Present: Sarah (organiser), Bruce, Claire, Alan, Paula, Dave, Tim, Ginny, Keyna, Simon H, Pokey, Annie, Izzy

This trip was a return to the site where 5 NMC members stayed in a caravan in April, and returned with positive tales of both varied walking in the surrounding hills and clean, new shower blocks. We had the usual span of arrival times on Friday night: Pokey arrived first and managed to bag the last of the washing machine drum firepits (a concept that we know a lot about, but unfortunately Bruce cannot patent), and the fire was still going well by the time Paula and Dave arrived several hours later.

On Saturday Bruce led a walk along ridges and narrow tracks, through fields and woods, and past some alarmingly amorous cows to a section of the Offa’s Dyke path. The weather mostly behaved itself, and we certainly got nice and warm on the small section of Offa’s Dyke that we did, as it well and truly lived up to its “up and down” reputation. The return part of the circuit put us on the Shropshire Way, which skirted around Colebatch Hill and brought us back into Bishop’s Castle after about 14 miles. Once there we were faced with a terrible decision: which of the two pubs with breweries attached did we try first? Alan headed straight for the one with live music, followed by Dave and Bruce; everyone else walked up the hill to the other pub to meet with Pokey, Annie and Izzy, who had done a smaller circuit. After a few pints, it was back to the campsite for the Saturday night standard BBQ and much burning of wood in the firepit.

On Sunday, Alan, Claire, Paula, Dave, Tim, Ginny, Simon & Keyna set off on a 14 mile hike starting in the nearby village of Norbury. After following a minor road for a few miles, we picked up the Shropshire Way near Bridges and then up on to the very impressive ridge of the Stiperstones which consists of a succession of quartzite rock pinnacles looking a lot like the tors on Dartmoor. A very windy day with the occasional shower but excellent views, we were oblivious to what the wind was up to back at the campsite, where Pokey, Annie, Bruce and Sarah had returned from their strenuous circuit of Bishop’s Castle (complete with sojourn in one of the brewery-pubs) to discover Claire and Alan’s tent flapping madly. As all four were veterans of the Great Northumberland Winds of 2005, so busy were they trying to close zips and re-orient canvas that it took them several minutes to notice the much worse wreckage of Tim and Ginny’s tent – fortunately nothing had been lost and the tent was quickly put back up again, with a few extra anchoring pegs.

In the evening, half of the group had a meal at the nearer of the two brewery-pubs, and the other half got the BBQs going again before huddling around the fire to await the others’ return.

On Monday Claire, Alan & Paula did an 8 mile circuit of The Long Mynd from Little Stretton. It was a beautiful clear warm sunny day with far reaching views across Shropshire to the mountains of Snowdonia. At Pole Bank view point (the highest point of The Long Mynd) we stopped for lunch and were joined by Dave and Keyna who were doing a few circuits on their mountain bikes. We all met up again later at a garden tea party at the little thatched church of Little Stretton complete with china tea cups and saucers, salmon and cucumber sandwiches and Victoria sponge – a very English way to complete a bank holiday weekend!

Sarah Davies, Claire White

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