Ramblings

September 2015


Wednesday – Bodenham Lakes – I turn onto the road into Bodenham. A car is parked and an elderly woman waves me down. There is a sheep in the road. Can you help me get this sheep back. She reckons the sheep has come through a kissing gate but there seems to be little chance of persuading it back. I block its path and slowly manoeuvre the recalcitrant beast back towards the gate but it runs off the other direction, past the woman and off down the road towards the other part of the village across Bodenham Moor. No chance of stopping the fleeing creature. The woman says the sheep belong to her neighbour so off she goes to get him and his team out.

Ring

After a typical Bank Holiday of heavy rain and darkened skies, this morning is sunny and warm. Few flowers bloom now, just the unwelcome Himalayan Balsam and Evening Primrose along the track. A Chiffchaff calls half-heartedly from one of the long row of fastigiated Poplars and another seeks insects near the base of these towering trees. A Robin sings, probably the only song to be heard regularly now until spring. A family of Chiffchaffs are in the willows by the lake. A pale moon lies above the western horizon. The five Barnacle Geese are still present which suggests they may well be escapees. They share the scrape with several Mallard, Canada Geese and Moorhens. There are at least a dozen Cormorants in the island trees and a large flock of Canada Geese below. A Mute Swan sleeps on the open water. A Grey Heron stands on a fallen willow. Coot and Tufted Duck are scattered around the lake but not in large numbers. A Common Sandpiper scurries along the western shore. A Grey Heron and juvenile Cormorant stand close together on another fallen limb, completely ignoring one another. A third Grey Heron flies to the edge of the island. One of the Grey Herons has spread its wings, presumably to dry them as Cormorants do, but not something I recall seeing before. Drake Mallard are just beginning to regrow their bottle-green head feathers again. Back along the meadow to the calls of a Green Woodpecker. Several clumps of Puffballs have emerged along with a partial ring of Fairy Ring Champignons.

Thursday – Stapleton Castle – A Historical Society visit to this privately owned site. Information on the origins of the castle are here. The present owners bought the farm on which the ruins stand some 13 years ago and built a house in the old farm yard. Some of the barns are now Stapleton Castleconverted to homes. We head up to the bluff on which the castle stood. The present ruins are of a house built in the early 17th century by the Cornewalls. This house was subsequently owned by the Harleys but abandoned in 1840. The roof was removed shortly after and it was a ruin within five years. From the hillside the extent of the original outer bailey can be seen and it is extensive. The inner bailey circled the hilltop, the wall above a deep ditch which is still present in places but much in-filled elsewhere. The walls and the outer bailey wooden picket fence would have all been white-washed so the castle would have stood out like a beacon for miles around. Far below, in an area now used as a visitors’ car park, are the platforms of a mediaeval village. Across in a field is a single Hawthorn which is believed to mark the site of a circular, possibly Saxon church. Below the steep cliffs is a wide valley through which the River Lugg flows. This would have been a lake in the last Ice Age when the Lugg and Teme formed one large river before splitting off in different directions. In the fields below the castle site, recent aerial photography has revealed a network of tracks leading to an Iron Age settlement and what is probably a Neolithic henge.

Stapleton Castle

The ruins are in a precarious state but in consultation with English Heritage, it has been decided that they should be allowed to fall naturally. It is clear some walls will not stand many more winters. The site has never been fully excavated and it is believed there are extensive cellars and dungeons under the ruins which were filled with wooden fittings that were not wanted when the house and castle were stripped for buildings elsewhere and set on fire. It is also possible that there are remains of an Iron Age defensive position under here too.

The hilltop is surrounded by some venerable Oaks and Ashes, including one Ash that has a hollowed out trunk and numerous old branches. Swallows sweep across the field beneath. A Common Buzzard sails over the valley. It is said that Henry II visited the castle as Lucie, sister of the king’s mistress, Rosamund de Clifford (the Fair Rosamund) lived here with her husband Hugh de Say. The castle was fortified against Owen Glyndŵr but it is thought he just rode on past the fortress rather than staging what would probably been a long siege. Joseph Murray Ince, a noted artist of the 19th century from Presteigne, painted the area a number of times, often rural scenes with the castle in the background, but the canvases give an interesting history of the decay of the buildings.

