Herefordshire Week 163: Tuesday 07 – Monday 13 February 2023

Linking up the local footpaths. Back to the cinema with the Borderlines Film Festival 2023. Pyrénées planning – flights booked!

Tuesday turned out to be another gorgeous sunny morning after a cold night – the bird bath / font frozen all day. I decided it was time to link up the local footpaths (and log a walk for my Lowland Leader qualification). Turned out to be an almost 6 mile walk along lanes, footpaths and fields.

En route: startled a hare between Upper Jury Farm and Hill Farm and a fox coming back over Thistly Hill; frosty in the shade, bright and sunny out; detours along field edges to avoid mud and baby crops; overgrown and rickety stiles between Upper Jury Farm and Hill Farm – I’ll take the secateurs and gloves next time…

Strava Map and Elevation Graph: Linking Up the Local Footpaths

Route: Thistly Field – Lane to Old Grange Farm – Footpaths to corner by The Birches – Footpaths behind Oxpasture Coppice to Duffryn Farm – Footpaths to Jury Brook Cottage – Lane to Upper Jury Farm driveway – Driveway then footpaths to Hill Farm – Lane to Canns Hill – Footpath to Wellfield – Lane to The Ark – Footpaths back up to Thistly Field and home.

Distance: 5.71 miles
Time (Active): 1h 40m
Elev Gain: 493 ft

Back home to work for the usual Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday week. Lots of lovely emails about my departure, and lots of Congrats! too. Forty working days to go….

VWW and Family Zoom.

A couple of hours admin on Friday morning, then into Hereford to see Tár at The Courtyard – our first post COVID time at the cinema and our first film in this year’s Borderlines Film Festival. Our last film together had been Bait, in the Borderlines Film Festival 2020, and I can still remember the Coronavirus Risk Assessment Announcement at the start of the film…. A foretaste of the time to come.

Home for a late pot of tea and Waitrose Genoa Fruit Cake, then upstairs to Flickr some more photos – almost up to date – and finally published last week’s weeknotes.

Dinner watching The White Lotus finished off the day.

Up early on Saturday to drive to Kerne Bridge for a morning out with the walking club. A bit of a grey day but a good route for future reference, up Coppett Hill and back round along the river and through the nature reserve woods to Goodrich and Kerne Bridge. I’d not realised Coppett Hill was the same place I’d been to on my navigation training – although I’m not sure I should admit to that. Medical rehydration outside The Inn on The Wye – a fancy mug of fancy tea (I’d give anything for a large pot of builders tea) – then home for a late lunch.

Headed back out for a quick prune of the oregano and checked up on the rhubarb – doing OK – then back inside to take the new feather duster for a comprehensive tour of the cobwebs before settling down for a few hours on the computer – finished flickring photos, made a start on these weeknotes, translated Alfonso’s outline for September’s Pyrenees Trek into a Pyrenees Prep spreadsheet and had a look at flights. Late August departure pushes the prices up but we had such a great time in the Picos I’m OK with that. And the only time I’ve been to the Pyrenees was interrailling with Tom way back when.

Our pizza plans went awry, so it was spanakopita and salad for dinner, and the last couple of episodes of season two of The White Lotus. We’d been inspired by Tár to christen a couple of Cat’s Dartington crystal wine glasses with a nice bottle of red wine.

A slow start Sunday before a day of chores – dusted and polished (don’t worry – not much, and it’s only an annual event (if that)), gave the landing orchids a good soak, and then the sideboard plants and other upstairs non-ferny plants. Watered the greenhouse lemongrass (but I think the December freeze killed that all off) and strawberries, gave my Herefordshire Russet Apple Tree a good soaking.

Seeing as I had my wellies on I headed out onto the lane and lopped the wild plum shoots and saplings on our verge, hoping to give other plants room to grow. We get a lot of primroses on this bank and I’d love them to spread. Back inside The Grounds I lopped off some of the green bush’s ever vigorous new growth, pulled the dead (frozen) geraniums out of their pots, cleared the leaves from around the other pot plants by the porch and took everything to the quarry and got a small bonfire going. It’s due to rain this week.

