|A glider preparing to set off from the Long Mynd|
Well, I’ve been ‘offline’ to the world for a few days making the time for a much needed break from my busy schedule.
I nipped over to the Shropshire Hills with the family – but reluctantly left behind due to work commitments – who were researching their ancestral tree. Now, I say ‘who’ because it’s my wifes side of the family the visit concerned.
She’s spent many months working on this project and managed to trace a line going back as far as the 1700’s, discovering relatives not only in Shropshire but as far away as Australia.
So, a holiday cottage was booked for our investigative crowd and days were spent visiting people, places and more.
And what did I do?
Well, apart from tag along with keen interest and fascination it proved a good excuse for me to explore an area of the UK I’ve not yet visited – and my goodness was it an eye-opener!
England’s largest inland county with a population less that of the remote Northumberland, no busy main roads and a scene wherever you looked of a time gone by – well, at least for the rest of us.
|A valley creeps into the mass of the Long Mynd|
Country lanes, which there are many, gave way to varying sights of utter simple beauty – a pure rural idyll. The whole sense of pace to the area is slow and contemplative and the locals were always very friendly – being more akin in that respect to the wonderful populations of northern England.
I visited many villages, drank a few ales (mostly microbreweries) and enjoyed some wonderful scenery that I honestly never expected to see in that neck of the woods.
|The town of Ludlow would embarrass Walt Disney!|
One included the historic town of Ludlow – the finest and most splendid market town I’ve ever seen. The character of the place screams ‘medieval’! I’ve not seen so many Tudor buildings in one place – all different from one another and on every street within the towns stone walls.
Nooks and crannies gave way to fine, wide Georgian streets all overlooked by a well preserved Norman castle – surrounded by peaceful rolling countryside.
It was quite simply a joy to behold and will linger for some time in my memory – though I wish to return very soon.
|Many fine Tudor buildings litter Ludlow|
And then there were the views from atop the Long Mynd – a high, long sandstone hill in the company of smaller but no less beautiful tops. You could see out over to the Cheshire and Midland plains, Malverns near the city of Worcester and of course Wales. I could even make out Cadair Idris in Snowdonia.
And to think my wifes distant family members were born, raised and died in this fine corner of England. Be it as labourers, farmers or pub landlords. It genuinely was very moving to view old photographs, hear tales passed down the line of past persons and more.
|Wonderful carvings on the ‘Magpie’ houses|
It’s genuinely got me intrigued into my own family tree – though this would require some considerable time to undertake. My ancestors branch from Ireland, Wales, England, Germany and Russia!
Perhaps it’s this mix of genes that’s given me a need to travel and take in the world – albeit within the realms of the UK. It’s not that I’m ignorant to the scenic wonders and cultures of the rest of the world – far from it! It’s just I’m very much a contemplative person (despite initial appearances) and am very much content in exploring the places on my doorstep. Heck! Other fellow human beings of the globe wish to visit Britain, so I can’t be on to too much of a bad thing, no?
|Church Stretton nestles amongst the Shropshire Hills|
And I do feel in some respects that as the years go by, I feel no need to seek the highest hills, remotest places or bag one place after another and more – oh, no! I’m very much an outdoors person with a love for nature, history, culture and the landscape.
Endeavouring to look at myself objectively – one cannot help it after such a trip with all it entailed – I cannot help but find it ironic that once I ventured on those steps to lightening the load on my back when hiking and camping, that I didn’t walk more miles or climb higher – instead I slowed down more and relished the sights and sounds I often overlooked or missed.
An enlightening trip in many respects and there is more I could tell – but as far as Shropshire is concerned – to quote the words of the Terminator – “I’ll be back!”
One lifetime really is not enough….
|A 2700 year old Yew Tree – the stories it could tell|