Friday – Morton-on-Lugg - Hereford – Off the bus at Morton-on-Lugg. The weather is turning sunny and the air warms. White trumpets of Bindweed festoon the hedge, some with insects deep inside feeding on the nectar. The A49 is busy. A brand new John Deere tractor passes with a trailer carrying another one. Off down the Burghill lane past the mock-Tudor Tall Trees. The house was built around 1878 by Thomas Nicholson for the Revd Charles Henry Taylor of Queens College, Cambridge who was to be rector from 1875 till 1923. The Revd Taylor was, owing to income from an exclusive private nursing home in London, relatively wealthy and his new rectory house quite substantial and at £2000, quite expensive. A herd of young cattle gallop down a field. On past modern bungalows and houses all with rather mundane names. Now out past open fields. The hedgerow contains ripening Black Bryony – green to yellow to orange to vermilion, red haws, purple sloes and creamy green mace-like heads of Ivy. A lane heads south towards Upper Lyde. Pretty mauve Dovesfoot Cranesbills grow on the verge. A squeaking flock of Long-tailed Tits move through the hedges. Further on, near Appletree Cottage, House Sparrows chatter.

Burlton Court

At Upper Bewdley Bank in Upper Lyde, the road divides. Lyde Farm is a fascinating collection of buildings conferring several hundred years. Some of the stone barns have been converted into dwellings. A corrugated iron construction carries a plaque – T. Payne, Engineer of Moccas. Littlebury’s Directory and Gazetteer of Herefordshire of 1876-7 states the farm was the property of Alice Goode. Back to the junction and off down Upper Bewdley Bank. A fine orchard has dessert apples and pears and a plum sadly overwhelmed by Ivy. Opposite is a cider apple orchard. The lane is lined by modern houses. Another orchard has huge apples, I would guess cookers. Over the A4110, a Roman road, and on down the lane. A task, spreading Pear tree stands by the road with small fruit scattered over the thoroughfare, and still falling as one hits me! The size of the tree is difficult to ascertain as the trunk is hidden by Ivy, but its height is considerable. Blackberries. Burlton Court is a fine country house set in pleasant lawns and gardens. The house is recorded as being purchased by J. Aubrey, the grandfather of John Aubrey, (1626 -1697), noted antiquarian and writer. An avenue of Sycamores lie to the west of the house. Far off to the south west a large flock of nearly 100 gulls circles in the sky. Across the fields is a large modern housing development. Little Burlton Farm is wholly converted into residences. The lane meets the Tillington Road.

Memorial

St Mary’s Park, the housing development I could see before, was The Hereford County and City Lunatic Asylum, built in 1871, renamed St Mary’s Mental Hospital by the turn of the century and finally closed in 1994. Through gate pillars and past a gate house. Behind the modern houses are large conversions of old wards. A small obelisk stands in a garden. It is a memorial to record that on August 18th 1944, a B-24H Liberator Bomber was engaged on a leaflet dropping training mission. It was seen trailing smoke from below the level of Credenhill Hill, one of its wings hit a chimney stack at the Mental Hospital and crashed in flames into the grounds. The chimney collapsed through the roof of the hospital into a ward, and whilst none of the patients was injured, all 10 of the American air crewmen were killed. The cause of the crash was probably engine failure. A large hospital building, now apartments, has a large cupola rising above it. The modern buildings are sympathetic to the Victorian ones. Another large building is surmounted by another lead topped cupola. Beyond is a meadow where deer graze.

