CONTACT: SPRING 1968
Rambles in Retrospect
Spring is just around the corner, and with the foot and mouth disease receding in the Midlands, the members of the Club can look ahead to many more pleasant walks. But we can also look back over the years since the Club's inception, and recall to mind those many happy days we have spent together in the countryside. Indeed, those happy nights, for we have also been on some exciting walks in the early hours of the morning. Variety is the spice of life. Although we spend much of the day walking leisurely, we partake in other sports as well!!
We have used many forms of transport to get us to the place from where we start our walk. We have yet to go by air. One ex-member even came on his bike. He did not get very far.
I can recall vividly our first moonlight ramble over Cannock Chase, from Hednesford to Rugeley. What a feat of endurance that was! The moon deserted us before we had got very far, and for ten solid hours we walked through a dark forest in the black of night. How we kept on our feet I just don't know. Some of us didn't. They kept falling down like ninepins. It was a good job one of our members had a pack of cards. He must have had plenty of money as well. Were we glad to get back. I know one girl was, she was playing hockey on Sunday afternoon and just managed to snatch a couple of hours sleep before walking onto the pitch.
There was the time when we spent the day walking over the Wrekin in Shropshire. One girl, who is still on the Staff, came along in her summer frock and believe it or not, high-heeled shoes! I might add that she made the trip. But that was her first and last. She thought we were going window shopping in nearby Wellington.
Another experienced colleague of ours, an old hand at the game of walking, joined us at Henley-in-Arden for a walk round the surrounding countryside. She was well prepared for the trip, right down to her ankles but alas, she was wearing sandals. Nevertheless she made it. All in one piece as well!
I don't think I shall forget in a hurry, our ramble in the Forest of Dean. We got lost. Each one of us made suggestions as to the route we should take, but they were all barking up the wrong tree. We were trying to make our way to Symonds Yat, when our leader turned left at the wrong oak tree. He should have turned right. I won't mention his name! When we did eventually pick up our own transport to take us back to Ross-on-Wye for tea, we decided to have supper.
Our moonlight ramble in July, 4 years ago, was a night that members who joined us will never forget. We caught the last Midland Red bus out of Birmingham at 10-30pm on Saturday night and were setting foot on the Malvern Hills just before midnight. The hills were bathed in moonlight all through the night, and there was not a cloud in sight all night. We cooked a feast of a meal on our two primus stoves just before the sun came over the horizon, a little after 4 o'clock on Sunday morning.
This was on the top of British Camp. It was here that we had a game of football. From here we made our way through Eastnor to Ledbury, where we were just in time to catch the milkman before he started on his round. Twenty-four members came on the ramble, and what a marvellous breakfast we all ate at the Feathers Hotel in this market town. The weather was perfect and the food could not have been better. We were all ready to go back the way we had come, but instead we caught the early morning train to Malvern Link from where we caught our bus home.
When you consider that the Club has been going strong since 1961 and we have had a ramble practically every month, until just before last Christmas, with long weekends in the Lake District, North Wales and Somerset....the tales I can relate are far too numerous to mention here. I can only hope that feelings of nostalgia will erupt in the minds of all those who were with us on those memorable occasions, and particularly in the minds of those to whom they refer. To others, especially the new members of the Staff, I hope that this article will inspire them in wanting to join us on our future rambles. If so, my walk along these lines has ended. Now it is your turn. I hope to get a reply from you after I send out the next circular.
M J DAVENPORT
CONTACT: AUTUMN 1968
Two Rambles into Worcestershire
We had chosen a glorious day for our ramble over the Abberley Hills in June. It was really too warm for the walk we had intended to go as the sun shone inexorably from a cloudless sky throughout the day.
