Garden Visit – the birthplace of Crocus

Last weekend I had the delight of visiting Brockhampton Cottage, near Ross on Wye with a group of friends from Hardy Plant Society.  Brockhampton Cottage is the home of Peter Clay, part owner of Crocus (the online plant company) and was designed with the help of Tom Stuart-Smith.

The house sits on top of a hill in a site of several acres.  As you can see the views from the house are stunning, probably more so from the upstairs windows.  You can see for miles. Peter showed us around the garden and spent time explaining the ethos behind the development of the garden and how it inadvertently led to the creation of Crocus.

Peter is not a gardener by trade, coming instead from a marketing background but having inherited the property back in the 1990s he decided to create the garden of his childhood dreams – that country garden surrounded by wild flowers and meadows; the ideal of many a retrospective childhood dream.

He learnt that with a large space he needed to plant in large quantities and quickly became frustrated with phoning around nurseries tracking down a couple of plants here and a couple there.  This led to a evening conversation with a close friend, where fuelled by beer, they postulated about how the new worldwide web should be able to change things and make it possible to choose plants to decorate your outside space just as you could chose furniture and paint to decorate your inside space. This mad idea is where Crocus was formed leading to Peter having a career he had never envisaged.

Around this time Peter met a young designer called Tom Stuart-Smith and asked him to help him with his garden, their collaboration on the garden as continued ever since.

What I found fascinating about this garden was the complete celebration of its location.  The view is king and Peter explained how having cleared the land in front of the house he decided to mirror the natural landscape by planting a range of trees of different sizes and shapes to reflect the variety of trees in the wider landscape.

We also learnt how having planted a selection of trees across the site, these were under-planted by box bushes which in their growth habit replicated the shrubby under-planting you could see in the distant landscape.

Close to the house the planting is more formal with wide herbaceous borders full of large drifts of perennials.  The intention is that the colour pallet is limited and is partly driven by the naturally pink coloured bricks of the house.  This house can be seen for miles and there is a conscious attempt to help it sit comfortably within its landscape through the use of climbers, with only white flowers, and the creation of three wide shallow steps across the front of the house to help ground the house.

As the planting moves away from the house the colours fade into whites and greens – many different greens and many textures again referencing the landscape.

The landscape drops steeply away from the side of the house and the view of the house is broken with these beech columns which also act to filter the wind coming through the valleys.

The meadows and the sweeping grass paths are the real triumph of this garden but tucked away along the side of the property is a shady garden with a brook which flows down the side of the property and is clothed in ferns, siberian irises and these wonderful Primula florindae which caused many oo’s and arh’s.  On reaching the bottom of the hill you find wide beds of foliage rich herbaceous plants primarily with white or cream foliage.  This planting is in large blocks following the matrix approach which Tom Stuart-Smith is known for and which works so well on this scale.

The visit was a delight and I took away some interesting thoughts and ideas to play with in my own space.

The garden opens under the National Garden Scheme each year to coincide with the orchids flowering in the meadows.

Beardless Iris Study Day

On Saturday  I had the pleasure of attending The Beardless Iris Society study day in the depths of Herefordshire.  I haven’t been to a plant study day for a few years now as I think I was just overwhelmed with plant information but the break has reinvigorated me and the programme appealed to my inner plant geek,

It was only fairly recently that I discovered that there was a Beardless Iris Society, a sub group of the British Iris Society.  In broad sweeping terms, which would probably be frown upon by stalwarts of the society, beardless irises are generally the Siberian irises and Japanese (Ensata) irises along with a few others which don’t have beards. Whilst some in attendance fained a dislike of Bearded Irises I think most, like me, just loved iris in whatever form they took.

The study day started with 3 talks.  A quick round up of Siberian Irises from Alun and Gill Whitehead, our hosts; a talk about European Beardless Iris by Tim Loe; and a talk about the Iridaceae family by Dr Julian Sutton of Desirable Plants.  Julian’s talks are always so informative and engaging and I learnt loads from all the talks; although there seemed to be a difference of opinion about the importance of the number of chromosomes in the hybridising of Iris sibrica  with Iris sanguinea and the significance of I. typhifolia. Most of it passed me by but I do find the discussion about these things fascinating even if I only understand a bit of it.

After a lovely lunch provided by our hosts we went for a visit to their garden, Aulden Farm, which hosts a national collection of Siberian Irises. As ever in the depths of Herefordshire the journey to the garden involved single track roads, encounters with tractors and lots of reversing – all good fun especially when you are in a convoy of 5 cars.