Then realised I’d never cleared the pond weed I’d hauled out last weekend, so I carried a Big Hands armful to the bonfire ash slope. A flash of orange hinted that I’d scooped a (by now very dead) goldfish out too – uh oh. Phil went to check later and confirmed my fears, and disposed of the small body… My hero also redistributed the remaining piles of the pond weed and checked the greenhouse for any desiccated bodies of long dead small birds. None found. In some respects – ie encounters with birds and fish, particularly dead or dying ones – I am really not cut out for country living….

I did manage to return to the large pond though and cleared the grass and other old growth from around the edges. Looks much neater now.

4pm, chores done, time for tea and cake with the log stove on…. until Pyrénées planning resurfaced with a decision on flights, resulting in a Ryanair booking and the Where next: Into the Pyrénées blogpost.

Didn’t sleep well Sunday night – I blame The Last of Us – so Monday was a slow start before driving back into Hereford to see Empire of Light at The Courtyard. I loved it.

Lunch at Wagamamas. I’ve not had a Wagas for a long time and this was my first visit to the Hereford branch. The menu is very different from what I remember from CityPoint days. Yummy though.

A bit of shopping, then home. There’d been an accident or something on the A465 approaching Allensmore so I took the back roads. Lovely sunny late afternoon.

Back at base, tea and cake, computing – more work on the Pyrénées Prep spreadsheet and updating the Where Next page.

TV: The White Lotus, The Last of Us (that theme tune is SO Game of Thrones….).

Podcasts: History Extra, The Memory Palace, The History of England.

Photos: Herefordshire week 163 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-02-12.

Herefordshire Week 162: Tuesday 31 January – Monday 06 February 2023

It’s official – I’m retiring.

A haircut. Manchester. Tremorithic. Fabulous sunsets. Olchon Valley / Cat’s Back Circuit.

Quite a week!

Hello Hawfinches!

Cat’s Back Circuit: Panorama - Cat’s Back, Olchon Valley and the southern stretches of Hatterrall Ridge, from the zig / zag turn on the path up to Hatterrall Ridge
Cat’s Back Circuit: Panorama – Cat’s Back, Olchon Valley and the southern stretches of Hatterrall Ridge, from the zig / zag turn on the path up to Hatterrall Ridge

Busy morning in Abergavenny on Tuesday: Dentist, posted eBay items, haircut (first since July 2021 – and that’s not a typo), then the train up to Manchester to spend my working week with the KM Ops team there, and to do all the comms around my departure.

Such a relief for my news to be public at work – and here too. Roll on June.

Train home Thursday evening – Transport for Wales not affected by the strikes.

Spent Friday morning on admin, including catching up with last week’s weeknotes, a chat with Val about Kanchenjunga later this year plus the usual random stuff that seems to crop up week to week.

Who knows where the day goes?

Made butternut squash curry for dinner.

Exciting start to Saturday, spotting large birds hopping around down by the rose garden (that’s a very loose description). They didn’t look quite like jays, but similarly colourful, so I got out the binoculars for a better look and scared them off…. but they returned and I had my camera the ready.

Hmmmm. They weren’t in the Usborne Spotter’s Guide to Birds which so far has helped us to identify everything we’ve seen in the garden …. so I paged through the RSPB Birds A to Z online guide and spotted them – Hawfinches!

My photos aren’t great, but it’s brilliant to have them here.


Then back to the mundane: made soup mainly to use up the brown lentils in the pantry cupboard and the carrots at risk of rotting in the fridge.

Gardened for a bit with Phil (not mundane!), raking up / collecting leaves, digging up and hauling a barrow load of compost to the orchard for relocating the rhubarb into the square planter dad and I made last year, and then relocating the gooseberry bush Jean has gifted us from Dinedor into the long planter. Will have to work out where to move the everlasting sweet peas to.

