Our Sunday excursion to the World Heritage site of Ironbridge started off in the rain. Despite this we managed to keep the group motivated with promises of Pink Power Stations and a beautiful view at the end of the day, in the sun!. I’m not sure why but the authority of the walk leader who, after all, NEVER tells a lie, encouraged 23 people to venture out into the rain to visit the promised exceptional sites of the Coalbrookdale gorge. Oh, and by the way, the bridge was covered in scaffolding and plastic sheeting put up during renovation.
We started with a long gradual climb up along the south bank of the River Severn. Fortunately this was very well covered by trees, which sheltered us from the rain as we rose slowly to get our first view of the Pink Power Station (soon to be demolished). By the time we reached the height of the chimney the rain had stopped and we were able to catch our breath and hear some of the history of the Station (if you want to find our more on this, or any of the other infopoints from this walk, please press the “link to infopoints” at the end of this report). Thanks to the rain the cooling towers were even pinker than normal proving the silver lining to this cloud.
We followed the power lines down to the river and crossed at the Buildwas bridge, then followed the river back towards Ironbridge, stopping by the water for a quick break. Having been told by Al, who led this walk on Saturday as a Women’s event, we stayed on the road avoiding the nettles and brambles that had overgrown the footpaths beside the river. A quick pause at the Coalbrookdale Company Warehouse took us to our lunch-stop by the Ironbridge.
We began the afternoon by investigating the sources and uses of the Cast Iron, for which Ironbridge is famous. Climbing the North side of the gorge we had fabulous views down onto the old forges until we reached Holy Trinity Church with its cast Iron grave-markers. We then entered Dale Coppice, the UK’s first public park and continued to climb until finally arriving at the Rotunda. From here we had the fantastic views of the valley, in both directions, and the sun did pop out, as promised. A flight of steps took us back into Ironbridge were we stopped for tea and cake (the Jaffa Orange Cake cake was particularly popular).
At the end of the walk the whole group, many of whom had, at one point or another, suggested that they may not do the whole walk, confessed that they were glad that they completed the entire route.