Friday – the sun’s shining, and we’re taking a walk down to the Severn, on the day following storm Doris. Others were worse affected, I think, though there were one or two trees down (fairly rotten specimens, it has to be said), and one or two houses lost a ridge tile. It’s more sheltered in the valley, and the weather’s mild enough for us to sit outside the youth hostel at Coalport for our tea and cake. We’ll head for home the shortest way – up the dingle with its wonderful hanging gardens, and not-so-wonderful mud. Can’t have everything!
We’ve parked at Bedlam, beside the old furnaces (I wonder how they got that name…). Our route takes us up the hill towards Madeley, where we’ll walk around three sides of the old (closed in 1920) Meadow pit mound. On and off, we’re following the trackbeds of the pre-railway age tramways of the Madeley Wood Company – as far as the All Nations (a last remnant of times long before “craft beer”, when pubs brewed their own beer). Now we’re walking down the route of the Coalport branch railway, which closed to passengers more than 60 years ago. Descending to the canal, at the foot of the Hay Incline, we cross the river to Jackfield, and for the first time walk the new path through the stabilisation works. Beyond, we’ll walk where Severn valley railway trains once ran – before crossing the Severn again on the modernistic new “Free Bridge” to return to the car.
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Beside the Severn in Shropshire: a brief visit to Buildwas abbey, and a stroll along the river bank near Cressage.
North of Bridgnorth, the track has gone; for much of the way to Coalport, it’s a private road with permissive access, a rough but very walkable surface, and plenty of shade. We’ll need that – not a cloud in the sky. The last train passed through Linley station more than 50 years ago, and given that there are no public roads, this stretch of the valley feels closed off from the outside world. It’s very quiet – just birdsong, contributing to the peace rather than disturbing it (and the odd cyclist, one or two walkers, a gaggle of canoeists and couple of farm vehicles – but who’s counting on a day like this?).
It’s downhill all the way from Broseley to the river; the railway track is more-or-less level. To get to the bus stop in Bridgnorth, we face a long flight of steps, which comes as a shock to the system after about 8 miles of walking. With 45 minutes to kill before the next bus, a pint will be a perfect remedy…
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We’re walking beside the Severn, down to the weir then upstream to the Frankwell footbridge. We’ll make a detour into the Quarry, Percy Thrower’s creation where the rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best. There’s rain about, so we take a route through the modern shopping centres to avoid a shower, which has passed as we return to the older parts of the town centre.
From Hay Bridge, near Eardington, to Hampton Loade, a pleasant path follows the Severn – though with riverside vegetation and a tall crop of oilseed rape, there’s not always much of a view. Banded demoiselles flop around like tiny world war 1 biplanes in an apparently clumsy manner, until one proves its aerobatic capabilities by snatching a passing fly and making lunch of it. We didn’t snatch anything, but the ice creams at Hampton Loade station were enjoyable on this increasingly warm afternoon, and the platform a pleasant spot to sit for a while watching the world go by. The latter happens in fits and starts – it’s busy when trains call, otherwise quiet (perhaps not quite Adlestrop).
Walking back to Hay Bridge, we follow a quiet way past Chelmarsh reservoir, where there are just a couple of boats out – not enough wind today.
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