Scoffed soup – late lunch – then walked to Kilpeck – 1 hour 15mins, road route – to rendezvous with dad and Jean at the village hall for the Kilpeck Winter Fair. Returned with an excellent haul of goodies: chocolate brownies and biscotti, two jars of raspberry jam and a large jar of piccalilli. Strolled around the garden with dad and Jean, admiring the snowdrops, aconites and camellia, then inside for tea and cake – Phil had got the log stove going to welcome us home.

Now that I know what I’m looking for, I spotted a whole flock of hawfinches on Sunday morning, down by the log shed foraging for stuff that falls from the yew tree I guess.

Hawfinches galore!
Hawfinches galore!

Super sunny so we headed out to walk Tremorithic road route, returning for a late lunch. There are lambs at Black Bush Farm.

First lambs
First lambs

A couple of hours of gardening: dug up the nettles I’d spotted yesterday by the old railway track, tipped the last wheelbarrow of bonfire ash onto the slope, raked twigs and branches on the swing slope and wheel barrowed them to the quarry for bonfiring at a later date.

The superb sunset lured me out onto Canns Hill to take some photos of the pink skies over Hatterrall Ridge, Hay Bluff, Skirrid and Sugar Loaf. Glorious and gorgeous.

Fantastic sunset in the West - Hay Bluff from Canns Hill
Fantastic sunset in the West – Hay Bluff from Canns Hill

St Andrews Ladies catch up over zoom early evening, then telly and tea: The White Lotus, The Last of Us YouTube extras and then we joined 10 million others and watched the Happy Valley finale…..

Monday was another gorgeous sunny day so I drove over to Longtown and up to the Black Hill Picnic Spot / Car Park for a smashing walk in the Black Mountains: The Olchon Valley – Cat’s Back Circuit via Hatterrall Ridge and Hay Bluff.

I joined up and adapted a couple of routes: the road / footpaths down into the Olchon Valley then up onto Hatterrall Ridge (from last year’s HWF Olchon Circuit) and north along the Offa’s Dyke Path for a few miles (new). Up to Hay Bluff for Wye Valley Views and back via the Black Hill and the Cat’s Back (a favourite).

Cat’s Back Circuit: Hay Bluff views
Cat’s Back Circuit: Hay Bluff views
Coming down The Cat's Back
Coming down The Cat’s Back

Distance: 9.79 miles; elevation gain: 1,583 ft; active time 3h 18m; walk time 4h 18m.

A magic day.

TV: Narcos (started season 3, not sure I’ve got the guts for all the gore), Shaun the Sheep (needed some light relief after Narcos), The White Lotus, The Last of Us, Happy Valley (series 3 – The End).

Spotted a lot of casting crossover between Narcos (Pedro Pascal) – Lotus (Murray Bartlett) – Last (Pedro Pascal & Murray Bartlett). Plus Con O’Neill, Neil in Happy Valley and Israel in Our Flag Means Death, was originally cast as Bill in The Last of Us.  Pedro, Con and Bella Ramsey (The Last of Us) were all in Game of Thrones. What a small world!

Podcasts: History Extra, In Our Time, The History of England.

Photos: Herefordshire week 162 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-02-05.

Herefordshire Week 161: Tuesday 24 – Monday 30 January 2023

A food and family themed week. The last mince pie. Dawn’s coming earlier evening’s coming later. Nice.

Sunday Lunch at Gwatkins Red Cow
Sunday Lunch at Gwatkins Red Cow

Another foggy and frosty start to the day Tuesday. To the Blue Elephant Cafe with T&L, and walking back to recce Saturday’s GVWC route. Freezing and foggy at the start, down to my T-shirt under blue skies and sunshine by the end.

