Croft and Bircher

Herefordshire hill country, up towards the Shropshire border (and not far from Wales either)… Days like this are rare in November, so we’re off again, to walk a route we followed a couple of years ago, at the opposite end of the year. Then, we walked through abundant May blossom and bluebells; today there are toadstools and larch needles, and warm autumn shades against a cold blue sky.

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On Dinmore Hill …

… lies Queenswood, an area of managed woodland with, at its heart, an arboretum – just the place for an outing on a cold but sunny day. It’s a popular spot – there’s a party of very small schoolchildren gathering leaves, numerous young mums and offspring, and the inevitable dog-walkers, but away from the autumnal specimens and the viewpoint (too hazy today for really good views) it’s quiet, and very pleasant too.

Queenswood & Bodenham Lake

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A go-slow on High Vinnals

It’s too warm! As we drove away from the Forestry Commission car park (Black Pool, not at all like Blackpool), the car said the air temperature was 26C. It touched 29.5C on the way home – it must have been cooler under those tall pines. That’s why we headed for High Vinnals this afternoon – we could be sure of a reasonable amount of shade on the (necessarily) gradual ascent. There was just enough of a breeze on top too, so that we could stop for a little while and enjoy a most extensive view of the Welsh hills. We returned to the start by the grassy Hanway Common (the sheep seem to like it). There’s a comfortable seat at the top, from which we watched a couple of buzzards – then two red kites swooped over our heads (from behind – hadn’t seen them coming). The bright sunshine picked out their colouring, but as (almost) ever, there wasn’t time to zoom and focus. Leaving the common at its foot, the path passes the eponymous Black Pool. It’s certainly an appropriate name…

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Croft Ambrey and Bircher Common

We arrived at the Croft Castle car park at midday, to find it almost full, but once we were beyond the immediate surroundings of the house, we saw few other people. One or two were making their way up to Croft Ambrey, but we had the woodlands almost to ourselves when we chose a more roundabout route to the hill fort. Bircher Common is quiet too – just us and a few sheep. It’s very pleasant on a day like this – warm sunshine and a cooling breeze – on these Herefordshire hills.

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Berrington outdoors

It’s another warm sunny day (with the possibility of a shower later?) – we’ll throw together a quick picnic and find somewhere to eat it (Whitcliffe Common, Ludlow) on the way to Berrington Hall. We explored the interior about this time last year – today we’ll take a walk around the lake. It’s easy going, even on such a warm afternoon, and the ice creams in the gardens are very welcome, though I’m not sure we’ve really earned them.

Berrington Hall NT

The Weir

Sunday: We’re travelling through Herefordshire, and need somewhere for a picnic and fresh air. How about the Weir? It’s a National Trust property, consisting of a riverside garden and walled garden on the steep north bank of the Wye, a few miles upstream from Hereford. The riverside garden is attractive in a wild (dare I say unkempt?) kind of way; the walled garden nearby is more traditional, perhaps, with colourful floral displays and rows of veg. Once again, the butterflies are being fairly relaxed…

The Weir NT