I haven’t been to Aulden Farm for years although I regularly chat with Gill at various plant events.  I seem to remember some years back when there was a drought and everything looked a little dry.  Not so this year, all very lush and bountiful.  Aulden Farm is the type of garden that really appeals to me.  It is a very natural garden without being a wilderness.  The grass fades into the full borders which overflow with all manner of interesting plants.  This isn’t a garden which relies on design and structure nor for that matter is it a garden which relies on unusual plants; it is a garden which seems to capture both extremes in a space which envelopes you in plants and wildlife with paths that encourage you to explore further.

The Whiteheads are plantsmen (or should I say plants people).  They are consummate growers and sell all manner of plants at various groups and events.  They also have an informal nursery at their garden for open gardens days under the NGS and other visitors.  Needless to say being a group of plant fanatics the nursery was the first stop for many.  As ever in these circumstances I take advantage of the distraction to get into the garden and take some photos before it fills with people.

One of the key feature of the main garden is a dry river bed which meanders across the site being more full of water one end than the other – I didn’t really get a handle on the logistics of it.  But the moisture creates the perfect environment for Siberian Irises -as you can see from the photos on this blog post.  They look so good in large clumps and they were so full of flowers unlike mine which have been very mean with their flowers this year.

For some reason I hadn’t really registered that there was a national collection to see in the garden, although I have been told this before but my brain is full of work stuff and was obviously have a sabbatical on Saturday.  Anyway, I was rather surprised to come across a gate leading to a large field like area of garden full of raised beds full of irises. As with any good national collection the beds have a clear planting plan displayed for visitors so you can mostly work out the name of the variety you are admiring. I liked most of them, my tastes are so catholic, but I was interested in the varieties with larger petals (or perianths as I think we were told to call them by Dr Sutton – must check my notes).  I am used to the more simple, natural siberian irises but the hybrids have three larger chunkier perianths which really appealed to me; but then I do love Ensata iris and these have a similar type of flower head.

Having admired the garden I found the nursery empty of visitors so time for me to browse the remains left and do a little plant buying.  On returning home and sorting out my acquisitions from the garden and plant sale in the morning I seem to have acquired 5 new irises which is rather troubling as I have no idea where I am going to shoehorn them into.

I had a lovely day, learnt lots, met interesting people, had good food, visited a lovely garden and bought plants – what more can you ask for.

An eccentric English day out

The long term readers of this blog will know that I have a quiet appreciation for fast cars particularly of the vintage type so I’m afraid you will need to indulge me today while I share some highlights from today’s outing.

I shared with you last year that the area I live in is quite key in the development of the early motor car and even today Morgan Cars are built in the town I live in. We were thrilled last year to discover that Bromyard, a town some 30 minutes from us, were trying out a new Festival of Speed event and even more thrilled that it was so successful that they repeated the event this year.

Last year was a trial event, this year the word had obviously got out and I know there was more promotion and the numbers were definitely up.  We were surprised last year that nearly everything was free including the car parking and bus transport into the town, this year there was a token charge for parking which is understandable but £5 per car is nothing to pay for a wonderful family day out.

We have been to numerous such events in the past on race tracks but there is something particularly wonderful about the cars racing around this quaint country town which itself seems to be stuck in the past. Whilst the cars can’t get up to high speeds due to the road surface and the tight corners they certainly had a good go down the two straights and I have to say that the sound of vintage cars accelerating is one of my favourite sounds in the world.

Of all the cars we saw I think my favourites are the Austin Healeys, they were last year as well.  Here they are all lined up at lunchtime in the paddock where owners, drivers and members of the public could mingle and chat.

And what better way to end a truly eccentric English day than for a hot air ballon to waft over with its passengers joining in waving at the crowd, who waved up.

Malvern Hill Destress

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I love the Malvern Hills, particularly the walk from British Camp south towards Midsummer Hill.  The huge skies, far-reaching views and complete serenity, particularly early on a Sunday morning are the things that make my heart sing and recharge me.

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Over a year ago my eldest set me the challenge to walk to the top of all the individual peaks.  I have done the majority and I think the only real summit left outstanding is Midsummer Hill.  I have stopped deliberately checking the hills off as the challenge has had the wonderful effect of making the hills familiar to me and giving me a new way to de-stress. I nearly got lost today as I was day dreaming so much that I came to the edge of a hill and realised that there was no path to take me forward.  I had strayed to the side much to the entertainment of a chap feeding his dog blackberries (!) who pointed out the path to me – we agreed that the reason we were on the top of the hills was to forget everything.

