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North of England
English West Country
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Time of departure: 8.30 am
Time of arrival: 3.45 pm
Place departed: Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Place arrived: Church Stretton, Shropshire
Cum miles: 648.7
Percent complete: 66.8
Victoria B&B, Church Stretton ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: £35 ($70)
| Overview of both hikes
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|The River Severn loops round Shrewsbury almost like a moat|
Breakfast at Castelo's Italian restaurant started with a large cup of cappuccino. So, when the cook asked "What else?" I said, hopefully, "How about some spaghetti bolognese?"
It wasn't a joke. I'm tired of full English breakfasts. A plate of nicely-prepared spaghetti would have been an unusual but tasty change, and I was in the right place for it.
"Anything," said the cook, with a friendly smile. And soon I could hear the sound of a sizzling pan, undoubtedly cooking the ground meat for the bolognese sauce. I sat back and waited, twiddling my fork in happy anticipation.
Soon the cook appeared with the plate, and we exchanged a mutually-admiring "molte grazie" and "prego", along with big smiles and mental bows - co-conspirators in a plan to replace the incumbent English breakfast with an upstart Italian one.
But when the cook put the plate down, I saw an egg, bacon, sausage, mushroom, tomato and beans. What we had here was a failure to communicate.
Setting out from Castelo's, I went up Castle Street as I did last night, but went on to turn left on Butcher Row to enter Fish St, one of the oldest streets in the town. Here, in a very old building, the Mystique lingerie shop has installed itself, inappropriately enough right next to Grope Lane.
Shrewsbury is an unusually historic city in a delightful setting. The River Severn takes a big loop here, almost surrounding the old town built on a hill on the inside of the loop. The river is in many ways a moat, but it's patrolled by swans and ducks, and unlike a moat it flows peacefully along a valley, tree-lined, framing the old town and softening its starker manmade features.
Soon enough, I became deliciously lost amidst the winding streets, and olde worlde buildings. Recovering, I walked past St. Winefride's school as the youngest kids were arriving with their parents, looking cute in neat uniforms.
Later, I found Greyfriars pedestrian bridge across the Severn, and freed of the confined old town, I was on my way.
I had a brief spell on the A49 climbing Bayston Hill, but then swung left on to backroads to Condover. Near here, someone asked me for directions, which is pretty well a daily occurrence. I was able to help because hikers study their detailed maps intimately, and often can point to the places that the bigger maps of motorists don't show.
The sun shone brightly all morning. In Condover, a peaceful village on Cound Brook, I photographed the village post office in the sun, noticing a strong atmosphere of spring. The daffodils had shrugged off the recent snow, and spring was shrugging off winter, whatever the weather forecasters said. In Ryton, I had a shandy at the Fox Inn, a backwater of a pub which is what the best pubs often are.
For those who don't know a shandy, it is just a 50:50 mixture of beer and what the British call lemonade but others know as 7-Up. It amounts to a sweet and dilute beer, which many find cissy. But, for a hiker, it's refreshing and only mildly alcoholic. A cider, on the other hand, is sweet but quite highly alcoholic. After trying to drink a warm Strongbow recently, I think I'll drink shandy for a while.
After Longnor, I had another short spell on the A49 before employing backroads again to reach All Stretton. By now the forecast rain and snow had arrived, but the raindrops were the large drops of April showers, and the snow was more about a pelting of hailstones than it was about flakes. They both arrived as if they would soon be gone, as they were. "We have to do this," said the weathergods, apologetically, "but we won't do it for long."
Just ahead was the Victoria B&B in the civilized town of Church Stretton, so it didn't matter much either way.
It had been a spiffing day.
|Day S45 © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May Day S47|