Monday, 4 July 2011


we replay the tape from two years ago
a camping trip to mark my birthday
to the delightful onny valley in shropshire
we pitch tent at wentnor
on the island where the stream curves around
woodle splashes happily about in the water
dipping her net for fish
wagtails and dippers alight on stepping stones
we watch the sheep being sheared
respect to the shearers!
we play football and croquet
i strum my guitar and write little bits of songs
in the kit bag i find the tie-on tent label from 2009:
arrival date july 4
departure date july 5
oh that was a difficult time!
full of woes and dark thoughts about the echocentre
as evening falls
we drive out in the direction of the stiperstones
the lonely ridge of spectacular quartzite tors
in such stark contrast to the rolling moorland of the long mynd
we take the steep narrow road in second gear
meandering up to the carpark below cranberry rock
it is at this point that we depart from the script
the oil light flashes and beeps
in sympathy with the ever-present 'check brakepads' warning
uh-oh...this doesn't look good
the prospect of being stranded
in the lonely wilds of shropshire
a few miles from the welsh border
is not a good one
still there is the script to follow
we park up
and climb the hill to the ridge
corndon hill looms black marking the border with wales
we traverse the ridge as far as the devil's chair
h scrambles to the top of the tor
and demands a photo opportunity
the sun sets on cader idris and the mountains of north wales
sunbeams break through the cumulonimbus
it is an awe-inspiring scene
the enormity of the natural landscape
defiant pyramids of volcanic rock
standing resilient and unchanged
for perhaps millions of years
it puts us tiny humans in our place
even as we watch the hot-air balloons
floating bravely across the horizon...
back to the script again
downwards we stride past grazing cattle
in a last-ditch attempt
to make it to the 16th-century crown inn at wentnor
this time in an oil-challenged jalopy
we make it with five minutes to spare before the kitchen closes
exactly as we did two years ago
but are welcomed in by the friendly barstaff
i recognise the landlord's muscular forearms
as he pulls frothy pints of six bells and three tuns
my vegetable curry is a big improvement on last time though
(they must have changed the recipe and/or the cook!)
while i'm waiting for the meal to arrive
i browse the bookshelves
and stumble upon 'heart of england hill walks'
authored by a certain john nuisance
yes - he of echocentre consulting fame
that wasn't in the script!
we make it back to the campsite in one piece
without the engine exploding
but then i notice something else
the lock on the boot has broken again
what next?
this wasn't in the script either
but it certainly makes for a more entertaining story!

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