Grey sky, red kite, Brown Clee

The sky may be uninspiring, but it’s a fresh-feeling afternoon, and the weather forecast thinks it should stay dry. A track follows the contours around the northern part of Brown Clee – we’ll join it at its northernmost point and follow it round to the west, then walk over the top of the hill and down the other side. We can then use the eastern arm of the track to get back to the start. A red kite is overhead briefly; sheep are everywhere, but there’s no-one else to be seen today. Do they know something we don’t, or is it the other way round?

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Bright and breezy: Brown Clee

Cool, too, in the wind. The east side of the hill is in the lee, and the walk is very pleasant through the parkland, warm in the sunshine with views improving as we gain height. Boyne Water is twinkling as the breeze lifts wavelets; a little further on, we’re out on the ridge. Now we have extensive views to the west, but we’re in the wind, and we need to keep going. It buffets the camera as we stand at the highest point. Moments later, as we begin to descend, we’re sheltered and it’s a warm spring afternoon once more.

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Brown Clee skyscapes

The sky’s blue today, with photogenic clouds (best kind) – let’s have a walk on Brown Clee! We’ll walk up from the telephone box (it’s a free library these days) and take the terrace path around the hill to the far side. At first on the open hillside, it later skirts the forest, where there’s some attractive deciduous woodland beside the conifers. When we meet the path up the east side, from the picnic place, we make a gentle and cautious (it’s a bit sticky underfoot) ascent to the summit where, for a few minutes, we’re the highest people in Shropshire. It’s downhill from here, of course, but no-one has told the water – the moor is rather squelchy. But who cares? It’s great up here on a day like this.

Soon we’re back at the car – better change the library books before we head for home…


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Longer days ahead

22 December: We’re past the shortest day now, though it will be weeks before the evenings become noticeably lighter. It’s a fine and breezy afternoon – a last chance for a good leg stretch before the weather deteriorates and the Christmas fun begins. Brown Clee beckons!

As ever, it’s quiet up here. Just as I leave the car, two families arrive, but I’m away, and won’t see them again. Other than a solitary photographer at the highest point, I’ve got the hills to myself (and the sheep, and a couple of small groups of wild horses). The breeze stiffens at Clee Burf, the secondary summit, but it’s quiet enough at the seat above the five springs for a lunch break.

I’m off again, following a soggy path to the summit at Abdon Burf, and for a few seconds (the wind is cold here) I’m the highest person in Shropshire. I’ll return to Cockshutford down the track towards the telephone box, before taking the contouring path back to the lane. There’s a glimpse of a red kite for a few moments, but try as I might, I won’t see him again. Until the next time, perhaps…


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November on Clee Burf

There’s a stiff breeze, but it’s too good to stay in – we’ll walk up to Clee Burf, the southern summit of Brown Clee. Apart from the wind in the trees, it’s quiet up here. There’s no-one else about, apart from a solitary jogger, who doesn’t look happy. No shortage of sheep, of course. The forecast suggested there could be the odd shower, but we’re lucky today – bright sunshine throughout. There’s a big shower cloud to the north, and another, nearer, provides us with an unexpected rainbow. The end of it is just over there – no crocks though, just another sheep – taking on an appropriately golden tint in the late afternoon sunshine.


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Brown Clee and Boyne Water

Perfect for a fine and sunny afternoon, with just a pleasant breeze. Taking the direct route to the summit, there are others about, but as we continue towards Boyne Water and the track down through the estate lands, we realise we’ve left the crowds (perhaps a dozen in total?) behind. We followed this route back in the spring, but today we’re doing it anticlockwise for subtly different views.

As we near the equinox, the sun is noticeably lower in the sky. Those shorter days of misty distances are getting closer.

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Watercolour days

Friday: spring is in the air – and there’s a spring in our steps. It’s not warm, but this is the first day we haven’t needed gloves, scarves, hats etc. With the change in weather has come a haze, shortening our horizons and fading them to shades of watercolour. We’re following a new (for us) route, using a permissive bridleway and gentle gradients to reach Boyne Water, an attractive pool which is larger than one might expect, so near the summit ridge of Brown Clee. Minutes later, we exchange the eastern view – pleasant gentle countryside, for the western view – the indistinct pastel-blue ridges of the border hills. It’s good up here on a day like this, but we can’t stay, and we’re soon threading our way back down between moss- and lichen-clad trees, towards the car and the short journey home.

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