Quiet? Not quite

This is a very peaceful part of the country, but it’s not at all quiet today. It sounds like a major gun battle is in progress in Shirlett woods. Eventually it’s over (perhaps they’re all dead) – and we realise there are four walkers following behind us. We don’t need to look around – we can hear them talking loudly, more then 100 yards away. Fortunately, at the top of Ned’s lane they go the other way. It’s still not quiet – in the field there’s one of those mammoth tractors (you could make a dozen little grey Fergies out of one) at work making hay. We can’t describe it as quiet. Happily, as we drop down from Round Hill, sanity returns. Almost. There are a couple of young women with a party balloon. Inevitably, it bursts loudly. Back to the car – time for home.

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Hughley and Church Preen

It’s a dry day, after three rather wet ones. Away from good surfaces, it will be muddy, so we’re wandering along the lanes between Hughley and Church Preen. That would have been “quiet lanes…”, but there seemed to be much coming and going around the camp sites near Hughley, where the number of other walkers was almost into double figures. They didn’t seem to venture very far – there’s no-one else out on foot for the rest of the way round. There are good views of the Wenlock Edge and the Wrekin, and from the higher ground, to the Clee Hills. On the ridge near Church Preen, there’s a clear view to the Berwyn mountains in north Wales. An enjoyable little circuit!

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Belswardyne and Bannister’s

A Sheinton circular: follow the farm lane to Belswardyne, cross the fields to Sheinton Brook, then down beside the old mill race (and the giant rhubarb! Butterbur, I believe… ) and up into Bannister’s Coppice. Field paths take us back to Sheinton. It’s not much over three miles, but it’s a very pleasant and varied wander in another quiet part of the county.

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The old road

The sign at the start of the section we walked said “Byway”. It was a main way, many years ago. The road from Morville now joins the road from Wenlock to Ludlow at Shipton, bypassing its former route, a three mile stretch to Beambridge. We’re walking along the southern part, on which a tarred surface serves one or two isolated houses – it then becomes a rough unsurfaced track. Well-lined with trees on either side, nevertheless there are good views to the east, to Brown Clee, and to the west to Wenlock Edge. We can hear the traffic on the main road (favoured by noisy bikers), but otherwise this is a quiet route – just the dozens of butterflies for company. There’s no-one else about.

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Around Aldenham

Familiar ways, but none the worse for that. We’re walking past the fishing pools near Hurst Farm, then across clearly-defined paths (thank you, farmer) through fields of ripening wheat and barley, down to Shore Pool. We return up the drive towards the house (a public footpath!) and back past the pools again. Other than one or two people quietly drowning worms, there’s no-one else about.

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To Barrow and Willey – a Shirlett circle

Apart from the tail-end of a shower, as we were setting out, we managed to avoid most of the afternoon’s rainfall. We didn’t avoid the outcome – wet legs, soaked by sodden undergrowth in the first couple of fields. Despite the weather, it’s good to be out, though only one other walker seemed to think so. This is quiet country!

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Down the dingle

It’s a rocky-sided gorge, taking a stream which is rarely more than a trickle down to the Severn at Coalport. Provided the mud is tolerable, it’s a very pleasant and quiet way. At its foot, we meet the old railway track, which we’ll follow as far as the end of the rough lane which will take us back up to the barley fields and home. On the lowest part, just beyond the old railway, heavy rain has exposed the red sandstone – we’ve reached rock bottom!

 

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Ringlets

Commas, meadow browns – and thousands of tortoiseshells! We walked this way in May, when the colour was yellow, provided by acres of oilseed rape. There’s precious little colour in the crops now, but there are more butterflies than we’ve seen for a long time. Mostly they’re restless tortoiseshells, but there are some less frequently seen – a comma, several meadow browns, and ringlets – and they’re all prepared to pose for the camera.

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A hawk-moth and a mossy path

What a difference! After two very warm evenings, the temperature is much more temperate. This is a very short walk, down the other lane at Shirlett and out to Hawthorn Bank. There are hazel nuts in the hedge, and whatever is that? We saw it in flight first, looking like nothing else we’d seen. When it landed on some sycamore leaves, it was obvious – a large moth, none other than a hummingbird hawk-moth. We don’t see those every day! On the way back, we’ll follow the footpath through the wood. It’s not marked at either end, but oddly enough, in the middle of the wood where the path is obvious, there’s a waymarker. The woodland may be coniferous, but the trees are well-spaced, and the floor is a carpet of moss. It’s all somewhat other-worldly. If the path has a fault, it’s length – lack of it, to be precise. Paths like this need be be several miles long!

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