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Walking England’s green and pleasant land

greenandpleasantladmainpicThe view from the crest of the hill reveals a dozen increments of green in the hillocks and valleys below, from the fresh lime of the young wheat crop to the gothic dark of the Yews in the churchyard just visible in the distance. When poet Edward Blake wrote of England as “this green and pleasant land’’, this view, near Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire, surely was exactly the scene he had in his mind. This is not an isolate patch of rural idyll. From here it is possible to walk for days through endless countryside without engaging with frenetic modern life much more than just crossing the occasional major road before clambering over a stile and disappearing back into the land where time can be forgotten.

Shropshire is the most rural of England’s counties. It borders North Wales and was once part of the ancient Welsh Kingdom of Powys although times and

Great railway journeys; the Severn Valley Railway

There is something irresistible about the attraction of steam trains, an amalgamation of sights, sounds and smells that assaults the senses. Maybe it’s all those Thomas the Tank Engine books we have devoured or re-runs of The Railway Children. Or perhaps we just hanker for a seemingly calmer, gentler time.

We live in an era where most rail travel is just a practical means of getting from A to B. But on the heritage Seven Valley Railway (SVR) line in England, it’s the journey itself that is stationmasterthe main point of travel. It’s a rail buff’s nirvana. A dream excursion for kids. The SVR’s 26km route runs from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster along the Severn Valley, crossing the Shropshire/Worcestershire border and shadowing the course of the beautiful River Severn for much of the way. It’s a perfect way to spend the day.

Like a giant metal dragon, the magnificent steam engine snorts, squeals and clanks its way into Kidderminster Station before coming


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