20090508_Park Wood-Bluebells Walk With Dad

20090508_Park Wood-Bluebells Walk With Dad

When : 8th May 2009

Who : Me and my Dad

Where : Canley, Coventry, England

Maps : 1:25,000 OS. Explorer Map 221, Coventry & Warwickshire

Start + End Point : 278,773

Approx Distance : Couple of miles maybe, a bit of a wandering stroll really.

Heights : None, almost as flat as water

Parking : On side roads at far western end of Charter Avenue Road, (Residential streets, please park considerately, I think I parked in the cresent of Dalmeny Road/Park Wood Lane)

Public Transport : Coventry has an extensive network of buses, including the Canley area … or Tile Hill Train Station is not far away.

Summary : Quite simply a walk in the woods when the bluebells were in full bloom.

My mum had to have a short spell in hospital, so I took the day off work to spend the day with my Dad. We had a busy morning, where :

  • We replanted some small conifer trees in larger and heavier pots in their back-garden, so the wind wouldn’t blow them over.
  • Did a bit of shopping at Sainsbury’s.
  • I repaired part of their front wall, re-cementing a capping stone in place and doing a bit of pointing where the brick faces had been got-at by the winter frosts.
  • And once all that was done, I cooked several meals to be frozen so that all Mum needed to do when she came home was a bit of rice or pasta with one of the meals defrosted and reheated. I made 3 lots of bolognaise type sauces with some mince, a chicken supreme creamy thing and a chicken chasseur type of dinner.

After lunch (we ate one of the bolognaise sauces with some pasta), Dad decided he’d like me to see some bluebell woods he’d “discovered” with my Mum and a group of friends a week or so earlier. So that’s what we did …. Now might be a good time to tell you that my Dad suffered quite a bad “stroke” during an operation a few years ago, leaving him with Aphasia [severely affected speech] and he lost the use of his right hand and most mobility of his right arm. Still, with the help of a self help group called “Speakability Coventry Group” both he and my Mum have made a new set of friends. It was with some of their new friends that they’d discovered these woods on a short walk that they’d done a couple of weeks earlier.

http://www.speakability.org.uk/Aphasia+Information

http://www.strokesincoventry.org.uk/speakability_coventry

Anyway, back to the day : Dad used to be a strong walker and we spent great times walking all over the country, including leading walks together for the Coventry CHA rambling club.

http://www.coventrycha.co.uk/

It was really great getting out with him again and although it was just a gentle wander, I’m sure our walk must have helped take his mind off worrying about Mum being in hospital (at least a little bit anyway).

There’s not much to say about the woods themselves: They’re basically rectangular, not quite a kilometer long and maybe only ½ km wide, bounded to the north by Charter Avenue and to the south by a thin strip of open ground and then Westward Heath Business Park. To the western end of the woods is a new housing development (Westward Heath was always considered quite posh and select when I was growing up in Coventry, and it’s now grown somewhat) …. And finally to the east there’s a faint path that crosses a rough field to join Ten Shilling Wood (I think that’s a great name for a wood, but I’ve no idea why it’s got that name). It looks as though a strip of trees has recently been planted that will eventually link the two woods together … Brilliant idea … I’m sure it’ll make a super wildlife corridor between these two established woods.

We started off by entering a small area of open landscaped grounds, near to the new housing development. The web link below gives more info’ on this recently created amenity. The most striking features were what looked like some odd looking sculpture “seats” … at least that’s what they seemed to be. However, they’re more art-form than practical seating and spaced out so that two people would have to almost shout at each other to have any chance of a conversation … very strange! [recently, I found the City Council web site that calls these objects “peek posts” and it turns out they’re not seats at-all …. Even knowing this they’re still strange.

http://www.coventry.gov.uk/ccm/content/city-development-directorate/culture-&-leisure/parks-services/parks-consultation/park-wood-meadow.en

Park wood itself is a classic deciduous wood, with lots of different tree types (sliver birch, oak, etc, etc,) winding paths, bracket fungi, open glades and masses of bluebells at this time of year (May). The weather threatened showers but on the whole it was kind to us (being mostly cloudy but with glimpses of brighter sunlight occasionally breaking through) as we basically made our way in a figure of eight taking in paths both around the perimeter and through the middle of the woods.

