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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Saturday Trip to Kinver Edge

Carol has had a really bad couple of weeks at work at Milton Keynes Academy. It seemed only reasonable that we go out for the day, mainly to get away from the stresses of life. Also, Alfie deserved a day out. He's always up for a walk and doesn't need a great deal of encouragement. I think, if you've read any of my earlier blog posts, you'll have discovered how a small Yorkshire Terrier can behave, from one minute being a quiet, sensible little bundle and the next, with the slightest hint of the word 'walk,' or going near his lead, he becomes a raging little Tasmanian Devil-type character, growing and yapping madly. We didn't actually utter the word 'walk' within ear-shot so it was a surprise to us that he had picked up our intentions of going out. It was bright and sunny, having been quite cold for the past few day, although generally fine. We'd looked on-line for somewhere suitable for dogs and Carol had said she'd seen something on the Sunday evening BBC1 television programme 'Countryfile' about Kinver Edge and the rock houses there. I might have seen it on there or mentioned on one of the many and various television programmes we watch. For all that, it did seem an intriguing sort of place to visit. We had to get Alfie ensconced within the cage in the back of the car first, set up the satnav to allow us to find 'Kinver Edge' and then first fill up with petrol at the Shell station along Grafton Street and check the tyre pressures. Something that is necessary before we go on a long journey. I'm glad my dad always told me to check this sort of thing on every car I've owned, from filling the radiator with water, or at least checking the level, the windscreen washer water level, tyres, lights, oil etc etc. It's somehow inculcated within me from the first car I owned way back when I had passed my driving test in 1969 and had an ancient Ford Anglia which my parents bought me for the princely sum of £75. That's another story for another day and mentioned in fairly full detail in an earlier blog post.

So we set off, taking the directions as given by Dora (the name we've christened our Gamin SatNav.) Perhaps it's a bit stupid to give a gadget a name, but it does have a female voice and so-named after the children's television show character 'Dora The Explorer.' She generally does a good job, and tells you fairly well in advance when to turn left, right or whatever. But somehow we didn't do exactly what she advised and ended up in not quite the right place at one point. Actually going very near Claines, the village outside Worcester where my daughter and son-in-law live with my grandson, George. We could have dropped in, but we thought as we hadn't given them notice, it wasn't such a good idea. So we drove on until we got to Stourbridge. I was under the impression it was closer to Birmingham than it was. We eventually arrived at Kinver Edge, which is a range of rocky outcrops and we were making for Holy Austin Rock Houses. We couldn't immediately find a car-parking space along the side of the road, it was that busy almost every space was occupied by a car, but we eventually arrived at the dedicated National Trust carpark which seemed better as it was off the road.

Kinver Rocks

Having got Alfie out of the back of the car, by which time he had begun to let the whole neighbourhood know that he was about by barking and yapping very loudly (I suppose you would, if you had been imprisoned within a cage in the back of a car for near enough two hours.) we set off to walk towards the rock outcrop. It was a good 20-minute walk and we were able to let Alfie run, which was great as that was basically all he want to do. Running ahead of us, through an attractive wood, some of the path having a gradient and in places we came across carved seats where we stopped to take photographs and catch our breath. Eventually we came out in an open area with the rock outcrop before us, rising up perhaps a hundred and fifty feet, with a path cut into the side and with buildings perched on the summit.

Holy Austin Rock Houses, on top of the rocky out-crop at Kinver.

It was quite a walk, with steps some of the way, a sheer drop down on one side and the rock face on the other. Then turning a corner, a set of further steps, little terraces cut into the rock side, which had been made into gardens, complete with fences, lawns and everything you would expect with a garden, but certainly not at this sort of height off the ground. Looking down, I could see lots of grass, but at a fairly steep angle, which must have taken a great deal of skill to mow with any sort of mechanical device. Further steps, at even more of a steep angle, leading eventually to the very top of the rock. It was a real surprise to find a set of neat cottages, cut into the rocks, one having a room which had been made into a café, where we bought some filled rolls to eat, sitting on a terraced-area, with tables and chairs and views down to the village below and further, to the open valley and the horizon. I think the view was as far as the Malvern Hills, but I'm not sure exactly. But it was worth the effort with such a magnificent view. This is called Holy Austin Rock Houses, but I'm not sure why 'holy' exactly. Anything which has either an artistic or historical connection is interesting to us and I have to say it was very quirky and interesting. We had a look in some of the caves, some which had been part of dwellings at some stage or another. Also, there are toilets hidden quite discreetly behind one of the houses, a definite necessity for some of us, unfortunately. Very well kept and I wonder how on earth they got the water up there! Also, if you were to live there, what about deliveries, such as post? I'd feel sorry for the poor old postman, having to labour up and down those steps, particularly if you were carrying a heavy bag with letters in it.

Anyway, having had a good look around the place, we began our careful decent and walked back towards the carpark. We bought ice cream from a van parked along the side of the road and then began the walk back to the car. It's a good deal more of a climb back than you realise when you are walking in the other direction, but it was certainly good exercise for the two of us and even more so for Alfie who is only little. Once back at the car we soon drove home and on the way stopped off at a retail park we could see from the Motorway near Banbury as there was a Marks and Spencer's in there where we bought salad which we had for our meal when we got home. So, if you want somewhere to visit which is unusual, then I can recommend Kinver Edge. Since looking on the National Trust website we discovered that there are many more rock houses in the area, so we'll have to make a further visit and explore these other houses.
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