Back to the road and on down towards Hereford. Nature seems to be taking aim at me today as a conker narrowly misses me and cracks onto the footpath. Lower Burlton Farm is all residences. The lane meets the east-west Roman Road at Bobblestock. Across the road and past a business park and into the Three Elms pub. My pint, an American Pale Ale brewed in Wilmington, East Sussex is a good pint even if the idea seems faintly ridiculous. Across the road and over a bank by the Co-op, past three large boletus mushrooms which unfortunately are past it. Off down Grandstand Road, the race course is close, through large 20th century housing estates. It seems Bilston Cottage, built 1874, must have been quite isolated once, no longer! The road runs along the back of the race course. There are no longer races here and it must be only a matter of time before developers move in on the site. Eventually the houses are older. St Mary’s Church is a small chapel built in 1912 opposite the Golden Lion pub which had no hand-pumps but very noisy cage birds and dogs. In 1938 the adjoining house on the left was combined to create a vastly enlarged public bar and many fittings from 1938 remain. It has a fine etched front window and a quoits bed. The road ends in the large and very busy roundabout at Widemarsh. I decide to take the bus back from Holmer Chapel. I am still waiting past the expected time but a passing postman tells me it is always late here, usually by ten minutes and sure enough that is what it is! Route

Saturday – Leominster – The morning starts grey with drizzle but slowly improves. The main crop potatoes are dug, Blue Danubes. The crop is again very poor. I have found a large pot with leeks growing in it – I had forgotten I had planted them in there. So they get transplanted into the space left by the potatoes. A few more Worcester Pearmains have fallen, the rest should be picked soon. A few plums remain on the Marjorie Seedling so I pluck them. Three eggs this morning for the second day running. It appears the Bristol Blue hen is laying again after a long period off lay.

Into town for the Leominster Food Festival. There are stalls in Corn Square and down Broad Street. They are a lot better than those at recent fairs which have got a bit stale and disappointing. The pie woman is getting close to selling out. There are several jam and chutney stalls carrying jars that look interesting but we have more than enough of our own produce to last a few years. Newton’s Cider makers have gone up market a bit; nicely labelled bottles and flagons, but double the price I used to pay. Round to the Grange where the civic dignitaries are watching a display of resuscitation techniques. Lot of people and dogs are milling around the pet rescue tent, too many Staffies for my liking.

Monday – Newchurch – A few clouds are scattered across a blue sky and the sun beams down. A couple of dozen House Martins chatter as they fly around a cottage where nests are under the eaves. A small face peeps out of one nest. Another flock is chasing around another cottage. Wood Pigeons coo. A dozen Swallows twitter on wires. Past the church. At the Great House a Border Collie is barking and bouncing although it looks unsure as to why it is making so much noise. The house dates from around 1490 and has the widest span of a cruck truss (28 feet) in Wales. Ceilings and a dormer were installed in the 17th century and a wing added in 1790. Past a farmyard and on down a track on the Offa’s Dyke Path. Across a fields, the River Arrow bubbles. The lane drops down to cross Cwmila Brook. There is a hum in the air but I cannot locate the source, there must be some bees somewhere. A Robin sings in branches of Hazel and Rowan, all of which is being overshadowed by a large Leylandii, the last of a row. The lane climbs then turns to Gilfach-yr-heol and the path carries on up the hill on a stony and muddy track. A Magpie chatters and another Robin sings. Behind, Disgwylfa Hill looms over the valley. Pen-y-Gwyddel Upper Pen-Brilleyis a collection of tumbling, rusting barns on the Disgwylfa hillside but something is happening as heavy machinery is on the track by the buildings. The track climbs around Little Hill. To the east, the view is unobstructed as far as Titterstone Clee. To the west Newchurch Hill rises with the moorland of Bryngwyn and Red Hills beyond. As the path tops the hill and the sweep of the Black Mountains lies to the south. A Dunnock sings from the base of a scrubby hedge. The path turns east briefly between hedges where the stems of Rosebay Willowherbs are covered in downy white seeds.

South again down a track called Red Lane, once the route between Newchurch and Rhydspence and the border between England and Wales. Through a woodland of pits, coppiced Hazel and Ash trees. A dwelling called Little Caeau once stood here but nothing remains. Red Lane joins an east-west road from Brilley. The map indicates an Iron Age settlement of Pen-twyn on the hill opposite but little can Dolbedwynbe seen. The Offa’s Dyke Path heads on south towards Hay-on-Wye but I turn west. Across the valley from where I have come, the small farmstead of Caeau could be unchanged for years except the roof is covered in an array of solar panels. Coal Tits search the cracks in the bark of old roadside Silver Birches. A broken down stone and brick building looks like an old barn but seems to have once been a dwelling called Upper Pen-Brilley. Past excited Border Collies at Castle Farm, although it is a visitor, not me that had their tails wagging. The map calls the farm Foes-dees. Next is Crowther’s Pool House, again called Newhouse on the map. The pool is a short way south, out of sight from here. At a crossroads I turn north-west. Moss and grass grows in the centre of the lane. A stream is hidden by woodland and bushes as it passes under the road, only the tinkling of water giving it away.

