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:
Looking west. You can see the allotment polytunnels in the shadows just right of centre.
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.
And looking from east to south:
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.
And finally looking down the hill to the Linden Field:
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.
Walking Squares #20