Friday, 7 November 2014

Ironbridge and ... November, Shropshire

Following on from the walk I did with the large party of people up The Wrekin at Wellington (previous post), the group leader abandoned plans to complete his original additional circular walk from Wellington. We were so late for lunch that the restaurant in Wellington had to let the tables go and consequently the group split into two for ease of accommodating so many people. As it looked like lunch was going to be finished by 2:30 - 3pm and dinner would be served at the usual time at The Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury, it was suggested that we stayed with the people in the cars we travelled with for some free time. The driver (Cumbrian Farmer) was open to offers, while my friend (Scarborough Sandcastle manager) and myself discussed the possibility of visiting nearby Iron Bridge for the first time. The fourth person (Knutsford pickup) was familiar to Cumbrian Farmer and was keen not to walk too much further after the mornings expedition so it was an agreed plan. Due to the nature of the Iron Bridge historic site and the fact that the Architect didn't design an adjacent tourist car park :-) we had to park a little upstream by The River Severn next to the Tourist Information and Museum of the Gorge. Setting off from the car and a quick look in the T.I. , it seemed that Cumbrian Farmer and Knutsford pickup wanted to spend more time in the museum rather than walk any further. Unaware of this information and with 1 hour of daylight left, Scarborough Sandcastle manager and myself pressed on to view the site for the very first time.

Ironbridge  GJC_014567

So often in history, settlements and subsequent towns can find themselves placed next to a river for defensive or trading reasons but it doesn't take a genius to realise that the town of Ironbridge was created and developed as a result of The Iron Bridge. The worlds first cast iron bridge was built in 1779 / 80 spanning 100 ft (30m) by Abraham Darby III replacing a small ferry service the family operated. The Darby family were heavily involved with innovative manufacturing processes at the start of The Industrial Revolution and the bridge somehow became a symbol of that. It seemed a shrewd move that the builders continued with the construction of The Tontine Hotel (pictured above) directly facing the bridge. This accommodation allowed and enhanced visits from Engineers of bridges, Industrialists and early tourists to view this remarkable and unique structure.

After doing so many blog posts that include the works of Thomas Telford (Shrewsbury, Menai Bridge, Betws-y-Coed, Llangollen, Bala Lake and Tobermory), it would be nice to suggest that he was the designer of the bridge, but it was the inspiration to build a longer structure with half the weight further upstream at Buildwas. Unfortunately that bridge no longer survives due to the power of the River Severn as many local residents and Environmental Agency can testify to, as they dry out their homes regularly and plug another gap in the flood defences respectively.

Iron Bridge by night    GJC_014585

Meanwhile back in the 21st century, after observing the bridge with my friend for a short period of time, it was a mystery as to whether the others were walking slowly towards us, injured or resting in the museum. The sandcastle manager decided to retrace his steps to investigate with the inspiration at the very least of a car window observation of the bridge for the others. It was unfortunate that I didn't have time to explore all the alleys of such a place as I had to remain visible to short term car parking restrictions, however I was rewarded with the inversely proportional reduction and illumination of light.

Festive window  GJC_014586

What seemed to turn into an age and in the lower light, there wasn't much else to photograph in a 30 - 50 metre section of street other than a difficultly lit Christmas shop window and a ... errr ... pork pie wedding cake !! ....

Pork Pie wedding  GJC_014572
( This third and final post from Shropshire is a lot shorter than usual due to reasons you'll understand that were outside my control. I haven't managed to catch up with many blogs this time so for the sake of time and an obvious publishing deadline for the remainder of the post, I'll leave you with some seasonal images for this month ... something I haven't had the opportunity of displaying before ... )

Memorial silhouette GJC_014568

Thoughts turned to November as this was Remembrance weekend (exactly one year ago) for those that gave their lives in military service.

Memorial  GJC_014618

The following morning the whole group were given the option of attending the wreath laying service at the Shrewsbury Quarry war Memorial.

Remembrance day  GJC_014621

Despite these occasions always being somber and respectful, the regiments of Shropshire and Shrewsbury seemed to make the event far greater than that.

On my wanderings around the town of Shrewsbury I stumbled across two pieces of artwork drawn at random on walls in unusual places ...

We will remember them   GJC_010692 - Version 2

Lastly before I "dash off", November seems to have become a time when voluntary "Movember" men grow a specific part of facial hair to raise awareness and sponsorship for research into mens health. It also seems to signify my sparse activities on blogger :-) ....

