CONTACT: SPRING 1970
It was pouring with rain when we set off from Birmingham for Hopwood and the start of our ramble last December. The day before had been cold and crisp and the watery December sun had shone all day from a cloudless sky. I suppose it was too much to hope that it would continue into the next day. When we arrived at Hopwood after a short car trip from Birmingham the elements were still against us so in desperation we had an early picnic lunch at a 'country house' I know and drowned our sorrows within.
With remarkable suddenness after mid-day, the wind changed directions and the sun began to smile. From then onwards the joys of a perfect country walk began to dawn on us again.
After the torrential downpour of the morning, it seemed pointless to cross the fields, so we meandered along the country lanes until we came to the Birmingham-Worcester Canal just beyond Alvechurch. Here we joined the towpath and followed the course of the canal for about a mile before joining the road again. Tardebigge was our next port of call and here we spent a good hour seeing the many locks in action and easing the plight of an unhappy bargee at the same time. Crossing the fields below Hewell Grange, we then headed for Blackwell and our meal, taking a short cut along the 'right of way' across the golf course to be there on time.
The weather had improved considerably on the Sunday we walked from Droitwich to Worcester. Starting from the "Copcut Elm" public house on the main A38 trunk road where we had parked one of our cars, we followed the lanes to Salwarpe and Hadley where, in the "Bowling Club Inn" we enjoyed our picnic lunch over a friendly drink. Hadley itself is not too far from the River Severn. An hour after lunch we were threading our way down the precipitous slopes on the banks of the river. Just to make things a little more exciting those who were foolish enough to go ahead of the leader had to retrace their steps for the footpath at the base of the slopes came to an abrupt end. However, it is all part of the fun walking at leisure through the countryside. You never know what you up against. Many more shattering experiences were had by us all as we roved freely along the banks of the Severn passed Bevere Island and the weir. Far short of the racecourse we had to leave the River and make our way into the town for our evening meal.
On our way home in the twilight, we stopped at Bell End just a short distance away from the planned route home, to spend a contemplative hour over a drink at a country inn. Another perfect setting to end another perfect ramble.
M J Davenport
CONTACT: SUMMER 1970
We travelled by car to the Malvern Hills for our first ramble this Spring, and we parked our cars at an ideal spot in the shade of the Hills about a mile beyond Wyche Cutting. It was a glorious morning, and we were all looking forward to a good day's walking over the Hills to Chase End and White Leaved Oak. Our immediate task on arrival on the hills was to change into walking attire. This we did in great haste for we wanted to get on the hills as quickly as possible. We scaled the first peak at a spot overlooking "The Kettle Sings", and on reaching the top were amazed to see considerable amounts of snow still lying around. Such a find gave us much pleasure, as we soon discovered who were our enemies and who were our friends. We joined forces at the British Camp Hotel however, further on, and after slaking our thirsts proceeded to climb the Herefordshire Beacon, where atop of the hill we signed a truce in the shelter of the fortifications, for here once again much snow was about, and it was time for lunch. About two miles beyond "The Gullett" on the road to Hollybush, catastrophe overtook us.
We had split up into two parties for a while, some of us keeping to the hillside, while others followed the lane, pausing awhile to watch the newborn lambs frisking in the fields, when one of the girls discovered much to her consternation, that her gold watch of much value had fallen off her wrist. There was no alternative but to retrace our steps and hope that by some stroke of luck we would find it. As luck would have it, we did. We retraced our steps over the hills through the bracken and undergrowth back to Herefordshire Beacon before we found it. How lucky we were that the many people flocking to the hills in the afternoon had not spotted it first.
What could easily have been a day to forget, turned out to be one to remember.
I can also recall quite vividly, getting soaked to the skin on our last ramble round Henley in Arden. We had parked our cars at Beaudesert, and after sampling the well known 'ice-cream' at the dairy, we made our way along the lanes to Ullenhall where we stopped for a drink. It was a bit too early to have our lunch when we arrived, so we continued on, regardless of the now very dismal weather with the intention of heading for Lowsonford. Then, when we were right out in the wilds, miles from anywhere, the skies opened and the rain came down in a torrential downpour. It was impossible to shelter under a tree, as the leaves were not fully out, plus the fact that we did not wish to be struck by lightning, so we just decided to brave the elements, get wet, cut short the walk, and return to the cars. This we did with much reluctance. However, we did not head for home. Instead we made our way to Stratford upon Avon, and spent the afternoon by the river, for the rain had ceased by then.
We left the town early and set off for Yarningale Common, where, in an olde world cottage, a marvellous meal had been set for us. Judging by the conversation at the table, it was evident that the worries of the day were soon forgotten, and that all had been worthwhile.
M J DAVENPORT
CONTACT: CHRISTMAS 1970
It was a bitterly cold morning when we stepped off the 'bus in Bromsgrove to venture forth on our November ramble, however the sun was shining from a clear blue sky and we were all looking forward to a good day's walk ahead of us.
After a few strides along the main road, and a steady climb up the church steps we were in the parish churchyard of Bromsgrove. On our way across the churchyard we paused awhile at the tombstones of those two railway engineers who lost their lives in a railway accident many years ago. We dropped down from the churchyard into a recently constructed housing estate which had to be crossed before we could head for the open country on the other side of a footbridge leading across the M5 Motorway. At our early morning pace though, this built up area was soon behind us.
The fields were not sodden but quite firm for this time of the year, and it was a joy to walk across those broad Worcestershire acres before striking the lane to Dodford. Just beyond the village church, a footpath to our left skirting a pig farm, brought us into Randan Woods. Here was solitude in abundance. The footpaths meander through the trees for some considerable distance before the highway comes into view again. After a short walk along the lane we headed for Chaddesley Wood and lunch alfresco, but as we were feeling on top of the world - and the view then before us added evidence to this - we decided to have our picnic lunch there and then, sitting on a grassy patch on the edge of a ploughed field, with the glorious woods behind us and glorious Worcestershire countryside beyond. The public right of way beyond the woods having been obliterated, we followed the main road to Chaddesley Corbett after lunch.
After a refill at one of the local inns, a good bit of lane walking was then the order of the afternoon, with an occasional digression across the fields and through some orchards.
Having spent longer than anticipated loitering during the day, it was not surprising to find that dusk had caught up with us as we approached Chadwich End and the field paths over the Lickey Hills. By then some of us were a little weary, but by no means undaunted in spirit, for we were as happy as ever when we crept into our usual haunt in Blackwell for our belated hot meal. Yes, we were a little later than we had hoped.
M J DAVENPORT