Leadin’ at Bredon Hill

Sunday 11th June 2017

Here we are, preparing to say goodbye to August and I’ve just arrived in the month that was June, with my writing! I’m also leapfrogging ahead ten-days from the start of the month in order to carry on with the good stuff.

So, back in December, I’d effectively pre-walked this route up in Worcestershire, ready to take the group on a tour of Bredon Hill at a later date. With people in their cars and, later, having arrived at the start point; we were ready to go.

I remember this particular walk for a number of reasons:

To start off with, it is my most recent experience of leading a group walk (excluding a walk near Cranborne Chase from early July as part of a camping trip). I currently have no other walks of my own on the calendar for this year.

When I pre-walked this route (which I’d found using the OS Maps software), I spent most of my winter’s day walking within the shadow of Bredon Hill; crunching on ice and frost with every step.

If you have or use OS Maps yourself, you can follow the same route by clicking this link.

This was the first walk for a couple of new people who are now members of Brunel 20s and 30s Walking Group.

I graded this walk as a ‘2 Boot’ (intermediate level of three options), due to its distance and the fact that there were a couple of reasonable ascents. Normally, you’ll see a higher turnout on “easier” 1 Boot walks and so, I was amazed to have nineteen people following my lead on this one!

I once received a higher number on a 1 Boot walk (twenty-five, I think) but for me personally, this is definitely a record for a 2 Boot walk. Possibly because, although we do walks in Worcestershire (The Malverns…) and the Cotswolds (think further south), well, I’ve never seen a walk here on the programme in almost five years of membership.

There were only a dozen photos of this one on my camera. I’m a bit surprised, looking back now, to think that I was walking this route in a completely different landscape to the last time.

Despite what many might have perceived, I also remember struggling with an ache down the outside of my right leg for most of the hike… I’m quite a fast walker, non-talker and a bit relentless going up hills, you see! I’m pleased to say that some of this pain has mostly subsided (thanks to the help of a physio) although, I still have something ‘no quite right’ around my knee area.

We were making our final ascent from Bredon’s Norton, climbing away from Norton Park, when I found these ‘messages’ surrounding a large field gate.

While it may not be intimidating in the sense of ‘Danger, bull in field’, I wonder why the landowner doesn’t replace this gate with one that incorporates a kissing gate, like the others further down the hill?

Still, I found it quite amusing and worthy of a photograph. I can’t imagine this person being the most welcoming towards walkers but, the paths were otherwise clear.

The Malvern Hills

After more exertion, we had a stop (was it lunch time?) beside The Warren, on a footpath junction overlooking Overbury. This was a sunny day but I think it was also a bit windy…

I do remember a feeling as though I was walking and leading too quickly for a portion of the group and, while I’m normally good at keeping my rear view mirror open, I almost lost site of the tail-end, a few times. One person was brave enough to raise this issue with me and I do feel it’s a slight shortcoming I have; whether it comes down to self-confidence, social skills and belief or what; I’m not willing or able to interact with a group as comfortably as some others. This is an issue of mine that’s been long running since I started leading walk in 2013 – I’m always amazed that anyone would come back for a second walk of mine!

But then, all of this is based mostly on my own point of view.

Dave had left lunch early to go off GeoCaching [you’ll get used to it] and, despite fearing as though we’d already come and gone without him, we were reunited at the Banbury Stone Tower folly.

There was once an iron-age hillfort here, known as Kemerton Camp. Banbury Stone Tower was built for the MP John Parsons (I think we’re talking late-Eighteenth Century) as a kind of holiday home… Also known as Parsons Folly. But whatever you think of its appearance, someone else apparently viewed it with envy and created the more desirable Broadway Tower, several miles south-east of Bredon Hill.

Nowadays, Banbury Stone Tower (being nowhere near Oxfordshire) is used to support telecommunications across the region.

I was pleased to find Elephant Rock (also known as The Banbury Stone) on this visit and wondered how on Earth I’d missed it the last time I was here. There are supposed to be castle remains on the Elmley Castle side of the hill but I’ve not yet looked for them.

Having seen Liam’s own effort to leave his mark on the side of a former hillfort, James trotted over to rearrange the letters…

We all looked on in wonder. Somehow, James found just enough rocks to finish the name of our walking group; an occassion where we left something more than footprints!

I’ve been trawling social media in the hope that someone from outside the group might have discovered this, uploaded a photo and asked, ‘Who the f**k is Brunel?’… So far, no success on that front. But I still have the mystery photographer to thank for allowing me to be included in our group shot (and for not running off with my camera, like a Trigger Happy TV sketch).

From admiring the views that stretch across the Vale of Evesham and even to the Winchcombe and Cleeve Hill in the more known corner of the Cotswolds, we made a gradual descent and return to Elmley Castle.

Linda is quite tall but the church tower is pretty squat and small. Other members also highlighted areas within the architecture that had been renovated over the years.

I think it was locked and so, we couldn’t actually venture inside. After a quick shoe change at the cars (we’d parked on the road side, due to a shortage of conveniently-sized car parks), we crossed over and in to the pub, where we eventually found the pleasant beer garden, some fifty-metres away from the back door. Rain threatened but ultimately held off!

We finished the walk with the same number of bodies as which we had started and I can still remember most people’s names, over two months on!

Distance of this walk: 10.5 miles

Thanks for reading.

Previous walks here:

December 2016 (Part 1)
December 2016 (Part 2)

Author: Olly Parry-Jones

I live in Weston-super-Mare, close to the Mendip Hills in Somerset and I enjoy time spent outdoors, whether that's walking, camping or backpacking. My day job involved making furniture from recycled wood (I'm a furniture maker and carpenter by trade). I have two blogs: Olly Writes (woodworking, DIY, baking) Walks With Olly (walking, camping and kit) You can also find me on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. My second YouTube channel is titled 'Walks with Olly'.

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