I had chosen Shrewsbury for this the second of our women only weekends away, for various reasons and not just for the splendid walking to be had around there.
My West Wales group had been there last year and, with lots of us not knowing it very well at all, it had turned out to be a great centre with lots going on, in and around Shrewsbury and the surrounding area, particularly for any women who didn;t want to join in the walks.It proved to be an excellent choice for this one too.
This event had been fully booked some weeks before (30) but as happens some had to pull out at the last minute but we still had 20+ women from all areas of the country taking part.
Gail and I had chosen to travel via the Heart of Wales line and we held our breath when we got to Llandrindod Wells as we had had to get off the train at this station just a few weeks before when going to Church Stretton and continue our journey--after a 2 hour wait--by coach.
There was an anxious few minutes when 4, 5, then 6, railway employees gathered on the train and opened a large cupboard door and peered in looking perplexed.
Thankfully all appeared in order and after another few minutes wait we continued the rest of our journey through the beautiful countryside of Wales and Shropshire.
Liz met us at the station in Shrewsbury and we made our way to our quaint accommodation right in the centre of the town.
We just had time for a desperately needed coffee before joining up with Sue and Flo for a walking tour of Shrewsbury.Sue and Flo don't normally attend the longer walks so it was great to have their good company for this one.
We looked at a lot of the larger buildings like the Castle, and Library and some other really old impressive buildings, with a lot built in beautiful red brick.
We then walked by the River Severn ending up at Quarry Park where we had a well earned rest.
Later that evening we gathered for a drink and get together with the others at a local pub and it was great to meet up with everyone again.Lots had been on the women only weekend last year with just a few new additions.
The following day we met at Snailbeach, a village just outside Shrewsbury, which was built for workers at the local lead mine - Snailbeach Mine, and which reputedly dates back to Roman times. The mine has some of the best preserved surface buildings of a lead mine left standing in Britain including a Cornish Engine House.
We walked up to these interesting old buildings and then we made our way quite steeply up through a bit of a woodland and fields and very quickly we had some fantastic views of the surrounding hills, and could see lots of luminous yellow fields planted with rape seed.
Up again we went and then veered off the main path to Blakemoorgate cottages.
These were small "squatter" cottages built for the miners and have been renovated in recent years.After a short stop we continued to the ridge where we walked passed a line of Stiperstones.Stiperstones are dramatic quartzite outcrops.
The path here was quite stony and we had to concentrate on almost every step.
After a lunch break on the top we dropped down to another path through a former plantation now being restored to heathland.
The path continued through some fields and into the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve before we found ourselves heading back to the start.
A short drive brought us back to Shrewsbury and coffee and cake were our just desserts!!
That evening we met at the very friendly Shrewsbury Hotel where they served 21 tasty meals for us very efficiently indeed.It was a great night with lots of good banter, and friendly mixing and mingling.
The following day was our walk starting at Haughmond Abbey.We did a wide tour of the Abbey and then across a field to Haughmond Hill, which is a large woodland, with bike trails and walking paths to suit all abilities.
We chose the blue trail taking us on a wide circuit and ending up at a very open fabulous viewing area where we could see our journeys end at Shrewsbury.
We had lunch here enjoying the fine scenery before descending off the Hill and onto the next village, Uffington.
We then came to a place where two paths split and 5 of the women who had chosen to do a shorter walk left us to walk the short bit back to their cars.
The rest of us continued by the old Shrewsbury canal and then by the River Severn back to Shrewsbury.
All agreed we just had to finish the weekend off with the right note, yes, that's right, some more, well earned coffee and cake.
So with a few of the others joining us who had not done the walk, we made our way to The Old Market Hall cafe who allowed us in, and more importantly kindly allowed our six dogs in, who had accompanied us on our journey, and all seemed really tired out!!
We stayed for quite some time, chatting and getting the last dregs out of a quite wonderful weekend.
Everyone was so complimentary about the weekend but it was clear to see that everyone had thoroughly enjoyed.
Some were planning to meet up at some other GOC events later in the year and were also talking about next years event already, with some suggestions coming, for The Cotswolds to be the venue for the next one.
A lot of hard work was put into this weekend but the success always depends on the support and it was in abundance in Shrewsbury.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed, to make this a very enjoyable weekend.
I'm on the case of next years already. . . . . . . . .