We parked our cars in the driveway leading up to the ruins of Great Witley Court and made our way along the rough road towards the village. It was a red-letter day in the life of the villagers for the local cricket team was entertaining some ITV personalities in a friendly match that afternoon and the local lades were putting some final touches to the ground as we passed. We did not pass the "Half Way House", however, even though we had only come a short distance. An opportunity to whet our appetites must not be lost. Just past the inn we forked left again along a country lane leading to Shelsey Beauchamp. We ate our lunch on the banks of the River Teme only a stone's throw from the village church. From here we retraced our steps back to the cars by a different route. Cherries were in abundance, not so much visible in the orchards, but on sale by the side of the road.
As we approached the cars we had to make our way through a gipsy encampment. Indeed, far from being hostile towards us, they were quite friendly. One dear lady found it a suitable moment to tell one of her jokes. Naturally it was about liquor.
There was an abundant supply of strawberries about too, and imagine our delight when returning from Great Witley we noticed a sign informing the traveller that it was possible to pick your own strawberries for 1/6d per lb. We did not need telling twice! We came away from the strawberry field with our chips heavily laden with the glorious fruit. How we deserved our meal when we arrived in Worcester.
The Clent Hills, situated due west of the Abberley Range are in an area much frequented by the Club in past years. It was, therefore, with the purpose of reviving happy memories that the Club renewed acquaintance with these hills on our July ramble.
We made our ascent of the hills from Walton Hill, making our way to Bell End over Calcot Hill. The village of Belbroughton was a haven of solitude when we arrived there. The streets were deserted. As time was on our side at this point on our walk, we passed through the village and continued to Drayton where we had our lunch and a welcome drink amidst the hospitality afforded us by "ROBIN HOOD". The berries on the Rowan trees growing in profusion in the hedgerows were a delightful sight. The two swans on the village pond presented a delightfully tranquil scene, all too seldom seen nowadays.
As we approached Belbroughton on our return to Clent, we split up into two parties, or to be more accurate the stragglers were left behind. Imagine their bewilderment when they missed us, as those in the fore lazed on the village green awaiting them. However, we soon caught them up and eased their anxiety.
By a strange coincidence it was in this village that we met a relative of a retired member of the Club. She was out spending the day walking with her friend along the route we had taken.
We spent some time on the hills on our return rejuvenating in childhood games. No wonder the ham and eggs tasted so good in the village cafe.
Winter is now fast approaching. Fireside games and parties will be in evidence everywhere. There will still be plenty of activity in the countryside though for those who care to see it. Why not vary your diet? Variety is the spice of life; come along on a Winter ramble, you are certain to enjoy it.
M J Davenport
CONTACT: CHRISTMAS 1968
A cold blustery wind greeted us when we alighted from the Midland Red 'bus at Mappleborough Green at the start of our October ramble. The starting point was not the original venue, however, as an interesting discourse on the upper deck of the 'bus caused us to miss our stop, with the result that the steep ascent of Gorcott Hill had to be made on foot.
We all breathed a sigh of relief when the left-hand turning to Beoley came into sight, for no more would we have to run the gauntlet with the traffic on this notorious hill.
The "Village Inn" at Beoley was even more pleasing to the eye, but for once we did not heed its beckoning call. Instead we proceeded through the village, passing the church on the brow of the hill and, turning right at Beoley Cross, walked on towards Weatheroak along the old Icknield Way.
At the foot of Weatheroak Hill, at the "Coach and Horses", we ate our picnic lunch. It was here that we were joined by a canine friend who not only enjoyed our hospitality but was very partial to our lunches.
After lunch we made our way to Hopwood along more country lanes. Here in this small community on the main Redditch road we decided to vary our itinerary and, rather than continue along the lanes we set off across the fields towards Barnt Green reservoir. Much to our surprise the heavy rains of the past fortnight had drained away considerably and the ground was quite firm. We paused for a while by the side of the reservoir to watch the yachtsmen test their skill in the face of the keen wind. Then with added wind ourselves we set sail on a westerly course for the Lickey Hills and Blackwell for our long awaited meal and the return 'bus home.
M J DAVENPORT