The Gaer Stone and the Battle Stones

After lunch in Church Stretton, there’s time for a short wander on the Hope Bowdler hills, visiting the remarkable outcrop of the Gaer Stone, then walking to the other end of the ridge at the Battle Stones. It’s windy and it’s cold, but when the sun shines the light is lovely. We head back toward the car in the lee of the wind, and the sun’s gone behind some thicker clouds. Time for home.

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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.

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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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Foggy day

At home, we’re just on the edge of it; along the Wenlock Edge, we’re well above it. It’s pretty thick down in Apedale, but we can see the Hope Bowdler hills poking out through the fog. We’ll keep going! The forecast says the clear blue above the fog will be replaced by cloud later in the day, so we’ll set off in the morning (after scraping a very hard frost from the car) and find somewhere on the hill to eat our sandwiches (the Battlestones). As we head slowly back towards the car, the day is changing. We’ve had the best of it!



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The Hope Bowdler hills are not the highest  in Shropshire, but later in the afternoon, at this time of year, they provide one of the most spectacular viewpoints for the border country. Beyond the numerous ridges, picked out in the golden light, our south-western horizon is filled by the broad table of Radnor Forest. We have to feel sorry for all the others – those who weren’t up there. We only saw three people, and one of them, a runner, didn’t really seem to be paying much attention (What is this life if, full of care…). There are one or two showers about; happily, they pass us by. It’s not all good – there’s a biting breeze, and the temperature is dropping quickly as the sun nears the horizon. We’re almost glad to get back to the car.


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The mist came down

Blue sky by lunchtime, with lots of nice wispy cirrus – an ideal afternoon for the hills? We drove out to Hope Bowdler, but the clouds regrouped (despite the forecast) and, by the time we arrived at the Battlestones, the mist was coming down. No return along the ridge today – we’ll take the lower path and keep the views.

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Winter sun

There was still evidence of Saturday’s snow showers on the Stretton hills. We should have been out enjoying the conditions on Sunday, or yesterday, but other transport arrangements got in the way. No such problems today, and once again, the sun was bright and the frost hard – the mud on the path to Hope Bowdler was well-frozen. It’s the walk we did in November (“To the Battlestones“), though today we started from the parking space below the Gaer Stone. Most enjoyable it was too!

To the Battlestones

We did this walk, more or less, this time last year – more or less. Late November is good on the Hope Bowdler hills, or perhaps it’s the other way round. A stubborn bank of cloud limited the sunshine on the ridge, though there was plenty of sunlight in the distance, and the wind was biting, briefly carrying a light shower of rain (that wasn’t forecast!). We sheltered, more from the wind than the rain, behind the Gaerstone for a few minutes, before descending the last of the ridge as the sun dropped.


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