Last weekend we had the heating on, fleeces and hats during the daytime and were wrapped up at night in pyjamas, silk sleeping bag liners, duvets and blankets. One week later, here we are at last in shorts and able to sit outside the ‘van. We have moved from Please make it warmer! to putting the thermals and thick socks to the back of the drawer in just a few days.
As we set off walking in the rolling Shropshire countryside Mr BOTRA and I both felt lighter and we were. We were carrying just the camera and binoculars, no need for waterproofs and those extra layers. In the ‘van making the beds was easier and now we could eat outdoors, there were no crumbs in the van after eating.
We had a glorious weekend near Shrewsbury; walking up and around Lyth Hill, where we were congratulating ourselves for our excellent navigation skills and Shropshire Council for their excellent signage and then [you guessed it] we got lost. We found our way back to our route and then got lost again due to poor signage through a farmyard [we suspect the farmer was trying to deter walkers and had removed the helpful yellow arrows].
On the Sunday we visited the beautiful ruin of Haughmond Abbey, a tranquil and scenic spot and then moved on to Hawkstone Park Follies. If you have never been to this fantastical wonderland of grottos, narrow bridges, tall monuments and stunning woodland, all set on a sandstone ridge, then you should try and get here soon. I last visited in the late 1970s, when it was neglected and over-grown and not operated as a visitor attraction at all. Then we felt like we were the first people to discover it as we fought our way through rhododendron bushes and along narrow paths. Today, the paths are well marked and with your entrance fee to see the 200-year old park you get a map. Despite this taming of the landscape, the walks are both fun and demanding and there are still uneven paths, steep steps and dark caves and gullies to explore. We particularly liked ‘The Cleft’, a rocky gash in the hillside that is dark, damp and mossy and the rain water has eroded circular patterns in the sandstone.
It was cheering to see so many people having so much fun in the outdoors. What a difference the sun makes!