Jo’s Monday walk : Simply Church Stretton

Like many an aspiring writer, I’m going to start small on my recent visit to Shropshire.  Then I can build up to the really good stuff for next week’s walk. That’s the theory, anyway.  How well do you know Church Stretton?  Not at all? Then you’ll be happy to take a little stroll with me.

Much of my information is gleaned from Wikipedia, but I was already familiar with the concept of ‘Little Switzerland’.  Many years ago I attempted to coerce a small boy up one of the hills that surround Church Stretton, but he was far happier down in the valley.  As you drive the 13 miles south from Shrewsbury, the hills start to close in around you.  The local geology includes some of the oldest rocks in England, formed over 560 million years ago, and the area has been inhabited for thousands of years. ‘Stretton’ derives from the Old English for ‘street’, and ‘settlement’.  A Roman road, Watling Street, ran through Stretton Gap, as the dale is known, on a similar course to the current, busy A49.

It was a murky, grey day when I left the sanctuary of Arden House, hoping that the rain would hold off for an hour or two.  The handsome old shop fronts were immediately attractive and I wasn’t the only one to press my nose up against the windows.  There’s been a weekly market on the High Street since 1214, but a fire in 1593 destroyed much of the town.  Many of the half-timbered buildings date from that period.

My lovely friend Tish had advised me to look out for Entertaining Elephants, an ancient barn converted to a health food and eco clothing store, ran by her sister, another Jo.  And there it was, bang smack in the middle of the High Street.

Behind the Buck’s Head pub and the market place I had caught a glimpse of St. Laurence’s Church.  And just look at those apricot roses!

But first I lost my heart, just a little, to the most romantic of Tudor cottages. Unfortunately it wasn’t a ‘for sale’ sign that Michael was reading.

Some places have the most delightful back streets.   I was heading for the church but stylish headwear in a leafy window caught my eye, and the passionflower, of course.  The Tourist Information office, in a former school dating back to 1861, was closed, it being a Monday.

According to the Domesday Book there was a church here before the Norman Conquest in 1066.  It would likely have been a small wooden building. The Norman church we see today would have been built between 1110 and 1130. Sometimes a church really speaks to me, and so it was with this one.  A feeling of warmth embraced me as I gazed around.  Unusually the chairs were arranged in a semi-circle, increasing the feeling of inclusion. I loved the wall hangings and the ceiling art.

In case you’re wondering if we’re ever going to stretch our legs today, let me reassure you.  I had downloaded a leaflet of a walk in Rectory Wood before I left home.  This promised a ‘stroll in the footsteps of Georgian gentry’ which could be undertaken directly from the town.  The rain hadn’t yet caught up with us, and we were close to an entry to the wood.  It’s only short so, what are we waiting for?

You might have noticed that I come across Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown a lot on my travels.  It sometimes seems he was everywhere!  Rectory Wood once formed part of the grounds of the rectory in Church Stretton.  Around 1770 Rev. John Mainwaring created a designed woodland landscape garden, probably inspired by his friend Brown, who was known to visit the town.

It’s an atmospheric spot, with it’s yew-ringed pond, the ruined folly and an ice house. The shadows and reflections conjure mysteries in the woods. I stare into the pond, looking for answers.  But then the woods recede, and I’m back to the churchyard.

There’s more to see, if you have the time, but for now I’ll settle for putting my feet up in the luxury of my apartment.  I’ll leave you with a peep into Stretton Antiques Market, which ranges over 3 floors. See anything you fancy?

I’m hoping you’ll be back with me next week.  Carding Mill Valley is really a bit special, and I had the most gloriously sunny day to walk it.  Time to put the kettle on now and catch up with my walkers.

Many thanks to all of you who wander along with me, week by week.  It’s much appreciated.  If you feel like joining in at any time details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be very welcome.

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What nicer place to start rambling than a Scottish island?  Thanks, Anabel!

Arran – the walks

A bundle of fun images from Lady Lee :

Home is where the heart is

Another episode of ‘life chez Jackie’ :

Tea Time

Indra takes us back to colourful Hong Kong in 2010 :

Rock Art and the Color Green

I’m always keen to showcase something different.  Try photo walking with Aarti?

Will walk with friends @ Mumbai

I love an aerial view on life, especially when Drake’s in the pilot seat :

In the air

Walks don’t always have a happy ending, unless you’re Peter Pan.  Thanks, Susan!

