Thur. 11th July.
Looking to make life easier in this heat I decided to use The Severn Way from Bewdley to Stourport instead of the more tortuous Geopark. At least it being a named trail along the river there should be no problem with overgrown paths.
The waymarking on the Geopark Way has been good to sporadic and a careful reading of the guide along with the OS maps is needed to follow it easily. The logo on the waymarks is a stylised image of a trilobite fossil from the Silurian Period, I never found one [a fossil that is] on the way.
A quiet stroll along the river, with few people about but lots of semi residential caravan parks in close proximity. This area is the escape route from the midlands. Green woodpeckers were flying from tree to tree. Soon I was walking into Stourport where The Staffordshire and Worcester Canal [1771 – James Brindle] appears joining the Mersey and the Trent to the Severn. This canal and its extensive basins established Stourport as a major port, making Bewdley redundant. Sarsons Vinegar was one of the industries benefiting from it. It was fascinating to wander around the old basins with their present day boats and the associated warehouses all connected by a complicated series of locks. Genuine industrial heritage.
But why, oh, why Stourport have you allowed one of the basins in the middle of all this heritage to be used as Treasure Island Pleasure Park? I’m not snobbish about these places but surely there was somewhere else to locate it!!!
Made a hurried retreat across the river to escape [what must it be like in the school holidays] Along the river bank you come across Redstone Rock, a soft sandstone cliff that has been excavated in the past, 16th century, to create an hermitage. Unfortunately you can’t gain access to the interior now.
Moving away from the river I seemed to go astray but found myself on a minor road that led to Larford Lake, a popular commercial fishery which looked very attractive with its water lily beds. Not bad for 10 quid a day.
I was getting hot and tired by now and glad to reach and follow the river bank to arrive at The Hampstall Inn at The Burt. A pleasant place on the riverside. Further on the route followed a side stream, Dick’s Brook, hard to believe this had once been navigable, as a canal with locks, to an iron furnace and forge.
Continuing in the same line I arrived at the retreat of Glasshampton Monastery which was originally the stables of the manor which was burnt down twice. Careless!
Across the hillside could be seen the church of St. Peter’s at Astley. This proved to be of great interest with a lovely sandstone exterior and an interior with many religious relics.
Interesting barrier at the church gate – didn’t have time to wait till evening.
From Astley steady climbing in the heat of the afternoon gained the ridge of Abberley Hill at the limestone quarry of Shavers End. It was not possible to see directly into this quarry and as there seemed to be some police activity in the area I continued on along the way below the ridge. I was climbing up and down in trees most of the way so views were limited and orientation difficult. I knew I had to leave the ridge before the end to reach my, off route, evening destination. With a maize of paths to choose from I was lucky to choose one that descended out of the woods into open fields. From on high I got my first glimpse of the Malvern Hills and also the continuation of today’s ridge for the morning.
The fields luckily led directly down to the road at my hotel – The Hundred House. This place was rather behind the times but my room was comfy, the food good and the staff friendly. The hotel needs some care and attention -but that costs money. The hotel name dates from centuries ago when the building was used as the collecting house for the tithes gathered from 100 districts in the county.
In the bar at night got chatting to a visiting worker who turned out to have a house in the Lot Valley in France from which I’d just returned. [see post]
Remarkably we knew a lot of mutual friends from the area and share a love of our favourite café in Duravel. Small world!
A long but interesting day.