Archive | March, 2017

Moreton Corbet Castle ruins, Shawbury.

12 Mar

MORETON CORBET CASTLE Aerial view of the medieval castle and Tudor manor house.

Yesterday I kept up a slowly growing tradition whereby my attendance at Port Vale football ground means a rare win for this Potteries based team. This time against Swindon. Every time that I have enjoyed a free ticket to the Presidential Suite, Port Vale have won ! I enjoyed a couple of beers and needed a walk to pay for the indulgence today. So the campervan headed for Moreton Corbet in deepest Shropshire.

    The quiet little hamlet is close to RAF Shawbury and the ruins sit adjacent to a very pretty Church, nestling in the flat agricultural landscape. This photo shows a glimpse forward in time, from the medieval fortress to the Elizabethan mansion built many years later by the Corbet family. The atmosphere is tangibly hair raising. The first glimpse on our drive in from the South was extremely dramatic. A verbal WOW moment when you spot the facade. It is managed by English Heritage but still Corbet owned.

A timber building from around 1100 BC  was replaced by stone in 1200 and gradually developed into an Elizabethan , Italian-styled, mansion. Time has taken it’s toll and some awesome cracks and sheared masonry can be seen if you click on the pics below and zoom in. Huge windows and fireplaces to match are in evidence. Log consumption must have been massive to keep even the mild Shropshire weather at bay.

The family were Royalists and the Castle helped defend Shrewsbury during the Civil War but was taken by Parlimentarian troops at least twice. Robert Corbet lost his life through the Black Death and the place is steeped in history. One legend says that the family took pity on a puritan who was suffering from popular discrimination. They took him and fed and watered him, putting him under their roof and defence. They did tire of him though eventually. (” I don’t think you wanted to do that did you?” “Waste not want not” ” Don’t do as I do, do as I say…..”) so they threw him out. He scraped by in a local woods but returned to cast a curse on the house and family. Threatening infestation by serpents, beasties and nastiness, he said that the family would not live to enjoy the wonderous stately home. They did  move out and it became a ruin. One hell of a downshift………….

read more here  http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/moreton-corbet-castle/

If you visit, take a look at the beautiful Church adjacent.

     We did not stop at that and moved on to Attingham Park for a National Trust lunch and a decent walk before the drizzle set in.

     We did go into the house and I listened to a volunteer guide talking about some “diaries” of a certain Madame Wilson who was mistress to a large number of high ranking gentry in the 1800s. There were so many, I do not know how she found time or the energy for what she got up to. The guide then had an interesting verbal ramble about politics in the Potteries from 1940s onwards. Then Kenya and the Mau Mau rebellion, Rhosesia and the commonwealth and British Empire. An interesting Gentleman of 78 , action packed years. He had been involved in agricultural feeds but came from a family of politicians. I got dragged away by my wife as we had caused a huge backlog of visitors on the house tour.

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A weird sheep salt lick. (What?) and a decent walk for Spring.

9 Mar

With the weather so dry and warm today, we headed for the National Trust owned, Carding Mill Valley near to Church Stretton. It is a series of footpaths, byeways and tracks through the hills around including the Long Mynd. As soon as we got there, we wished that we had visited before. As we parked just inside th entrance to the first car park we were surprised to see sheep gathered around a road weary Toyota car. They were all licking the front bumper and I assume it was for the salt from the recent frost prevention spreading?

I first read about “Salt Licks” for animals in a school book called “Old Yeller”. Wild animals gathering around exposed outcrops of mineral bearing rocks to get the vital bits and bobs needed for their diet. Sheep definitely get issued with mineral (salt) licks.

     It’s the first time that I have seen sheep licking cars but then I don’t spend much time around sheep. Partially for fear of getting a nasty nickname but that’s a joke too far for this family Blog!

Carding Mill Valley is well worth visiting if you like walking and/or you enjoy a picnic in the open air. The upper car park can be reached if you just keep on going up the cul de sac. Through the ford and you can reach dizzy heights without breaking sweat. It’s like a cross between Bourdon on The Water and Dovedale.

