxgloves and white masses of umbellifers brighten the verges. Black Medick, a creeping plant with tiny yellow flowers and purple Self-heal grow out of the track. Spear Thistles are frequent but there is only a single Cotton Thistle with its vicious spines. A Jay slips away with a flash of white rump. Many Elder bushes are still adorned with creamy blossom. A Spotted Orchid rises from a patch of Heather. Over the fence and across the area below Black Mixen. Ewes are shedding their coats, looking very tatty. A wind has risen, at least it blows the flies away. Off down the side of Ystol Bach valley. Bilberries are ripening but are still a bit tart. I still eat quite a few, afterall they are supposed to be a “superfood”! Purple heathers flower in the lee of a rocky outcrop. Down the hill is a small defile in which pink Dog Rose flowers. Cold rain lashes my face, is this really July? It is clearer as the path starts to drop to Cwm Broadwell. Cloud lays across the side of The Smatcher and up Harley Dingle where Common Buzzards are flying, but the tops of these hills are clear now. The flies are back as I head down the hill and not surprisingly Swallows are feasting on them. Down the lane back towards Mutton Dingle where lots of Hogweeds attracting all sorts of flies, hover-flies, bees and just a single vermilion Soldier beetle. Route
Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – Teasels are flowering, a mist of purple on the spiny heads. A few fungi are in the grass by the gate to the orchard, they are probably Spring Agaric, Agrocybe praecox. Black Bryony seems to have had a good season. It has been prolific in our garden and is likewise widely spread in the hedgerow by the track. A Field Maple is in the hedge, its palmate leaves declaring one of the acer family. Blue-green sloes hang heavily on the Blackthorn. Dark Mullein is in flower. It is said the birds stop singing on the 20th July, the breeding season is over, and indeed there is little song, an occasional Chiffchaff and the constant Wood Pigeon. The meadow is getting duller, the verdancy of spring long gone. Only a Grey Heron stands on the scrape. A family of Mute Swans swim alongside the island. A fair number of Coot and Tufted Duck are at the western end. Here also, young Moorhens scurry along the shore where over fifty Canada Geese gather. Seven Cormorants are in the trees. Mallard congregate on the far side of the water. It is overcast and rain begins to fall. The log reports two Little Egrets were present last week. A Great Crested Grebe lurks under overhanging bushes. A Lesser Black-backed Gull glides in and settles on the water, it is shortly joined by a second. The rain is now heavy. The willows in the reeds are growing rapidly now, a couple of years ago they would be submerged when the water level was high, now the lake would be lapping around the hide if it were to rise to the top of them. A train races into Dinmore tunnel. A small spider is strengthening its web which is stretched across the open window space. There two tiny ones making webs attached to the larger one which does not seem to bother the larger arachnid. Back across the meadow. I thought the rain was passing but it continues to fall. Apples are getting larger in the orchard. I try one but it is still tart and rather tasteless.
Saturday – Home – Yesterday was a wash-out, near continuous rain, great for the garden and water-butts but not for walking. Add in my still problematic heel and now a painful back, we end up having lunch in the Grapes and lounging in front of the television all afternoon watching a ridiculous, but fun, film (the remake of “The Jackal”, not a patch on the original but keeps us amused).
Today is bright sunshine and we decide to attack a problem in the garden – a gooseberry bush, fig tree and huge rose bush that have fallen over across the path behind the fruit cage. Firstly though I find red mite in the chicken house again, so that gets sprayed. Annoyingly, I discover a couple of the mites have transferred themselves onto me, so all my clothes are into the washing machine and I am under a hot shower. Having got rid of any risk of more mites we then tackle the gooseberry. We decide to take all three plants right down to stumps. This generates a huge amount of shredding, or would do if the shredder actually worked properly. In the end we just chop the stuff up with secateurs, a long and tiresome job. After few hours the area is cleared. A poor little berry bush, reduced to one stalk is found buried under all of this foliage. Runners from the rose have gone 12 feet or more up into an Elder and take some pulling out.
French and Polish beans are now appearing, the latter lovely purple and green mottled pods. The runner beans have flowers. More peas need picking. Swiss Chard and beetroot are both looking good. All the lettuce has bolted but the chickens love it. The potato crop is awful but was never going to be good unless gallons upon gallons of water was poured on during the dry periods of May and June. The greenhouse tomatoes are looking good and green peppers are appearing. The decked area outside the back door is a riot of colour as tobacco plants, violas, geraniums and other flowers all are blooming.
