Connecting with nature is so important to our well-being - taking time to connect with the green of the natural world, space away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, and an opportunity to reconnect with our true inner self, our thoughts and emotions, and with those we love...
For me, it's important to get to this inner place so that I can make my art - but it's also essential for my own (and all of our!) health and well-being, too...
With this series of blog posts, I hope to inspire you to explore some of the wilder natural places - places where you can really feel the energy of nature reviving you...
This is a really special natural place to connect with nature - out in the Shropshire hills up close to nature and close to the sky...
On holiday recently, we stayed in the beautiful Shropshire hills and walked up into the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve and visited the Devil's Chair stone...
We felt really connected to nature on this walk - out in the hills away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and villages - just birds overhead and lots of sky - a time to reflect and connect...
We walked up quiet, stony lanes with primroses, forget-me-nots, bluebells, and purple honesty flowers in the hedge verges along with the occasional daffodil. Beautiful flowers and so much colour and life - lovely to see!
As we gradually climb, the flowery banks get taller and start to give way to hedgerows of tall hawthorns, not yet in flower, sheltering wild bilberries, called 'whinberries' locally.
As we climb further, the shady lane opens up into moorland filled with yellow-flowering gorse.
There's no shelter from the sun and the air is filled with the coconut scent of the gorse flowers - actually, this is one of my favourite smells and always takes me back to special places like West Wales as a child, or more recent holidays in Skye and Islay - it reminds me of being out, quiet, in nature and it smells like summer!
The colours look fantastic and they help us to feel really energised - great for that climb as there's still a way to go!
We pass a blackened, gnarled gorse bush which still has the aroma of smoke around it - a moorland fire, luckily extinguished swiftly by some watchful soul.
Still we climb and the air cools and the gorse is gone. The path lies deep within banks of whinberry and heather - bright green with berries still red, the heather not yet in flower, still dry and brown.
There's no shelter here and we're exposed to the elements as we continue to ascend, the rocky path beneath our feet and warm sunshine fighting with cool winds against our faces.
A tiny flutter of green across our path turns out to be a Green Hairstreak butterfly, cunningly disguised as it perches almost invisible amongst the whinberry leaves... Exciting to see - it's a butterfly I've never seen before!
We seem to pass beneath the Devil's Chair rock and stop at a waymarker where the path goes four ways...
Up here on the hills, we feel close to the sky, alone amongst nature, free and alive.
We sit for a while, quietly, resting and refuelling. We can see for miles all around us. We are nearly 1750ft above sea level - just us, rocks, sky and heather...
...oh, and a couple of pleasant walkers who pass us, greeting us warmly, bedecked in cool summer shirts and sun hats...
We call back to them and gaze wonderingly, as we feel the chill winds whip around us, and pull our jackets tighter.
As we progress along the ridge, the way becomes very rocky. It's easy to stumble here so we need to concentrate on where we're going and not looking around at what's around us.
The clouds darken as we reach the Devil's Chair and I worry about lightning strikes. Is that thunder I hear or just the rumble of a passing plane?
The clouds feel close to us and quite heavy. There are warnings everywhere about lightning strikes and the legend of the Devil's Chair speaks of bolts of lightning should one have the audacity to actually sit in the Devil's Chair! Scary!
We finally reach the rocks of the Devil's Chair - tall, hard, and grey.
Red Kites whirl past and a raven tumbles and folds itself elegantly into the rock.
We clamber ever up and eventually peer downwards between the shards...
We look down past moorland and fields and follow the lines of pathways - it looks impossibly far down and I start to feel a little dizzy at the height.
Ian continues to explore a further crag - a rocky fortress on high, while I stay back a little with the dog, feeling a little in awe at this majestic natural place - a spire of the earth reaching up into the sky.
Our walk down is much easier on the legs! We spot the grass-covered ruins of an old miner's cottage - humps and dips in the hillside surrounded by fruit trees and hawthorns which mark the boundaries of what was once a cherished home and garden high in the hills.
What it must be to live a life atop a hill!
So far from the hustle and bustle down below and more connected with nature and the elements out here where one could live free and unencumbered by the expectations of society...
We feel revitalised and inspired after our walk out in the wilds of nature - this truly awesome natural place - in connecting with nature in this way, we feel more connected with our own selves, and each other - these are the moments that my art is all about and what I hope it will inspire for you too..!
Dog Walk Notes
- This was a nice easy walk for the dog - a bit of a pull for him uphill, but wide paths and one stile with a gate that we could open to get him through. The ridge was a little rocky for him - he seemed quite sure-footed but we did worry a little about him injuring himself clambering over the rocks.
- Dogs need to be kept on a lead at all times to protect the wildlife in this National Nature Reserve.
- We did the walk from Pennerley Flats (just up to Devil's Chair rock and back again) but you can also easily access the Stiperstones from Stiperstones Village, Tankerville, and The Bog Visitor Centre (recommended) which has a large car park, toilets, information and refreshments (check opening times/dates).
- Dress appropriately for your walk, take a good map, and be aware that weather conditions can change suddenly up on the hills.
More Cool Places Nearby
Close nearby to explore is Tankerville old lead mine
And the more extensive old Snailbeach Mine, which also does regular open days.
A little further afield, we also enjoyed visiting Haughmond Hill woods with the dog - bluebells, woodland walks, toilets and a cafe...
And the nearby beautiful ruins of Haughmond Abbey - a peaceful place to while away an hour or so - run by English Heritage.