After The Storm: Big Skies On Wenlock Edge

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Late afternoon yesterday, calm restored after Storm Francis’s racketing about the place, we took ourselves off and up for a walk along the Edge. It was scarcely a hike, more of a ramble, though the climb up through the fields beyond Sytche Lane is a touch demanding. But then that gives me a good excuse for a breather while I snap a view of the town.

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This flank of Wenlock Edge has been good wheat growing land for centuries, but this year, in the fields that could not be harvested early, the crop is looking grey and mildewed. Too much rain when it was least expected. I suppose it will be ploughed in. The hedgerows, on the other hand, were bursting with wild produce: wall to wall sloes (wild bitter damsons) which, after a good frost or a spell in the freezer, are excellent for making sloe gin or vodka; brilliant red haws on the hawthorn bushes; elderberries and rosehips beginning to ripen. All very autumnal.

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Turning away from the town to the south: Clee Hill.

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Once up on Wenlock Edge, and now heading in a northerly direction we come upon a view we had not seen before. Something was missing since the last time we were here – which just goes to show that we should go rambling more often. So what’s missing: guesses anyone? Clue: Ironbridge Gorge dead ahead.

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From this point the path along the Edge runs out flat and even, fields on the right, ancient hanging woodland on the left where the escarpment falls alarmingly away to the Shropshire plain below. I thought of A.E. Housman’s poem ‘On Wenlock Edge’, (number 31 in A Shropshire Lad) and wished I’d come up here on the morning of the storm. It would have been exciting – all thrashing boughs and wind rush:

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

And finally, since Housman has kindly provided the caption, coming up is the Wrekin, as seen from the homeward path.

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There’s an Iron Age hillfort on the summit, once a stronghold of the Celtic Cornovii clans who inhabited the Welsh borders and English Midlands. After the Roman occupation, the local Cornovii became the Romanized inhabitants of Wroxeter/Viroconium Roman City whose remnants still survive (just off-screen to the left) beside the River Severn. The Wrekin itself, as all locals know, was made by a very grumpy giant called Gwendol. You can read my version of that story HERE.

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I’m linking this to Jo’s Monday Walk: she is an inspiration to all of us to get rambling. This week’s expedition includes some very fine Portuguese Roman remains at Mirobriga, an archaeological site which also has Iron Age connections.

16 thoughts on “After The Storm: Big Skies On Wenlock Edge

  1. Is it the cooling towers that have gone? I don’t know from where they would be visible, Tish. But I love those billowing clouds! Nothing like a good billow, is there? Thanks for thinking of me and happy Bank Holiday! 🙂 🙂

  2. How glorious but also how strange for there to be no cooling towers. I see the planning debate goes on and on for what is planned there next.

    1. Yes, on and on. I’ve lost my grip on it, what little I had. We’ve now got planning issues in Wenlock, Shropshire Council upping our Neighbourhood Plan target from135 (a significant portion already met by small-scale development) to 200 in order to accommodate an upcoming application for a 120 house estate of market housing. It will be a nightmare on our roads.

      1. Yikes . . . . . I struggle to understand where all these people currently are. We are having thousands of new houses built in and around Winchester, but very few are affordable so I just don’t understand where everyone currently is.

      2. This build, build, build stuff is wholly mystifying, especially as you say, it’s very largely market housing. It’s already been happening everywhere round us – Telford, Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth. So yes, where ARE people coming from, and especially when so many look like losing their jobs.

  3. Great cloud cover. Nice having a big empty field so you can get the full view of the sky. It’s really hard to find anyplace like that around here. Between the hills, houses, barns, and trees, an open fiew of sky is reserved for mall parking lots.

  4. Ah, yes the pretty pink cooling towers. Sad to think they’ve gone. Even sadder to be replaced by housing 😟 I know what you mean about the sky. Only yesterday when returning from our walk and looking at the views around us of the hills, the sea in the distance and the big sky we agreed this was the most beautiful place we’ve ever lived in.

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