You can choose from “Easy” through ” Moderate” to ” K2 Mountaineering Standard”  difficulty rating. (I made the last bit up………. it’s rated “Challenging” in my book)

We chose a 3 mile round trip up to the Lightspout Waterfall. Walk 2, a moderate rated walk. The higher you climb the more challenging it becomes.

  This is the waterfall. It’s a decent walk and you need good shoes with lots of grip. There is some scrambling over bedrock but it’s not muddy compared to many other locations. It can be tricky to cross the stream, which we did 3 times but we did not get soaked. Waterproof rambling shoes would be better.

recommended !  see     https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carding-mill-valley-and-the-long-mynd

A shopping trip, a bit of history and disappointment.

8 Mar

Having arranged for three different craftsmen to take some hassle from my lazy back, today we had a shopping trip in the campervan to Market Drayton. I am pretty sure that it would be able to find it’s own way there if we could program “Wednesday” into it’s electronic centre.

After a big discussion about our health restoring lifestyle changing diet, we decided that we could cope with a carvery, so long as we focussed on the vegetable and ignored the best bits, including roast spuds and yorkshire pudding. Not to mention the gravy…………. We poked our heads around the ancient door of the Clive and Coffyn to be met with a huge crowd queuing for hot food and all the tables already taken. I regret promoting this lunchtime destination as we seem to have done ourselves out of our easy, walk in lunching. (Not really, as the landlord has done a great job drawing people in from the street market which is actually a couple of streets away.)

I don’t cope well with crowds, so we did a bit more shopping. I went for a look at St Mary’s Church ( seen at night above) where Robert Clive (Clive of India) is said to have caused mayhem by climbing the tower and perching, bird-like on a gargoyle.

audlem view towards whitchurch

His view would have been something like this, although this is from the roof of the Church at Audlem. It would have taken a lot of bottle to perch on that Gargoyle!

He is said to have suffered from manic depression , now called Bi-polar syndrome. But he was also a protection racketeer as a youth. Ultimately sent to India at 17 or 18, he found his true vocation as a soldier. Just a thought, is not coping well with crowds a symptom of manic depression?  It’s not a joke. Clive tried to shoot himself twice but the pistol failed to go off both times. he decided that this was a sign to keep calm and live. So he did!

        He even had a movie made about him. I stood for ages looking around the Church yard whilst my other half perused , what else?, textiles, threads and all things crafty………. I was still dreaming of the black hole of Calcutta when she eventually found me and awoke me from my trance. You can read more about Clive here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2005/03/29/robert_clive_feature.shtml

Next job is a quick spring clean of our camping combo ( caravan and campervan) and shoot off for a couple of days whilst we have a gap in our schedule. Everyone keeps saying that they thought that I was retired……..

Officially Springtime. Why is the Campervan collecting Goose droppings?

6 Mar

This quote is from American author Iris Johansen. With Spring now officially with us and the imminent trips with campervan and caravan rapidly becoming reality, I have to totally agree with what she states. Remember how you felt as a child on Christmas Eve? Waiting for Santa.

Well, that’s how I feel right now. Recently had one of those periods when things get a bit too hectic for comfort. A little too expensive. Not enough time to actually do what your heart really wants you to do. Don’t get me wrong, those jobs eating into  our desired leisure time,( Camping, cycling, walking, sight seeing , pub dinners and DVD’s in the Caravan.) all needed doing. What I call ” Big little jobs”. They look small but eat into your time much more than you thought. You know: Tiling a disrupted kitchen corner after the fitting of a replacement combi-boiler. Sawing up an old timber fire escape and paying out for the new metal jobby. (Not going to throw away all that firewood, am I ?). Fitting your first ever DIY log burning “mini- AGA” and waiting for Building Control approval from the “Borough” after being let down by the HETAS fitter……… and it goes on and on!

      This is where we want to be. It does not really matter whether it’s The Lakes, Cornwall, Anglesey or Scotland. It’s just being out and about enjoying something new. That’s what camping is all about. The whole thing. I even enjoy the anticipation of it all ! Checking the diary right now………..