We live in unusual times. We have some of the best Easter weather for years. But we are in lockdown. We can only have one walk a day and must always socially distance. The ritual stampede to beaches and the hills has been cancelled. But we are surrounded by quiet countryside we can explore in relative isolation with easy social distancing.
We must take care while getting the exercise we need and enjoying the sunshine we love. No crowds. No family other than those we live with.
This emergency will be over soon, though we don’t know when. We shouldn’t make it worse by relaxing social discipline just because the sun is shining.
Easter is traditionally an opportunity to get a break after the darkness, cold and wet of the winter. But this will be an Easter like no other in our lifetimes. While religious services will continue online for those that can cope with technology, the annual rush to beaches and hills has been cancelled. We can’t even take part in the traditional panic buying in supermarkets, pushing heaped up trolleys down the aisles piled high with food that will take weeks to eat. In any event, we have already had our fill of panic buying ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown.
I am always surprised that people try to escape their crowded urban lives by flocking to a crowded beach and crawling into the Lake District. Queuing to climb Snowden as about as much fun as cramming to get on the escalators in Euston underground station.
In sunny weather, Ludlovians of all ages tend to flock to the Millennium Green. To buy a cuppa, cake or ice cream from the Café on the Green. To paddle in the shallows of the Teme. But that’s out or order this Easter weekend. Congregating in popular places risks spreading Covid-19, just at the point when our country seems to be getting it under control – though new cases and deaths are not likely to reduce for a week or more.
We are fortunate in Ludlow. We have Gallows Bank which is ideal for social distancing. However, the benches at the top of the bank are places where young people congregate well into the evening. That would be a mistake as although fewer young people die of Covid-19, they can be carriers spreading it through their friends to grandparents and vulnerable people. Anyone can get it. Anyone can spread it.
We have some excellent countryside walks for those that need to stretch their legs, take in the sunshine and breath some of the cleanest air in the country. I have three favourite quiet walks. They take a few hours but there is no restriction on how far to walk. It’s just that you can’t drive significant distances to walk or walk with non-family members. It always best to take a map or look up the route online beforehand. It’s also a good idea to take a bottle of water and a sandwich.
- Halton Lane to Middle Wood Lane. Head out from Dinham Bridge past the Cliffe to Priors Halton. In the middle of Oakley park, turn left (southwest) to Lady Halton and The Poles. It’s a comfortable quite track. Join Middle Wood Lane and head back to town over Whitcliffe.
- Halton Lane to Bromfield. Beginning as before, head onwards to Bromfield Church. Head back along the (for once quiet A49) to Bromfield Road. An alternative route cuts across the fields past Burway farm to Burway Lane.
- Sheet to Caynham Camp. Walk towards Caynham from Sheet Village. On your left, the Shropshire Way is signposted. This is the new route, not that shown on most OS maps. Ascend to Caynham Camp. Head east on leaving the hillfort cutting left over the fence to go downhill to Ledwyche Brook. Follow the wide track, heading left (west) at the covert. That takes you to Lower Ledwyche, Squirrel Lane and back to Sheet.
Mortimer Forest is open but not for car parking. If you can manage the walk up through Whitcliffe there are miles of walks in the forest where you are unlikely to see anyone.
We need the sun. It’s good for our physical and mental health. But it an irony that we are for once going to have sunny weather over the bank holiday. It might have been better if it rained. But although we haven’t yet learnt to control the weather, we are learning how to control Covid-19. That means social distancing big time. It is difficult for people who live in flats and I have sympathy for people who want to take part in socially distanced sunbathing.
It is a weekend to enjoy ourselves but we must take that enjoyment with care. Have a good weekend.