These Hills Were Made for Walking
Practical Caravan|May 2017

Susie Kearley and her husband Vic are no strangers to Shropshire. They love to return for the beautiful countryside and rich cultural pickings.

SHROPSHIRE WAS ALWAYS a favourite haunt. My dad grew up there, so we spent a lot of time in the area as children. Carding Mill Valley never failed to take my breath away, and the region boasts some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, as well as historic attractions, fantastic museums, and glorious wildlife havens. There’s loads going on in Shrewsbury town centre, with the annual cartoon festival (22 April), flower show (11-12 August), literary festival (November), and a variety of music events.

From the hills of the Long Mynd to the vast lakes of Ellesmere, there are many good reasons to visit this beautiful part of the world again and again. So we do!

On this occasion, my husband Vic and I stayed at Oswestry Camping and Caravanning Club Site, where we received a warm welcome and a nice all-weather pitch in the sun. Eager to make the most of a bright afternoon, we headed off to Carding Mill Valley in Church Stretton, one of our top destinations. A footpath into the hills took us past a reservoir, along a fast-flowing stream, to open vistas at the top of the Long Mynd, leaving us puffed but invigorated.

In the distance, walkers, sheep and ponies dotted the landscape, and we could hear grouse in the ferns. A brisk walk along the hilltops was exhilarating in the sunshine, made all the more memorable by the stunning views. Eventually, a steep, slippery route led us back into the valley, where a café was serving hot drinks and scones.

We drove along the top of Long Mynd and, predictably, got lost before eventually finding the road back to Shrewsbury, Oswestry and a cooked dinner in the caravan. Flashing coloured lights announced the presence of a fish-and-chip van on site for those who preferred a takeaway.

Supersonic aircraft

The following day we visited RAF Cosford Museum, which looks at the history of modern warfare, with military aircraft on display inside and out. There are dozens of prototype aero planes and research aircraft, which enabled the RAF to test new equipment or weaponry, and explore new ideas.

The impressive Fairey Delta 2 supersonic plane was designed to investigate flight and control at transonic and supersonic speeds. Its maiden flight took place in October 1954, and it broke the World Air Speed Record in 1956, reaching 1132mph and smashing the previous record by 300mph. Only two of these planes were ever built and you can see one of them at RAF Cosford.

There are interactive displays, plus an aircraft simulator and a fascinating Cold War exhibition, which looks at the development of nuclear weapons, along with the campaign for nuclear disarmament and the threat of ‘mutually assured destruction’ during the Cold War. Albert Einstein famously said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” because presumably WWIII would mark the end of modern civilisation.

The story of the Berlin Wall is told, and the history of democracy and dictatorships worldwide are explored. The museum houses a fantastic display of diverse and fascinating aircraft, and it’s free!

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