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I have found this last year or so that gardening is no longer the thing that I turn to to relax.  I suspect that it has become a victim of over blogging.  When you are conscious that you writing about something on a regular basis you start to feel a pressure to have something interesting to write about and then you lose your enjoyment, as my son said today the garden and blogging had become a job not relaxation. So of course writing about my walks could be a dangerous thing as I don’t want the same thing to happen.  However, I did write about gardening on the blog for some 9 years at least 3 times a week so I think I have a way to go before there is a problem.

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This morning the grass was thick with dew which in the early morning light looked like jewels.  In fact the grass in the photo above looked like some unusual flower from a distance and it wasn’t until I got close that I realised the ‘flowers’ were in fact dew drops. Walking first thing or in the evening means that I often feel like I have the hills to myself and the wildlife is around before it goes quite in the heat of the day.  Today, I enjoyed watching stonechats and at the furthest point of my walk I sat on the top of the hill while house martins swooped around me feeding before they migrate south.

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You can see how strong the sun was even first thing; wonderful after the grey and wet day yesterday.  I think, from the lack of buildings, that this view is looking out towards Herefordshire. I love the feeling of being on top of the world you get when you can see so far into the distant.

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The view back from where I started – my car is just over the hill in the distance and part way down the other side.  One of the things that are great about the Malverns is that you have areas which are open and grazed and other parts that are very wooded, so lots of variety of habitat.   To get from British Camp, that you can see in the distance, to this point, you dip down and walk through a wooded valley before climbing up again on a very rocky path

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And this is the view from lower down British Camp towards the point of the photo above (they should really be the other way round). If you look very carefully at the wooded hill in the distance (Midsummer Hill) you can see a brown mark and that is the summit that I walked to today – it doesn’t have a name.  Midsummer Hill is the last one I really want to climb and my eldest is going to do that one with me as he says it is quite steep and the paths aren’t that clear.

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However, I’m not in a hurry as I have found my favourite walks depending on my mood and how far I want to walk. I can’t believe how lucky I am to live within minutes of these beautiful hills.

Garden Visit: Montpelier Cottage

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I had a delightful afternoon visiting Noel Kingsbury and Jo Eliot’s garden in deepest darkest Herefordshire within spitting distance of the Welsh borders.  I nearly didn’t go as I wanted to get on with the front garden but having planted up half the space in the morning and with unexpected blue skies at lunchtime I set off for what is always an enjoyable drive west.

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Noel’s garden is not what many would call the traditional style of garden.  Indeed I ran into someone I know from a garden club who hadn’t visited before and was a little perplexed by the research beds and the intensive planting in some areas and the large meadow and ponds with wildflower planting.   We agreed that it made a nice change from many of the gardens you visit, particularly under the National Garden Scheme, and my fellow garden club member said it had certainly given him real food for thought.

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Personally I really enjoy this garden.  I have visited before, last August, when I went for lunch and had a proper tour with Noel.  The garden demonstrates Noel’s interests in plant communities and how perennials, in particular, grow together.  The area above is a series of research beds with various perennials planted out in blocks to see how they fare in Noel’s heavy clay soil  However, plants are allowed to self seed as is evident from the prolific number of aquilegia and trollis which are scattered around the garden and really pull everything together.

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I really like the intensity of this area of planting with all the purples and cerise flowers; it was alive with insects.  It is this intense style I am trying to achieve but its a style which looks more natural than the traditional style of perennial planting and I think that although it looks so natural it is quite hard to make work well.  It is one of those things that everyone thinks looks easy until you try it yourself. As the year progresses the grasses and late perennials which are currently hidden amongst the early flowering plant will have bulked up and bring a new wave of interest and colour.

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And finally a real surprise as Noel’s Aeoniums are already out on the patio, and have been out for two weeks.  Mine are still lurking in the greenhouse and looking the worse for it so this week they will be moved out into the fresh air and hopefully it wont be long before they look as glossy and healthy as Noel’s.

I’m off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if any of the show gardens, with all their immaculate planting, have the same sense of place as Noel and Jo’s garden; I suspect not.

