|A walk through the wood - but the trail is not|
much wider than the path
Anyway, whilst staying with my mother at the beginning of the month I thought it would be ideal for one of my daily walks, so I went off exploring, on a rather bleak day, and very pleasant it was. I was surprised at how many male blackbirds were about, singing non-stop, hopping, and preening, flying in and out of the hedges and trees, and generally showing off their glossy black plumage and beautiful bright yellowy orange beaks. They were, as my mother always says, fine fellows – and they knew it. I don’t know why, but the females were less evident. I did try taking some photos, but I need a camera with a better shutter speed and decent zoom lens. However, I did take some pictures for this week's Saturday Snapshot.
|This is a bit blurry, but you can see the|
wonderful patterns made by ivy stems.
There were lots of other birds (mainly sparrows I guess), and grey squirrels, which get everywhere nowadays, but these ones weren't as tame as the those back home in Tamworth. And, of course, plenty of trees. I'm not very good at identifying trees, but I can recognise holly when I see it, and there did seem to be a great many hollies, as well as masses and masses of ivy, which writhed and twisted around the trunks, with the old stems creating weird patterns.
The trail skirts the town centre, with part of it passing alongside the recreation ground, and for much of the way there are houses on either side, but it’s so well lined with trees, hedges and shrubby plants that you don’t notice them, and its very peaceful. Some of it is down lower than the surrounding land, in a cutting where the canal (and then the railway) once ran, but further along the track is on a kind of ridge or embankment, slightly higher than the land on each side.
|From a distance I thought this tree was covered in white|
blossom, which would have been odd at this time of year,
but it turned out to be fluffy seedheads from Old Man's
Beard twined around the branches.
I didn’t really know much about it, so I did a bit of research, and ended up feeling that the history is really rather sad. Back at the end of the 18th century people had high hopes that the Hereford and Gloucester Canal would boost trade in Ledbury but the project never lived up to expectations, and it was never a commercial success. Excavations were difficult, and the cost was far greater than estimated, so when the waterway opened in 1798 it only ran from Gloucester to Ledbury, and wasn’t linked to Hereford until 1845. But things still didn’t improve and eventually, in 1881, the first section of the route was closed, and replaced by the Ledbury and Gloucester Railway.
It was known as the Daffodil Line, because of the wild daffodils which still grow in the area, and journeys must have been really pretty in spring when the flowers were in bloom, but I get the impression that the railway was no more successful than the canal. Originally double track, one set of rails was taken up in 1914 – it’s thought they were melted down and used for the war effort – so after that it would have been more difficult to run frequent services. Passenger trains ceased in 1959, and although freight transport was still in operation until the line closed in 1964, a victim of the Government cuts which shut thousands of stations and branch lines up and down the country.
|I love the way ivy has made patterns on trees.|
The trains on this track stopped at Ledbury Town Halt, which has long since disappeared, but after I’d finished my walk I discovered where it used to be, so next time I visit Mum I can find the site – and I missed out the beginning and the end of the trail, so I need to go back and do the whole thing. That’s what comes of not checking your facts beforehand!
I gather some neighbouring towns and villages also have paths running along the line of the canal, while an ambitious scheme is under way to restore the waterway. So on future visits to Mum I’m hoping to see the work that’s already been completed, and maybe walk along other parts of this lost transport route.
|Markings, knots and holes on tree trunks were very strange.|
I think this looks like eyes and a nose.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at http://athomewithbooks.net/ where you can see photos from other participants all over the world.