A Walk from the Doorstep

by Karen Simons

Lockdown has been a strange time for us all, with the enforced changes bringing a calm to what was once a hectic existence. It has given me an unexpected chance to appreciate the beauty here on my doorstep.

Walking in Corvedale

Having lived all around the country and walked so many of our trails, it is wonderful to spend these months within the quiet of the Corvedale, a little-known part of Shropshire.

Corvedale is a broad, sparsely populated river valley running from Much Wenlock to Ludlow, flanked by the Clee Hills to the south east and the wooded ridge of Wenlock Edge to the north west. The whole valley is given over to arable farming, with patches of heathland and set-aside, providing a great opportunity for some wildlife walks.

I invariably head uphill towards the Edge. The lambs that were in the nearby field have gone, and a lone horse is there each day now. The village is soon left by a series of footpaths that flank huge fields of rape.

Rapeseed oil is now a major crop which, although it has been around for many hundreds of years, only really took off in the 1970’s, so I was not particularly used to seeing it in my childhood. The brightness of the yellow against the blues and greens of a spring day really raise the spirits.

A horse wandering in a field Walking through the rape fields on this walk from the doorstep

Wildlife along the way

Further uphill are grassy rides cut through areas of set-aside. Here, the bees are busy harvesting the wildflowers, with small clearings for their hives. There are countless butterflies, the small white (or cabbage white as we would call them) flitting around and the splendid peacock seeming to favour the bluebells at this time of year.

The hedges have been newly laid along the wide lanes that lead up to copses, where the pheasants are managed ready for the shoot later in the year. At the moment they are strutting around the place without a care in the world – except for when the dogs spot them. In fact, we have a pet pheasant in the garden who has quite happily hidden away for a couple of years.

A bee spotted on a flower during a local walk A peacock butterfly on wildflowers at the trailside

A cabbage white butterfly in the flowering verges

Although it is a gentle if long climb to the ridge, I do always feel a sense of achievement and pleasure when the path enters the woodland of Wenlock Edge. This is such a magical ancient place and at the moment it is strewn with bluebells and wild garlic.

All is quiet until the herd of muntjac deer are flushed out by Tia – my rather large dachshund. She always thinks she can catch them, which of course she can’t, so they will stand some distance away watching her lumber through the undergrowth.

Bluebells beneath the trees along the footpath A beautiful walk straight out the door and along this straight path through long grasses

Opportunities for birdwatching

A beautiful green lane dappled with light runs down through forestry land to join up with field paths leading back to the village. Skylarks are joyfully singing as they rise on the wing before us.

Soon, you can still hear them, but they are so high they have disappeared from sight, unlike the buzzards, who are my abiding memory of the first time I came to Shropshire. I thought I had seen an eagle; one was on the ground in front of me and it seemed such a big bird.

Buzzards were very much the masters of the sky, but these days they vie for the air space with red kite. Red kite have become quite a success story for conservationists, as their numbers have steadily increased since 1930, when there were only two known breeding pairs.

There are three main differences between the similar-sized birds: their flight, their cry, and of course, their tail feathers. As I look up to identify which bird is soaring overhead, it is easy to say ‘rounded tail buzzard and forked tail kite’ to oneself.

Walking two dogs from the doorstep into the countryside along a dirt track

The long amble back

Now the long but easy walk home, all downhill with the farmland laid out below and the hills on the other side of the valley promising a different walk, should I choose to turn in that direction tomorrow!

Originally published 03/06/20

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