Malvern Hills Challenge 9: Chase End Hill

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Today I bagged another of the Malvern Hills – Chase End Hill at the southern end of the Malvern Hills.  This is the very last hill in the chain and reaches a mere 624ft (191m) but I think this walk was my favourite to date.

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We started our walk in Whiteleaf Oak which is a small sprawling hamlet.  I wouldn’t have known where to park or where to start the walk from by luckily my eldest had been camping on the side of the hill a few weeks before so knew exactly where to park.  He was keen to come along as Chase End Hill was the last of the Malverns for him to cross off.  The walk up the lower part of the hill is steady and overlooks sloping fields with horses and wonderful views with the fresh green of new leaves beginning to take over from the gaunt bare branches.  Then you are faced with a short rather steep climb which you can see in the photograph above.

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Looking back up the hill this is the view in front of you which is a little daunting but encouraging as you know you are very nearly there.  It was a surprisingly quick climb.

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As you would expect from the top of any hill the views were wonderful.  Above is looking back along the Malverns to the next in the chain which is Raggedstone Hill and the first I climbed back at the end of May 2015.  If you look very carefully to the left you can just see the Obelisk at Eastnor.  I spent most of the time morning coverting the houses you can see at the base of the hill.

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Looking the other way and you can just spot May Hill near Gloucestershire.  Locally Chase End Hill is called the Gloucestershire Beacon.  I don’t think this is its official name as I can find no supporting evidence for this and the name probably has come about because of the rivalry between the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, all of which can be seen from the top of the Malverns.  With people living on the side of the hills either living in Herefordshire or Worcestershire it is only natural that the smallest hill should be the Gloucestershire Beacon!

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Whilst the climb up had been nice it was the walk down the other side which was really special, mainly because of the sheets of bluebells whose scent filled the air.  I am used to seeing bluebells on the side of the Malverns but generally amongst the trees and lower down so to see such large colonies in such an exposed location surprised me.

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This part of the walk felt more like walking through some sort of 18th century landscape than a walk on the Malvern Hills.  I have tried to research this hill but there is little information.  However ‘Chase’ is a common name in this area and research shows that it was the name given to the ancient forest which covered this area all the way to the Severn River and out towards Hereford and is recorded as far back as Edward I. The land is inextricably linked with royal history particularly that of the Plantagenents who fought many a battle along the Welsh Marches, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  King John is buried in Worcester Cathedral which is no more than 30 minutes drive away and at one time part of the Chase belonged to Anne Neville daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who was key in the War of the Roses.  Anne went on to marry Richard III.  As this is my favourite period of English history I find the associations particularly interesting.

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On the lower slopes heading back down the hill the bluebells were joined by daffodils.  I am convinced these are wild native daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, or Lent Lily.

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Not the best photograph I know but good enough for me to look it up in my wild flower book and convince myself it is indeed the wild daffodil.  Hardly surprising as we are not far from the Golden Triangle based around Dymock which is home to the Daffodil Way.

All in all a very nice walk.  I only have 7 hills left to tick off but some of them I should be able to do in one walk.  Of course there are many people who walk the length of the hills in one go but I want to make sure I go to the top of each hill and the paths that run the length of the hills often bypass some of the peaks.  I think I have 3 or 4 more walks to do.

For the rest of my Hills reports click on the tab ‘Malvern Hills Challenge‘ along the top of the box in the side bar.

And now for something completely different

Morgan 3 Wheeler
Morgan 3 Wheeler

Long term readers will recall that I have an interest in fast cars especially vintage cars; they speak to the romantic in me. Strangely in a moment of serendipity on a visit to a local plant retailer earlier this week we happened upon a flyer for the inaugural Bromyard Speed Festival.  With the event being free and only some 30 minutes from home there was no question over whether we would go.

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What people may not realise is that Bromyard, a small market town in Herefordshire, has a long association with the British motor industry.  Early in automotive history the chairmen of Austin, Bean and Morgan all lived in the vicinity. Consequently it was fitting that in its first year Morgan, located in nearby Malvern, was the feature marque (brand) of the Festival.

Bugatti Brescia T13
Bugatti Brescia T13

Bromyard Speed Festival benefited from the support of Shelsley Walsh, located just 20 minutes away, which is the oldest motorsport venue in the world. Shelsley maintains an intimate charm with spectators being able to walk around the paddocks and stand next to the start line. Given its pedigree it is strange that it is such a small-scale spectator event; there are few, even people who live in the area, who know of its existence.  That charm and intimacy was replicated at Bromyard as the cars motored around the small town centre, revving up the slope and out of corners.  Of course they couldn’t reach the speeds they do elsewhere due to the narrowness of the road and the closeness of spectators but it wasn’t all about the speed it was really about bringing the cars into a new environment which might attract more spectators and of course bringing revenue into the town, which is known for its programme of festivals throughout the year.

