|Day 25 – May 1||Bewdley to Bridgnorth|
|Weather: Sun, Cloud, Showers||B&B: Severn Valley Guest House (£38.00)|
|Departed: 08:40 Arrived: 13:45||Walked: 4 hr 26m Rested: 0 hr 30m|
|Distance Today: 14.6 mi / 23.49 km||Total Distance: 403.7 mi / 649.69 km|
|% Complete: ~ 35.63%||Pint of the Day: Otter Ale|
|GPS Track for: Day 25|
My last day on the Severn Way was arguably the best in terms of scenery and I even managed to beat the rain to Bridgwater. Faced with another ominous weather forecast I decided to get a reasonably early start and take advantage of the sunshine while it lasted.
I opted to follow the western bank of the Severn and in doing so I followed the North Worcestershire Way rather than the Severn Way for the first 4 miles. I think I made the right choice as the NWW had more unobstructed views of the river and avoided the caravan parks and cottages that dotted the eastern side. That first four miles was likely the prettiest of the last four days and the good footpath and easy navigation combined to make it a great start to the day.
The SW crossed a footbridge at Upper Arley and joined the NWW for the remainder of the journey to Bridgnorth. At some point before Upper Arley I walked out of Worcestershire and into Shropshire, my sixth county so far.
The Severn is only navigable by canoe and kayak north of Stourport so the river, in my opinion, became much more interesting. It was faster moving and there were the occasional set of rapids. A series of bridges for walkers, motorists and trains crossed the river at various points and the latter, the Severn Valley Railway, was prominent throughout the day.
The original Severn Valley Railway operated between 1862 until 1963 and then was revived in 1970. It now runs steam trains between Kidderminster in Worcestershire to Bridgnorth in Shropshire. Throughout my walk I could hear the steam whistle echo through the valley and on several occasions I was in an excellent position to view it as it rolled past.
I was making good time and elected to limit myself to one 10-minute break. The popcorn clouds that dotted the sky in the morning were building into something more menacing and I knew it was only a matter of time before the skies opened up.
The last handful of miles into Bridgnorth were less scenic than those earlier in the day and the community of Hampton was the definite low point. In places the Severn Way is very buggy, not surprising considering the long grass and proximity to water and there were several times today were I had to use my map case to swat away thick clouds of flies. They weren’t the biting kind but they did go for your eyes and if you weren’t careful they could end up supplementing your diet.
I entered Bridgnorth just after 1:30pm and headed for the railway station to check the schedule and ticket prices. Just as I walked up to the ticket counter the skies opened up sending a large crowd of train enthusiasts running for cover. A single to Bewdley was £11 so I decided to head into town and catch a bus instead … the train trip will have to wait until tomorrow.
It was market day in Bridgwater and despite the weather the streets were packed with hawkers and shoppers. I ran a few errands before catching the bus back to Bewdley where I completed my “chores” and enjoyed a good meal at the George Hotel.
Tomorrow I will travel back to Bridgwater and then head northeast towards Albrighton or Codsall. I was unable to find accommodation in either place so I will be staying at a Travelodge in Wolverhampton instead (this was the 3-hour odyssey that occupied so much time in Tewkesbury). I made one serious error when planning to overnight in Bewdley for a second night. Tomorrow is Sunday and finding a bus in Britain (outside of a major city) is pretty much impossible. I can understand a limited service but no service at all makes no sense to me. I was more or less stuffed but decided to pray for deliverance from Bewdley. And when the answer arrived it was hard to believe that my 21st-century saviour runs on steam.