Monday – Croft – The rain of the last few days has freshened the land. The woods smell clean. The sky brightens and the sun lights up the leaf canopy but large dark clouds threaten more rain. A Swift sweeps across the car peak, high in the air. Nuthatches call from the top of the valley. A Bullfinch alights briefly on a nettle. Willow Tits pull at the dying flowers on thistles. A Chiffchaff searches the lower branches of a Sycamore. Piles of wood down in the Fish Pool Valley indicate pruning has been undertaken, lopping of old and diseased branches. A Robin perches on one pile. Past the lime kiln in a quarry. The quarry and a kiln to the north of this spot are shown on a 1795 map. This kiln is marked on 1890 OS map. There are a series of platforms on the slopes above where charcoal was made to fire the kilns. The kiln has two tunnels serving a central charge hole. The stone-built east tunnel is unusually narrow but remains in good condition but the brick built west tunnel has collapsed. A little further on the Gothic grotto across the valley is barely visible through Ash saplings. Up the path towards Leinthall Common. Bird calls are not infrequent but there is none of the full blown song of a male holding a territory. A raptor screams from the hillside but is hidden from view by the trees. It is very humid despite it not being particularly warm. Coming out onto the forestry track is a different experience from the past as so much of the conifer woodland has been cleared from the area below the hill-fort. Large fenced off areas have been erected to allow native trees to establish without providing nibbles for deer. Onto the hill-fort by the gate beside an old Hornbeam. Just beyond is an older Yew. The wind is rising, which may be presaging bad weather. From the top of Croft Ambrey the land spreads away in green and gold as crops ripen. Sun glances briefly on the Malvern Hills, clouds hang low over the Black Mountains, the South Shropshire Hills are gloomy. The quarry is quiet – tea break? Yellow Ladies Mantle and China-blue Hare Bells flower by the path. The rain starts to fall, although it is a brief shower. To the west, Whimble and the Radnor Forest are shadows in the mist. Down past the pillow mounds. A Yellowhammer or Writing Lark, as schoolboys once called it, from the lines and blots of reddish purple which cover its eggs, sits atop a Hawthorn in his sulphur glory singing just the opening notes of his song for several minutes before opening up into the full “A little bit of bread and no cheeeese”. Montagu, writing in the early 19th century, calls the bird the Yellow Bunting and states that the name Yellowhammer is colloquial. Foxglove flowers are confined to the very top of the plants now as their season draws to a close. Below the flowers are bright green buttons, the seed pods ripening. Down towards the Spanish Chestnut field. A shrew darts across the track. People are coming up the track and across the field, the summer holidays are upon us, and it is good to see folk out and about hereabouts. I find a single Field mushroom in the Spanish Chestnut field but a few more in the field above the car park.
Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – The vibrancy of the vegetable kingdom slips away even though by our reckoning summer has a couple of months to go. Berries are turning red on a Dogwood and a few Blackberries are darkening towards purple. Hips are forming on the Dog and Field Roses and haws on the Hawthorn. Traveller’s Joy or Old Man’s Beard is only just coming into flower. Clouds drift southwards and a breeze still blows. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers call as does a Common Buzzard in the distance. Small hover-flies, the Marmalade Hover-fly, Episyrphus balteatus visit the lilac Teasel flowers. There is still a scattering of yellow across the meadow but it is now one of the daisy family, Rough Hawkbit, I think, which looks rather like a dandelion,that has replaced the buttercups. Another hover-fly, Pied Hover-fly, Scaeva pyrastri, feeds on the yellow disk. Nearby one of the Colletes bees, mining bees is feeding one of the last Field Buttercups. Another yellow flower is Yellow-wort, Blackstonia perfoliata, named after the apothecary and botanist, John Blackstone (1712-1753), whose leaves are joined in pairs around the stem. A Common Green Grasshopper sits on a leaf before dropping down into the grasses below. Agrimony, Selfheal, Centaury, Red and White Clovers make up the rest of the flowers across the meadow. Robins feed on the ground in the copse, Chiffchaffs in the trees. A very brightly marked juvenile Redpoll is in the trees. The scrape is quiet again, just a pair of Mute Swans and a pair of sleeping Mallard. Indeed the whole lake is peaceful as there are only a few Canada Geese present. A dozen or more Cormorants are in the trees, including several white-breasted juveniles. The Tufted Duck numbers are rising. A juvenile Great Crested Grebe glides among dull brown Mallard, all the drakes in eclipse now. Mute Swans are scattered around the water. Coot are present in fair numbers. An adult Great Crested Grebe is in the western end. A pair of Sand Martins are feeding over the water. A Grey Heron preens on a fallen Willow branch that lays over the water. St John’s Wort and Black Knapweed on the slope in front of the hide are losing their colours and turning brown. A Reed Warbler makes a half-hearted attempt at a song. A Jay flies out of the trees on the island and immediately back into them again. Thistledown floats through the air like snow. Back out on the meadow the sun is shining. A ladybird, a damselfly, a Gatekeeper and a Common Blue are on the thistles by the hedgerow. Apples are getting larger in the orchard but still not ready to eat.
