Monday 7 December
Yesterday afternoon, in considering what to do with the final 24 hours of this trip, I discovered that Mick had never been to Ironbridge. I’m not sure why that surprised me, considering that (unlike me) he didn’t grow up 20 miles down the road, but it was sufficient information to make me set the SatNav to take us there.
Temporary flood defences were just being dismantled by the Environment Agency as we arrived, which turned out to be to our benefit, as it had closed the main road into the town* to vehicles and pedestrians alike and caused us to walk a roundabout route from the Wharfeside car park into the town, giving us a good vantage point of the swollen river and bits of the town that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
Yesterday’s amble around was relatively short due to impending darkness, but today we ventured further – up to Benthall Edge, in fact, which involved a lot of steps and boardwalks:
Neither of us counted the steps, which I’m sure total somewhere in the hundreds, but eventually we did top out on the edge. Passing a dog which its owner described as a wannabe hippopotamus (in reference not to its size, but to how it had been wallowing in mud), a pleasant woodland walk along the edge took us to a good view over Ironbridge:
It was a good view, with a clear blue sky, neither of which facts is conveyed via that awful excuse for a snap!
We could have dropped straight down from the viewpoint to complete the ‘Lime Trail of Benthall Edge’ (a waymarked circular walk of 3km in length) which we had been following so far, but I was minded to go further along the edge, so that’s what we did, before taking to a very slippery and muddy section of the Shropshire Way to get back down to river level.
Talking of mud, one of my childhood memories of visiting Ironbridge (at the age of about 7) involved me getting so thoroughly caked in mud whilst out on a walk that my father pretended not to be with me as we walked back into civilisation. From what I remember of that long-ago outing, I suspect that it was largely the same as the route we took today.
Walking back across the bridge today a breeze hit us and the odd thing about it was that it was positively warm. That (combined with having felt that shorts would have been appropriate today) is just not normal at this time of year, is it?
“Let’s stop for coffee” we said on the way back to Colin, choosing an establishment called The Tea Emporium for the purpose. Coffee morphed into a very late second breakfast as, on seeing the menu, it was too hard to resist:
I do believe that it was the best version of a veggie breakfast that I have ever been served**. I think next time I’ll try out the Fisherman’s version.
Suitably stuffed, we waddled up the road back to Colin and, with this little trip now over, we pointed him homeward, stopping on the way at my gran’s house, to wish her a happy 94th birthday.
(*I’m not sure ‘town’ is the right description for Ironbridge, but couldn’t come up with a more appropriate word to describe it.
**In fact, I almost never order a veggie breakfast because I don’t see the point in fake sausages, which almost always seem to feature. Usually I just order the full cooked, without bacon or sausage but with an extra egg. I’ve never come across grilled halloumi as a breakfast item before, but I wholeheartedly approve. The bubble and squeak was excellent too.)