“Self-Guided Walking” holiday.

I put this on the end of my Industrial Heritage of Shropshire so as to make it a week away.  I wasn’t intending to do that much walking, but I did do more than several other people – who went out in their cars or stayed at the hotel, by the swimming pool!

The first day I walked down to Church Stretton – mostly to get stamps, post the cards I had written and see if I could get more postcards.  I also had a look round and found a series of boards giving a brief history of the town – including when it almost totally burnt down.  Having done all the tasks I needed to do – and had a cup of coffee – I walked back to the hotel.  That hill is steep……

I picked up my rucksack and lunch and the route card and set off for the Carding Mill Valley.  This was not a long way – less than 2 miles.  I had lunch looking across the valley.

Looking across Carding Mill valley

Looking across Carding Mill valley

I then walked up it, past the National Trust café and futher up to the reservoir.

The reservoir

The reservoir

There were actually people swimming in it.  I considered going on to the waterfall further up the valley, but it was too hot and there was no shade so went back down to the café.

Coming down from the reservoir

Coming down from the reservoir and looking back down the valley

I had a drink at the café to help cool off and then followed a different route back to the hotel and was in time for the cream tea as it was “arrival day” for this holiday.  Then back to my room to write postcards and for a shower and change ready for dinner.

The next day I took a train to Shrewsbury but found that the holders for maps were empty – so had to guess which way to go – up hill!  As I was in the town I found a couple of “ambassadors” and one of them gave me a map so I could find the tourist information office – which was actually not very good.  There was a café there so I had an iced coffee and looked at the map.  Just outside was the old market hall.

Old Market Hall

Old Market Hall

I then walked down The Mardol, which was an old street I had heard of, possibly from the Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters.  This had a lot of shops etc. from different ages.

Houses on The Mardol

Houses on The Mardol

This led almost directly to the Welsh Bridge over the Severn.

River Severn from the Welsh Bridge

River Severn from the Welsh Bridge

A friend had recommended the river boat trip from near the bridge, but I found that the next 2 trips were full so I decided to walk along by the river instead, on a path which the ambassador had recommended.  It was a very pleasant walk and mostly in the shade, the only disadvantage being a rather noisy food festival going on in “The Quarry” beside part of it.  I had also been recommended to find “The Dingle” which is a garden laid out by Percy Thrower, I think.  I sat there for a while and then continued along the river path.  It was rather odd to see cows on the other side of the river so close to the town.

Cows seen from Shrewsbury town river path

Cows seen from Shrewsbury town river path

After I had been most of the way along the path I headed back towards the town – accidentally finding the town walls on the way!

Town Walls

Town Walls

I was going to look at more of the town, but by then I was too hot (it was that sort of day) and tired so I went back to The Dingle and ate my lunch there.

The Dingle

The Dingle

After lunch I looked at the rest of the garden.

More of the Dingle

More of the Dingle

I then decided I had seen as much as I could cope with and made my way back to the station, passing the castle on the way.

Part of Shrewsbury Castle

Part of Shrewsbury Castle

Shrewsbury seemed a very pleasant town and I would quite like to explore it further on a day when it is less hot and doesn’t have a food festival on.  I got the train back to Church Stretton and then had the climb back up the hill to the hotel to rest and read and change for dinner.

The next day, being Sunday, I decided to go to church in the town.  As the service wasn’t until 11.05 I had plenty of time to potter round and read before I went down the hill to the church.  The service was labelled informal – so jeans were OK.  Seems they were in an interregnum, but they had a speaker from the Bible Society and the whole service was quite good, even though I didn’t know most of the songs/hymns.  A regular from the church even came and sat next to me so it felt friendly.  I would give the whole experience a good score!

After the service I went for a coffee in a local coffee shop before going back up the hill for my rucksack and lunch – and then down the hill again to sit on one of the picnic tables at the bottom to eat my lunch.  I then had a slow wander through Rectory Wood which has a nice stream or two, a pool and is nice and sheltered and cool.  The birds sing and there are very few people around.  I took the route that eventually led me back to the hotel where I organised my packing, spent some time reading and then showered and changed for dinner.

Was it a good holiday?  Yes, a good addition to the Industrial Heritage where I could take things slowly and at my own pace.  The walks I did were very gentle and Shrewsbury was interesting – but needs more time and a less hot day to explore it properly.  I suppose we were fortunate with the weather, too.  I think a short “self-guided” break might be a good addition to future holidays.

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