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Shropshire Day Trip, 3rd Feb 2019

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Early Sunday morning, a group of hill walkers met outside Churchill College for this term’s day trip. Our destination: the Shropshire Hills, an (officially designated) Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which promised a welcome break from the flat and all too familiar Fenlands.

In the late morning, we arrived at the Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd to find snow-clad slopes under bright sunshine. We divided into four or five different groups only for each group to decide on more or less the same route. ¬¬ I joined a group composed of old-timers Chris K, Miriam G, Bill C and newcomers Frederique F, Rebecca D and Aasha J. The first section of our route saw us follow a path upwards through a narrow valley, with a stream running beside us. Icicles overhanging the stream provided a fascinating temporary display.

At around 1pm, it was time to stop for lunch. Miriam suggested a pleasant spot with far-reaching views. We sat on posts lining the path, like birds perched in a row. “All we need are electricity cables running between the posts”, joked Chris.

After several sandwiches, cereal bars, gulps of water and group photos, we were off again. The walk was pleasant, the slopes gentle. To ensure that no one found the walk too easy, I launched snowballs at my fellow travellers. Navigators Chris and Miriam were quick to return fire.

Later in the afternoon, we spotted a group of walkers climbing one of the highest peaks in the area. “That’s the Bronwen’s group”, exclaimed Miriam. What a fine and appropriately respectful way to refer to our co-president, The Bronwen. Hopefully it catches on!

Our group arrived back at the car park at the appointed time of 4.30pm, to the credit of our navigators. We then waited for the other groups to return, during which time I had a quick scramble up one of the nearby hills to keep warm. It was only as I neared the top that I remembered my spare jumper…

From the hills, a convoy of hill walkers descended to a local pub. We had a hearty meal, enjoyed all the more for coming at the end of a good day’s walking.

Afterwards, we divided into our various cars and set off for Cambridge. As front seat passenger, I quickly found myself assuming the weighty responsibilities of DJ and Sat Nav holder (there wasn’t a suitable place we could fix the Sat Nav). Tonje F drove and fellow passengers Clara C, Adeline B-R, and Lucia W peaceably endured whatever music I subjected them to as de facto DJ.

We arrived back at Churchill a little before 11pm, at the same time as several other cars. The Bronwen assured me that I would be reunited with my trainers, which Joe K had escaped with in his car. Before we knew it, it was time for friends, old and new, to part: the end of another successful trip with the hill walking club.

Oliver N