Friday, 28 April 2017

A Weekend on the Borders with Wool and a Walk. . .

Last weekend the Liverpud and I kept dipping back and forth between Wales and England.  On Saturday, I convinced him to drop me off at the Royal Welsh Showgrounds in Bulith Wells for Wonderwool while he went for a walk (I had previously bought him an ordinance map for the area).  He donned his boots and went off on the Shropshire Way and I headed into three halls of yarny goodness.

This was my first time attending this annual festival, mainly because it's quite hard to get to unless you drive. I would compare it with Woolfest in Cumbria in terms of the type of venue - big, airy rooms with concrete floors and simple booth set-ups.  Luckily it was a gorgeous day, the big doors were all open and lots of fresh air was flowing so after the crowds at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, it was lovely just to be able to breathe. The aisles are quite wide too, so even though there are a lot of attendees, they are spread among the three large halls and I didn't have to worry about my bags or elbows accidentally knocking into another yarn enthusiast. This show also has the best food offerings of any wool show I've previously been to.  I had been told not to miss the local ice cream in the van outside and it definitely didn't disappoint.  I bought a scrumptious bag of smokey, organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds that were perfect for snacking.  I also looked longingly at all the gorgeous tarts from the patisserie on site but managed to resist temptation.

Not so much with the yarn though. While many of the regular vendors you see at all the big shows were present, there were also smaller and new-to-me Welsh vendors to visit as well and I really enjoyed exploring new yarns and admiring creative skills.   I . . . ahem. . . did splurge a little on yarn, but it was all bought with a plan in mind.  Pressed for time at EYF, I wasn't previously able to fully explore the Cambrian Wool company, but had a lovely time squishing their wool here.  I bought a few skeins of the gorgeous rusty red 4ply you can see in the bottom left hand corner and was also delighted that they sold a mini-skein pack of all their colours. This is destined for a multi-coloured shawl/scarf - this wool is SO soft. It's spun from Welsh Mule which is a blend of Blue-faced Leicester - hence the softness -  with local Welsh breeds.

I did stick to all British yarns at the show. Above you can see some organic Shetland lace from Garthenor which was on sale (yay!) and will eventually make its way into a hap of some sort. The Jamieson's Shetland Marl chunky was also on sale and while they only had 4 balls which I quickly scooped up for £3 each, I can combine it with some neutrals in my stash for a future striped sweater project.

I also picked up some lovely buttons from Textile Garden and Brimstone. The latter only does shows and doesn't have an online presence but they specialize in vintage buttons, so I was very pleased to visit their booth.

We spent the night at a lovely pub B &  B in Knighton, which is right on the border of Wales and England.  The Offa's Dyke long distance walk which follows this border goes right through the town.  I can highly recommend The Red Lion if you are in the area.  Super friendly host and they source all their food from local suppliers; I had the most delicious Welsh lamb for dinner.

On Sunday we were off to Church Stretton to recce an upcoming walk.  The Shropshire Hills are such a lovely place for walking. We headed out of the town towards Ragleth Hill, our first climb of the day. The steepest part is walking up the road through the houses, but you quickly reach the wood and the main path (again part of the Shropshire Way, but it will diverge off into another direction shortly.)

Once up, you get lovely views looking towards the Long Mynd on the other side of the valley.  We'll be walking along that ridge in a few hours.

Looking east, you can see some of vibrant fields of rapeseed in full bloom.

And here we are looking back from the top of Ragleth.

There's a steep descent, a walk through some fields, a major road to cross, and then it's up on the other side. This is Minton Hill which we will climb to make our way to the Long Mynd.

Even though it's spring, there are still lots of rich autumnal colours in the bracken.

Here is the main path of the Long Mynd - it stretches quite a long way and is popular with walkers and cyclists.

Also wild ponies.  This gorgeous creature just came ambling along the path without a care in the world and seemingly oblivious to our presence.

We took the popular Town Bottom valley route back towards Church Stretton.

After the view above, the path leads to a wonderful valley descent.

And through the remains of an old estate that used to have a gothic folly overlooking this water feature. The designer was influenced by his friend Capability Brown, the famous British landscaper.

And then it was back to the car and back to Liverpool after a very productive and enjoyable weekend break.

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