 

It was remarkable how quickly the noise of nearby roads became muted to an almost non-existent level, to be replaced by a tree top serenade (or should that be cacophony) of bird song …. Wonderful …. I don’t know about you, but bluebell woods seem to be one of those things that epitomise spring with the sights and scent of the short lived flowers and the bird song in full chorus … almost as evocative of spring as frolicking lambs, daffodils and the clocks going forwards into British Summer Time.

Upon exiting the woods, I resolved to get down to my local bluebell woods at Cawston, to the south of Rugby, as they were quite superb last year and it wouldn’t be long before they’d start “going-over” and past their best for another year.

That’s about it really, an enjoyable stroll and an easily accessible way to escape the normal hustle and bustle of life in a big city.

Just for your interest, some other local bluebell woods I know are :-

Crackley Woods,  Crackley Lane, near Kenilworth. http://www.lnr.naturalengland.org.uk/Special/lnr/lnr_details.asp?C=0&N=&ID=117

Ryton Pools Country Park, on A445 between Bubbenhall and Ryton-On-Dunsmore. http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/web/corporate/pages.nsf/Links/07D163D4AAF7750180256B7D004FB522

Badby Woods, Northamptonshire. http://www.badby.org.uk/index_files/Page2017.htm

I’m sure there must be others, but I’ll leave you to find them for yourselves.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walk = 20090510_Early Morning Cawston Circular Walk

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20090408-117_SWCP-Shadowy Self Portrait

Originally uploaded by gary.hadden

 

It’s Me, well kind of anyway … On the South West Coast Path between Maidencombe and Shaldon. The hedgerow’s a tad bleached out, but I did like the distorted length of my legs vs body, This was quite a steepish descent on one of the several switch-back ups and downs the path made on this section.

20090408_South West Coast Path_Babbacombe-Shaldon – Linear Walk

20090408_South West Coast Path_Babbacombe-Shaldon – Linear Walk

When : 8th April 2009

Who : Just Me

Where : Babbacombe to Shaldon via Maidencombe, Devon

Map used : 1:50,000 O.S. Landranger Map 202 Torbay & South Dartmoor Area.

Start Point : 924,660

End Point : 935,722 (Shaldon Ferry) and then on to 915,722 (Holiday Park)

Approx Distance : *6.4 miles (10.3 km) Babbacombe to Shaldon Ferry (*according to the official SWCP online guide) + about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) Shaldon Ferry to holiday park.

Heights : Difficult to say, several ups and downs on a classic coast path, quite strenuous.

Parking/Public Transport : There’s a car park at Babbacombe by the Model Village + there’s a car park at The Ness in Shaldon. A bus service runs along the coast road, so you can park at one end, catch the bus to the other and walk back.

Summary : Linear Walk along the coast path including Babbacome (From the Model Village) ; Petit Tor Point ; pass near by Watcombe ; Maidencombe + The Thatched Tavern ; Bundle Head, The Ness ; Shaldon Water Front ; River Teign ; Devon Valley Holiday Park.

http://www.southwestcoastpath.com/main/walks_content/distanceCalculator.cfm

Whilst on a family holiday, I try to fit in a half decent walk for myself, and this holiday was no exception. So, after first spending the morning (and some of the afternoon) with my family I set off to re-do this section of The South West Coast Path. I say re-do, because I’ve done this section twice before, once with the Coventry CHA Rambling Club, a long-long time ago (August-1984 … wow, that’s some 25 years ago!). The most recent other time was with my lovely wife Justine (August-1995) not long after we were married … and that’s over 14 years ago now (I’m writing this in Sept 2009) … double wow, seems just like yesterday. Both previous times were done during really hot conditions, so I kind of knew what I was letting myself in for, as the afternoon was quite warm – a really nice spring day in England. I suppose at this rate of repeat it’ll be some time after 2020 before I do this section of coast path again.