Across the valley is a fine late Elizabethan house, Dolbedwyn. The house apparently has fine period and decorative timberwork including 16th and 17th century doorframes, partition screens and Dolbedwyn Mottestaircases. The lane joins a larger lane at an offset crossroads at Newgate Farm. On down the road munching an apple and picking blackberries to go with it. I almost have to stand in in a hedge to let a convoy of road mending vehicles pass. The lane passes the entrance to the bridleway leading to Dolbedwyn. Across the field is a tree covered motte. I wander on and fail to see a hole in the road which sends me tumbling. I roll with it and no damage done to me but I manage to crack the screen of my pad which is very annoying, at least it still works... The motte stands above Cwmila Brook which passes under the road. The motte is probably a mound thrown up on which a small timber castle was built. However, it is reported that a Middle Bronze Age dirk or knife came from the site in 1835 which may indicate an earlier barrow. Dandelions are few and far between along this lane but everyone is being visited by an insect. The lane joins the larger road, the B4594, back to Newchurch. A red telephone box stands in the junction. The telephone looks like it will work but the door is held by twine which is wrapped all around the box. There are still some plants in flower, mainly in the shadier parts of the bank by the road, Black Knapweed, Yarrow, Herb Robert, Sow-Thistles and Hawk’s Beard. Common Buzzards circle the hills lazily. A herd of cows and calves is watched over by a magnificent Welsh Black bull. It is warm now. Past a field of what I assume is Miscanthus grass. The road now drops down into Newchurch. Route

Fog

Tuesday – Leominster – Autumn has arrived. A heavy mist cloaks the area and there is a decided nip in the air. I take the car to the garage for its MOT and then wander down to the railway bridge. A train hurtles past, clearly not stopping at this station. The old Great Western Railway style signal clanks as it drops to clear the down line. A diesel passes, pulling half a Trenau Cymru 125. Blackthorn bushes line the side of the ramp back down to the Worcester Road and they are covered by sloes. I am tempted to gather some but my just last weekend I filtered a large bottle of Sloe Gin and really do not need any more. The only other use is sloe jelly and we have more than enough jellies and jams to last a few years. So they are left to the birds. Opposite, hips and haws are ripening and a Robin sings in an Ash trees whose branches are heavy with keys.

Along the Worcester Road. The penny drops when I realise plastic film factory here makes the black plastic that wraps bales of hay in the fields – a bit of a mixed reaction as I am sure they are efficient but really unsightly. Along Southern Avenue where there seems to be plenty of businesses, hopefully flourishing. School buses, or rather large coaches, are returning to the garage after delivering their cargoes. There are some new 65 registration cars in Bengry’s Garage. The heavy mist is lifting only slowly and it is still grey and damp.

Home – I check the bird seed dustbin for the coming winter. Two mice have got in and eaten themselves to death, although I assume it was the lack of water that did for them. The chicken house has been sinking again on one side so I need to tilt it over and pour gravel into the holes the legs have created. The next job is sorting out one of the greenhouse panes of glass which has slipped. This entails removing the two above and realigning them all. Must admit, this is not a job I like, getting the clips out is painful on my fingers and handling sheets of glass always makes me nervous. But all goes well and the glass is now seated properly and hopefully no draughts. The two courgette plants in front of the greenhouse were very slow to start but both are now producing decent fruit. I pick some more Worcester apples.

Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – A breeze had blown away some of the clouds but it remains autumnal. Himalayan Balsam and Mallows are still in flower. A Robin is singing by the boat sheds. Teasels are now dry and brown. A Kestrel flies up from the meadow and alights on wires at the far end of the paddock. A couple of dozen Canada Geese and the five Barnacle Geese are by the scrape. From the noise, there are plenty more Canada Geese around the lake. A Great Crested Grebe swims past the island. There are only a couple of Cormorants around. A couple more Great Crested Grebe are out on the water but few Tufted Duck or Mallard. A Grey Heron flies past, another is across the lake.

Friday – Bromyard-Stanford Bishop – The sun is burning off the overnight mists and dew. A few high, wispy clouds linger. Down past Bromyard Community Hospital on Frome Bank and on down Linton Lane. The properties become older, a Victorian post box is in a wall. Into the main road, the A44, by the Old Bridge House, a late 16th century timber-framed building. Petty Bridge, dated 1812 crosses the River Frome, one of the many waterways of this name, which is Towera British river name derived from the Welsh ffraw meaning fair or brisk. Much of the riverbed is covered in lush growth, Forget-me-nots, mints and reeds. Avenbury Lane heads south. The roadside hedge contains large Ash trees, then it becomes largely Hazel. One stretch has hops growing through the Hazel. A shrew speeds across the road. The fields beyond are pasture. A cow stands at the end of a track entering the lane. I drive her back down the track and close a gate. A footpath crosses a field to a footbridge over the Frome. It appears the river has split into a number of streams across this little valley. Himalayan Balsam is rampant here. There was a view expressed in the paper yesterday that although the plant is an invasive non-native, it does provide a lot of nectar for insects late in the season, and certainly there are plenty of bees visiting here. The ruined church of St Mary’s seems to be now in private land. The first church was erected here on a piece of land which is looped by the river, around 840CE. It was listed as belonging to a wealthy priest called Spikes in 1066. This church is Norman and was restored in 1881 but closed in 1931. There is not a lot to see, the tower at stands and part of the nave walls. The graves of a number of the Baskerville family are in the overgrown churchyard. The church, now owned by a local archaeologist, served Avenbury, the mediaeval village has disappeared leaving scattered farming communities. The name Avenbury means fortified place on the Aven (or Avon). It appears that somehow Frome and Avon are interchangeable river names. The path crosses a very wet grassy field.

The path enters a lane that leads to Avenbury Court. Past a cider apple orchard, the crop seems very sparse, although some trees have a decent crop. A nicely proportioned house, once The Vicarage, stands opposite the orchard. A husky-type dog comes to say hello. Beyond the house, stands a hop field, in the tithe maps as Pound Hopyard, this crop looking heavy. Avenbury Court is a fine farmhouse, possibly Georgian or later around a much earlier core. The hop kilns, oast house, cow shed and associated buildings are all converted into residential property now. The Herefordshire Way heads south. The path drops down a hull past a field of Jacob’s sheep to the hop field, which is extensive. It is good to see hops being grown in their traditional home counties in quantity. Up a hill and through Brookhouse Farm. The farmhouse was recorded as being sold in 1840 as The Brook House, reputedly the manor of Avenbury by Edward Stillingfleet Cayley. The Stillingfleet family had held the manor for some 200 years after Edward Stillingfleet (1635-1699), theologian, scholar and the Bishop of Worcester, bought it. A track rises and falls past fields that have been cropped. A combine harvester is discharging a stream of grain into a wagon. Through Upper Venn Farm, where there is an early 17th century farmhouse and a late 17th century cottage. I leave the Herefordshire Trail, cross the Frome and head back to the road. Down the road for a way then off up a lane to Stanford Bishop.