Walking the Plank

I’m becoming addicted to Wordless walking.  Meg makes such a superb companion :

Wordless walks : Smuggler’s Cove, Carters Beach and Narooma Surf Beach

Woolly focuses first on the ladies caught up in this madness and then, a conclusion :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk32_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt3

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk33_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt4

Denzil has his ups and downs, but so long as it’s in beautiful scenery…

Walking around Viroinval

Eunice finds her walk a little boring, but the cloud reflections are lovely :

A Rivington ramble

It’s an English Bank Holiday next week so heaven help the weather.  I’ll still be here though, so have a great week and see you then!

Six word Saturday

Which dessert did we each choose?

Chocolate and almond brownie or creme brulé with berry coulis?  Which one do you think Tish would choose?  To protect the innocent I kept my camera in my handbag throughout our meeting, but I really couldn’t resist sharing our dessert.

I had expected to be nervous meeting Tish Farrell, but somehow there wasn’t time for nerves.  Before I knew it I’d scurried down the steps and into her arms.  She and husband Graham had kindly suggested picking us up from our apartment to go out for supper and, after a full-on day, we were almost in danger of being late!

Many of you will know Tish from her writings “on the Edge”.  Wenlock Edge, in lovely Shropshire, to be precise, where she tends her garden and allotment with huge enthusiasm, in the minutes purloined from writing.  With gently self deprecating humour, she shares a slice of her life and a little Monday Magic.  Her skill as a raconteur and respect for our world combine in the telling of The Mysterious Stiperstones.  But when Tish writes about her time spent in Africa the whole page lights up- The Way We Were~More from the Kenya Diary.  It’s a passion shared with her husband.

Because we were a foursome talk was mostly of Much Wenlock and its beautiful surrounds.  Tales of village life were delivered with a twinkle of fun. Conversation was easy.  The food was good.  Graham became an honorary blogger for a little while, and we were enveloped in the warmth of good companionship.  They would make lovely neighbours, and I found the perfect timbered cottage nearby.

Did you guess which sweet Tish had?  I forgot to tell you that we were in The Green Dragon, in Little Stretton, and very nice it was too.  Debbie’s a little short on words for Six Word Saturday this week.  I must have borrowed them!

A window on Shropshire

Windows are delightful things and I have to confess to collecting more than my fair share on my travels.  Looking out or looking in, I’m equally happy.  You never know what you might find, do you?

On my visit to Shropshire this week I stayed in a wonderful old Arts and Crafts property, Arden House, in Church Stretton.  Looking out of the windows I could hardly wait to get started on another adventure.

It has the nicest of country pubs, even if a malevolent wasp might be hiding beneath the plate, ready to pounce.  What’s this chap doing up there, you might wonder? Trimming back the wisteria, I believe, in rather precarious fashion.

I don’t mind scaling the heights now and again myself, in search of a good view. Stokesay Castle was a prime example.

There will be more, of course, but for now let me reassure you that the swelling from the sting has stopped.  I hope to have matching hands again in the near future.  Meantime you are free to go and look at Paula’s unusual Windows, because Thursday’s Special.  And maybe spare a thought for Dawn?  I haven’t lingered at her monthly challenge in the longest time.

Jo’s Monday walk : Bolton Abbey and the Strid

When the email dropped into my Inbox I was immediately excited.  It was many years since I’d been to Bolton Abbey, in the Yorkshire Dales, but I knew it had a special location.  An invitation to walk there in the company of some of my Algarve walking friends was a real cause for excitement.

I should explain.  In the Eastern Algarve there are 2 complimentary groups of walkers, dubbed the Strollers and the Striders.  The first ambles in a highly social way, with plenty of coffee stops.  The second covers the ground much more swiftly, in order to reach the goal of a substantial meal. You can belong to either, or both, depending on your ability. They are equally welcoming and a very nice bunch of people overall.  One thing they have in common is that they don’t walk in the hot Algarve summer months.  Many return to the UK, and that is how this walk came about.  I felt privileged to be a part of their first ever English walk together.

Meeting at the Cavendish Pavilion, we exchanged hugs and kisses before a quick catch up of news, over coffee.  The weather was much as it has been for most of this summer, and we all carried waterproofs.  Time to start out, before the skies opened.

The walk neatly follows the River Wharfe, dipping and rising through Strid Wood, a glimmer of sunshine sparkling on the water from time to time. It’s life affirming stuff, in one of the county’s greatest beauty spots, of which there are many.

The river chuckles along and we pause for a group photo, happy to capture the moment. A bench made from a felled tree has been liberally ornamented with coins.  We are approaching The Strid, the focal point of this walk.

The Strid gets its name from an Anglo Saxon word, stryth, meaning turmoil.  The river suddenly narrows, forcing the water through under great pressure.  The Strid was formed from the wearing of softer rock by the circular motion of small stones in hollows. It might be a stride too far to cross over at this point, and certainly dangerous when the water is high.

