Another afternoon on the Mynd

Monday: the weather’s too good to stay indoors (and it can’t last) – we’re wandering on the Long Mynd, making the most of what little light there is in late November. The steep hillside path takes us quickly up into the sunshine, and by the time we’re coming back down Mott’s Road, it’s almost gone. Instead of the heavy clouds that shaded us yesterday, there’s lots of wispy cirrus, much of it forming from jet trails. And instead of that biting wind, there’s just a gentle breeze. Perfect!


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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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It’s no mountain – just 192 metres (630 ft) above sea level at the summit – but it’s a great viewpoint for the real hills of Shropshire and the borders. Not that it was particularly clear, nor did the sun manage to break through, but it was a pleasant afternoon to wander through deep carpets of fallen leaves, sweet chestnut husks etc. (the many squirrels have dealt with the nuts). The deeply-cut former quarries are worth a few minutes’ exploration.

At Clive we wandered around the village briefly before taking to the stone lane in its deep cutting beside the church and headed the highest point. As we walked back to the car, our eyes were caught by a bright flash of green (woodpecker), then the red of a pair of fly agarics. Peer over the wall – there are some deep dark holes…

Down the coast – Borth to Aber

Aberystwyth was always “Aber” on the railway – as a chalked destination on a parcels van perhaps. We’d be travelling by rail today, for a leisurely stroll along the cliff-top path from Borth to the university town.

The rain that started minutes after our arrival in Borth accompanied us to the top of the headland; a little way beyond it eased, and we were soon able to pack away the waterproofs and enjoy the coastal scenery. The cliffs are not high, but there is plenty of interest along the route, not least in the stripy strata clearly visible in the rocks.

The shingle spit at Wallog,  “Sarn Gynfelyn”, is one of several similar features of the coast. Of man-made appearance, they are the stuff of myth and legend – ancient ways to submerged kingdoms.

Clarach Bay is full of caravans and chalets. It’s not the prettiest part of the walk, and we pass through quickly – but a little way beyond, back on the cliff path, there’s a picnic bench. It provides a quiet spot for a break and a late lunch before we arrive at Aber, to walk along the promenade and enjoy a well-earned ice-cream (“Mario’s” – excellent!)

“Aber” is perhaps a touch ambiguous, and appropriately so. The full name means “mouth of the Ystwyth” – but that river makes a rather inconspicuous approach to the town, sneaking into the Rheidol just yards from the open sea. It’s the latter that is more obvious, providing the harbour for numerous pleasure craft – and, as we waited on the station platform, a Vale of Rheidol train steamed gently into the former Carmarthen line platforms. Aberrheidol perhaps? If nothing else, it would be easier to spell for us poor pob sais.

The Toot and Clee Burf

No, we’re not in far-flung foreign parts! Clee Burf is the southern summit of Shropshire’s Brown Clee, and the Toot? That’s how it’s labelled on the OS map, but why is anyone’s guess. It’s a quiet bit of scrubby hillside on the southern flank of the hill. This was a pleasant walk – a fine afternoon, with air washed clean by yesterday’s rain, and a fresh breeze – perfect! An easy ascent takes us past Nordy Bank hill fort, and the heather is in bloom on the higher ground. There are one or two other walkers out; we didn’t count them, but we’re talking in single figures. No tea rooms or ice-cream vans on Brown Clee – could that be why?

Mucklewick in May

Sounds charming, doesn’t it? We started out from The Bog… It was warm, clear, sunny – beautiful! Gone are the pastel shades of the winter months – it’s all in technicolor today.

We leave the Bog car park by the new path beside the road, heading north-east on a walk that would be south-west of our starting point. There’s method in our madness – we’re avoiding a short stretch of path that can be seriously muddy. Later, as we descend from the ridge, a fairly comfortable rock beneath The Rock provides us with table and chairs (I exaggerate) for lunch – a near-perfect spot, away from the wind (a light breeze, very welcome later in the afternoon) and the gunfire. It’s not the quietest part of the county…

Quiet tracks (on the opposite side of the ridge to the shooting range) and a very minor road take us down to the West Onny valley, then via Nind back up onto the hills. Mucklewick Hill is another pleasant spot (enjoying that breeze now) for the last of the day’s provisions before, after a short descent, the long gentle rise to tea and cakes at the Bog Centre (highly recommended!).

The Bog Visitor Centre