Jo’s Monday walk : Carding Mill Valley

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and heaven knows, there’s been enough of it lately, but I want to dedicate this post to the memory of Kate, who many of you knew as Rough Seas in the Med.  Kate died on 13th August.  I don’t know the circumstances.  This came as an enormous shock to me, and I cannot imagine how her partner, Adrian, is dealing with it.  Kate was a very straight-talking woman, with a very soft centre when it came to animals.  She loved her native Yorkshire too, and would often comment if I featured it. Regretfully we never met, though I once did visit Gibraltar briefly.  My thoughts are with her family and friends.  I’m sorry to start your Monday this way, but Adrian is in no position to pass on such sad news himself.  Rest in peace, Kate.

Last week I brought you with me to Church Stretton, in Shropshire.  I promised that I had something a little special in store for this week.  I hope you will agree with me that Carding Mill Valley justifies that.

My own expectations were high.  Rising to a lovely sunrise and clearing blue skies, I could hardly wait to get started.  I was staying at Arden House, on the very edge of Carding Mill Valley, and the owner had kindly supplied me with map and suggestions.  An 8 mile circular, through the valley, up to the heights of the Long Mynd and back down through Ashes Hollow, was the walk of choice.  I wasn’t sure that I had sufficient stamina for this, but there was the incentive, at the 6 mile point, of a highly recommended pub.  My companion approved.

Church Stretton was known as a centre of the textile industry, using wool from its abundant sheep.  The carding mill was built in the valley in the 18th century, ‘carding’ being one of the 3 stages of processing the wool, followed by spinning and weaving.  Back then carding would have been deemed a job for children, using a hand-card, a wooden block with metal spikes, to remove and untangle short fibres from the wool.  The mill was closed and demolished at the beginning of the 20th century, but the name lives on.

Bypassing the National Trust centre, which didn’t open till 10, I headed up toward the reservoir.  A little hummock led to a viewing point for Bodbury Ring, Iron Age hill fort where, more than 2,500 years ago, Celtic tribes guarded their sheep and cattle.  The mill pools along this stretch used to feed water down to the carding mill.

You can walk all around the reservoir, catching glimpses through the trees, and even swim in it, if you wish.  Unusually this is encouraged by the National Trust, because it is beneficial to the algae in the water.  Continuing up the valley the walk becomes ever more beautiful, for this is August, the time when the heather blooms in an entrancing purple.

I had taken the top route, referred to as the Pipe Walk by National Trust, with wonderful views down to the valley.  Soon my mountain goat skills were going to be tested as I scrambled up and around the waterfall at Lightspout Hollow.  At this point I could have retreated down the valley, with a 3 mile walk under my belt and the prospect of refreshment on the roof terrace of the café.

The sky was darkening a little and there seemed a serious prospect of getting wet, but by the time I was up and over it had brightened again.  The instructions said to carry on uphill, bearing slightly to the right until reaching level ground. Michael was walking slightly ahead of me and I wondered what had caught his eye.  One of the most magical moments of the walk was about to happen.

Unconcerned mother, and uncertain child

I tiptoed gently past, before breathing out.  This wasn’t our only sighting of ponies along the walk but I had been totally unprepared to see a foal, so close to the path. Soon I reached Dr. Mott’s road, a path built by local people to enable the doctor to visit patients on the west side of the Long Mynd.  A left turn here will bring you to the gravel track of The Shropshire Way.  This is a popular stretch and people often drive up to visit the trig point, a stupendous viewpoint at 516 metres above sea level.  You can see for miles.  Look, there’s the Wrekin, in the far distance!

And now it’s downhill again, following the path signed for Ashes Hollow.  It’s another beautiful valley and it’s good to be alive.  And then I come upon these two young families, communicating with each other.  Heartwarming, isn’t it?

The ponies aren’t the only inhabitants of the valleys but they must be the most endearing.  My feet were getting tired and the end not yet in sight.

Finally, after crossing the stream a time or two, the valley bottom opens out and I am approaching the village of Little Stretton.  A pretty cottage, a camp site and a ford, and I’ve arrived.  And did you ever see a lovelier church?  With thatching too!

