Sunday, 30 November 2014

RAF Museum Cosford

Our last visit of the week was to the RAF museum at Cosford.  The museum itself is free, parking isn't, but for the amount there is to see, it's worth the small fee of £2.50 or £3.50.  I have to admit that of all the places we visited, this was the one I was least looking forward to as planes just aren't my thing, plus I was full of cold and feeling decidedly under the weather.   Small was looking forward to it though, so off we went.

Small, using one of the interactive displays

Most of the exhibits are just too darned big to photograph properly.  This old Trabant was one of the smaller ones!

The museum is well worth a visit, with a lot of bite-sized history which suits Small, and it also seemed to be a popular place for school trips.  I think we saw at least four different flocks of sheep lines of children following teams of teachers around.  There was also a great exhibit about the cold war era, although this was a bit beyond Small so we didn't go into detailed discussion.

Until next time. x

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Powis Castle

Our next foray was over the border from Shropshire into Wales and a visit to Powis Castle, which is part of the National Trust.  I can honestly say that becoming members of the NT has been very well worthwhile and while there was obviously an initial outlay for membership, by having it we've been able to visit so many places we wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford.  It's paid for itself several times over.

It was an extremely frosty and foggy morning when we set off, and although the fog cleared as we headed away from the hills, it was still hanging around here and there.

We got our first sight of the castle, and then we saw these lovely guys.  One a youngster, and the other a buck of around 5 years - if there's any truth to the number of prongs on the antlers being indicative of age.

Although the castle is open almost every day, we were only able to access the house by a guided tour where once again we felt like sheep being rushed around without actually being able to stop and see anything properly.  Overall, the NT seems to have softened its strict no photography inside properties policy that was certainly in place up until a few years ago, but at this property photography was firmly prohibited due to much of the contents being privately owned, so we were unable to take any pictures inside.

They were just gearing up for Christmas

There were quite a few peacocks and peahens wandering around.  This one was acting as sentinel at the top of the castle steps.  As we couldn't see as much of the castle as we would have liked, Small and I went for a walk around the beautiful gardens.  Even in autumn, there was plenty to see and there are a great many rare, old and beautiful trees in the gardens.

The view from the castle terrace over part of the gardens
A small lake in the gardens which provided ice for the ice house
Small, standing in the entrance to the old ice house
Small, next to a Californian redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Looking up at the castle from the gardens
An enjoyable day out, although Powis Castle is a property I'd like to go back to as there was lots to see that we weren't able to.  I don't normally do lunch at places like this either as it tends to be expensive, but on this occasion I did indulge in a warming bowl of homemade parsnip and apple soup to take away the chill of a frosty and damp day.

The young man serving in the cafe was kind enough to let me taste a bit first as I don't actually like parsnips and was a bit dubious.  It turned out to be absolutely delicious, so much so that I asked for, and got, the recipe.  I shall be having a go at making some of my own, so watch this space to see how it turns out!

Until next time. x

Friday, 28 November 2014

Severn Valley Country Park

The next day of our break dawned bright and sunny, but extremely cold.  A perfect day for a walk and as we'd spotted the walking/cycling track and the Severn Valley Country Park while on our train ride, we headed off there.

Our first stop was the car park on the Dudmaston Hall Estate, at the point where the Hampton Loade ferry crossed the River Severn.  Despite the signage indicating otherwise, it didn't look as though the thing had run for a long time.

Walking routes around and through the Dudmaston Estate
The winch for the ferry
Open? I don't think so!
The Severn Valley Country Park sits on the site of a former colliery near Alveley.  It now forms a 125-acre park and recreational area which spans both sides of the River Severn.

Plan of the waymarked walking routes around the park

Wood carving commemorating the park's industrial heritage
Wood sculpture in the children's playground
We decided to follow the Riverside Trail, which is quite well waymarked, although a few of the markers were missing so Mummy got temporarily lost a few times despite having a copy of the map!  Although the Visitor Centre was closed (only open at weekends during the winter), the foyer was open so I was able to grab a copy of the map leaflet.  Here's a pictorial walk along the riverside trail.

This little fella happily posed for pictures

Over the bridge and turn right
Follow the path around the pond
The River Severn is on your left
Up the steps
Cross the bridge
Here the riverside trail joins the Mercian Way long distance footpath and national cycle route 45.

One of the Saxon warrior way markers of the Mercian Way
We stopped to play Pooh Sticks

Here the path goes off in several directions.  This way leads to Highley station on the Severn Valley Railway.

 We followed the cycle path which leads past the Country Park Halt.

Adjacent to Country Park Halt

No trains were scheduled today, so we expected to find totally clear tracks.  And we did.  Until we heard a whistle in the distance and the unmistakable chuff-chuff sound of a steam train.  Small, who can't cope with loud noises, went and hid.

Sure enough an engine, hauling a couple of carriages full of people in bright orange jackets, puffed towards us, giving us a cheery wave as they went past.  An unexpected and pleasant surprise to see a train and obviously making better headway than the one that fetched us back from Kidderminster the other day!

We headed back to the path and continued on our way.  Managing to miss the steps down onto the lower path, we ended up beside the river on a very muddy section of the path.  It was much easier to find the steps from here so we headed back up onto the far less muddy bit of path and back to the bridge.  From there, we followed the markers back to the visitor centre.

A thoroughly enjoyable walk and a nicely tired Small who slept like a log.

Until next time. x