Thursday – Bewdley – A busy Georgian market town on the banks of the River Severn in Worcestershire. The road drops down from Callow Hill in the Wyre Forest to the town. Houses have spread up the hillside, some older buildings but many new including a long row of apartments in a terrace that fits in with the Georgian heritage of the town. Through the Welch Gate, now just a building with a rounded corner remains. Down to the river where we park and set off along the riverside walk. A metal plaque on a wall indicates the level of flooding over the years, the 1947 flood would have been well over my head and November 2000 would have been close. The original settlement was called Wribbenhall and stood on the eastern bank of the Severn by an important fording place. It is likely this ford was in use in pre-Roman times, Bronze Age implements have been dredged from the river and Mesolithic finds from a site to the north of the town. Wribbenhall was recorded in the Domesday Book as being part of the manor of Kidderminster. The west side of the river was given to Roger de Mortimer and at a slightly later date, Kidderminster was given to Manser Biset. The name Bewdley was first recorded in 1275 coming from Beaulieu, “beautiful place”. There was a ferry by 1336, a market by 1376 and was developing as an inland port. However, expansion really started in 1446/7 when the first bridge was built. Bewdley became a royal manor when Edward IV granted a charter (with special privileges and rights) in 1472 after, it is said, the bowmen of Bewdley had done great service at the Battle of Tewkesbury the previous year. Richard III ensured the town had a new bridge in 1483. The town flourished and even the Civil War had little impact on its prosperity. There was no serious decline until the early 19th century when the canal had been opened up at Stourport, creating that town and linking it with the industrial heartland of the Midlands. Bewdley was by-passed and many boats now left Bewdley, but some industry continued, such as brass and pewter, and Skey’s chemical works at Dowles. The Severn Valley Railway was built in the 1850s with a station for Bewdley on the Wribbenhall side, but this was too late to save the town from its downward slide and it would be a hundred years before the area found a new lease of life as a centre for tourism.
The riverside walk, Severn Side, formally Coles Quay, is a mixture of pubs, cafés, tourist shops and private homes. Several of the houses have amusing door knockers and a restaurant has a “weather chip” which cleverly states the obvious! On the river are a good number of Black-headed Gulls, already losing their chocolate hoods and changing into winter plumage. Canada and Feral Geese are noisy beside sedate Mute Swans. A few Mallard look for titbits and on the far side are three female Goosander. Under the bridge, built in 1798 by Telford to replace the mediaeval one which was destroyed by floods in 1795. The bandstand has gone to be replaced with an open space which is used for events. The names of the types of boats used on the river are spelled out in metal letters in the stone walkway. Back to the bridge and up into the town via Load Street. The buildings are fine Georgian constructions, particularly one which was the home of the Bancks family who owned the brass foundry. Opposite is the site of the old shambles – butchers’ stalls and shops. It was partly knocked down and rebuilt as the Guildhall in 1808, probably by John Simpson of Shrewsbury and restored 1866 by Henry Rowe of Worcester. It now is the Town Hall and houses the museum which is an excellent resource for the town. It covers the history and geology of the area, with the old foundry intact. Beyond are the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Gardens, again a wonderful place of flowers, trees and a pond with water lilies coming into flower. It is particularly pleasing to see a mixture of formal planting and diffuse meadow planting, so different yet both beautiful.
On up Load Street, the traffic has to divide around St Anne’s church. In 1450, John Washbourne founded a chantry dedicated to St Anne. The Bewdley chapel was at first extra-parochial, but under Henry VI’s reign (1422-61) was made a chapel-of-ease to Ribbesford. In 1695, the present tower was built on the west end of the chapel, maybe to prop up the old wooden building. 50 years later, in 1745, the leading churchmen of the town decided that the time had come to replace the old chapel. By 1748 the new church was complete, in the classical style of the 18th century by Thomas Woodward of Worcester and Richard Woodward of Chipping Campden. The windows have simple geometric coloured glass patterns, the same in each and the east window is similar with three lights. Embroidered hassocks rest on the pew ledges. We reach High Street, apparently named not in the usual sense as the main street of shops, but because it is simply high above the river. A visit to the butchers then back down Load Street, dropping into a beer shop for a few bottles.
Friday – Dinmore – Off the bus at Hope-under-Dinmore. Chickens scratch around the graveyard but yet again the church is locked. Over the A49 and into the village. I have inserted a pad into my boot which is supposed to alleviate my Achilles heel problem; it does nothing of the sort, only creating another pain in my instep. £12 wasted...
