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. Jo, it was with shock and sadness to read about Kate. I’ve known her a little from here on WP and you summed up her wonderful strong character so well from what I knew of her. The day just got darker and quieter. xx

    1. It’s not a good way to learn something like this, Annika, but I didn’t know her well enough to presume to write a ‘Kate’ post. I only found out on Sunday evening, as I was writing this.

  2. So sorry to hear about the sad loss of your friend Jo. You’ve written such a beautiful tribute to her and a lovely post in her memory. The heather clad hills and the rolling green landscape – it’s so lovely. Plus the ponies and especially the foal – what an amazing sight! Hope this week is treating you kindly and take care xx

    1. Thanks very much, Rosemay. Life seems to bounce all over the place sometimes, doesn’t it? Just when you think you’re ahead it goes pear-shaped. It’s a bit like that at the minute. Really good times, and the others 🙂 🙂 Life’s rich pattern. I’m glad you like the walk. I think it’s one of my best, though Bolton Abbey would have been the one to share for Kate, as a Yorkshire lass.

      1. Yes certainly Jo – I know the feeling life’s rich pageant ups and downs etc. Sorry you’ve had a few things to contend with recently and hope things pick up soon. Enjoyed both of the recent walks – the Shropshire one and the Bolton Abbey one (the latter so familiar to me). Hope it’s been a better week for you so far! Very cold and wet start to spring here so rugged up indoors with the pets catching up on some reading! 😃

  3. Oh my gosh Jo, what a beautiful walk! I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. I think she would have absolutely loved to see this post in her honour. Take good care!

  4. What an unbelievably lovely walk you’ve presented Jo! Ever since reading Thomas Hardy I’ve wanted to see the blooming heather turn the moors with their lovely purple color. The doctor’s road, the slightly bewildered foal, the unconcerned sheep, the green rolling landscape, the dusky heather…you’ve captured it all beautifully.

  5. You get to the heart of things, Jo. I’m so sorry to learn about Kate. Stalwart, and often fierce indeed, defending what needed to be defended with no mincing of words. This a fine post, and fine tribute to her. Bless Tx

      1. Nothing so elevating – maybe a quick shop in Shrewsbury, though mostly going for the tapas in the market café. I’ve also got myself bogged down in a bit of family history research – not even my family – but someone who employed a great great aunt in 1851. Talk about diversionary tactics! I’m thinking about writing though 🙂

  6. What a magnificent walk. Those blues, those greens, and that purple heather 😍. The waterfall and baby horse were icing on the cake for me. Sorry to hear of Kate’s passing. Love and prayers for Adrian.

    1. Thanks so much, darlin! You probably saw the pic on Instagram. I don’t usually mix the 2 but the phone is fun sometimes and easy to share with. I absolutely loved this walk but the news of Kate rocked me.

  7. This is such an exciting walk, Jo. I wouldn’t be able to comment on what I’d most enjoy, because every bit of it stands out as enticing! I do think coming across the ponies was particularly dear. The heather is also so lovely, as is the stream, and the…there’s my point! It’s special all the way.

    I’m very sorry to hear of Kate’s passing. I didn’t know her through blogging, but I feel like the community as a whole cares for each other when we hear of a sudden departing. Very sad.

    1. When I look back through the people that I follow on my Reader, Debbie, there are some very sad gaps. Some have just departed from the blogging world, and that’s a sadness in itself, but the deaths feel like a personal loss. Kate was only 58 and full of fierce determination. I was shocked to hear the news. I was halfway through writing this post when I did, and it wasn’t easy to regain focus and finish. I hope Kate would have liked it. Many thanks for your company and kindness, hon. 🙂 🙂

      1. It is such a wonder to me how we tend to bond through blogging. I’ve had many years now to think about it and I’m still not entirely sure how it happens, but it’s one of the joys in my life. Kate, 58, that’s hard to accept for anyone. I often think of the two women in my my “readership” I’ve lost, and I always feel a sadness that I can’t reach out to their families and let them know I still think of them. In such a chaotic and often treacherous world, there is a sweet peace in our collective friendships. 🙂

  8. You certainly don’t hang about with your walks do you? We got as far as the reservoir on our last outing to the valley, never done this whole walk and never stopped in Little Stretton either! You put me to shame Jo with all your energy! So sorry to hear about Kate. You just never know what is around the corner do you. Hugs to you xx

    1. It’s sometimes pure foolhardiness, Jude. If I didn’t have Michael to rely on I really wouldn’t have been able to do this walk, but I’m so glad I could. Little Stretton is lovely. Talking to a local at the bar, he said it was ‘a bit boring at times’ but he was smiley and friendly. I shall never forget the place because of that damned wasp, shall I? 🙂 🙂 The Green Dragon was very nice too. Apparently Tish’s sister, Jo, lives in the village. Yes, Kate was a shock. I don’t have anything planned today and I’m very conscious that I shouldn’t waste it. Hugs back, darlin. You’ve still got your hands pretty full.