Best of all, The Ragleth, some excellent pub grub and a rest for the weary feet.  We won’t mention the evil wasp that turned up uninvited.  Suitably refreshed, the 2 miles back to Church Stretton could be undertaken, either along the road or following the old Cunnery drovers trail.  The other half failed to tell me that the second, more interesting option, climbed a hill almost vertically, to round the back of the village.

Thank heavens for interesting distractions!  The National Trust have a number of walks on their website, with many more details, plus instructions on how to get there.  I understand the café does good cake, too!

Another Monday, another walk!  Well, lots in fact, and I hope you have time to enjoy them.  Many thanks to all of you, for your patience and loyalty. If you’d like to join in, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, and you’ll be very welcome.


Something new to start!  How about a poetry walk with Frank?

Woolshed walk : moss march

Woolshed walk : the splash

Or, maybe, ‘no words’, with Meg?

Wordless walk : Glasshouse Rocks, Cemetery Beach

Hamburg does look an appealing city.  After all, it was good enough for the Beatles.  Thanks, Lady Lee!

Holiday in Hamburg

This lady has a bit of a food obsession, but she’s not alone.  Happy eating, Jackie!


Drake does quite a lot of reflecting.  He’s such a thoughtful guy!

Reflecting bike ride

In case you suspected that Denzil might not be a dedicated walker, here’s evidence to the contrary :

Walking around a very wet Virelles

And something I know you’ll all love, from Carol.  No, she’s not meeting royalty!

Hello Harry

I hope that Kate would have enjoyed this walk.  I’m sorry if I’ve shocked some of you with the news.  I think we need to live our lives, before they’re taken from us. Wishing you all a peaceful and happy week ahead!


  1. Oh man this is very bad news. K was good to me and became a friend. I didn’t even realise she was sad. If you hear any more Jo please let me know. Jo a lovely post for her almost year to date after my bro. But she was still so young. RIP K’

    1. I’m sorry, Gerry. I couldn’t remember exactly who knew her or I would have sent individual messages because this isn’t a good way to find out. Vicky Hill contacted me with the news last night. I’d already written half of this walk and it seemed the natural thing to do. So far as we knew she hadn’t been ill. Vicky spoke to Adrian on the phone but didn’t like to ask for details. She will ring him again next week and I’ll let you know anything I can. Apparently he hardly uses the computer so there may not be an announcement on Kate’s blog. Yes, tragically young and I was shocked.

      1. Thank you Jo. K, as she okayed me to call her, sent me emails advising my writings etc and became as good a friend as one can over the web. I did like her straight talking but she was genuine and warm person. So very sad and shocking. Please let me know any news when you hear. Thank you so much Jo.

      2. I’m sorry again, hon. I hadn’t realised you were so involved. I’m waiting for news from Vicky, who’s on holiday this week, but said she would phone Adrian. I don’t suppose there’s anything on Kate’s blog? I did check on Monday and there wasn’t.

  2. What a fabulous walk, Jo! Brilliant skies, a pub to break up the walk, and those ponies and their foals! I also love the blooming purple heather and the long steps up the hillside, the fairy tale cottage in Little Stretton, and the all-encompassing views from up high. I would adore this walk, but since I’m so far away, thanks for taking us along. 🙂

    1. It was probably the best walk I’ve done this year, Cathy (unless you count those in Florence 🙂 ) and definitely one of the most exhausting. You’re fitter than me these days so you could have helped haul me up the steep bits. 🙂 🙂

      1. It was a long one, at 8 miles, Jo. Even I would have had a hard time with that, especially the hill climbing. But it was a fabulous one. I know I would have loved it. How were the temperatures that day? I imagine not too hot? 🙂

  3. I didn’t follow Kate but I had visited her blog, and knew of her through other bloggers. I am sorry to hear of her passing. On 10 June, Jeni, the Hopeful Herbalist, passed away. I miss her gentle posts, and her lovely sunset photos. On the bright side, I love the heather and the ponies in your post.