Movember   GJC_010691 (1)
" Movember man "

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Wrekin, Wellington, Shropshire.

The summit GJC_014535

The Wrekin is a hill (1335 ft / 407m) that overlooks Shropshire Plains and is probably a welcoming sight for the local people of Wellington and Shrewsbury arriving back by road to their home county from all parts of the east.

Tree and a view  GJC_014519

(( I had no idea what kind of photographical material that I would collect on this walk (part 2 of 3 Shropshire) and even though it's not a strong set, I think it's passable as a cloud fest !
I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty of matching that with a shorter post where I don't have to think too much either for once in a while :-) ... I'm due a lazy post !!
I thought I'd experiment with something else a little bit different ... wonder if anyone will notice ! ))

It makes a nice change to go with the flow to see what happens as some of my solo trips can be ordered, complex but fun nonetheless. About ten days before this trip, I got an e-mail from the national organisation that I booked with to say that the hotel we were meant to be staying at (Buckatree Hall Hotel, Wellington) had been double booked. Fortunately though, alternative short notice accommodation was found at The Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury (Flickr image from previous post).
The Lion Hotel was probably a better option than the country hotel as we could use the facilities of the town at various stages of the weekend. However, there is always a downside as the planned figure of eight walk starting from the original Hotel door had to be modified and shortened significantly.
The task of transporting thirty people by cars to the main Wellington car park seemed routine enough but not practical on a busy saturday morning. Eventually the group somehow managed to congregate outside Wellington Leisure centre but not before numerous visits to the toilet inside !!

Nearly there !  GJC_014514
Nearly there !
We set off to conquer the hill having lost a lot of time, passing the infamous hotel on the way. I got a bit lost from the surroundings with some interesting and unusual conversations talking to people I hadn't met before. It seemed a shame that some people from London can count on half of a hand how many times they had travelled more than 100 miles north of their City ... a wedding being one of the excuses, I mean reasons !!
On nearing the summit, it was time to take a talking break from all of that and let the camera do the talking instead ...

Are we there yet? ... we are !  GJC_014523

Due to the modified extension at the beginning of the walk and some of the party not being used to walking up hills, we reached the summit at the same time that lunch had been arranged at a Pub in town !!

Summit clouds  GJC_014518

Geologically, The Shropshire hills are mainly found in the south west of the county with the volcanic style rock structure of The Wrekin being the exception to the rule. A narrow band of hillside extends north eastwards into the Shropshire plains with The Wrekin at the head.

However if you find that information quite dull, you can always believe the other story :-)  ......

There was a giant called Gwendol Wrekin and he didn't like Shrewsbury to the point that he wanted to flood it and destroy the residents with a giant sized spade full of earth. On the way there, he met a cobbler going in the opposite direction with a huge sack of old repairable shoes. As there were no maps at the time, the giant wanted the cobbler to give him directions for Shrewsbury. The cobbler, fearing for his trade, informed him that it was a very long way and he had worn out all these shoes getting to this point. On hearing this, the giant gave up on the idea and dumped the earth on the ground and it was called The Wrekin. A smaller mound called Ercall Hill was formed as he scraped the mud off his boots.

The Beacon  GJC_014527

The Iron Age Hill fort became the location for a World War II beacon to deter planes away from its elevated intrusion on the nearby Shropshire Plains.

Transmission lines   GJC_014515

The beacon remained operational until 1960 and was replaced by a telecommunications media mast that started broadcasting TV and radio in 1975 with a replacement upgraded structure in 2000.

Digital Memories   GJC_014526

It seemed appropriate that many people wanted to join in with the digital experience and broadcast the events of their day to all their friends :-)

Family photo  GJC_014541

Having read the Mountain Rescue reports in years gone by from more severe terrain, I was reminded that people may be affected by the altitude and have the possibility of not having clarity of mind to think normally :-)

The Wrekin    GJC_014560

All too soon, it was time to descend a different way for a very late lunch. Had I had my own space and transport, it would have been nice to drive somewhere for a profile of the hill. This is the best I could do given the circumstances.

It's been some time since I ended a post this way so that just leaves me with the image you've all guessed was coming ....

Dog Trig  GJC_014542 - Version 2
Alone on the hill !!
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