Unsurprisingly considering it was a Sunday morning, less than half the party was at Churchill at the stated time of 7am for the 1st and only day trip of term. Nevertheless, all 11 of us arrived and set off for the hills in reasonable time, with reasonable weather. An uninspiring white sign informed us we were in Shropshire, and the more inspiring views of the Wrekin and further hills told us there was a good days walking in store.
Arriving at the designated meeting point in the Carding Mill Valley car park, hoping to have escaped the disruption caused by the Cambridge half marathon, we found there was in fact an athletic event of some description here as well. They appeared to be runners from local clubs preparing to start a race. The map was examined, routes were discussed, then we settled on everyone going in one large group on a fairly standard ‘climb the highest hill, walk along a ridge, descend and walk back through a valley’.
We set off, successfully avoiding an unnecessary ford after only a few minutes by spotting a sign pointing to a parallel path, and subsequently watching most of the runners miss this sign and run straight through. The runners soon left us behind, but not before we concluded that half of them were walking rather than running up the hill, and we worked our way slowly upwards, and then more quickly upwards at a waterfall, after a stop for the first group photo. After not too long, we found ourselves at the lofty height of 516m on top of Pole Bank, which gave us a good view over the surrounding countryside, in the few moments we weren’t being pelted by a sudden shower of almost horizontal hail (one member of the group suggested it would be more accurately called graupel). Summit achieved, we pressed on. The ridge ahead of us was sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny, and populated with sheep, horses, bikes and surprisingly cars, since our path along the Long Mynd ridge followed a road.
At this stage in a walk people’s thoughts, and then words start to drift towards food, specifically lunch, and when it would be. Luckily, just before we started our descent off the ridge the rain eased, shortly followed by blue sky in the west. Ten of us decided it was a good time for lunch, and one continued to walk down the hill and was out of sight for some time, before reappearing and informing us that he had been photographing sheep.
Full of food and buoyed on by the spectacular view across fields and sunlit hills we continued downwards, reaching the bottom of the valley that we would follow back to the carpark at Church Stretton. Most of the rest of the walk was along quiet country roads, with a short diversion on an undulating footpath and the final stretch through the village to add variety. We debated the best course of action in terms of getting dinner, and decided to return to the cars first and drive to the pub. Unfortunately, the first pub we went to couldn’t serve food because of a power cut earlier that day, but they recommended us an alternative, run by a friendly Greek woman. The food was good, and there was lots of it – exactly what we needed after a day out on the hills.
Trip List: Johanna F, Miriam G, Oliver Ne, Simon W, Ayesha L, Vivian K, Tyler L, Ralph B, Mayumi S, Rachel B, Afonso C