Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Around Redmarley D’Abitot

Two days have passed since our last entry and they have been interesting days out for us worth, I think, an extra entry.

On the way to the obelisk. There it is in the distance
So after I was told by my dear wife that we can’t go out on the bikes every day, yesterday we went out for a walk instead. I’d never walked to the obelisk on a side hill from the main line of Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, so we constructed a walk on public footpaths starting in a car park on the A438 by Midsummer Hill and taking in the obelisk, Eastnor Castle, back across the A438, over Howlers Heath and High Wood and back past Ragged Stone Hill to the car park. 

Looking back twards the main line of Malvern Hills
Edible? Our friend Bev thinks its got eyes and looks evil. Poison fairy mushroom!
Good plan we thought, but after crossing the A438 it seemed as though the public footpaths had not been used for years, with some sections so overgrown they couldn’t be used. Good job we had a good 25,000 series map with us, as we had to use it and a GPS to locate our exact position for several bits of tricky navigation. The bit over the monument and through the grounds of the castle were good, but not the rest!

A distant Eastnor Castle
So the obelisk we finally found out is dedicated to the Somers and the Cocks family, whose descendants still own and run Eastnor Castle. Lord John Somers (1651 – 1716) was an important figure in the history of England, arguing in the House of Commons that the Catholic James II had abdicated the throne of England by fleeing to France and that the Protestant William of Orange should become King after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. 
The grounds of Eastnor Castle were full of pheasants
He was also instrumental in bringing about the union of England and Scotland in 1707, but he died a bachelor, his sister marrying into the Cocks family (who ran the Cocks Biddulph Bank, now part of Barclays). They owned the land on which Eastnor Castle now stands, combining the wealth of the two families. The castle was built between 1810 and 1824 as a Stately Home and was occupied by the family until 1926 when Lord Somers was appointed Govenor of Victoria and moved his family out to Australia. His widow came back in 1945 and it was gradually refurbished by the family to its present glorious state. An interesting story we thought, just a pity the castle has just closed for the winter, not opening again until spring next year.

That's not a real cat on that roof, but Jackie didn't like it
Lounging in the garden with tea and cake after getting back
So we fought our way through the second part of the walk on trackless ground, save for the odd faded footpath sign, but with good views over the surrounding countryside, eventually coming upon a footpath sign pointing downhill through thick impenetrable undergrowth and decided we needed to make a detour, wandering along forest tracks not marked on our map. ‘ She is not going to be happy’ I’m thinking, but actually we navigated our way out quite successfully and got back for tea and cake, followed by a beer in plenty of time for cat fussing, so it ended well. Don’t recommend that half of the walk though.

Oh, it's beer 'o clock!
The smile is actually a grimace!
Today we were back on the bikes for a slightly different cycle loop. We’d got details of the ‘Newent Loop’ cycle route, which passes through Redmarley, but it’s 29 miles and I was told in no uncertain terms that we were not doing all of it! However, we did a section of it, taking in the villages of Lowbands, Gadfield Elm, Upleadon and Compton Green. It was 20km along narrow lanes in lovely countryside, with some great views and we probably did about a quarter of the ‘Newent Loop’, so plenty more for next time!

The Gadfield Elm Chapel
The loop is designed to take in some historic sights and we passed one of them today, the Gadfield Elm Chapel which was a small building that we almost went straight past. Glad we stopped though as its history is quite interesting. It was built in 1836 by a small religious group known as the United Brethren. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) and in 1840 gave the chapel to them. Many members migrated to America where Salt Lake City was founded and the chapel sold to raise funds to enable poorer church members to emigrate. The building eventually became derelict and at an auction in 1994 was acquired and restored by members of the Mormon Church.

And here's the questions to get in. Can you solve them?
We couldn’t get inside the building as it was locked by a combination door lock, but in the window a notice saying anyone is free to enter the chapel as long as you can work out the combination by answering questions concerning the Mormon Church – very clever! Since getting back I’ve researched on the internet and believe I now know the combination, can’t wait to go back and see if I got it right!

The weather is still fabulous here, blue skies, little wind and warmish (20 C), but a little cool at night. The forecast is for it to stay like this until probably Saturday, when the high pressure is expected to gradually break down allowing lots of rain to move in. Let’s hope they get it wrong and the good weather stays for a bit longer!

Approaching Richard and Judiths house from the back. Theirs is the one on the right
Ginger cat - isn't she handsome!

Fred and Ginger. Do they secretly practice dancing together we wonder

Charlie cat would have helped herself to my tea if it hadn't been too hot!

Prowling through the wilds of the garden

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