Dore Abbey from the footpath down from Ewyas Harold Common
Dore Abbey from the footpath down from Ewyas Harold Common

It was sufficiently sunny to lunch in the conservatory. The bird bath / font, always in the shade, remained frozen.

Work in the afternoon, a prompt end at 5pm and over to The Kilpeck Inn for the night for our Wedding Anniversary. A spacious bedroom with a nice big bathroom, Outback Truckers on the telly to aid digestion after a tasty dinner.

Wednesday got off to a good start with a Kilpeck Inn breakfast, then back home for work. Got quite a few larger bits of work out of the way on Weds and Thurs, no VWW and a short Family Zoom.

Admin on Friday, did the shorter Cockyard walk via KG to post cards to use up the last of my old-style stamps, pottered and prepped for Tom’s weekend visit.

In the evening we walked down to KG for rescheduled Christmas-New Year drinks and had a lovely evening. Just a shame we had to leave at 10pm to weave our way home where Tom awaited having been dropped off earlier by dad. Cheese and biscuits, then bed.

Alarm-start on Saturday, to ensure Tom and I got to EH for my 10am GVWC walk. Cloudy and cool, but the week had warmed up and Tuesday’s frozen mud was now muddy mud. A larger turn out than the sign up forms had suggested, but I had a smashing morning. What a relief. Medical rehydration at The Temple until the last of the walkers headed off, leaving Tom and I to enjoy a late lunch – and another half of Butty Bach….

We walked back home over the Common and then relaxed in the lounge with the log fire on. Light supper, 10pm bed.

Bonfired Sunday while Tom had a lie in, then a short walk Canns Hill – Wellfield – Thistly Field before driving over to Gwatkins Red Cow for their much recommended Sunday Lunch. The rave reviews did not lie and we got to experience the bar area – smashing! We’ll be back….

Gwatkins Red Cow - The Bar
Gwatkins Red Cow – The Bar

Dropped Tom off at Abergavenny then home for a lazy late afternoon and evening – and the penultimate episode of Happy Valley……

To A’s for tea and catch up Monday morning, back for a late lunch, cleaned my boots (leather and trek) then gardening jobs – sprinkled the log fire ashes, pruned the deutzia, planted two of the baby oaks in the gap in the hedge between the yew trees, redistributed the accumulated ash from the bonfire.

Packed for Manchester, dinner and telly.

Lots of long tailed tits on the bird feeders this week. And a wagtail ventured to scavenge below the pear tree.

Two goldfinches in mum’s camellia.

Snowdrops, aconites and primulas – all out.


Daffodils in bud in a few sheltered spots along the lanes. Tulips coming through on the willow tree stump and on the verges at our junction. I don’t think they’re the ones Phil and I planted last December, but the previous ones, from Jean, planted this time last year.

On the kitchen project, we decided against signing on the dotted line with Wren. A bit too high pressure and we need more time to work out exactly what we want in terms of layout, types of unit and fridge / freezer / oven etc. We are currently at the “Maybe we’ll just change the doors worktops and flooring” stage. Watch this space!

TV:  Narcos (finished season 2), Happy Valley (series 3), Our Flag Means Death (finished season 1), Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World.

Podcasts: The History of England, Books and AuthorsHistory Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 161 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-29.

Bit late publishing this week (Friday 03 Feb) – busy morning in Abergavenny on Tuesday 31 Jan, and then straight up to Manchester for my working week. Read all about it next Tuesday!

Herefordshire Week 160: Tuesday 17 – Monday 23 January 2023

Home alone as the Big Freeze continues. A magical walk in the Brecon Beacons. Snowdrops.


Back down to -5C overnight on Monday / Tuesday, and we were up at 5am to get Phil to the 06.40 train to PAD. Very dry, so thankfully no ice on the roads and Steffi’s towel-on-the-windscreen tip meant no ice on the car either.

