Ghosts of the Past

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We had planned to go for a walk at Croome Park on Boxing Day but like so much else it was closed due to flooding.  So instead we went for a walk on the Malvern Hills which are only a 5 minute drive from us.    I love trees especially at this time of year when their winter skeletons are so beautiful so we parked up at Earnslaw and went for a walk through the woods up to the ridge and back down.  I didn’t fancy getting blown away walking along the ridge.

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We recently discovered that there used to be a grand house just above Earnslaw Quarry and it wasn’t until 1884 that the Malvern Conservators bought up the land on the hills on the order of the government in order to preserve it for future generations and allow the local people use  of the hills.

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I particularly enjoy walking in this part of the hills as you stumble upon old walls that presumably were previously boundary walls or maybe garden features.  It appeals to the romantic in me, the person who was spellbound by The Secret Garden.  The walls also fuel my growing enthusiasm for moss and lichen.

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Since starting to dabble in botanical art I find that I look more closely at plants and I suppose this is also partly due to the amount of photographs I take for the blog.  I find myself drawn to moss and lichen more and more, they are so beautiful and so tactile.  Maybe one day I might find time to try to learn which one is which.

As you can see from the photographs there were not many people, that is until we got to the ridge when it was like rush hour.  I really don’t understand why people stick to the top of the hills, they have so much more to offer.  I agree that the views are amazing; across to the Black Hills of Wales in one direction and to the Bredon Hills in the Cotswolds in the other.  However, for me walking along the tarmac path which leads from the big car parks along the ridge loses the sense of exploration that I used to enjoy as a child walking in the Beech Woods in Finchampstead in Berkshire.  The excitement of sliding down a slope and falling into a pile of leaves, of climbing a tree, of wondering at the vastness and shape of the trees none of these things can be experienced when walking, with everyone else, along a pavement along the ridge.

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From the top we looked out towards Worcester and could see clearly the extent of the flooding.  You can’t usually see the River Severn very clearly from the top of the hills but there was no doubt of its course on Boxing Day and it explained why a visit to Croome Park was a non-starter; even if it had been opened we would have struggled to get to it.

Having admired the view we left the day trippers behind and descended back down the hills through the woods and home.

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About Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited
This entry was posted in December, Months, Winter and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Ghosts of the Past

  1. Great post, I share your love of winter walks, abandoned walls and moss! Those tarmac paths on the ridges are, by the way, a blessing for those who have limited mobility but still crave fresh air and a view. We recently took an 89 year old aunt to the Malverns because she had requested just such an outing as a birthday treat. Unfortunately many of the viewpoints near carparks had become overgrown with trees & scrub obscuring the views from every bench. We found one path which was supposedly wheelchair accessible but was churned up mud because it was being used as a bridlepath! Anyway, I hope when I’m 89 and a bit tottery there will be some tarmac paths so that I can still look out over countryside…

    • patientgardener says:

      Hi Harriet – I totally agree that the tarmac paths are great for people like your aunt or people with young children in prams or people in wheelchairs etc though I didnt see anyone in any of those categories when we encountered the ridge path which I think is sad

  2. pbmgarden says:

    Such a lovely walk. The moss at the tree roots are wonderful.

  3. kate says:

    Lovely post – wish I could also have managed a walk like that, but thanks to you – I don’t have to! (Just as well; it’s revolting weather.)

  4. Judy says:

    Love the rock walls with the moss.

  5. Donna says:

    I really enjoyed this post, especially the childhood reminiscences. Memories of childhood walks and cross-country runs cannot be re-traced except in my mind’s eye; for sadly the area where once we trod (so happily and carefree) is now taken up with other peoples’ houses. With reference to accessing the countryside – I’m really torn on this one not wanting the natural environment to be marred by any form of urbanization but on the other hand, who could deny the elderly or infirm the same uplifting and simple pleasure of a walk in the countryside that the rest of us take for granted? As for meeting hoards and hoards of people on previously solitary country walks…don’t get me started!…

  6. Holleygarden says:

    Beautiful. I, too, love the moss. It gives the stone wall and the trees so much character.

  7. penelopesh says:

    A delightful ramble, in a way I agree is favourable, if you are able. I love the smell of the winter woodlands too and the springiness of the woodland floor, layered with years of leaf mould. Lovely post Helen.

  8. Anna says:

    Alarming to see the Severn so high :(

  9. Helen what a perfectly gorgeous place to explore…I love the Secret Garden as well and would be dreaming of what those walls were covered in the lovely moss…my trees have moss and lichen as do other areas of my garden as I let it grow freely…just stunning vistas!

  10. Beautiful. I love the luxurious mosses.

  11. Cathy says:

    Thos pictures look so inviting, Helen – woods like this are a delight to walk in

  12. Yvonne Ryan says:

    did you slide on your bottom on the leaves? We have some amazing lichens on our native trees – one in particular as I walk up to get the paper – like an abstract painting – greys pinks oranges – so lovely! We have had lots of rain over Christmas and sooooo humid!! My swim yesterday in harbour was lovely – but not able to go in every day as usual as back and forth to hospital with Jim.

  13. It looks a wonderful place for a Boxing Day walk. We were going to go for a walk to see the source of the Thames the other day but we were turned back by a nice policeman in a patrol car who told us that the road we were about to drive down was a foot under water.
    I totally agree with you about mosses and lichen – it’s a whole world I know nothing about, but I find them fascinating.

  14. I love the moss and lichen covering the trees and walls in those shots. The evidence of a prior garden is not only beautiful, it makes you wonder what the scene would have looked like in the past, and about the lives of the previous inhabitants. How fortunate that the land was purchased and that now everyone can stroll along and enjoy the beauty.

  15. Charlie says:

    It amazing how restorative a walk in the woods can be. The detail, the texture of our world, the brillant colors after a rain or a wet spell. You are so lucky to have such a place to walk and thank you for sharing.

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