Monday, 29 September 2008

Back after a few days in neighbouring Shropshire

Nice to be back in Penkridge but in just over a week we got to know parts of South Shropshire quite well. A lovely part of the world and very different from South Staffordshire. Up and down, more trees, roads much better, and some attractive towns and villages like Ludlow and Cleobury Mortimer and some interesting small churches. We also spent a day or two exploring the Titterstone Clee Hill, with it's Industrial History, particularly the Quarrying and Mining that has taken place over the last 150 years. At one time it was the largest quarry in Europe. Quarrying still takes place but now only employs a couple of dozen men or so compared with the hundreds that worked there in the early 1900's.

I purchased in Ludlow the book by A E Jenkins "Titterstone Clee Hill - Everyday life Industrial History & Dialect" which is a must if you are exploring the area. Titterstone Clee Hill is within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is Open Access Land although care must be taken as much of it is Common Land and several people still have Sheep Grazing Rights. During the week we had the Hills to ourselves but at the weekend, it unfortunately turned into a noisy hill with illegal scrambler bikes tearing around and damaging the habitat as well as disturbing the peace and quietness of the hills. Designating areas is great but there must be enforcement of the rules governing areas like Titterstone Clee Hills and Cannock Chase.

I will return, however, as the views on a good day are tremendous - an easy summit to reach gives one superb views around 360 degrees. I met some very interesting people up there - from Scotland and Poland as well as many local people, some of whom have lived around the Hills all their live, One evening while I was photographing a fantastic sunset, a man from Worcester appeared who had driven up to near the summit to mount his astronomical telescope on a tripod in order to study the sky at night. Light pollution in urban areas makes it practically impossible to see details of the stars but up on the Clee you feel a lot nearer to them and there are no street lights or cities nearby polluting the sky with their light.

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