    1. I didn’t know Jeni. It’s funny how we move within the same yet different circles. I try to cross over as much as I can, but you know how difficult it gets. So far as I know Kate hadn’t been ill and this came right out of the blue. It’s all around us, isn’t it, and all the more reason to live for the day. Sending gentle hugs your way. 🙂 🙂

      1. Yes, live for the day. Beautiful sunshine here when I woke up. My immediate thought was a trip to the botanic gardens. If I drink my coffee fast enough I may get there before the weather turns….spring weather, gotta love its unpredictability.

  4. I didn’t know Kate but I’m sure anyone would appreciate a tribute and dedicated post like this.
    Sounds a challenging walk and I fear the scramble around the water fall might trigger my vertigo. But I must visit. It’s an area firmly embedded in my heart from my childhood reading. I loved Malcolm Saville and his Lone Piners who adventured around the Long Mynd.

    Your images are beautiful and the goal is beyond cute! 😄

    1. I forgot you love horses, Debs! You’d have been ecstatic 🙂 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in the wild like this, though I assume it’s similar on Dartmoor. Too far south for me, sadly. 😦 Kate was a character, and a tragic loss at 58.

    1. Thanks, Andrew! I thought of you because I often used to follow her comments on yours. I should have twigged when she didn’t comment on my Bolton Abbey post. You know she loved Yorkshire. I found out just yesterday, via Vicky Hill, who had known her for many years. You never know what’s coming next, do you?

  5. Firstly let me say thank you Jo for your beautiful post and tribute, I’m sure Kate would have approved.
    We first made contact via a Land Rover forum eleven years ago when she sent healing thoughts to my dog I had then.
    We soon clicked……both from Yorkshire, Land Rovers, love of animals, especially rescue dogs……and became firm friends.
    She introduced me to the blogging world, which if I remember is how I found you.
    Kate had just celebrated her 58th birthday in June.
    I’m sure she will be greatly missed amongst the blogging fraternity, and by many, who like me had formed a true friendship with her. xx

    1. Thank you so much for that, Vicky. I’m glad you stopped by and thank you for letting me know. Kate will be missed! She was never slow to call a spade a spade. 🙂 🙂 58! I didn’t really know how old. That’s tragic! Please do let me know when you hear more.

  6. Loved your tribute to Kate, RIP.

    Another hit , Jo! If I had to choose among your photos it would be extremely difficult , today!

    I was moved by the young pony , but many others touched me deeply.

    Splendid landscapes and shots , as always!
    Thanks for this share!

    1. Sorry to break the news in that way, Jill, but her husband doesn’t use computers and I felt people should know. She was a Yorkshire lass at heart and very outspoken on the things that mattered to her. Have a great Monday! 🙂 🙂

    1. If I’d known about Kate earlier the Bolton Abbey walk would have been more fitting, Becky. At the time I was half surprised she didn’t comment on it. But yes, I think she’d love the foal and the heather is reminiscent of her Yorkshire Moors. Busy Bank Hol? Silly question! 🙂 🙂

    1. That one day, the Tuesday, was absolutely glorious, Sue. I couldn’t believe our luck. I remembered it as being beautiful but I only caught a glimpse last time. This one was wonderful. 🙂 🙂
      As an aside, did you know Kate? And are you staying home this BH or venturing forth?

      1. In response to your aside, no, I didn’t know Kate…. As you have said, I think, it’s interesting how we get to ‘know’ people in this blogging world. Happily, I have met a number of people in the real world, including Vivi, Jude, Gilly, Ann Christine…. and you and I have yet to meet personally, in person (as a character in Montalbano says) Let’s meet in 2018, life’s too short as we know all too well….I’m sure we can do that

      2. The sun is much in evidence here, and it’s to reach 26C this afternoon……aargh how warm will it be in your neck of the woods – a more agreeable 18C?

  7. Such a challenging walk this week. Love the ruggedness. In all the times I’ve visited Scotland, I have never actually seen heather in bloom. One of my regrets (but August is the high/expensive season!)
    My, much less energetic, walk is here

    1. It was a bit energetic, Violet, but I survived. The Yorkshire Moors, close by me, are wonderfully colourful at this time of year, but they can get busy. Many thanks to you! 🙂 🙂

    1. I’m not even sure of her age, Gilda, but much younger than me, I’m sure. It’s funny the connections we make here, isn’t it? Thanks so much for keeping me company on here. 🙂

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