Back home to catch up on admin – a lot of LED posts on the website and Facebook. Emailed Val about Kanchenjunga trek this Oct / Nov…. although it’s still a placeholder rather than a plan at this stage.

Long work days Wednesday and Thursday. Still freezing outside and overnight. I kept the peanuts topped up in the bird feeders and melted the water in the bird bath.

On Thursday morning, this little fella / fellaette had a bit of a brush with the kitchen window and needed a spot of recovery time on the gate.

Robin, recovering on the gate
Robin, recovering on the gate

On Friday morning I drove over to Pengenffordd in the Brecon Beacons to walk the Dragons Back and Waun Fach Circular with Sonia, Sara and Grace.

A gorgeous day – snow underfoot and sunshine overhead. Cold and clear blue skies. Just magic.

Cairn, Mynydd Troed and Pen y Fan
Cairn, Mynydd Troed and Pen y Fan

Lovely to be back walking with my Manaslu and Nar Phu trek mates.

We did this DRAGONS BACK CIRCULAR – BLACK MOUNTAINS route in reverse: up the Rhiangoll valley to the ridge, north and east along the ridge to Waun Fach, north-west-ish and down to the cairn marking the turn west onto the Dragons Back, descending down the three bumps of the Dragon’s Back to the Dinas Castle Inn car park.

Panorama from the Dragons Back Descent
Panorama from the Dragons Back Descent
Sonia and Sara catching up with Grace at Waun Fach
Sonia and Sara catching up with Grace at Waun Fach

At the bottom of the Dragons Back we made a slight detour – worth it – up and over the remains of Castell Dinas hill fort. OS GetOutside tells me that “at 450 metres it is the highest castle in England and Wales”, so there you go.

And to top off a smashing day, we got to Crickhowell in time to celebrate with a large pot of tea and very tasty cakes at Latte-Da.


Driving to Malvern that evening to pick up Phil thanks to GWR terminating the Hereford train there was decidedly less so. I LOATHE driving in Malvern; navigating is a nightmare.

We took it easy over the weekend, late starts both days.

Freezing fog outside all day on Saturday, so a day to stay inside. The whiteout confused the sheep no end. Flickred Dragon’s Back photos, did some admin, cooked dinner.

Frosty & Foggy start to the day at Forty Acres
Frosty & Foggy start to the day at Forty Acres

The weather started to warm up a bit on Sunday – BBC reckons we nudged all the way up to 2C – so we strolled down to the Abbey and back over Thistly Field in the morning. Late lunch then an afternoon eBaying “stuff”.

Busy day of admin and projects on Monday including a visit to Wren Kitchens, preceded by lunch at Dough, which was neither admin nor project!

TV:  Narcos (season 2), Life after Life, Happy Valley (series 3), Our Flag Means Death.

Podcasts: The History of England, Books and Authors.

Photos: Herefordshire week 160 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-22.

Herefordshire Week 159: Tuesday 10 – Monday 16 January 2023

Back to work in the week; lots of walking over the weekend as Charles and Steffi come to stay. Added bonus: we all got to practise our sheepherding skills…

Sheep on the loose Chez Loosemore
Sheep on the loose Chez Loosemore

Back to work on Tuesday, working the morning to get back on top of the inbox and to prep for an early afternoon new joiner induction. More work Weds and Thurs. VWW and Family Zooms resumed too.

Things got busier and more interesting on Friday!

The day started with coffee at Gwatkins with some of the Kerrys Gate Ladies and organised by K.

Time for a bit of a potter in the garden, mainly scooping up the leaves that had come to rest in Phil’s pond after a couple of days of gusts and high winds, before Charles arrived. Perfect timing for a walk around the garden and lunch in the conservatory, then off to Abergavenny to pick up Steffi. Home for tea, treats and a catch up sat by the log stove. Dinner by Phil.

Up early on Saturday so as to get into Hereford for the firsts GVWC outing of 2023, the Belmont Loop led by JP. Grey clouds but no rain. Very muddy….