Hampton Homes are a pair of almshouses on the road in the village. More almshouses are up the hill to the west. Up a lane, past Pound House, Hope Cottage, both timber-framed buildings from the 17th or 18th centuries and Falcon House, a stone building which appears to have been called Old Woodlands, a 17th century farmhouse and inn. Three stiles take the path into Dinmore Woods. The sun is blazing in a clear blue sky but here it is cool and intensely green. Wood Pigeons coo and other birds squeak and whistle but no songs. Enchanter’s Nightshade with its tiny white flowers grows beside the path. Coal Tits are in a loose flock, keeping in touch by regular piping calls across the conifers in which they feed. A Green Woodpecker yaffles nearby. The path emerges beside the main road. On up to a large stone monument commemorating the purchase of the wood in 1935 by public subscription for the Silver Jubilee of George V. The stone nowadays is in a strange place, some way from the car park and facilities of Queenswood Country Park and, I imagine, seldom visited. A path leads into Church Coppice on the other side of the A49.
Into the woods again where a Grey Squirrel makes its little barking noise at me and flicks its tail vigorously. A black-capped tit feeds in an Ash. Its bib looks small to me so I am going to count it as a Marsh Tit. There are plenty of birds in this wood, Blackbirds everywhere, a Wren pops up to scold me, a Blue Tit vanishes in a twinkle, another Green Woodpecker yaffles, a Great Spotted Woodpecker dangles on the thinnest twig whilst searching the leaves and a Chiffchaff utters a brief snatch of his onomatopoeic song. Deer hoof prints, slots, are in the soft mud on the path. A rotting post has a footpath sign pointing straight ahead across a track. This leads into a maze of barely discernible paths before hitting thickets of brambles. Side paths lead me round to the track again. This time I follow the track around the edge of Holly Bush Plantation and through open fields down to Hen House, a farm. The land falls away to the east down into the Lugg valley and Hampton Court then rises through Hampton Park. A herd of pale tan cattle are galloping across the park followed by a tractor. Barns at Bowley Court on the hillside usually hidden from view from the road below, have roofs covered in solar panels. A Common Buzzard and a Raven pass by. Past the farm the footpath crosses a field where there are clear signs of an old track, now grassed over. An avenue of Oaks probably stood alongside this track but now there are only two stand and some rotting stumps on a raised line. The next field is a sea of ripening wheat. Then a field of maize.
The path diverts down a green hollow way above Bodenham village. As the track approaches Bodenham through banks of saplings, Nettles and Burdock, it show signs of once having been cobbled and comes out into the village opposite the dovecote. The octagonal dovecote dates from the early 18th century and belongs to a large house which on old maps seems to have been called Fordham House and Pigeon House on later ones. It probably built after 1761, by the Sirrel family of Marden. In the early 19th century it was lived in by the Revd Thomas Wynne and his wife (nee Sirrel) before it was sold to the Arkwrights and was refurbished. Extensive work was carried out on the house, outbuildings and gardens It had various tenants until it was sold, in 1913, by the Arkwrights to Mr R Crawshay Bailey, a friend and ironworks owner. Off along the lane towards Dinmore. Bodenham Manor, built for the Revd Henry Cartwright, has had a chequered existence over recent years and sadly an application to demolish has been submitted. A large overgrown buddleia is being visited by a Painted Lady butterfly. A Common Buzzard mews insistently overhead. A stream flows over a large mound of moss covered rock. The rock is Tufa, a popular stone for carving in the mediaeval times, and is still being deposited here. It was referred as a “petrifying spring” in John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870. Dinmore station lies before the road bridge. It closed on 9th June 1958 and is now a residence but retains a sign, “Dinmore” on the wall. From the other side of the bridge the twin arches of Dinmore Tunnels lie in a sunlit hillside. Bronze dragonflies flit together. Into The Railway pub for refreshment, it is getting warm.
I leave the pub and wander along to the A49 and up Dinmore Hill. It is not easy going as a cycle path runs out after a short distance. Grasshoppers in their dozens dart out from under my feet from the dusty verge. It then gets more overgrown but I press onwards up the hill. Eventually I am able to cut through into the country park. Although this section is of the main path there are January: the Wolf Moon February: the Snow Moon March: the Worm Moon April: the Pink Moon May: the Flower Moon June: the Strawberry Moon July: the Buck Moon August: the Sturgeon Moon September: the Harvest Moon October: the Hunter’s Moon November: the Beaver Moon December: the Cold Moon numerous specimen trees, Magnolias, Silver Weeping Lime and somehow extraordinarily, an Antarctic Beech, from Chile, presented by Sir R. Cotterell of Garnons, in 1956. The area around the park entrance is busy. Sadly the visitor shop has closed down but the café is still in operation. I retrace my steps from the monument down the woods to Hope-under-Dinmore and the bus stop. Route
Home – A full moon lights up the sky. It is a Blue Moon, the second full moon in the calender month. It is not really that rare, happening every 2.7 years. It is also these days a mistaken definition. Originally a Blue Moon was, according to the Maine Farmers Almanac in the early 19th century, the third moon in a season of four moons. All the full moons have names derived from the Native American Algonquin people.