Thursday, May 13, 2010

A lost world

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

Val-de-ri--Val-de ha ha ha ha ha ha
My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"

Val-de-ri--Val-de ha ha ha ha ha ha
My knapsack on my back.
Anybody remember this fairly vomititious song from earlier and more innocent days? 'The Happy Wanderer', it's enough to make one want to cast off any thoughts of weather-proof clothing and go off in search of the fuggy delights of the great indoors....and it has awful ear worm potential too.

Don't get me wrong - I love 'out there' and I am particularly keen on finding out stuff and exploring places but I've never really got the hiking/walking thing.

However, last evening the Glam.Ass. and I joined Marton's walking group on one of their monthly outings which take in some of our fantastic bucolic scenery. Some walks are H, some are VH and some are a walk in the park (so to speak).

This was a walk in a quarry, and as it turned out, a mere stroll for those professional ramblers who turned out Rohan clad and suitably booted. There was even a knapsack or two.

We fetched up in the car park of a 'heritage' site in Llanymynech, a village that straddles the English and Welsh borders - the national boundary runs up the middle of the A483 which speeds motorist from north to south and divides the village. The motorist is aware of the limestone cliffs which tower over the town's cluster of dusty roadside houses, shops and pubs but passing through gives little thought to questions of what or why or when.

The cliffs above the town are a quarry, of Dolomite limestone, which closed about 100 years ago. It forms the basis of a nature reserve which is the shared responsibility of Montgomeryshire and Shropshire Wildlife Trusts. Peregrines nest there. This much I knew. This turned out to be the tip of the iceberg; the raison d'ĂȘtre of the heritage site was the conservation and restoration of the whole Limework's area, to retrieve something of a once busy industrial site before it is subsumed by the forces of nature.

Our guide was keen. Very keen, and obviously one of the prime movers of the group bringing the site back to life. This is a man who digs out bits of twisted steel from nettle beds before breakfast and announces 'railway track, hurrah!!!', is thrilled by the minutiae of engineering, a man for whom the throb of a compressor is music indeed. His kind can also be found on the footplate of steam trains, oily rag in hand. You get the picture.  Admirable really, putting so much energy into revealing our heritage instead of letting it moulder in earthy heaps for some descendant of Tony Robinson to reveal 1,000 years hence.

Not so much a walk then, more a slow amble round the old works looking at piles of this and piles of that, admiring brick work and kilns and trying to interpret lumps and bumps in the ground. Our guide was a great one for detail so those of us that wanted to press on and get to the bit with the wildflowers just had to be patient.

Our man's remit though was obviously industrial archeaology because even when we hauled ourselves up the steep slope to the bed of the quarry via the route of the inclined plain - a trudge which definitely sorted out the Walkers from the strollers - to be shown a breathtaking view (and did we need to catch our breath!) of the Severn valley, the industrial references continued with merely a nod to the flora and fauna. How quickly nature takes over given the opportunity. The bed of the quarry itself is now home to many limestone loving plants. Orchids, Early Purple, Common Spotted and Butterfly apparently are prolific. This year's season being late meant that few were flowering yesterday but a visit in a fortnight's time will be a different story.

It's basically a big hole in the ground on the top of a hill - and for lovers of holes in the ground everywhere here are a couple of pictures:

We're apart from the world up here. Only us and our quiet chatter, the whisper of the breeze and birdsong. The rush and roar of humanity (such as it is in these parts) does not intrude. Hard to imagine it as a working quarry with drilling and blasting and the clank and grind of men and machine. I'm reminded of Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World'  and keep an eye open for Mr Pterodactyl and his dinosaur friends.

Time to go and we edge down the other inclined plain back to the car park - why is it so much harder to go down than up? This doesn't seem to be a group who end a walk at the pub unfortunately, so home we go.

I've enjoyed this walk and think I might join the group again - if they'll have me. I might even go as far as to buy one of those nifty stick things. A stick's always good isn't it? Useful for beating off tigers, pterodactyls and vipers - poking stuff and bashing the tops off nettles.

Now I've just got to stop humming 'The Happy Wanderer'.

Blasted ear-worm.


Wipso said...

Thanks for that :-) Another fab blog. I shall also be humming that tune for the rest of today :-)
A x

MBNAD woman said...

The time in Britain is twelve noon, in Germany it's one o'clock, but home and away it's time for "Two-Way Family Favourites.

Thanks. All day I'll have that blessed song in my head with a mental image of some hearty mittel-European youngsters in lederhosen.

Great post.
Mad x

Julia Dunnit said...

Great post, fab pics. Ear worm for sure, am humming already.

Pondside said...

Yes, do buy a stick before your next walk - they come in handy.
I'll be showing this post to TGD as encouragement to work on strengthening his knee - he'd love that walk and the restoration would appeal to the engineer in him. I love a good walk, but I'd be hitting you with my stick for singing that song.

rachel said...

Fascinating! Apart from the loathsome song, of course.

Here's one to replace it: "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" (Shirelles, Brenda Lee, Dusty SPringfield, Amy Winehouse....)

I caught it yesterday from a bit of tv mocking of Nick and Dave. Not a bad ear worm at all!

Twiglet said...

It sounds like a good place to roam - will tell G (interested in all things industrial, steam driven and historical) maybe I shall get a day out. I would love the birds, flowers and views and will pack my knapsack on my back...falderee, faldera ...oh no!!!!

Nikki-ann said...

I remember that song!

I keep meaning to go up that way for a walk and some photography opportunities, but somehow never quite make it.

her at home said...

Ah mountainer the French are very fond of those stick things, I always thought they were picking up litter but they swear they help you walk... I tried one but kept tripping up over it added to which I feel I may look like gandaolph on a bad day porting one of those!

well ok a small short gandolph with no beard..

Tattie Weasle said...

A stick thing! Perfect! Can also be used of course as a gun, lance, sword, hobby horse, apparatus that pulls you up steep hill when attached to another human being or sherpa if you prefer - with two boys I can never walk long without a stick!

bodran... said...

Yes thanks from me to!! fal da ree fal da raa...

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I treated myself to one of them sticks in Pembrokeshire last year - I havent used it since we came home! Nick is planning some interesting evening walks for the summer months - come on over

Lucille said...

Can I swap A Windmill in old Amsterdam - I saw a mouse. Where? There on the Stair. Where on the stair? Right there. A little mouse with clogs on. Well I declare. Going clip clippity clop on the stair - for Val de ri?

Kirsty.a said...

I've never heard the term 'ear worm' Love it! Love your view on life too.

elizabethm said...

You have truly passed the song on. Not sure what on earth I can displace it with although the mouse with clogs on is having a go.
There are some fabulous walks near you. We should do on.

Fennie said...

Like an upside down Castle - all moss and ramparts and stray buddleia - well perhaps not - but yes pleanty of industrial archeology which can be fascinating but often tends to be overdone. Never rambled in a group as I prefer to be along for a walk or perhaps with just one or two close friends. But you see to have had a great time.