A couple of times when I’ve had Bert had at work recently I’ve needed to go to Oswestry on the way home to pay my pay cheque into the bank, so we’ve stopped and gone for a walk at the old hill fort. It’s a great place to take Bert – there are bunnies for starters, and he can charge around to his heart’s content – and it’s also a hugely atmospheric, fascinating place, rich in wildlife and history.
It’s a funny place to get to – you drive through a housing estate to suddenly find yourself at a carpark next to a huge playing field, with the hillfort reached by a footpath through an expanse of maize field. It’s well worth the effort though. The fort itself is huge (though not quite Maiden Castle size), and the embankments and earthworks are really deep, with steps and sheep tracks plummeting down into the dips and then hauling you back up the other side to the tops of the ridges for views across the countryside and the town of Oswestry itself. You can do a complete circuit of the fort on the top ridge.
The first time we went, there were yellowhammers everywhere, calling like crazy. The foxgloves were already blooming, long before the ones near home. A month or so later, when we went again, the yellowhammers were quieter, but there were red admirals battling for control of the skies in the nearby Coppice wood; the bracken was rampant and rosebay willowherb was taking over from the foxgloves. And the maize had grown to towering-over-head height.
I’m looking forward to monitoring the changes on a monthly basis – watch this space.