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architecture autumn autumn colours buildings River Severn sculpture Shrewsbury Shropshire townscapes trees

Walking the Shrewsbury Loop

Our county town, Shrewsbury, sits neatly and comfortably within a loop of the beautiful River Severn. Our hamlet, Plealey is just six miles south of the town, a very convenient distance for us as we are out in the South Shropshire countryside but a short distance by car to our county town.

As we came out of lock down, we decided to have a day off from gardening and go for a walk along the banks of the Severn, starting at the Welsh Bridge following the loop around to the English Bridge and back into the town centre.

We entered the riverside Victoria Quay passing a plethora of ugly signs and followed the quay with its rather gaudy hanging baskets and planters on the riverside fence. It is from the quay that The Sabrina, a pleasure boat, gives trips down the river for tourists and locals alike. On the left are fashionably popular eateries, including one of our favourites, The Armoury. A very popular riverside public house, The Boathouse sits on the opposite bank just before the first bridge that we pass.

We were surprised to see that the children’s playpark had been updated along a Charles Darwin theme, as Shrewsbury is the town of his birth. Along side the park was a new outdoor cafe with seats overlooking the Severn, so obviously we were tempted by takeaway coffees and cookies. Shrewsbury is famous as the home not just of Darwin but also Sentinel steam lorries and here we found one serving snacks and drinks to walkers passing by. We walked further along the bank-side path enjoying views through the bankside trees and hedges. Some of the willows have been sculpted by pollarding by previous generations who trained them in this way to get long straight whips of willow for basketry, a very important craft at the time.

The final picture in this set shows a lady pulling a canoe on a trailer, who we first spotted on the Welsh Bridge on the same route as us. We couldn’t work out why she was pulling it so far with a beautiful river alongside her. It was obviously hard work as she stopped frequently. It kept us amused!

 

Signs of an early autumn, golden dried leaves at the bases of the lime trees in the lime avenue, were prevalent As we walked further from the park we found these beautiful apartments in a converted brewery – what a view!

Shrewsbury boasts so many bridges of varied style and age.

    The oh so ugly railway bridge!

Our riverside walk was full of surprises, such as a clay tile piece of craftwork created by a local school, a beautiful modern building sat above the ancient town walls, the oh so steep St Mary’s Water Lane and a determined rose bush!

 

We enjoyed finding this piece of philosophy on a brick wall, before we reached the weir which was our point of walk’s end. Here we turned back and made our way back into the town for a well-earned coffee.

Although we have followed this route many times we still find it of interest!

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architecture buildings Shropshire townscapes

The Architectural Heritage of Shrewsbury Part 2

This is the second post about the architecture of our county town. the photos for the posts were taken in late autumn.

Continuing our journey through the streets, alleys and pathways of Shrewsbury we move away from the station towards the river.

Firstly we go down a narrow steep road where these blue features against the beautiful red stonework of the old town walls caught my eye.

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Just to show that Shrewsbury’s architecture isn’t all about the past we next visit some 20th and 21st century buildings. The first picture shows the dreadful 70’s concrete monstrosity that is the town’s only multi-storey car park with a new building attached to its right. At its base is a row of bus-stops.

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When we have a close look at this new building we see that it is a hotel which is still to open. I prefer it to the 70’s building next to it, but we shall have to see how well it weathers.

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The reason that there are so few example of good modern architecture in our county town, is that so many residents are stuck in the past. Any proposals for modern architecture are strongly objected to by many. Below is a sad reflection of this where architects have tried to reflect the town’s medieval heritage. We just ended up with this mock half-timbered shopping centre.

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And now off to the riverside! The old centre of Shrewsbury is totally enclosed within a loop of the River Severn.

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Below is our wonderful new theatre and the new sculpture created to commemorate Charles Darwin.

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My favourite structure in this part of the town is this pedestrian suspension bridge. It is such a simple but elegant design and certainly invites you to walk over its gentle arching span. It sways as you walk across and the sway gets stronger the more people are crossing over.

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bird watching birds conservation National Trust photography Shropshire The National Trust trees wildlife woodland

A Wander by the River Severn

Shropshire’s largest river is the Severn, one of the most impressive and longest in the UK. We usually walk its banks in our county town of Shrewsbury, for being strongly averse to towns and cities we need the riverside walk as an antidote. But today we decided to go a few miles southwards and find it as it meanders through the beautiful south Shropshire countryside. We parked up near Alveley and ambled our way down towards the river and the woodland on the lower slopes of its valley. The area is a country park jointly maintained by the National Trust and Shropshire Council so there is good parking and a small visitor centre with cafe. But walk a hundred metres or so from the centre and you are right out in the countryside away from signs of civilisation, except for the occasional sound of the steam engines running through the valley on the Severn Valley Railway, the chugging sounds of the engine working hard to get up slopes and the regular hooting as it crosses level crossings.

