It’s still very much a novelty that I can step out of my front door and, within just a few minutes, find myself surrounded by fields, forests, rivers and lakes; a novelty which I doubt will wear off. There are countless local walks, whose routes have been mapped, photographed and described in varying degrees of detail, such that you’re truly spoilt for choice. And if you’re prepared to venture off those well-worn pathways and simply follow your nose, I doubt you’d ever run out of places to visit.
I’ve spent many happy hours over the last few years, wandering along the tracks and trails of the Wyre Forest with my sister and brother-in-law, and my little nieces, and many more hours as a youngster doing the same with the rest of the family. And now that I’m a permanent resident, I have yet more opportunities to make the most of Bewdley and Worcestershire’s great outdoors.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a wander along the Ribbesford Circular Trail – a pretty straightforward, way-marked route along well-trodden (and spectacularly muddy) paths. I only managed a short section of the trail though, before turning back, when it became abundantly clear that my footwear at the time was clearly completely inappropriate! The experience wasn’t entirely wasted however. The morning was cold and thick with fog which made for some wonderfully atmospheric views along the way. Spiderwebs, heavily laden with hoarfrost, hung in the hedgerows like delicate little cradles of lace. The trees lining the paths slowly emerged from the soupy mist as I approached, and every sound seemed soft and close.
This morning (attired in clothing more befitting the season this time) I made my second attempt at the trail. The weather was a little warmer and the sky clearer, and the two-mile walk was completed within around 50 minutes. A steady pace and fewer stops and you could probably make it round in about 40 minutes, but there are a few points of interest along the way. At about the half-way point I came upon St Leonard’s, a picturesque little parish church, parts of which date back to the early 12th century.
I thought it was worth taking the time to look around at this point. The church itself is an attractive building in a very quiet spot. Inside, at the west end, there’s a William Morris stained-glass window – a tryptich, based on a design by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones. There are a number of beautiful and curious wooden, and ancient stone carvings in and around the church, from various points in its history, which are definitely worth closer examination.
The remainder of the walk was very easy-going, as I made my way back towards the Severn, followed the river through Blackstone Riverside Park, and for the rest of the way back to Gardners Meadow. You’re never far away from the sound of traffic along this trail, which in some ways is a bit of a shame. Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant enough stroll if you’ve got an hour to kill, and it won’t challenge you too much. I plotted the route on the interactive map below, and there’s a clear and detailed written description on the iFootpath website.
Next time – something a little more arduous, perhaps.