A short walk on a long day

It’s the longest day of the year today – it has been one of the hottest too, though we managed to keep comfortable on a very pleasant short walk at the south end of the Stiperstones ridge, with a visit to the top of Black Rhadley. It was (relatively) cool in the woods, and on top there was a good breeze blowing. We celebrated with half a punnet of English strawberries (we’d eaten the other half at lunchtime!) – best strawberries I’ve had for many years too. There are other berries up here. The birds have obviously been eating something bilberry-coloured – but it will be a good few weeks before they’re ripe. In between the baby bilberries, we spotted interlopers, which I reckon were crowberries. Didn’t try them… We certainly wouldn’t have tried the fine fungus we’d found in the woods earlier. A common earthball with a stalk? Is there such a thing?

The tea / cold drink and cake at the Bog Centre were good, as ever.

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Black Rhadley

The beginning of April marks an eagerly-awaited turning point in the South Shropshire calendar – the Bog Centre opens up for the season. That fact (with its implied prospect of excellent cakes, scones etc.) was the clincher when I asked my friend where he thought we might go for today’s walk.

Before we can enjoy those refreshments, of course, we have to earn them, and we haven’t even had lunch yet. Black Rhadley, overlooking the river West Onny as it winds through the Linley Hall estates, should be a suitable spot. It was, too – extensive views in all directions, and wonderfully quiet – just the birds, and there’s that curlew again. Lunch over, we head northwards along the Stiperstones ridge, as far as the head of Perkins Beach, where we turn back toward The Bog for tea and Stiperscones.

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Kites above the Devil’s Chair

They must have thought as we did – that it was a perfect day for the hills, almost too good for mid-March. A cloudless sky, warm sunshine, cool air and the lightest of breezes – much better than mid-summer. Fewer people about, but at least four red kites. First there was one on his (or her) own, then another, then a pair, hurrying away to the north – and moments later, another pair circling to our south. The alpacas and llamas were enjoying the sun too. This is south Shropshire, isn’t it? It’s hard to be sure sometimes.

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Stiperstones in October

We’re walking the length of the ridge, from Snailbeach to the Rock, on a fine autumn day with the promise of some sunshine. The starting point is significant – one of our objectives is the Bog Centre for tea and cake – if we’d started there, it might have been closed by the time we returned (and that would never do!). So we’re heading out past Lordshill chapel and the Hollies, and two-thirds of the way around this very enjoyable route we come to the Bog, feeling suitably peckish. We return by the paths skirting Perkins Beach and Crowsnest Dingle, back to Snailbeach past that very fine octagonal chimney high up in the woods. And yes, after a dull start, the sun did shine, though it looked like we’d seen the last of it when we arrived back in Snailbeach. We hadn’t, of course – inevitably, it shone brightly while we drove home, floodlighting the autumn trees against a dark sky. Wonderful – but no photos.

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Wall to wall

That’s what the forecast said about the sunshine – we had to go… Stiperstones in April – warm sunshine, cool air and a pleasant breeze, perfect conditions for a walk on this rocky ridge. We started at the Bog car park – so that we could end at the Bog Centre (tea and cakes again). If we walked to Snailbeach, along the hill-edge paths, we could come back up through the Hollies and follow the ridge. The now-obligatory red kite wheeled over the far hillside, and a little later, a rarer bird, so to speak: a red grouse stalked carefully along just yards from the path. We’ll sometimes hear them up here, gurgling comically and telling us to go back, but this one remained silent. Minutes earlier, we’d noted how quiet it was. He must have heard us…

The Bog Visitor Centre

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Autumn on the Stiperstones

It didn’t feel too autumnal – warm sunshine from a mostly-clear blue sky. The air was fairly cool, but with little wind, it was a great afternoon for these hills. I would say “lonely hills”, but they weren’t lonely today. There were two coaches in the Bog car park. There were quite a few people about on the main Stiperstones ridge, past the Devil’s Chair, but far fewer on the lower lane, and the southern ridge by Nipstone and The Rock. In the woods there are toadstools galore! – including a huge colony (at least 50 specimens) of “Flying Eric” (the psychoactive mushroom more commonly, but perhaps not more appropriately, known as fly agaric – which they were until my then-young nephew misheard or misremembered…).

Sadly, the Bog Centre was packed – the coaches were still there – no tea and cake after this walk.

(We’ve done this walk before – last time we did it anticlockwise, as shown on the map. Today we walked clockwise, for the views to the south-west from the ridge)


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Stiperstones – foxgloves, bilberries and kites

July on the Stiperstones: we were up here around this time last year, and nearly melted. Today the sky was blue, with some white fluffy cloud – and it was pleasantly cool, a great afternoon for a walk. The bilberries need a little longer, though they’re ripening nicely. The foxgloves – great clumps of them in places – are in their prime. A red kite crossed the sky, high up, with never a flap – and returned a few minutes later, performing one large circle and then away. Too far away for the camera, but good to see.


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