Friday, November 07, 2008

Another journalist visits The Stiperstones

There is no doubt that I am a trendsetter: first David Aaranovitch visits my adopted homeland (or second adopted homeland after Rutland), now Christopher Somerville has visited The Stiperstones too.

And, writing in the FT, he makes a much better job of it than Aaranovitch did:

If you're looking for a bland, impersonal, run-of-the-mill place to base yourself for a walk around the Stiperstones, avoid the Bog Centre like the plague.

Its dark stone building - once a back-country schoolroom for the children of Victorian lead miners, now a visitor centre run by mustard-keen local volunteers - can look bleakly forbidding, especially on a murky afternoon of drifting hill mist and low cloud the colour of bruises. But stepping inside, out of the chill and damp, I found a hive of gossip and kitchen clatter, positively buzzing with warmth and character. Not only that, but some of Shropshire's finest home-baked cakes, quite irresistible to the hungry walker, and the greedy one too.


As I passed Scattered Rock, the hill wind began to shred the mist; and by the time I had reached the cairn near Shepherd's Rock and started down into the valley, the Stiperstones were standing outlined against a cold afternoon sky of the palest blue.

Squeezed into extravagant snake bends between the bulging flanks of Perkins Beach and Green Hill, the old miners' path fell away 600ft to reach Stiperstones village far below. Through the steamy windows of the pub I glimpsed other walkers yarning over their pies and pints. But that surfeit of Bog Cake still needed some working off. I turned my back on temptation and stepped out for the Bog Centre along a high stony laneway below the ridge, where the craggy heads of the Stiperstones stood magnificently against the rain-washed sky.

He is not quite without error: the correct name of the cake he enjoyed at the Bog Centre (and I should know) is Bog Bake.

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