Past Hill Oak Farm. A row of old damson trees, heavy with fruit. Obviously our forebears has far more use for damsons than today. I have sauce, jelly, cheese, sorbet and what should have been leather and still there are more in the garden. I cannot imagine anyone now using the amount of fruit here. A Walnut tree overhangs the roadside. Lower House farm lies across the fields with its barns Chairand oast house. The Hawkins is another large farm with modern barns surrounding a late 18th century house. A short lane leads to St James’s Church. This parish church dates from circa 1200 with chancel of around 1300, restored in 1885 by Thomas Nicholson. However the site is clearly older, sited in a circular churchyard which is typically Celtic. By the altar is an ancient chair which is stated to be that which St Augustine sat upon at the Historic Conference with the British Bishops at the second Synod in 603. Sadly, it is now believed to be mediaeval. However, there is evidence that the conference took place in Stanford Bishop. The present church was restored in 1885 at a cost of £600. The font is 19th century on a 12th century plinth. The pulpit is Jacobean. Outside is a Yew declared to be 1200 years old. I leave the church and retrace my steps to the road back to Bromyard. The wind is rising and the clouds thickening. A large number of thin telegraph poles have been leant through the fork in a large Oak. It looks like they have been there for some years. A ruin, the Rumney Building stands in a field of cereals opposite the road junction. It was once a school and apparently there are inscriptions over door in south gable end; SCHOOL FOR GIRLS ENDOWED BY PHINEAS JACKSON, VICAR AD MDCCXXXI and over most northerly window on west front; THIS SCHOOL WAS REBUILT WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE NATIONAL SOCIETY AD MDCCXXVI. The road drops down past the entrance to Upper Venn to Hyde Bridge over Linton Brook, which has a tablet inscribed HCC 9 24. Long-tailed Tits squeak in woodland. A Common Buzzard mews over the fields where the combine harvester still works. Rooks caw in the distance. Leaves are beginning to turn yellow. A dozen or more Swallows fly over, the first I have seen today. It is hot and dusty as I plod on along the road. A few Speckled Wood butterflies flit past. Another old damson tree is heavy with purple fruit. A Wren ticks at me. Another rise in the road then it drops down to the A44. The Old Toll House stands opposite the junction. Back over the bridge and up into the town. Up Linton Lane where Ivy is in flower attracting hundreds of bees and wasps. Route

Sunday – Leominster – A bright, cool autumn morning. The south facing side of the street is bathed in sunshine, the north facing side much cooler. Down to the river. A Chiffchaff sings in the woods. A Dipper bobs beside the bridge before whirring off upstream. The water levels are still low. Robins sing and Jackdaws chack. Across the Easters meadow through dew soaked grass. The market is a reasonable size. I buy a pretty little vase by the Vasart glass factory, originally named Ysart Bros, founded in 1947 by three brothers,Vincent, Augustine and Salvador Ysart. The factory changed its name to Vasart Glass in 1956 and again in 1965, this time to Strathearn Glass. The factory closed in 1991. There is a similar vase on eBay for an extremely optimistic £320; I paid a fiver which is more realistic but still seems at least a bit of a bargain.

Shaggy Parasol

Monday – Bredenbury-Butterley – The morning is damp and murky. Past Bredenbury school and on down a lane. Trees across the fields are barely visible through the mist. A Common Buzzard launches from the top of a telegraph pole and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flies over. The hedge is a mixture of Field Maple, Hazel, Hawthorn and Blackthorn. North Lodge is a single storey house dated 1905. The lodge stands at the entrance to a long drive that went to Bredenbury Court, once home to the Barneby family, a long-established Herefordshire family. Bredenbury Court is now a private school. Rotting boletus fungi peep through the verge grass. Wiggall is an imposing house, three Guinea Fowl stand on a gate. A Nuthatch calls overhead. A Shaggy Parasol mushroom is beneath the hedge. The lane continues along a gentle ridge. The early 16th century black and white timber-framed farmhouse of Wicton Farm lies across the fields.

Station

A turning leads to Rowden Mill Station which closed in 1952 and although now a residence, is preserved as a station with its platforms, a length of track and some wagons. A timetable, GWR advertisement and a postbox are on the wall. A brief shower of rain lasts long enough for me to don my over-trousers. On up the lane to Great Wacton, a large farm whose farmhouse has clearly been added to a number of times in different periods. One wing is 17th century. Back past the station and down the lane over the railway line. Down the hill to the River Frome. StationBeside it is Rowden Mill dating from the early 17th century. Hidden in trees to the east is Rowden Abbey, a half-timbered house of 1881 in wooded pleasure grounds. The site was previously occupied by a 16th century house with a moat. The earlier house was demolished at the end of the 18th century, but the moat and a fishpond survive in the grounds of the present house. It was the seat of a family of the name of Rowdon for 12 generations. It was held in 1216 by John le Moigne and descended to Sir Ralph le Moigne, who in 1274 was lord of Netherwood, Thornbury and other manors. The rain returns, heavier and more persistently. Up the other side of the little valley, past the Gardeners Cottage and the entrance to the driveway of Rowden Abbey. Rowden House Lodge stands by the drive to the house, built around 1880, which is, like the Abbey, hidden in woodland. The house is now a school, part of the West Midlands Learning Campus.