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It wasn’t just vintage cars but also more modern cars including a Jaguar Project 7, one of a limited number produced and a mini that had competed in the Monte Carlo mini, numerous Austin Healeys and Morgans. But I still prefer the vintage cars and I wouldn’t let the family go home until we had seen them despite the weather getting chillier.  And I shouldn’t forget to mention the presence of the Sunbeam Bluebird land speech record breaker whose engines were heard in public for the first time in 50 years.  Being a somewhat long car it couldn’t go round the track due to the tight corners but it made its way down the High Street in one direction thrilling the crowd.

Bugatti Brescia T13
Bugatti Brescia T13

It was fascinating to see the expressions on the driver and passenger faces as they went past lap after lap.  Some had an expression of sheer joy, others a fierce determination, some concern as they negotiated the corners and increasing tyre debris and churned up grit from the road that increased during the afternoon.  As the laps for each class progressed the cars were either getting slower or in the case of the vintage cars, faster and more joyful.  Our theory was that having completed laps in the morning and being near the end of the afternoon session with their cars intact the drivers were going all out.  What was also great was to see numerous cars with children or grandchildren as passengers, some of whom were furiously waving to the crowds as they whizzed past.  The guys in the Morgan 3 Wheeler in the top photo took delight in trying to wheel spin their car; strangely after two warnings they didn’t appear for another lap – we assume they were told off!!

Talbot 105 Tourer
Talbot 105 Tourer

Our consensus was that Bromyard Speed Festival was a great event.  Well organised with out of town parking and shuttle buses, plenty of catering options, friendly, welcoming and fun.  We, as a family, hope that it continues as we will certainly be back next year given half a chance.

Malvern Hills Challenge 7: Perseverance Hill

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Finally a weekend when a walk on the hills first thing was a real possibility and strangely after temperatures all week of -5-2C this morning the temperature was 12C, how very strange.  Since my last walk I have wanted to tick Perseverance Hill off my list as I was annoyed that I hadn’t pushed myself that little bit more last time.  So back to the Quarry car park and arriving at 8:45 it was hardly surprising that the car park was empty.  I find the starkness of the granite stone fascinating.  I am sure someone who knows about geology would be able to tell me lots about these stones but I really just love the colours and forms.

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It’s a gentle walk from the car park along broad pathways.  Despite the car park being empty there was no shortage of runners, walkers and cyclists.  I passed by Jubilee Hill along the lower path (above) and continued onwards from where I left off last time.

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Perseverance Hill ahead and as you can see plenty of people around for first thing on a January morning.  One lady who you can just spot in the distance, motored past me at a fair rate of walking and was positively euphoric at being able to get out on the hills after all the wintery weather we have had.  I did stop and take some photos which is why she is so far ahead but given her likely age she really was inspiring.

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Perseverance Hill is 1,066ft (325m) above sea level and slightly shorter than Pinnacle and Jubilee Hills.  From the top you can look across the edge of Malvern and beyond.  My house is down there. I tried to put an arrow on the photo but haven’t got the patience to do it.  If you follow the railway line from the hill, and look for the two red garage doors near the railway then my house is sort of diagonally between the two red garage doors.

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Moving to your right across the golf course you come to the Three Counties Showground where the RHS Spring Festival will be held in May.

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From the top of Perseverance Hill you look across to the Beacon, in the dip before the Beacon is the Wyche Cutting with car parking, a cafe and a pub.  The walk from the Wyche Cutting, along Perseverance, Jubilee and Pinnacle Hills to the Malvern Hills Hotel, just before British Camp is one of the most popular.  Probably because the walk is pretty easy going with just enough small peaks to make you feel you have achieved something and of course there is a pub at both ends.  It is definitely a walk I can see I will be doing once I have finished this challenge.

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It is one of the benefits of this challenge that I have discovered parts of the hills completely new to me and I really like this area partly because it isn’t too arduous to get to the top of the peaks but also for the trees.  I have had a fascination with tree skeletons since I was a child and I still have some drawing pads with ink outlined trees drawn probably when I was in my early teens.

