Marian’s Midweek Ramble 14 April
On a lovely sunny, warm April morning a group of ERC ramblers gathered at the Viaduct Meadow Car park in Evesham. After leaving the Hampton area we set off across fields and along tracks towards Elmley Castle, where a short section of road walking brought us to fruit orchards in blossom.
Time for a coffee stop with a lovely clear view of Bredon Hill. Alan said a few words in memory of Peter Lee-Smith (late Chairman so sadly missed) and his work for the club, which included devising today’s ramble, one of the future ERC signed Evesham Vale Circular Walks.
After crossing the Salt Way we soon reached the hamlet of Netherton, Chapel Farm, and the ruined 12th century chapel. This chapel was disused as early as the 14th century and functioned as a barn in the 1700s. Arriving in Elmley Castle it was time for a picnic lunch sat around the cricket ground and/or refreshments at the Queen Elizabeth pub.
After lunch we retraced our route through Netherton. When we reach Smokey Farm some of the group took a detour to see the remains of a World War 2 airfield bombing decoy site, built in 1940 to protect Pershore airfield. Walking across pasture land and around a dry ploughed field brought us to Haselor. We crossed the B4084 and negotiated several stiles before going over a solidly built footbridge! We were soon in the outskirts of Hampton. Joining the Shakespeare’s Avon Way, Alan led the group down Clark’s Hill (site of the vineyard for Evesham Abbey) to Hampton Ferry and then followed the River Avon back to the start car park.
Great to be out walking as a group after the third lockdown and we were treated to blossom time in The Vale with lovely clear views of the south east Worcestershire countryside.
Ooh la la – A French Connection!
Rachel & Geoff’s Short Ramble 21 April
In dull but dry conditions, 19 members gathered together at St Barbara’s Church lychgate in Ashton Under Hill. St Barbara is the patron Saint of pikemen, gunners, armourers and firemen.
After welcoming new members Frances Heneghan and Nicola Garrad, we set off across a field to an area known as Paris, though we heard no French anthems, just the sound of a hedge trimmer.
Soon we arrived at the small village of Grafton. Grafton is only small, but has been a village since the 12th century. In the 15th Century grape-growing monks from Tewkesbury Abbey lived here.
At the end of the village we began our gentle ascent of Bredon. Despite being a dull day there were still good views towards Dumbleton and uninterrupted views across to Broadway and the Cotswolds.
After a brief coffee stop, where we were told about a chance meeting of Prince Charles with former Club Secretary Lewis Steele, we joined the Wychavon Way. We followed this path down to Ashton, admiring the vast views across the Vale and the many signs of spring:- lambs, skylarks, singing birds and spring flowers.
Crossing the final stile we couldn’t help but notice a large oak facing us, with a broad grin on its trunk. Was it Treebeard? Had we arrived in Middle Earth? No, just back to our starting point after a bracing Spring ramble.
Several members took advantage of the Covid Outdoor Opening Rules for Pubs and enjoyed an Al Fresco lunch at The Star.
The only one to break the rule of six and social distancing was Little Cock Robin, who helped himself to any free crumbs that were left.
Cowslips and cow pats
Peter & Val’s Sunday Ramble 25 April
Blue sky with sunshine cooled by a brisk breeze saw an enthusiastic group of ramblers assemble in Bishampton Village Hall car park, all set to explore the surrounding countryside.
Across lush fields although bone dry and clambering over some very dodgy stiles what could be heard over the sound of birdsong was the happy chatter of ramblers anxious to catch up on the news with one another. The coffee break was taken to the sound of larks.
During the course of the morning a few conversations were held with a very frisky and sociable young horse together with three lambs, who obviously expected feeding from anyone who stroked them.
Lunch was taken in the grounds of the village hall with a few members checking that the childrens’ play equipment was in working order.
The afternoon saw a climb uphill and over more leaning gates and stiles but with lovely views over the Malverns and Bredon Hill in the far distance. We then entered a wood with very ‘natural’ footpaths bordered by bluebells and cowslips passing an Evesham Rambling Club sign commemorating the clearing of the path some years ago, as remembered by Alan – perhaps another session is required?
A refreshment break in a field adjacent to Spittens Farm was taken before setting off again through the wood and down into the Vale Golf Club course with only a few golfers playing although there was quite a crowd sitting outside the bar!
As we exited the club a few reindeer could be seen in the distant paddock before we followed the Queens Jubilee Trail back to Bishampton.
Lovely to catch up with everyone and let’s hope freedom is on the horizon within walking distance!
am 5.5 miles, pm 5 miles
‘Hovel an Evening’
Alan & Pauline’s Evening Ramble 30 April
Such was the weather at 5.15pm on Friday 30 April that members arriving for the Evening Ramble were quite variably kitted out. Those who experienced the same downpour we had in the South Littleton area had donned waterproofs, whilst those who had missed the shower altogether turned up in T-shirts, cut-off trousers and trainers.
Our first stop, twenty yards from the start, was to peer over the wall of South House to admire the alpacas with their thick fleeces ranging in colour from a soft cream to dark brown. Turning off Farm Lane, we skirted private woodland to arrive in Littleton Pastures, owned by the Vale Landscape Heritage Trust and the first of the five Trust Lands we would encounter on our route. The Trust purchased the 50 acre field to preserve its ancient `ridge and furrow’ and to establish it as a flower meadow.
In Middle Littleton we passed the National Trust Tithe Barn before turning north to make our way to Cleeve Prior. By now, the earlier clouds were fast disappearing, leaving a clear blue sky and the promise of a good sunset towards the end of the walk – if our timings worked out!
Circumnavigating the Woodland Trust’s Quarry Meadow, we headed for the Evesham Vale Heritage Orchard, owned by the Cleeve Prior Heritage Trust, where the apple blossom was a sight to behold. Here a treat was in store as we were able to visit the ‘hovel’ last occupied by Edgar Wheeler in the early 1990s until he locked up one evening and never returned. Edgar had owned the hovel for forty years and he left behind a unique time capsule of Market Gardening in the last century.
A bridleway along the ridge overlooking the River Avon brought us to the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Windmill Hill Reserve with spectacular views across The Vale towards Bredon Hill, the Malverns and beyond. The sun was getting low in the sky now but it waited until we had reached our vantage point on the edge of the hill before it set in a blaze of colour and finally dipped below the horizon. In the gathering twilight we headed down to South Littleton, passing St Michael’s Church and the Manor House, arriving back in Farm Lane, pleased to have defied the earlier threat of rain.
Alan & Pauline