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Monmore Green, Hilton Park, the Wrekin, the Severn, Snailbeach, Hope (Friday 24 May, 2013)

June 30, 2013

Monmore, Hare’s Running

“Sampling Alessi in St Neots
Or chasing Bunty James round Hilton Park”

Our Tune

“Half-way up the Wrekin with an empty flask of tea”

Rod Hull is alive – why?

“Could this be heaven, would that be the Severn”
Lord Hereford’s Knob

“And so returning to the car at Snailbeach, I set off in the direction of Montgomery”

Descent of the Stiperstones

“We made our way from Loggerheads to Hope”

Fix it so she dreams of me

We don’t linger too long over breakfast, which is marred by a soundtrack of Andrew Lloyd-Webber show tunes, and head off along the canal path towards the first of the day’s many scheduled destinations.

Monmore GreenObviously we go a mile in the wrong direction before realising the error of our ways, eventually arriving at Monmore Green dog track, and then Hilton Park services.  Exiting the car park swiftly, we encounter drizzle and relentless wind, but are rewarded by a change of landscape, industrial hinterland gradually being replaced by quaint villages as we head into Shropshire.  We stop for lunch at Coalport next to the Severn (a destination we forgot to bag last time we were in these parts) and then go through a series of villages with faintly sinister names – Coven is the best.

We slog onwards against a headwind towards the foot of the Wrekin, eventually arriving at Lower Wenlock, which lent itsWrekin name to one of the one-eyed penises that acted as Olympic mascots.   As the sun comes out and bluebells appear everywhere, we hit upon what appears to be a footpath leading up the South face of the Wrekin.   Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to go all the way to the top, but that doesn’t matter because the WVs stipulate only that we have to be “half-way” up.  After long discussion about what that means (half-way up in terms of distance or elevation, Nigel?) we decide that we’ve done enough and begin our descent.   Subsequent referral to the map reveals that we were half-way up on either criteria, so take that Wripple Vetivers!

Apart from an unpleasant stretch of A-road towards Shrewsbury (Shropshire seems to attract a disproportionate number of caravanners, and Nick has a close shave with a bus) the landscape continues in picturesque vein as we push on into Pontesbury where we fuel up on jelly babies and Coke before the final stretch of the day.  To bag Snailbeach, we have to negotiate a particularly unforgiving ascent.  There’s also a steep hill into Hope, and by this stage there are some tired legs on the pitch.  With no end in sight we speculate that it should be re-named Despair.

Nick tartJust as we think we’re nearly there, we have a spot of bother working out where we are, and spend a good ten minutes pushing our bikes up a very steep dirt track (which seems more amusing now than it did at the time). Eventually, we arrive at our evening’s accommodation, Abel’s Harp, which turns out to be a quirky boutique hotel run by former Blackheath Stockbroker Dave and his partner, who are trying to bring a touch of Hoxton to rural Shropshire.

As well as being a gooner, Dave is an excellent host, bringing us pints by the fire before dinner.   Behind us is a man with a very long beard, who keeps himself to himself.  Apparently he’s a regular who rarely speaks, but unfurled a Welsh flag and sang Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau when Wales beat England at rugby.

After dinner, Nick foolishly proposes a game of Scrabble and has to have a lot of whiskey to get over his inevitable trouncing.

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