Day’s End On Windmill Hill

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Windmill Hill is probably most Wenlockians’ favourite spot for a short walk, though it does involve quite a steep climb, especially if you approach it from the Linden Field.

When I set off here on Friday afternoon it was under glooming skies. But just as I reached the top, the sun broke through the cloud, lighting up the land all around the town. Here are the views:

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Looking west. You can see the allotment polytunnels in the shadows  just right of centre.

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And to the east, Shadwell Quarry, long disused, but the land around slated for some sort of leisure development (dive school plus cabins). The pool is exceedingly deep, and every time I look, the water level seems to have risen. Peregrine falcons have a breeding spot in the least accessible quarter of the quarry face.

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And looking from east to south:

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These two photos show land that was originally part of Wenlock Priory’s considerable possessions; once the monks’ hunting ground in fact. After the Dissolution in 1540 the Priory assets were acquired by Henry VIII’s courtiers and sold on to London gentry, men with entrepreneurial flair who were intent on further developing industrial enterprises already run by the monks and their peasant workforce: coal mining, iron smelting, charcoal production.

These days, as you can see, it is an agricultural estate (some 10,000 acres) presently owned by Lord Forester, whose family have held it since the 17th century. The distant tree line in the photo immediately above is Shirlett Forest, the site of early coal mines, where it is said, (and somewhat hair-raisingly) that the miners reached the coal seams by being lowered down shafts in baskets. As may be imagined, for some this did not end well.

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And finally looking down the hill to the Linden Field:

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Now you can see why it’s a favourite walk. I also discovered on Friday that a brand new bench has arrived there, bequeathed by two well-loved residents. What a very fine gift to us. Two good spots for sitting and dreaming.

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Walking Squares #20

Just About Room For Two

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This seat looks to have been created from driftwood and sea debris, with just enough room for two to huddle. It’s sited on the path through the dunes to Harlech Beach (see previous post). You can just glimpse the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance.

There were also some pretty interesting seats In the garden of Borthwnog Hall (where we were spending a few nights back in October). This next one takes repurposed driftwood to a new level. Perhaps a little spooky? Or made specially for dryads.

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And then there was this more conventional bench in the rock garden. It caught the sun only as it was setting over the mountains above the house:

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And then there was the bench with the Mawddach Estuary view:

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And this was the view, and with plenty of room to perch on the wall:

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Seating for more than one

Walking Squares #19   The header square also for Becky’s November #WalkingSquares

Beach Walking

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This is a walk we did earlier – i.e. back in early October when we staying at Borthwnog Hall on the Mawddach Estuary in Wales. The beaches along this part of the coast from Barmouth to Harlech (where these photos were taken) are stupendous – sandscape heaven with much of the area designated nature reserve.

My only quibble (as a life-long beach-comber and shell gatherer) was the tide had swept the shore so clean, there was hardly a thing to find. So this is my main sighting: the skeleton (test) of a common heart urchin Echinocardium cordatum, also known as a sea potato.

You can see what they look like in real life HERE. When they have all their spines they’re rather hairy entities. They burrow several inches into sandy sea bottoms and both feed themselves with passing particles and avoid getting completely buried with a mobile feeding tube that keeps a clear shaft of water above them.

So there you have it: a heart urchin test. And some rather pleasing red seaweed.

Walking Squares #18  Today Becky is wondering what kinds of things we notice when we’re out walking.

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Rooftops And Chimney Pots

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We have had masses of rains lately, so not much walking, but yesterday afternoon we were treated to an unscheduled burst of sunshine. We popped into town for some milk, and on the way home up Sheinton Street, this back-garden cherry tree caught my eye. And then the chimney pots with the sun on them, plus the odd visual juxtaposition of Wenlock Priory ruins, and the surviving roof-height elevation of the south transept (just to the left of the tree).

Walking Squares #16  Please join Becky on her November walks.

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Winter On The Edge

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The National Trust owns the north-east facing scarp of Wenlock Edge. There’s a good path along the summit which, in gaps through the trees, offers stunning views of north-east Shropshire. It also skirts the old limestone quarries which now provide quarters for, among others, a garden fencing company and an outfit turning trees into pellets for industrial wood burners. The quarry enterprises are by no means scenic, but they have a certain drama. The National Trust trail and map are HERE.

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Looking towards the North Shropshire Plain and the Wrekin

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Edge Renewables

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Walking Squares #8  Join Becky on her daily November walks

Coming Home From The Edge

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It’s interesting but when you are walking about in Much Wenlock, you are very rarely aware of how steeply the land rises towards Wenlock Edge, or of the fact that the town sits in a distinct hollow with other not-so-steep hills rising to the east and south.

In this photo I am walking down from the Edge, following the path that ends up on Sytche Lane, a short hop from our garden gate. We’re lucky to have so many good walks on our doorstep, and mostly field paths, too.

Walking Squares #5 Today Becky is taking a walk close to home.

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The Texture Of Water?

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The Mawddach River after the storm. There’s a tension here – a case of estuarian counterflow as the sea tide washes up against  the river’s downflow. There’s an odd perception, too, of evolving solidity – of molten metal perhaps – artisan silver with flecks of gold; or of liquid thickening in the making of a sauce. Anyway, I thought it was an interesting effect.

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The photo was taken last Wednesday as we arrived in Mid-Wales on the tail of a colossal downpour. We were starting a 4-day stay, and very much fearing a wash-out sojourn. But we needn’t have worried. We did have some fine days.

This is where we were staying – Borthwnog Hall on the banks of the estuary. A return visit after several years, but this time with a balcony view across the salt marsh at low tide. Fascinating places tidal rivers and estuaries. More photos in following posts.

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CFFC: Texture

Over The Home Hill: More Hills

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Wenlock Edge behind our house runs for twenty odd miles, a wooded escarpment that bisects the county of Shropshire on a north-east-south-west axis. It’s not always easy to see out for the tree cover, but here and there, a few choice viewpoints give you a glimpse of Shropshire’s other hills, the Long Mynd living up to its name in the distance here. I’m fumbling for the name of the hill in the middle distance (not recognising it from this angle). It could be Caradoc.

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If we turn right round in the other direction, then we can see Clee Hill:

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Closer to home, you can take the National Trust footpath out of Much Wenlock and head for the Edge landmark, Major’s Leap, from where, on a winter’s day, you may be treated to an other-worldly view of the Wrekin, subject of many quaint Shropshire tales. (My version here).

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And coming down the Edge footpath behind our house you have a fine view of Much Wenlock hugged round by hills, Walton Hill and Shirlett Forest:

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And while I’m showing off our local hills, I can’t leave out the town’s favourite landmark: Windmill Hill with a small turquoise person heading over it:

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Lens-Artists: over the hill  Donna at Wind Kisses has set this week’s challenge.

Light, Shadow, Sun And Storm…

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This week at Lens-Artists, Tina shows us many creative ways to interpret her chosen theme ‘opposites’. I thought I’d choose just one photo – a chance weather moment in Wales – one of those hard-to-credit solar beams piercing a storm-heavy sky. I mean to say, how can that field be so luminously green when the town of Harlech below is so deep in shadow, and the clouds above so full of rain? I even desaturated the image a notch or two. Of course there are other opposites here too: townscape-landscape;  manmade-natural; urban-rural.

Lens-Artists: opposites