The morning had been spent at The Prickly Ball Farm, a rescue centre/hospital for Hedgehogs, near East Ogwell, in the Newton Abbott area. This is a super place for a family outing especially for young kids … it’s got more than just hedgehogs; with hands on feeding of lambs (in the spring), pot bellied pigs and piglets to see, ponies to groom and last but far from least ferrets to walk …. And no Katie, you can’t have one!

http://www.pricklyballfarm.co.uk/

We then went to “The Thatched Tavern” for lunch in Maidencombe, little more than a hamlet really, down a very steep hill. In fact one of the roads down from the A397 is called “Steep Hill” : so steep they’ve made it one-way (down only) and named it “Steep Hill” [imaginative eh?]. Well, we had an excellent and quite large meal and I had a couple of pints of excellent Badger Ale (it might even have been three!) … lovely, but not a great way to prepare for a strenuous coastal walk.

 

http://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk/pubs/pubsearch/pub/?id=207

By now, time was getting on and it was turned 3:30pm, before I was being dropped-off outside the model village in Babbacombe. Now, I’ve got to admit to getting it wrong to start with, a combination of using an old 1:50,000 scale map (I prefer 1:25,000), a very ambiguous finger post, and having previously imbibed a little ale! … Anyway, suffice to say I ended up making a bit of a detour whilst I tried to find the path north on the coast path. I was never lost!, but it did waste a considerable amount of time!, not to mention distance and height climbed all of which combined to add a degree of time pressure to the rest of the walk.

Anyway, just for the purposes of this post, ignoring my detour, if you start in Babbacombe by the model village, DO NOT follow the prominent finger-post saying coast path, pointing downhill on a wide track skirting the model village boundary … Instead, head up onto St. Mary Church Road, head north for a short distance to reach and then turn right into Petitor Road.

This road brings you out into open country above Petit Tor Point where the cost path becomes quite obvious. It’s at this point that a sign warned that the paths down to Little Oddicombe Beach were closed because of unstable cliffs … and I now firmly believe this is why I couldn’t find the route I wanted at the start of the walk; I don’t think the path I was trying to find exists anymore (well that’s my story/reason/excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

The first little climb affords some super views back to Babbacombe and Torquay. From here, essentially, the path follows the coast line northwards, but it’s surprising just how little of the shore you get to see, especially on the stretch up to Maidencombe.

The path is somewhat set back, often in woods [especially as you pass below Watcombe] or overhung with blackthorn hedges and tall gorse bushes.

At times you get a choice of high or low level routes, but because of the self-inflicted time pressures and not knowing the state of the cliffs closer to the sea; I choose to stay high and made really quite good time.

The path-side was at times enhanced by a great number of wild and semi-wild spring flowers, some of which had obviously escaped from local gardens and naturalised themselves quite happily in the verges. This was especially apparent as I picked up a minor road as I dropped into Maidencombe. I was sorely tempted to re-enter The Thatched Tavern where I’d lunch earlier in the afternoon … The Badger Ale almost shouting, “come on in, you know you want another one” … Well, being a person of strong will, but mainly because time was still pressing, I resisted the call and walked on by to find the path heading back up onto the cliffs to resume the journey north.

From here there is basically nothing but countryside, all settlements being left behind for some miles until the outskirts of Shaldon are reached. The path has a somewhat more open aspect with some lovely extensive views both north and south along the coast. However, the path can’t decide what height it wants to be, so falls and rises in a number of strenuous switchbacks, almost like a huge drawn out rollercoaster ride along the coast. I have to admit to finding it rather taxing, the good meal and ale heavy in my legs, not to mention my general lack of fitness (I must do more walks!) but I pressed on, my next major goal, Ness Point, coming into view ever closer as each rise was attained.

    

It had been a lovely day weather-wise, quite warm during the afternoon, but rapidly coming in above and behind me was a mackerel sky, a portent of a change to come, the first sign of a weather front approaching. The broken clouds made a fantastic mottled affect against the late afternoon sky as the sun dropped behind the hillside above. A couple of seagulls wheeled around, playing on the increasing breeze. I wondered if I would finish my walk in the dry.

Nearing the outskirts of Shaldon the path rises up to meet the coast road, the speed and noise of the traffic a bit of a culture shock after the quiet of the coast path. But the path only stays with the road briefly, soon branching right to drop towards a golf course with The Ness behind.

In a field hollow just before the golf course, I met a small and very pleasant group of lads (from Teignmouth) setting up camp, pitching a couple of tents and arranging a circle of large stones for a traditional shaped camp fire. They said they were taking advantage of the fine weather and this was the first time doing such a thing. I wished them luck (with reference to the mackerel sky) and I moved on. I hope they were alright, as we got very heavy persistent rain for much of the night. I did feel for them.