Up to B4214 road from Bromyard to Tenbury Wells, by Tack Farm, Winslow Grange. The old Blacksmith Cottage stands by the road. Pike Villa is a large house, probably early Victorian. The rain is heavy. Off down a lane by New Cross Farm. The lane runs between high hedges. A Goldfinch, one of the few birds to brave the weather flies over the hedge. Past The Hortons and on towards Butterley. Field after fields holds crops of maize. Butterley Mill Cottages, the old mill is further down stream. The lane is now more a track although it is still tarmac. The rain had almost ceased. Across a cattle grid and down to Butterley Brook Cottage where the Herefordshire Trail heads south. The trail is apparently closed because of an unsafe bridge. I ignore this, the bridge is old and had no guide rails but looks perfectly sound. Across a mown fields. A couple of Swallows sweep low across. The path runs under the railway. Across a meadow containing half a dozen houses and down a track by Wacton Court, a 17th century house with an 18th century wing. It is surrounded by scaffolding. There should be a ruined church here but I manage to miss it.

Down a lane to re-enter Bredenbury between the pub, The Barneby Arms and the garage. Past a number of Victorian houses, the old Post Office and the rectory to the church of St Andrew. The Parish of Bredenbury was united with that of Wacton in 1875 and a decision taken to build a new church on a new site to replace the very small existing medieval church at Bredenbury and the ruined church at Wacton. Land was donated by William Henry Barneby, of nearby Bredenbury Court, whose family also commissioned many of the fine interior furnishings. The foundation stone was laid 1876. The architect was T.H. Wyatt who was also responsible for Humber church and nearby Bredenbury Court. In the nave stands an elaborately decorated pulpit in various marbles depicting Biblical figures. The reredos is also richly carved in various marbles depicting angels. In the south chancel windows depict the Virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity, made by Mayer and Co. in honour of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee 1887. There are plaques to the Barneby and the West families. Back to my start point past the old school building dated 1874. Route

Wednesday – Bodenham Lake – A few patches of blue sky show today after several days of rain. A few Field Buttercups, Red and White Clover and Birds Foot Trefoil are all that remains of the summer flowers in the meadow. A few Tufted Duck and Mallard feed by the scrape. A flock of 16 Cormorants fly around the island, land on the water and all dive. They fly off again behind the island too re-emerge a few minutes later and fly briefly to the middle of the lake. However, the flock has now grown to 43. These sort of numbers usually indicate migrant birds rather than any resident stock. Canada Geese are present but not in their usual numbers. A couple of Mute Swans are on the far side. A third glides into view. Various groups of Cormorants fly around the lake, others fish or swim about with their backs held high as if looking down their noses at their surroundings. A Grey Heron stalks the far bank. A Great Crested Grebe is down the western end. A wasp hovers briefly outside the open window of the hide. A Moorhen stalks the scrape on large green feet. Back to the meadow where the hedge is now polychromatic in greens, yellows, golds, coppers and reds. A Common Buzzard circles the woods. More apples are more ripe enough to eat in the dessert orchard but few are falling from the cider varieties.

Friday – Home – Venus shines brilliantly in the eastern pre-dawn sky. I do not go out at night much now since we lost Maddy, so I miss the wonder of the stars, planets and satellites.

Pipe and Lyde-Hereford – Off the bus at Lyde Bridge. The bus driver, for whom English is not his first language, takes delight in pointing out that Lyde is pronounced with a long y, not short as I had used. On the map, the bridge is referred to as Pipe Bridge. The we