Strid Wood, with its sessile oak trees, wraps around us.  As we head towards the Aqueduct the rain begins to fall.  The oaks provide shelter until it lightens again, tree ferns and wizened stone faces looking on.

The Aqueduct is another interesting feature of this walk.  The castellations hide the pipes that carry water from the reservoirs at the top of Nidderdale down to the cities of West Yorkshire.

It enables us to cross to the other side, shortening our walk a little.  We don’t get too wet, but miss out on Barden Tower and the prospect of more coffee, and possibly cake, at the Priest House.  Yes, I can hear you sighing!  Another time!

Damp seats don’t have much appeal but I love the twisted, enduring trees and down below, the gurgling of the river.  Before too long we’re crossing the bridge back to Cavendish Pavilion, and the prospect of a meal and a sit down.

We sit outside initially, but soon abandon fresh air for dryness inside and, as the heavens open, are glad that we have.  We are still optimistic and, sure enough, the skies brighten so that we can undertake the short walk across the field to the Abbey.

The 30,000 acre Bolton Abbey estate is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. At its heart stand the Priory church and the ruins of an Augustinian priory.  From 1154 until 1539 the canons lived and worshipped here.  The church survived the dissolution of the monasteries and functions still.  It maintains a wonderful atmosphere.

I wandered the grounds, captive in the angles of aged stone.  Almost unnoticed the sun sneaked in to blaze glory on the scene.

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We debated amongst ourselves to see if any one of us would brave the stepping stones. In the event, the icecream van won the day, and we watched the antics on the river, before safely crossing over the bridge.

 

One final uphill endeavour past the Welly Walk, a childrens’ adventure trail, and we were safely back to base.  Hugs, smiles and ‘let’s do it again next year, shall we?’  I think we might!  It just remains to give thanks to our wonderful organisers, Peter and Sandie.

Many thanks for your company on another of my ramblings.  I hope you enjoyed it. Details of how to get there are on the Bolton Abbey website.  As many of you read this I shall be thundering towards Shropshire so expect me to be tardy in my responses.  I will be back on Wednesday evening, and hope to catch up with you all then.  Meantime, put the kettle on and enjoy!

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All the way to Israel with Lisa for my first share :

Dan Reisinger

Going north with Marion to a cool and interesting part of the world :

A walk from Helsinki’ s Market Square to Tervesaari island 

Kitzbuhel and that magical part of Austria has long been on my list, so thanks Lady Lee!

Our Austrian Trip

More rambling in style, with Jackie :

Cream of the Crop

What more can I say about the war graves?  Woolly says it better :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk31_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt-2

Meg has set up a great tradition of Wordless walks.  Join her for a stroll?

Wordless walk: Burrendong botanical gardens and arboretum

Can’t beat a bit of adventure up on the moors!  Come and meet Mackenzie :

Yarnbury

Have you noticed, Drake is good at telling ghost stories?  Must be his Danish heritage :

A different ghost story

Isn’t life strange?  Here I am, heading for Shropshire, and what does Becky find?

Exploring Ironbridge Gorge, a World Heritage Site

And even better, six delightful words on her other blog :

I can’t possibly sit down here

Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk?  Have a great week!

Six word Saturday

In memory of a lovely lady

It’s hard to post today.  My head is full of thoughts, but I don’t want to upset the family or share things that are not mine to share.

My friend Vron was never happier than when she had her family around her.  I never knew her as the powerhouse she was, before an aneursym 18 years ago left her partially disabled, but I’ve heard the stories and seen photographs.  To me she was a kind and gentle soul, who accepted her situation with grace and without any trace of bitterness,  From the moment I stepped into her household, in my capacity as a carer, I was accepted as a member of the family, and she became very special to me.

Vron was surrounded by love.  They say you reap what you sew, and that was never truer.  Her beloved husband took on the role that she could no longer manage and she put her whole faith and trust in him.   She adored her two girls and her son, and the grandchildren, as one rapidly followed the other.  All were very precious to her.  Brothers and sisters were held close to her heart.

Whenever there was a cause for celebration, this family knew how to celebrate. They put their heart and soul into it.  The last time I saw them all together was for a special birthday last November.  Family and friends joined them and the laughter and memories flowed.  Hard to believe that I will never again join Vron at another family gathering.  I know she’ll be there in spirit.  Vron, we will always miss your lovely smile.  It was a privilege to know you.  God bless!  Rest in peace.

For Six Word Saturday.  Share Debbie’s wonderful perspective.

Jo’s Monday walk : Hovingham

There’s no two ways about it!  England has some of the finest villages you could hope to find, and Hovingham, in North Yorkshire, is a prime example.  In summertime it’s the perfect place to amble past old stone cottages, festooned with fabulous hollyhocks, to peer over the church wall.