      1. Locals told me that the Strettons are very cold and somewhat damp to live in. I guess shielded by that lump of mountain plus Caradoc on the opposite side would make it quite shady. A beautiful landscape though and equally beautiful dusted in snow.

  9. Sorry to hear of your friend passing. Lovely post and I am sure she would have loved it. Such beautiful vista the green grasses, the lilac Heather against the great and silver rocks. Almost like a painting, the way nature displays perfect colour harmonies.
    In contrast I walk with the mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary in his snow covered landscape in New Zealand. Bleak but also beautiful.

      1. I know, right? The mobile devices change the whole feel of a post and typing a protracted response is painful unless you use voice recognition and that always need proof reading. No rush, Jo. Thanks for visiting and posting my link.

  10. It’s a beautiful tribute post for your friend, and a very charming walk. Charming and not easy – dunno how these two can coexist! The gallery of pinnacles and heather is close to my favourite, and then I remember the rocky stairsand the thatched church and a pair of sneakers and the splendid butterfly and the leaf shadows. What sadness that Kate has left a world with such beauty in it. Sympathetic hugs swathed in the perfume of pittosporum, which is flowering madly just outside my bedroom window.

    1. It’s still quite shocking to me, Meg. Some things you just can’t expect, can you? And at 58! But I do agree with you that the pinnacles and heather were a feast for the eyes. 🙂 🙂 And I’ve just been having a discussion with my ‘call himself a gardener’ husband as to the nature of pittosporum. He didn’t even know it flowered! Waft some more this way please. I’ll return abundant hugs.

    1. See, I knew you could find some more time, Tom! It’s all too easy to lose it around here, isn’t it? Thank you so much for extending your visit. This is one of the loveliest UK walks I’ve ever done. The weather was on our side, and as you say… that foal! 🙂 🙂

      1. I try, Jo… I try! 🙂
        And yes… when the weather’s fine everywhere looks so much better, although I can see the scenery from this walk in my mind’s eye looking good in all weathers.

  11. What a lovely tribute Jo, you always seem to do things just right.
    The thatched church is the second time you’ve surprised me this weekend, a total first. The walk is a bit steep for my liking, Dartmoor isn’t as high as the hills in the north, but there are similarities an we have plenty of ponies, although not as many pure Dartmoors as in the past. I hope your aches and pains are easing honey, Mon hugs!

    1. Thanks, darlin 🙂 :). You do have heather? I absolutely love it! The ponies were a bonus. And so adorable 🙂 How are the terrible 2? Been able to get out with them yet?

      1. Yes lots of heather and gorse and bracken. cattle, sheep galore and cows are grazed as well as ponies because it’s common land. The dog babies go out every day, but only short walks for a few months, just off to the mill leat now it’s cooled down a bit. 🙂

  12. So sorry to hear of Kate’s passing Jo. I did not know her but can so appreciate the friends we make in this blogging world. I am so grateful for all including yours. Your beautiful walk a lovely tribute to your friend.

    1. You never know when or where tragedy is going to strike, Sue. I only found out about Kate’s death yesterday as I was part way through writing this. She was outspoken and quite political, and I always had to think before I spoke on her blog, but I respected her greatly and 58 is much to young!

      1. Lovely article Jo. I love the animal pix, especially the very woolley sheep. Have I spelt woolley correctly? It doesn’t look right but my spell-checker hasn’t picked it up, so I’ll leave it. Anyway, horses ditto, and the little one with the wobbly legs and the black eye is definitely one where you can say Ah! and feel quite sentimental. I see from another post that you are soon off to Portugal again. Enjoy your trip and keep sending great posts.

      2. I thnk you can probably spell woolly either way, Mari. I get confused with American spellings sometimes. The ponies were adorable. 🙂 🙂 Not off to Portugal till mid-October so I’ll be coping with Autumn for a little while. It’s a nice season so long as it stays dry.

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