After skirting the golf course, I then emerged onto the car park by The Ness, and I decided to make the last rise of the day through the woods to the top point of the promontory. Just as I entered the trees, really quite dark and gloomy as evening drew in, I nearly jumped out of my skin as an incredibly noisy set of screams assailed the air. It took me quite aback and set my heart racing … the thought “what on earth was that !?” flashed through my mind, until I remembered that Shaldon zoo backs onto the woods; I think the sounds were probably howler monkeys or similar, perhaps they were being fed or maybe the sound of my foot-fall had disturbed them?

http://www.shaldonwildlifetrust.co.uk/about.asp

At the top of The Ness there are a set of railings, with extensive views northwards to Teignmouth across The Teign Estuary and beyond. However, this lovely spot is tinged with a degree of poignancy as there were several bouquets of flowers tied to the rails, I believe in remembrance of those who’d used the cliffs and the rocks below to end their lives… so sad in such a lovely place.

 

Anyway, moving on, I descended (westwards) with the drop on my right, to reach the small beach in Shaldon ; the evening light quite spectacular on the sea and river below and I spent a little time watching teams of rowers taking their boats out, training for the local races held here.

   

I didn’t notice at the time, but looking back at my photo’s from ’95, it seems the sea wall on the Teignmouth side of the estuary has been extended quite a long way along the sand spit, now hiding all but 3 or 4 of the beach huts bordering The Salty, where once before a good 20 or more were visible.

Pushing on, heading inland along the southern side of the River Teign, pointed me inland (heading almost due west away from the sea). The setting sun was shrouded by heavy, stormy looking clouds over the heights of Dartmoor and I finished the walk, in quite dark conditions after following the road from Shaldon and Ringmore back to the holiday park to be reunited with my family again.

I really enjoyed the walk, despite my ongoing lack of fitness, but I’d got to reacquaint myself with some lovely coastal sights … and I managed to stay dry as the anticipated rain hadn’t actually arrived – YET – But boy that did change during the night.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….

Next walks = 20090417-19_Some Weekend Walking in the Peak District

20090407_Morning Walk into Shaldon and other stuff

20090407_Morning Walk into Shaldon and other stuff

When : 7th (and 9th) April 2009

Who : Me and my family

Where : Shaldon, Near Teignmouth, River Teign, Devon

Map : 1:50,000 OS Landranger Map 202, Torbay & South Dartmoor area. (but just for ref. purposes, not needed for this little walk).

Start + End Point : 915,722 to 935,722 (very top right of the map !)

Approx Distance : about 1.5 miles, 2.5 km maybe (if that)

Heights : None

Parking : Limited on street parking in Shaldon Village; Large C.P. at The Ness.

Public Transport : Busses run along the coast road through Shaldon.

Summary : A walk from The Devon Valley Holiday Park ; River Teign & estuary ; Shaldon Village in the morning (+ a couple of revisits to Shaldon in the afternoon + evening)

We had now transferred our overnight location from Brixham to Shaldon, just a few miles further north along the Devon coastline. In effect though, we were staying a little way outside of Shaldon village in a self catering chalet on The Devon Valley Holiday Park [ http://www.devonvalley.biz/ ] and after breakfast we’d decided that the initial activity of the day (you could almost call it non-activity) was for some more crabbing, this time from a small concrete jetty on the waters-front in Shaldon itself. Justine and I have stayed in Shaldon on at least a couple of occasions and is a lovely quiet place for a holiday by the sea. In fact I think Justine used to be taken here by her parents when she was little.

http://www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk/site/tourist-information-centres/shaldon-tourist-information-centre-p496373

As it was a fine morning (despite some ominous looking clouds), I thought I’d take a walk down the road, just to stretch my legs really, and it didn’t take long to persuade the kids it’d be good for them too … I suppose the point of this little post is just to show that I’ll try to take any opportunity for a bit of a walk, no matter how short, and even though this was pretty much a stroll almost entirely on a minor road. It also gives an opportunity to show what brill’ places there are in England and I hope my words and pic’s convey this, at least a little.