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I really love the textures and lines of the bare trunks and branches, I can see how this image could easily translate into a drawing.

So that 7 of the 16 named hills completed and ticked off my list.  I think the next ones will be those beyond British Camp going towards Eastnor.  Coming out of the car park I was trying to decide whether to go left or right, it didn’t matter as I have to go round the hills either way, when a posse of some 30 road cyclists appeared all out for their Sunday morning cycle – decision made I went the opposite way!

Malvern Hills Challenge 5 & 6 – Pinnacle and Jubilee Hills

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I keep wondering if I have forgotten something important for Christmas as I seem to have lots of wonderful luxurious free time this week.  After surviving the annual brussel sprout scrum in the supermarket it struck me that there was a beautiful blue sky and the view of the hills from my kitchen window was very enticing.  Time to tick off another hill for my Malvern Hills Challenge and maybe work off the mince pies I have already consumed.

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I’m not approaching the challenge with any sort of plan.  I just set off, park the car in one of the car parks and see where my feet take me.  Today, I dug out my new walking boots – well they were new some 4 years ago but today I actually wore them.  I parked up at Gardiner’s Quarry and followed the path upwards.  I quickly reached the first peak (top photo) and despite the wind blowing a gale and my fingers feeling like ice cubes I decided to see if I could cross off a second summit.

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As you can see the second summit wasn’t too far so very doable. This is Pinnacle Hill which is 357m (1171ft) above sea level.  It was an easy walk, although I needed my beanie and  hood up because of the wind and cold – probably around 5C (41F)

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There’s not much to tell you about Pinnacle Hill except there are two possible Bronze age burrows on the summit and breathtaking views in all directions across to the Bredons in East and the Black Hills of Wales to the West.

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The summit you can see in the distance is the Beacon which I haven’t ticked off my list yet but it is the one hill that I have been up a number of times over the years.   The yellow sticks you can see to the left of the photo are an electric fence which is there to control the sheep.  The Malverns have been grazed by livestock, generally sheep and cattle, for centuries with the exception of when foot and mouth was prevalent.  This being the case walkers are used to having to negotiate gates and keeping their dogs on leads in prescribed areas.

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So having done two summits, why not do another one and in my sights is the lowest of the three hills you can see above.  This is Jubilee Hill, beyond is Perseverance Hill and then the Beacon.  As you can see the Malverns benefit from well established paths so any one can easily access them.

Jubilee Hill was named in 2002 by the Malvern Conservators to mark the Queens Golden Jubilee, and the plaque was unveiled by the Duke of York. The hill is 327m (1073ft) above sea level.

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Having reached the top of Jubilee Hill I pondered continuing to Perseverance Hill but decided that it was probably a little ambitious given this was the first real exercise I had done since October.  Hopefully sometime in the next week there will be another dry day and I can tick Perseverance off the list.

On my return home I consulted my map of the hills and was disappointed to discover that the first summit is not one of the named hills so instead of crossing 3 off the list, I have only crossed 2 off. In fact it is the only unnamed hill on the map below and I feel quite cheated! There are 16 named hills plus this one, so I have 10 to complete if I want to complete the challenge my son has made of go to the top of all the hills in a year.  The deadline is the 29th May 2016 and if I am really lucky he will take me to try to spot some glow worms that he knows the location of somewhere on the hills.

You can access my other reports here

1: Raggedstone Hill
2. North Hill
3. British Camp
4. Summer Hill

 

 

My Happy Place

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”:

I haven’t done the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for a while but this week’s challenge of My Happy Place spoke to me.

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I am going through a period of what I call black dog days at the moment.  I have written about it before and amazingly it is one of my popular posts.  Anyway, today has been a challenging day but I managed not to  resort to fleeing home to escape from the strange unknown forces that cause me to feel emotionally at sea.

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I am in need of visiting a Happy Place, somewhere quiet where my introvert self can be at peace. It needs to be somewhere outside as fresh air is important to my well-being.  I also find the sound of bird-song soothing so that would need to be factored in and with my love of all things planty there needs to be a good supply of lovely plants.  There are many gardens that I have had the privilege to visit that I have found calming but there is one place that is near enough for me to visit fairly easily and just the drive has the habit of soothing me.  Sadly Stockton Bury is now closed for the autumn/winter period. I know because I checked its opening dates at the weekend;  I obviously sensed that evil black dog nipping at my heels.

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So I will have to make do with looking back on photographs from July when it was at its floriferous best.