Tuesday, 7th July, Cradley to Castlemorton, 14.63 miles
For the past two days, I have gazed out across to the Malvern Hills from the hay meadow where I have been staying in the shepherd’s hut and watched the mist come and go from the top of the hills, geologically, an un-erupted plug of volcanic rock.
I have been much taken with the quaint charm of the town of Malvern, spending a day there with Angus and Bridget where they live. Bridget Macdonald, a successful artist, shows me her studio and we have much to discuss about the vagaries of the art world. I love this couple. I also make a visit to the Priory to admire the stained glass windows designed by Thomas Denny, and the medieval wall tiles.
Today, as the sun comes up, I open the door of the hut to see what sort of weather lies over the hills that we are crossing today. The dark cloud is dropping its rain on one of the small peaks and I wonder whether to put on my waterproof trousers or not. I decide not, and go and tack up Tommy. Last night when I had gone to check on him before going to bed, I could just make out in the encroaching darkness, his white shape lying down so had crept away, not wanting to disturb him.
It’s 6 am when we leave the field, disturbing a fox by the gate as we approach it. The hills loom larger as we approach them and begin to climb.
I follow a path that says no horses or bikes and clamber up a steep and narrow incline to reach the ridge, some 1,000 feet above sea level where the view comes and goes in the mist.
From here we make our way all along Shire Ditch
until British Camp where we leave the reservoir on our right and descend onto Castlemorton Common, 1,000 acres of open access land in the flood plain.
We arrive at our destination early so find no one there to meet us, and no phone signal. I untack Tommy, sponge him down and wait. Eventually I manage to get a signal, text Fuff to ask if she can come and rescue me. Tommy is staying here but there is no room for me. When Rob arrives back, we turn Tommy out in a 5 acre field and I fill up a bucket of water for him.
That afternoon, I help Fuff put together the large whelping box for the imminent puppies. It was 33 years ago today that I gave birth to my own ‘pup’, Georgina. Happy Birthday darling x