The three of us set off ,with Justine driving the car on ahead [with the bucket, crabbing lines and remaining bacon left over from the Brixham sessions] with the thought that it’d take almost as long to find a parking spot as it would for us to arrive on foot.

The start of the walk was on a minor road through pretty countryside (no footpath though), which eventually brought us into the outskirts of Shaldon and then down to the banks of the River Teign at a small park. The tidal river becomes quite broad here with lots of shallows producing a rather tranquil, gentle scene.

The main A379 road crosses the estuary over a long low bridge connecting the olde worlde, rather quaint village of Shaldon with the larger, traditional holiday resort of Teignmouth and its small working port. The picturesque black and white bridge crosses the river seemingly preventing all but the smallest of craft navigating upstream.

There are over twenty sets of supports sunk into the river bed and it effectively seems to separate the estuary/port area (known as “The Salty”) from the river upstream; the upstream section always has remarkably few boats, whenever I’ve been here.

http://www.devonheritage.org/Places/Shaldon/ShaldonBridge.htm

http://www.shaldon-devon.co.uk/

Once on the front in Shaldon, the dominant view is past the sand spit and harbour wall on the Teignmouth side, out to “The Ness”, or “Ness Point”. The Ness is a shapely sand-stone promontory, marking the northern end of Babbacombe bay. The sand spit stretches almost all the way over to the Shaldon side. I’d say at low tide (and with a reasonably strong arm) it really is just a stones throw distance away.

  

However, the river Teign has got to reach the sea, and the wash through the small channel appears to be quite severe. The river outflow has to fight the tide as it comes in, and positively speeds out to sea on the ebb; I think swimming would be extremely hazardous, if not nigh on impossible when the tide is on the turn. The channel at high tide, despite it’s narrowness, is deep enough for sizeable cargo ships to enter and leave; it’s quite a remarkable sight. To make the short distance across the estuary, a foot passenger ferry (a small open boat) shuttles back and forth throughout the day so saving quite a sizeable trek via the bridge.

Anyway, that’s about it really, once my wife and kids had finished their crabbing session (37 crabs caught in just under an hour … wow!) we packed up and set off for the model village at Babbacombe, a real must-do when in the area.

 

http://www.babbacombemodelvillage.co.uk/

We then called in at Maidencombe beach for a picnic, where the kids had a run about on the sand, which they had almost completely to themselves and also tried their hand at another spot of crabbing from the rocks (unsuccessfully this time). The South West Coast Path passes slightly inland from the beach, close to a super pub (The Thatched Tavern) but more of that in my next walks diary where I got to do a “proper” strenuous walk along the SWCP.

http://www.hall-woodhouse.co.uk/pubs/pubsearch/pub/?id=207

Later that day, we ended up back at Shaldon, hoping for a fish and chip supper overlooking the harbour … but the village “chippy” was shut ! So after a little wander along the front again, we jumped back into the car and drove over the bridge into Teignmouth where we found a fish and chip shop which was open.

 

We then found a spot looking out to sea in a car park (forming part of the main harbour break-water/sea defence wall) to eat them directly out of the packet with our fingers – Yummy! We all tried sitting on some steps dropping down to the sea, but the cool <actually it was cold> breeze and sea-spray forced the others back into the car, leaving hardy old me to brave the elements on my own (hardy or fool-hardy, you can decide for yourself). I was rewarded with the sight of the RNO cargo ship “Elbia” leaving the harbour through the narrow channel just as I described above. The size of the ship seemed completely out of scale to The Ness behind.

        

Wandering around eating the last of my chips from the packet also allowed me a mini-explore on the sheltered, harbour side of the sea wall with its selection of beach huts and rowing boats over looking “The Salty” and the dock side.

Well that was another super holiday day gone, all too soon I might add. Why is it that a day on holiday has less hours in it than a day when you’re at work ?- It’s just not fair!!!

Only a couple of days later, we were back in Shaldon Village for our last evening meal of the hol’s [at The London Inn, near the village bowling green] and a final stroll along the front, where my family took great delight in me almost getting a shoe full of sea whilst attempting a long exposure photo at the waters edge … and Yes, I think the image was just about worth it, considering it was hand-held and I was trying to dodge the waves at the time.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings [and pic’s] ….

Next post = 20090408_SWCP-Coast Path Babbacombe-Shaldon Walk