A Walk on Brown Callow

Posted: December 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

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What is it about hills and mountains that brings out the urge to get to the top of them?  Maybe it’s in our DNA to get to the highest point in order to be safe from rape and pillage or worse.  Whatever it is, when you spot a tempting summit like Brown Callow your feet take over from your head and the march is on.

I started in the Shropshire village of Worthen with my destination clearly in view.  I’d read in books that trees were planted on prominent points by early drovers to act as a landmark, and as such the trees on top of the Callow do their job, standing out like a beacon from all directions.

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The valley below is flat and fertile displaying a rotation of crops from field to field.  Some exhausted after yielding their harvest whilst others are already showing signs of growth, promising a good spring crop .

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The climb to the summit is a slow one not as a result of physical exhaustion but because there is always a desire to stop and take in the views of the Welsh border countryside.

The vast skyline emanates light and shadow that take it in turn to change the landscape, sometimes creating welcoming pastures and at other times turning hillsides into brooding black humps.

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Seeking refuge from the elements would no doubt have been at the forefront of the mind for those early drovers, and equally so for modern man.  However, the choices open to the latter range from the primitive standard of huddling under a tree, running to the shelter of a car or seeking out a good pub.  This is Abel’s Harp, formerly The Drum and Monkey and before that The Callow Inn.  You can see the summit at top right.  Unfortunately the pub was closed.

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Despite the prospect of a dry-decent the sight of my destination elevated above the gorse and grass was reward enough for me.  The dome shaped canopy of the trees gave the impression of a leafy igloo with the gate in front becoming the focus of my attention.  Beckoning like some kind of portal to Narnia it had to be passed through.

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And passed through it was, opening up into a peaceful glade.  The tall protective pines and the soft ground created a perfect shelter from the elements and one that has remained unchanged for centuries.  Getting to the top of the ring and standing on the centre spot like the king of the castle was very satisfying.

Being alone and taking in the atmosphere my thoughts turned to those early drovers who had done exactly the same thing.  The difference being that I wasn’t accompanied by a flock of sheep.

However, any thoughts of being at one with time, nature and the elements were broken by the sound of a distant chain-saw, something that early man would not have been privileged to hear.

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As I walked through the pines  the summit of the craggy Stiperstones appeared in front of me.  The Devil’s Chair prominent and inviting.  However that was for another day.

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Descending with Corndon Hill in front of me the sun decided to disappear, turning it into another of those brooding black humps.   Below it I could just make out Mitchells Fold, the site of an ancient stone circle.  If it was ever used for telling the time then at that moment it would have been saying “time to move on very quickly”.

But, fifteen minutes later the sun was back out and cows were popping their heads up to see what the fuss was all about.

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The route to and from Brown Callow is through some of the most beautiful scenery in Shropshire and the Welsh borders.  And, closed hostelries aside, there are plenty of other man-made distractions like this tin, wood and brick barn for you to discover.

On my final descent back to Worthen I realised that I hadn’t encountered a single soul except for a dog, a pheasant and the odd cow and in my book that’s really worth something!

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The total time it took from Wothen to Brown Callow and back was 3 hours.

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