The track down to the river.

The walk down to the river is a gentle sloping pathway through young woodland interrupted by occasional areas of old industrial landscape which is being reclaimed by mother Nature. Unusual small plants are colonising and tree seedlings only a few inches tall are making inroads into man’s mess. Here a Pied Wagtail deviated from its tail wagging zig zag amble to catch an insect above a clump of tough grass. A true surprise met our eyes – a Black Redstart a bird I had not seen for decades and one Jude had never seen before. They inhabit areas of rubble and human disturbance so this is just perfect hangout for them.

The candle shaped flower cluster of a Horse Chestnut Tree.
New foliage of Oak tinged with bronze.
A view from the path into the wooded valley side.
We choose the left fork.
An impressive modern milestone.
A clearing revealed a view of the Shropshire countryside.

The footbridge over the river is an impressive curving structure, but not as impressive as the views up and down river. The Severn here is wide, tree-lined, deep and slow-moving and home to a family of Mute Swan with six cygnets. We did not spot the keenly anticipated Kingfishers, but that was the only disappointment of the day.

A rather smart bridge carries the path over the Severn.

Once over the bridge we entered woodland, good native hardwood woodland. Here the only sound was our footsteps and bird song and calls. The unpleasant mechanical rasp of Pheasants permeated the trees, but we concentrated on the tuneful songs of Robin, Thrush, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler.

The path turns into the darkness of the wooded valley side.
Flowering plants took advantage wherever light shone through.
Beautiful woodland light.

A shaft of sunlight pierced the valley side.

On the slopes Jays in their smart plumage of pinks, greys and highlights of blue, fed voraciously on acorns and beech mast. They were over-confident and took little notice of our intrusion into their territory as groups of seven or so foraged on the leaf littered slope.

The path became a tunnel of trees.

At one time this valley was the centre of industry and clues still appear now and again as the woods are explored. Surprising man-made artefacts appeared as contradictions to the gentle beauty of the art of Mother Nature.

A sign of past industrial activity.
Signs of an old trackway alongside the path.
Some plants choose to grow on the rubble slopes of old industry.
Light pierced through the trees from the nearby clearing.
Looking from the clearing back into the woodland.

We took advantage of the sunshine in the clearing with its conveniently placed bench. We listened to bird song and watched Blackcaps as they flitted amongst the tree tops. They stopped and perched occasionally to give us a short performance of their enjoyable song. The cerise-breasted  Bullfinch caught our eye as he hovered alongside the clock seedhead of a Dandelion, until he grasped a seed in his beak took it to a low branch of a Hawthorn. He enjoyed it, unaware that two people were watching him.

Sunshine lights up the clearing and invites us to picnic.
Magical light through the trees.
The Severn glimpsed through clumps of Comfrey plants.

As we followed our path back down to the riverside we noticed a change in wildflower species. Here Comfrey dominated and filled the open ground between the willows and alders and our track took us through lush grassed areas. Kestrels and Sparrowhawks hunted along the riverside slopes causing consternation to the nesting Blackbirds, Thrushes and Warblers.

The cotton wool like mass on the willow confused us. Was it hiding caterpillars or young spiders?

In the depth of the shadow under the trees we spotted this Badger Sett.
A glimpse of Shropshire countryside over the river.
Back to the bridge.
The gentle climb back up the valley side to the car park provided plenty of benches to rest on and admire the views.

In the wooded edge of the picnic site back near the car park we found these amazing wood carvings representing the wildlife of the area.

The carvings emphasised what a special place we had just explored. We enjoyed the changing light as we moved in and out of the woods, the variety of flowers and birds and the joy of walking alongside our local river

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birds photography wildlife

A Cold Riverside Walk

A walk along the River Severn in Ironbridge, just a dozen or so miles from home, proved a lovely way to enjoy a frosty Sunday morn. the gorge here is so deep that the sun’s rays barely manage to peep over the top meaning unusual lighting and taking photos shooting into the sun. I only had my smart phone camera to hand so the glares across pictures were a revelation.

Very little wildlife shared the gorge with us, mallards and mute swans on the water and a buzzard hunting along the opposite bank floating slowly and gracefully through the tree tops . But we had been treated to a wonderful view of a bright rustic-coloured fox slowly crossing the road just in front of the car. This was no urban fox – the fox shown obsessively on TV programmes – all scraggy, bones showing and dull coloured – no, this was the real thing.

The frost was just showing signs of melting away forming sparkling droplets of water on the bankside vegetation.