Ride 33: Gate to Menace

Monday, 22nd June, Buttonoak to Abberley, 16.51 miles

A lovely ride through the Wyre Forest this morning.  It’s the sort of place one could easily lose your sense of direction and get lost in.

The canopy is pretty good though for taking shelter under when we have a sudden downpour.  I’m just wondering about whether or not to go down a track that could lead me into the village of Callow Hill where I intend to cross the A456, when, as luck would have it, I meet a couple of riders who cross the track in front of me.  I ask them if it leads to Callow Hill and they say it does, so I tag along behind them.

After going through the village of Bliss Gate, we make our way along the lane towards the bridle path.  As the day draws on, I’m just beginning to think, could this be the first day that we don’t have to go through any gates, when we come across one on the bridle path section.  I see it leads into a field full of heavy horses that look like Clydesdales to me.  I don’t really want to go through their field but I don’t have much option as the alternative involves a large section of main road.

The sound of latch on the gate closing behind us alerts the herd and they come charging towards us, crowding around us.  Tommy and I feel very small amongst these giants.  There must be at least a dozen horses with one very dominant one who behaves like a stallion but I wasn’t in a position to check his credentials.  He barges around in front of us blocking our way and positioning his bottom towards us which feels very threatening.  I certainly don’t want either of us to get kicked.  However, Tommy doesn’t seem too phased by all this horsing around and seems to cope far better than me.  I had broken off a twig from the overhanging tree as I saw them galloping towards us, and I fend off their attentions as best I can by waving the stick around and shouting at them to get out of my way, but it’s an uncomfortable few minutes as we try to make our way across the field and out as quickly as possible.

By the time I’ve managed to locate the gate on the far side, they have thankfully lost interest in us, and I have to dismount to open the gate which has come off its hinges, quickly climbing back on again as the bridle path immediately drops down to the stream at Joan’s Hole and follows the bed of the stream for a hundred yards or so.  Thankfully, it is not in spate!

At the end of another long day, having climbed the steep hill via Wyniattes Way at Abberley, a rival for any of the steepest we have done,

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I hear the clock tower strike three o’clock as we descend and cross the main road onto the track that leads to the sanctuary of Abberley Hall Prep school where we are staying tonight.

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Tommy has a little pony called Jasmine, for company in his field in front of the clock tower and I am staying in the school, courtesy of the Headmaster and his wife, Will and Beth Locket.  I discover Beth is a landscape painter so we have a lot to talk about.  Go to bed praying Tommy doesn’t decide to jump out of the field onto the cricket pitch next door!

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P.S.  Some days later, on 25th June, I receive an email from Bobbie Matulja, the BHS County Access and Bridleways Officer for Worcestershire informing me that the section of the Bridleway at Joan’s Hole has had an emergency closure order placed on it by the Worcestershire County Council because of dangerous badger holes!

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