bird watching birds Shropshire The National Trust wildlife

Follow that stream!

A walk along a tiny stream in a deep valley in our Shropshire Hills seemed most inviting on a warm May afternoon, so we set off for a half hour drive from home to Cardingmill Valley at Church Stretton. Much of the countryside here is managed by the National Trust so at weekends the valley gets too busy for our liking. Hence we chose midweek for our stream side walk, and found a few cars and people close to the Visitor Centre but as we left that behind we were almost on our own.

The stream leads us into the valley.

The wide valley where we joined the tiny stream looked most inviting with its steep slopes running up the tall hillsides towering overhead, all topped off by a clear blue sky. We hoped to see different birds here in this upland habitat and a scarcity of plants but those we see should be interesting in how they adapt to their environment.

One of the gentler slopes.

We were heading for a narrower side valley called “Light Spout Hollow” where if all went well we anticipated discovering a waterfall. So the first section of our walk along the Cardingmill Valley the path was relatively wide and even and the climb gentle. Looking up the slopes towards the sky we searched for the Buzzards which we could hear mewing overhead as thye wheeled in the thermals. But these are steep head-spinning slopes so it was a matter of glances of these wide-winged soaring birds of prey. It was easier to appreciate the hovering hunting tactics of the Kestrel hunting on the lower slopes.

Storm clouds brewing over the hills.
The green side of the valley.
Looking back to see where we have come from.
A Hawthorn bonsai shaped by the weather.
Looking up at the bonsai Hawthorn.
Fresh Whinberry foliage.
We turn left as the valley splits into two.
Clear water stream.
Lichens enjoy the moist atmosphere near the stream and clean air.
Some boulders have a soft cuhion of moss.

The extreme winter conditions here become apparent in a variety of ways. The huge boulder has been split in half by repetitive freeze-thaw action in successive winters – such nature power. Trees are sculpted by the weather into natural bonsais which create dramatic silhouettes on the horizon.

Mother Nature – rock splitter.
The extreme weather takes its toll on wildlife and livestock.
Bonsai Hawthorn.

The effects of the weather varied from place to place and from slope to slope. On one side of a hill Birches grow in abundance but just turn a corner and the hillside is empty of trees bar one lone stunted Birch.

All on my own!

The stream changed character as we moved up the little valley with miniature waterfalls, rapids and swirling deeper pools, until finally we reached our goal – the main waterfall. Here we stopped for a well-earned rest and to take in the atmosphere and views, and enjoyed our usual outdoor victuals of fruit and coffee. The boulders which we rested on were slippery and shone from the action of resting walkers’ bottoms.

The stream clambers noisily over boulders in its path.
The stream flowing over smooth rocks under an overhanging willow.
The clear water passes beneath sprigs of scented Water Mint.
Water power has gouged deeply into the rock.
Nearly there.
As good as we expected.
Looking and listening while enjoying a coffee.
Our little green friend who joined in our picnic.

Here at the top we listened to the constant songs of the birds and tried to identify those fast flyers over our heads. Wheatears, Stonechat, Whinchat and Pipit. On our way back down we concentrated on finding the wild flowers that managed to find a foothold or sheltered place.

Jude the Undergardener leads the way down.
The winding path shows us the way.
The glossy round leaves of Pennywort.
Fresh ferns flourish in the cool shade at the base of rocky outcrops.
Almost back.

What an enjoyable walk, wandering up valleys with just birds and sheep as company. We must return in the Autumn.

Shaun the Sheep was here!

By greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.

11 replies on “Follow that stream!”

What a day you had! Love the waterfall, streams, moss and “sheep.” I looked up what a Whinberry is, and it sounds similar to our blueberry which we have high and low bush types.

The whinberry has lots of different names here in UK depending on what part of the country they grow in. I think they are almost identical to blueberries.


Lichens and moss have always interested me and it looks like you saw plenty on your walk… I hope you packed your bananas to go with your coffee 😉

Comments are closed.