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  • Julie Muller

CHASE END HILL - A Meeting of Ways At The Old Oak Tree

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

(nearest post code HR8 1SE0

Visited by Zak and Shep

A few days after visiting Ragged Stone Hill, Julie Julie decided to have another go at finding her way to Chase End Hill. This time, all of us dogs and our humans were under control. We chose an easier route down to White Leaved Oak which skirted the sides of the hill. The ground was still damp under our paws and a lot of vegetation had been cleared from the slopes. I bet that there will be a riot of spring flowers here in the next few weeks. As we walked we were aware of gossamer white travellers joy festooning trees which were still bare from the cold of winter. A flight of twittering tits flitted between them .

Julie now knew the direction to take and we took the road down the hill looking for a track towards Chase End Hill. The track that we took was very wet and pockmarked by numerous feet, hooves and paws. The track wound itself along the bottom of the hill. Everywhere there were signs of spring. Bluebell leaves poked up through the dead leaves of autumn. Drifts of delicate white snowdrops and cheery lemon primroses lined the track. The air was heavy with birdsong. Shep and I know that the greatest variety of plants and flowers can be found at the very edges of the path where there is more light so we made sure not to tread on them.

Soon the path allowed us to turn and climb towards the Trig point at the summit of Chase End Hill. As we emerged on to its slopes the wind buffeted our bottoms, blowing our fur in completely the wrong direction. The sun was shining and we felt good to be alive. Julie rested for a while at the top taking in views in all directions. The glint of flood water at Longdon Marshes in the vale caught her eye but we were more interested in chasing sticks and foraging for rabbit droppings, of which there were lots.

Shep rolled and slipped and slid down the hill in sheer delight and exuberance.

Two sheepdogs, with the wind in their tails play with sticks on  Chase End Hill , near Ledbury in Herefordshire
Shep and Zak playing sticks on Chase End Hill, near Ledbury, Herefordshire

Suitably rested, Julie led us off the hill and back towards White Leaved Oak. The path was precipitously steep and Julie had to copy our four-paw drive example by crawling down the hill on her hands and knees. Naturally, Shep and I barked instructions. Eventually the path took us back to our original track and we pludged our way back to the road which led us back up to the hamlet of White Leaved Oak. We knew that somewhere in the hamlet there is a 500-year-old oak tree which is festooned in prayer flags but we didn’t find it today. White Leaved Oak is named after the original tree that grew here marking the junction between the three counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.

Rumour has it that this tree did indeed have white leaves but other people have suggested that the pale leaves were merely indicative of a mildew-like infection..At any rate the current tree is decorated at the winter and summer solstices so it will be worth a return visit later in the year.

Our return journey took us back up the very steep slope to Ragged Stone Hill where once again we were blown about by the wind. A tangle of sheep fencing lay on the ground. I sniffed it hesitantly. It looks like the sheep will be back soon to graze the vegetation and keep it short enough to allow a myriad of wildflowers to grow. The blue bell woods will be delightful in a few weeks’ time!!

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