Monday, 15 November 2010

Gill Harris Recce (2) - 07/11/2010

Long Mynd Ponies near Boiling Well

I spent a lovely day out on the Stretton hills doing a recce for the Gill Harris Challenge mentioned in a previous post.

I parked up on the Mynd at Boiling Well, just in case I needed to return to the car for supplies or to bail out. The aim today was a recce of the southern two thirds of the Gill Harris Challenge Round.

I dropped down Townbrook Valley to the Square in Church Stretton, then ran up the Burway Road past the cattle grid and hiked up Burway Hill.

Devil's Mouth from Burway Hill
(I think the checkpoint properly is the top of Devil's Mouth)

From here I used the lovely trod to skirt Devil's Mouth to the south, and then took the path around the head of Townbrook Valley and picked up good sheep trods direct to the summit of Yearlet.

Cairn on Yearlet, looking north

Ashlet is a short run away on good paths.

Callow from the summit of Ashlet

From here I aimed to drop into Ashes Hollow and then climb to Grindle. There are no good descents from Ashlet summit itself - even the gentler eastern slopes lead to a horrible final 100m of descent into the Hollow. Today I tried down the west side and very rapidly got slowed down by the very steep ground and extensive gorse. The best answer is to go back north along the path 200m then head west into a re-entrant that leads down into the pretty valley between Ashlet and Yearlet, then to follow this south into the Hollow. One to try next time.

A spur just north of a stream leads straight up toward the summit of Grindle.

Looking back down the spur on Grindle
to the west and south faces of Ashlet

The last couple of hundred metres are a bit heavy going through heather.

Cairn at the summit of Grindle

I'm not 100% sure where the next top, Nills, actually is. I opted for the higher of the two mounds east of Grindle - this certainly ties in with the grid reference given in the article about the round on the Mercia website.

Summit of Nills, looking towards Yearlet and Ashlet

I then picked up a good path heading round the top of Small Batch, crossed the main path up from Little Stretton and jogged up to the top of Callow.

Callow, looking across Nills to Yearlet and Ashlet

Weather closing in on Callow

From Callow I decided to sacrifice an increase in distance to reduce the climbing - lazy, and a bad choice. I should have dived off across to Packetstone Hill instead of running back up the ridge to Round Hill, never mind, I know for the real deal.

Summit-ish (it's vague) of Round Hill 

I got back on the main path up to Pole Cottage (another navigational mistake costing lots of extra distance - I should have cut across the top of Callow Hollow). Picking up the road, I headed south for three quarters of a mile and then out along the next ridge to Minton Hill, another vague rise in a sea of heather, but fortunately close to the path.

Minton Hill, looking towards Pole Cottage and Pole Bank

Looking across to Yearlet, Grindle and Callow

From here it's five minutes down the path to Packetstone Hill.

Shooter's Knoll from below Packetstone Hill

Another short jog mostly down leads round a few rocks and up a short rise to Shooter's Knoll. 

Strange object in foreground, Shooter's Knoll

I retraced my steps 100m to the head of a little vally north of the top of Shooter's Knoll and descended this into Minton Batch. Following the batch down past a very scruffy looking farm, I crossed the stream at a footbridge and took the bridleway up past a cottage and through a wood into a steep pasture. Aiming for the trees works here, and a gate leads into forestry.

View back to Shooter's Knoll from the top of the pasture

I followed the forestry tracks up from here to reach the Knolls trig, which is 150m east of the path as it leaves the wood. From here I ran directly along the Port Way (and it's little alternative at the glider club, the Starboard Way, back to the road. A long slog took me past Pole Cottage and up to Pole Bank.

I then headed past Boiling Well to the top of Long Synalds (between the Burway Road and the path), and cut back past the car to the Shooting Box top. By now I was heading away from the car and I decided to call it a day.

The recce was useful, and I'm settled on the following order for an attempt at the round:

Burway Hill; Yearlet; Ashlet (descend to Ashes Hollow)
Grindle; Nills; Callow (down to Callow Hollow)
Packetstone Hill; Shooter's Knoll (down to Minton Batch)
Knolls; Minton Hill (cross top of Callow Hollow)
Round Hill; Pole Bank; Long Synalds; Calf Ridge; Shooting Box; Wild Moor; Haddon Hill
GH Memorial Post; Plush Hill; Castle Hill; Novers Hill; Bodbury Ring; Stanyeld (see previous recce)

The total distance today was 18.2 miles and about 3,500' (my phone ran out of battery so the GPS track stopped a bit before I did). The weekly total was 30.2 miles and 5,540', giving a rolling four week total of 122.0 miles and 21,410' of ascent (down 0.4 miles and 590' on last week's rolling totals).

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