Rodney’s Pillar

The mighty pillar

Yesterday, Harriet and I had a lovely climb up to an interesting monument on the top of a very steep hill, just inside Wales and close to Shropshire. Seeing these sort of things on the horizon makes the clamber up to find them appealing, but it does make you marvel when you finally stagger adjacent to the man man structures just how the workmen ever got them completed. Rodney’s Pillar is one such edifice which tests the imagination, standing erect as it does on the top of Breidden Hill exposed to the elements .

The wind was howling as we set out and didn’t improve as Harriet’s little Polo headed to Powys in Wales, only 12 miles or so from Shrewsbury. The Welsh hills loomed up very quickly and you soon knew that you were heading to another country. I can see why the boundaries between England and Wales were set where they were. The mountainous region of steep hills being no practical use to farmers and landowners back in the Middle Ages and not an easy hunting ground for the Royalty, I should think the English nobility were quite happy to let the Welsh have the valleys and hills to do as they wished with. Now of course, they are national treasures and make for fabulous climbing adventures.

Breidden Hill is an extinct volcanic Hill and reaches a height of just under 1200 feet. The views front top are breath taking with its wonderful panoramic of 360 degrees taking in both the Welsh landscape and Shropshire countryside.

There is a permissive path that winds slowly in a circuitous route to the top, alternatively there are much more aggressively direct footpaths that take you on a steep climb to the summit. We took the former, which although a fairly gentle incline still takes about an hour to reach the Pillar through wonderful fir tree woodland. This was perfect for Harriet and I as it was out of the wind and actually when the sun broke through the clouds quite warm.

Rodney’s Pillar at the top was built by the gentlemen of Montgomeryshire who supplied oak wood from the area and shipped them down the River Severn to Bristol where Admiral Rodney’s naval fleet was built. It was erected in 1782 to commemorate the defeat of a French fleet in the West Indies and stands proudly there attracting visitors and climbers from all over the world. There were quite a few young people out and about with camping packs on their backs eager to reach the top to complete there weekend tasks I imagine.

It is a huge column presumably made from local stone and has the brain marvelling how the constructors managed to put it together up there back in the 18th Century. Harriet and I had an immense feeling of satisfaction when we reached the top and could enjoy the view, but were flabbergasted when a 60 year old runner, and I know his age because I asked him, dashed up and down the hill seemingly effortlessly not once but at least four times all the while we were there, putting our level of fitness to shame. He told me that we was training for a hundred mile run that was happening next week over similar terrain. My hat goes of to him and I wish him luck, although he didn’t appear to need any.

It was a lovely walk and after which we headed back to Shropshire and instead of hitting the pub, came back to Harriet’s abode and had a lovely lunch, followed by a lazy relaxing afternoon with our noses in books. Marvellous!

May 23rd, 2011 by