GVWC: Belmont Loop
GVWC: Belmont Loop

Home for lunch by Phil then Charles headed over to Fromes Hill and the delights of the army and outdoor kit shop, aka the place with the tank, and the rest of us walked down to rendezvous with TJL. The six of us continued on to the very wet and muddy Riverdale footpath – wellies better suited to the submerged waterlogged sections. At Black Bush, rather than heading back up to Kerrys Gate, J persuaded us to do a new (to me and P) route to Kerrys Gate. So we continued on along the road almost to Gwatkins then took the footpaths up and over the fields to emerge opposite Bushmills in Kerrys Gate.

Riverdale - Gwatkins - Kerrys Gate
Riverdale – Gwatkins – Kerrys Gate

One to remember, but not to redo until the ground has dried out. It was very squelchy.

Back at base we all tucked into much needed tea and cake sitting around the log fire with TJL. Relaxation and chat continued through 6pm G&Ts and nibbles and dinner then early to bed.

Sunday saw a more leisurely start to the day then Charles, Steffi and I headed out to walk the Camp Crossroads – Cockyard (shorter) circuit.

Almost home when we encountered the week’s main event: Sheep on the Loose chez Loosemore!

On the last of the uphill stretch we spied sheep on the skyline… three escapees from Kiln Field.

Steffi, Charles and I managed to persuade them back along our bit of the lane, but then they veered onto the drive and embarked on a tour of the front lawn. At least that gave me time to get Phil and between us we tried herding them back up to the gate while S and C barred the lane back to the road junction. Almost there and then they bolted doing a u-turn and bombing around me and past C & S at quite a lick before sauntering off down the hill towards Quarrels Green.

Sheep! (Steffi’s photo)

While P drove to R’s I hopped over the gate into Thistly Field and keeping low and out of sheep-sight hurried down the fields to the old metal gate, squeezed between hedge growth and back into the lane below them pesky critters. Kept them in sight but at a distance until P reappeared soon followed by R’s truck…. Which the three sheep happily trotted after as far as the gate where R lured them back into the field with a magic white bucket. We will remember that trick for next time!

Such excitements!

We don’t lay such spectacles on for all our guests.

Charles, Steffi and I recovered with a mug of tea in the sunny conservatory until it was time to drive north along the Golden Valley to Dorstone for a fab Sunday Lunch at the 12th century Pandy Inn. Top marks to PR for the recommendation – great menu, fantastic food, relaxed and chatty hospitality, efficient service. You can’t ask for more.

Lunch at The Pandy Inn, Dorstone
Lunch at The Pandy Inn, Dorstone

Back at base, we all vegged in the lounge until just before 9pm when it was time to rustle up a cheese platter and a glass of wine to accompany episode 3 of Happy Valley. Then bed. After our lunchtime feast we didn’t really need the cheese and biscs to be honest…

Another leisurely start to Monday. Having waved off Charles, Steffi and I headed out to Kerrys Gate and on to do the (short) Cockyard Circuit Clockwise. Bumped into P plus pooches en route to Kerrys Gate and had a quick catch up with A&A at Cockyard.

Back home just enough time for a quick cuppa then off to Abergavenny to wave S off on the thankfully delayed train to Cardiff.

Gorgeous sunny afternoon but I’d done enough walking and so after a tour of the new expanded Abergavenny Aldi it was home for a late lunch, a visit from the Wren Kitchens surveyor, and the a lot of tea, a mince pie and the LRB.

I spotted the first flowers out on mum’s camellia on Friday morning. Elsewhere in the garden, snowdrops are flowering and bulbs are coming up everywhere – daffodils in all the usual places, tulips on the willow tree stump and things in the orchard planter (alliums and/or tulips).

First camellia of the year
First camellia of the year

TV: Narcos (season 1 / 2), Our Flag Means DeathHappy Valley (series 3).

Podcasts: History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 159 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-15.