Shropshire is truly a hidden gem and 27 ESW members found this out when they stayed in the HF house in Church Stretton. We all made our way up there by car and train and were greeted with the scrummy tea and cakes that HF are famous for. Nigel B braved the swimming pool which surprised us all as it was quite nippy when we arrived, well done Nigel.
Every day we met up before dinner to go through the walks that were taking place the next day. As usual we had a long and short walk every day. Tony P, Keith T and Adam kindly put them together and they were superb. Thank you for all your hard work. We had a good split of people each day on each walk and the weather just got better and better. In the end quite a lot of us ended up in the swimming pool. They did say it was heated but it certainly didn’t feel it, I think tall Jim summed it up best with his funny line saying “I reckon they boiled a kettle and threw it in”, which did make me laugh. The scenery was fabulous and I can see why they call it Little Switzerland, it was so peaceful all you could hear was sheep bleating and birds singing, in particular my favourite skylarks.
We climbed hills and saw amazing views and walked miles so we were ready for our three course meal each evening. We bonded really well and took part in quizzes and listened to talks that the HF leaders put on each night. Angela G and Jim B celebrated a birthday and HF came up trumps and made a cake.
The short group one day came across a charity duck race which some of them took part in. They could purchase a rubber duck and it was a bit like poo sticks but with ducks and they set them off down river. Judith M was doing so well, her duck was in the lead and she was feeling smug only to find it failed as it got stuck so it crashed and burned before the finish line, but to her surprise she won the wooden spoon, a chocolate egg. My most memorable walk was when we climbed 3,000 feet which consisted of three hills in one day, it was just perfect, the sun was shining and we ate our picnic chilling out chatting and taking in the views, it was really special, we achieved 12 miles and were exhausted when we got back but what a lovely feeling that is and totally addictive. Another day we came across a memorial for a guy who had been killed on the road at a young age. There was a beautiful poem written for him about the countryside and we could all totally relate to it being walkers, it was very moving and stirred my soul. Nick W took a photo of the words. If you haven’t been to Shropshire put it on your list to visit as it is such a wonderful place to walk and we hope to
revisit it again in the near future. Thank you to Helen W for arranging the holiday, you did a fantastic job and as usual and we are all really grateful.
Written by Amanda Whiteley
Photos by Barbara and Keith Towers.