Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DS45 Winter wheat
DS45 Shrewsbury bldgs
Days S44 - S52                                                                  English Midlands
Day S45 - Prees Heath to Shrewsbury
Day S44                                    Scrobbesbyrig                                    Day S46
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Northbound Home
Monday, April 7,  2008

Time of departure: 8.15 am
Time of arrival: 4.15 pm
Place departed: Prees Heath, Shropshire
Place arrived: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Miles: 18.5
Cum miles: 632.2
Percent complete: 65.1

Bed sign Castelo's Hotel and Restaurant **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 35 ($70)
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DS45 Charles Darwin and library
DS45 My hotel
I was lucky with today's weather, because miserable conditions were all around me as evidenced by dark clouds - but somehow a patch of blue followed me south for my 18-mile hike down to Shrewsbury. Only occasionally did it it hail and rain, and mostly it was cool, calm and dry. Cool? Well, actually, it was bitterly cold when I took off my gloves to make a sandwich.

Shrewsbury is certainly an interesting, historic town, as I briefly discovered after checking in at Castelo's restaurant which also has rooms. On my way to buying bread, cheese and orange juice, I discovered the Castle and Regimental Museum, St. Mary's Church, and Charles Darwin's statue in front of the imposing Castle Gates library. (Darwin is a native of here.) More interesting than my usual trip to the minimarket.

The hard-to-enunciate Shrewsbury (pronounced Shrowsbury), has its origins in the Latin, Scrobbensis. In Old English, Scr was pronounced Shr. This must then be applied when sounding out the Old English derivation,
Scrobbesbyrig. The Normans converted this to Saropesberie  and later Salopesberie given that the French could not pronounce the r (third letter in Saropesberie) very well. From this Shrewsbury evolved for the town and Salops for the county, though the county is now called Shropshire.  This important information comes from the Borough Council. There are about twenty other Shrewsburys around the world, including twelve in the U.S. But none is older than this 'ere Shrewsbury, which dates back to 800 AD. Before then, things get murkier, but it probably had the name, Pengwern, and was part of the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

Do the locals appreciate their rich, cultural environment? I think they must, or they wouldn't preserve it. The British, at least as much as any other nation, are attracted to their history and to learning - at all levels of society. It's quite possible that your postman will be an expert on Greek mythology, your butcher the author of a book on British bullfrogs, and the kid next door an amateur archeologist.

I was reminded of this when in the Lake District, where outdoor learning classes and activities were so diverse as to illustrate the point. I took some notes. Here are a few example activities out of hundreds offered:

"Amphibian Amble at Sandscale Haws". An incredible evening walk to hear the incredible mating call of the Natterjack toad, Europe's loudest amphibian.

"Yan, Tyan, Tethera . . .".  Join Ted Relph of the Lakeland Dialect Society for an interesting journey through the history of dialect in Cumbria.

"Cumbrian Moth Hunt". Join Rob Petley-Jones on an evening's caterpillar and moth hunt. Insect repellant is NOT allowed on this event. No dogs allowed.

"Himalayan Balsam Pulling Made Easy!". Join a work party intent on eradicating this invasive species. Gloves recommended. 

"Helvellyn by Moonlight". Bar supper, followed by an overnight climb of this mountain, retracing the journey of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1800 - "vigorous landscape appreciation". Due to the serious nature of this event, participation is at the discretion of the leaders. [Translation: not for drunk yokels.]

"The Cumbrian Ice Age". How glaciers have shaped Cumbria. Followed by refreshments.

Of course, you'll find interesting activities in U.S. national parks. I thought you'd like to see a sampling of their British equivalents.

I'll describe my brief visit to Shrewsbury tomorrow. For now, I need to rest my tongue from further efforts to say
Day S44                                         2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                          Day S46