Winter sun on Hope Bowdler

Not as much as we’d hoped for. We were anticipating snow too – there was a light cover at home, but hardly any here. Road closures delayed us, and by the time we’d reached the top of Hope Bowdler Hill, a bank of cloud from the west was stealing the sunshine. It’s good up here, especially when the sun is out, but now it’s gone – so has the light, and the wind’s cold. Let’s omit the Battlestones (just this once!) – we’ll cut our losses and head for home.

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=347617&Y=293618&A=Y&Z=120

Silver Birch

…on Cannock Chase. There are forested areas, and there are wide expanses of heathland – the latter well-scattered with silver birches. On this chilly, clear and sunny January afternoon, the silver-white of the birches stands out against the blue of the sky. There are warm tones in the winter undergrowth of grasses, heather and bracken, but there’s little else – the leaves are long-gone, as are all those colourful toadstools we saw on our last visit. The bacon baps in the visitor centre are, of course, much as they were last time – just the thing for a cold day.

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=398945&Y=316431&A=Y&Z=120

Loamhole Dingle

A short walk from the “coke hearth” at the top of Coalbrookdale. Like several others in this area, the dingle is a steep-sided little valley whose stream feeds the Severn. Below the coke hearth, it’s mostly culverted – higher up, it’s a jungle waterway. The path – a board-walk for much of its length – follows the stream fairly closely – away from the path, much of the woodland looks impenetrable (we’re not going to try!).

Our return takes us through Sunniside – and just beyond, there on the skyline are the most unlikely creatures – alpacas, ostriches (emus?) and reindeer. Are we still in Shropshire?

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=366217&Y=305081&A=Y&Z=115

Perkley skyscapes

Weds. 9 January: a cold but bright afternoon. It’s far too good to stay indoors, and it’s been dry for a few days – we’ll head across the fields to Perkley and back. Shouldn’t be too bad underfoot. It’s wide open country here, at the northern end of the Wenlock Edge – with big skies…

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=361365&Y=299001&A=Y&Z=120

Quiet days

They’re welcome, after Christmas and New Year – it feels like we’re getting back to normal (whatever that may be). It’s very quiet up here, at the southern end of the Long Mynd. We’ve only seen two other people (but lots of sheep), and the weather is quiet too – not a breath of wind (nor any sunshine, contrary to the forecast). It’s also very cold, nevertheless it’s good to be out on these hills – an enjoyable start to the year.

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=340430&Y=288846&A=Y&Z=120

Midwinter on Brown Clee

Carpe diem: this kind of midwinter weather is great – dry, bright, mild (with a cool breeze, it has to be said) – a day that must be seized. It’s quiet on the eastern side, as we ascend slowly towards Boyne Water; the breeze is stiffer to the west, but the views are much better and we’re well warmed-up. From time to time the sun shines strongly through gaps in the cloud – these are truly “photoflood days”. It’s too good to come down again, but the cloud’s building and the day is fading – we’d better head back.

View OS map on Streetmap http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=359760&Y=285676&A=Y&Z=120