In reality it was one of those days when summer is reluctant to parade itself for our pleasure, but I was still hopeful.  We had passed through the village, on the Helmsley to Malton road, in search of Yorkshire Lavender.  No amount of grey sky could dim that glory!  Returning the same way, it seemed churlish not to stop the car and explore a little.  Keep me company?

Beside the village green, the unusual Grade II listed school draws the eye.  Ivy swaddles many of the buildings and colour cascades, at curb and much higher, to combat the grey.  Locally grown tomatoes advertise their presence alongside fresh eggs.  A breakfast here must be a total pleasure. I wonder what the gents at the cafe had.

Set back behind the main road stands magnificent Hovingham Hall.  This Grade 1 listed Palladian style mansion was designed and built by Thomas Worsley between 1750 and 1770. The house is only opened to the public between 1st and 28th June each year, and I was sorry to have missed it. Entrance is unique in being through the former riding school, where George III was taught to ride.  In front of the house, the oldest privately owned cricket pitch in England.  I snuck as close as I dared for a look.

Over the garden wall I could see the Saxon tower of the parish church, All Saints.  The name Hovingham has an interesting derivation, combining a ‘place of graves’ with a settlement in a ‘meadow near a river’.  No sign of the river, but I could see some graves.

I was pleased to find that the church door was unlocked.  Quiet reverence inside, an unusual font and beautifully carved organ pipes, lots of kneelers and some exquisite stained glass.  Was there a significance to the dragon?

Crossing back towards the village green, my eyes lit up at the sight of a rocking horse, waiting impatiently at the window for its owner to return.

In a corner of the green, another church, very different in character.  Methodist, with a ‘welcome’ sign on the door, I couldn’t spurn the invitation.

This village is full of surprises.  Quite suddenly I came upon a ford, crossing Marr’s Beck and leading to the elusive River Rye.  A neat little cafe and bakery sits alongside.  The locals, undetered that it was closed, had brought a picnic to their favoured spot.

As if in celebration, just then the sun contrived to make an appearance, transforming the old stone and setting the hollyhocks nodding.

Isn’t England bonny in the Summer?  I walked the length of the beck, beside the cottages and back to the main street.

How better to finish than with a bee, rolling in ecstasy?  I hope you enjoyed our wander today.

It was touch and go this week, a router problem knocking the Internet out for countless hours, but I made it!  Many thanks to all of you who’ve stuck with me.  I had to get the job done so I could showcase these walks, didn’t I?  Please take the time to visit them, if you possibly can. Pop the kettle on first?  And do join in if you have a walk to share.  The details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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First up is Violet, with another attractive bridge for us to cross :

A bridge to cross

Then a hodge podge of food and stuff from Jackie :

Food@home

I rather think Lady Lee had a good weekend!

Happy Sunday

Want to hear a ghost story?  Then Drake’s your man!

In the middle of the history

Kathrin has her own version of scaling the Hollywood heights :

Hike to the Hollywood sign

While Ann Christine likes to take it more gently :

A Walk at Lindo – In the Best Company

And our Meg is wordless, but inimitable :

Wordless walk: Hervey Bay Botanical Gardens

Where’s Woolly this week?  He’s found a very large hole :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk30_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt-1

We finish with something rather unusual, recommended to me by Sheri, a keen walker herself :

Letterbox Walks

Well, not quite finish, because I have to include Carol’s latest.  Not totally a walk, but you may recognise someone :

Meeting James and Jo

I’m in two minds about next Monday because I shall be traveling to Shropshire (and hopefully meeting up with someone else you know).  I do have another walk I’m desperate to share though.  I’ll keep you posted.  Have a great week!

Six word Saturday

Does anyone out there understand Gravatar?

Following on from my Six word Saturday last week, I was prompted to ask.  You see, I’ve never understood the concept of Gravatar very well.

Having decided that ‘likes’ were swamping my Inbox, and that neither myself nor my laptop were coping well, I thought that I might return some of my visits by clicking on a Gravatar.  This works in some instances, but often I find that the Gravatar is not linked to a website.  What is the purpose of a Gravatar if not to display the sources where a person can be contacted?  An email address and a photo is of no help in this context.

Not sure what my own Gravatar would reveal, I took a quick look.  Relief!  The website is there, so you can find me, if you need to.  And now I’ll carry on and entertain you with a few orchids, in one of our loveliest stately homes, Burton Agnes, in North Yorkshire.

The carvings and wood panelling are quite extraordinary, I think you’ll agree.  Both house and gardens will repay a visit, if you get the chance.  Meantime, don’t forget to share six words with Debbie.  She’s in reflective mood this week.  Wishing you a happy Saturday!