Clee Hill and the Three-forked Pole

Sounds like something from the Wild West, doesn’t it? This is England’s “Wild West”, not far from the Welsh border, and it’s quite a strange kind of place. The quarry on Clee Hill is still active, but there are many remains of old workings and their associated buildings and structures. There are more strange and tottering  structures at Magpie Hill – we make our way there via the remarkable three-forked pole, near a place called “Random”.
When we started out, it seemed like a perfect day for an outing, but the weather grew increasingly gloomy as we walked back from Magpie Hill. The first drops of rain fell as we unlocked the car – how’s that for timing?
Cleehill or Clee Hill? One’s the village, the other? Guess!

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To Willstone Hill

(Monday 29 October) That’s where the Battle Stones are – a perfect objective for a short walk on the hills, on a bright but bitterly cold afternoon. It’s a regular route for us, though we’re having to use a different departure point – this is half-term week, and there’s no space below the Gaer Stone. So we’re starting from Hope Bowdler village, walking a short way along the road, past the end of the inviting-looking footpath to the church, tucked away behind the houses. We’d better accept the invitation.

Curiosity assuaged (what an interesting spot!) we’re off up the lane onto the hill. It’s a more-or-less circular walk, with an out-and-back to the Battle Stones. Once we’re away from the road, it’s quiet – almost totally silent in places. And the views – wonderful! It’s not especially clear, but the light (unlike the air!) is warm, and there are autumnal shades everywhere in the landscape. It’s a shame to have to return to the car, but the light is fading – it’ll be dark soon.

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The Munslows in October

Monday 22 October – a regular route, starting from Aston Munslow, across the fields to Munslow, then up a sunken lane to the ridge, which we’ll follow south-westwards as it drops gradually towards the Middlehope road, before crossing the fields and back to the start. Didn’t see anyone else until we’re back in Aston Munslow.

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Toadstool Trail

Autumn on Cannock Chase, and the toadstools are in full bloom, so to speak. They’re all over the place – there’s a magnificent fairy ring in one spot, and there are fly agarics (“Flying Erics” – the red ones with white spots, and a little door for the gnomes) in profusion. Sadly, someone has a grudge against them, and many have been kicked to the ground (who would do such a thing?), but many more have come up to replace the fallen. It’s fun up here at this time of year!

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All Nations

…is an old-fashioned little pub in Madeley. Just opposite the Blists Hill museum, it’s a bit of a time capsule in its own right, one of the last of the original home-brew pubs. Within walking distance too, not far off one of our regular routes. So instead of tea and cakes at Coalport, we’ll have lunch at the All Nations. Remarkably, it’s warm enough on this beautiful sunny day to sit outside (we’ll pay for it over the next few days…).
Suitably replete, we’ll follow a wonderful woodland way back to the “Free Bridge”, before rejoining our usual route homewards.

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