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  • Julie Muller

CLENT HILLS (B62 0NL) - Follies and Folklore!

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

The Clent Hills is a group of three hills located about ten miles south -west of Birmingham and is very close to the Black Country where Julie grew up. The distinctive tree topped outline of Adams Hill can be seen from miles around.

As a teenager Julie often used to take her Cairn Terrier, Tiger, on the five mile walk from her family home in Lye to the Clent Hills and it was a family tradition for the whole family to walk to Clent on Boxing Day whatever the weather. This was always an eventful experience. with all of them slipping and sliding about in the snow and trying not to laugh out loud when a tree snatched off Julie’s dad’s hat or catapulted showers of icy cold snow down his back. He didn’t find it very funny.

The three hills which make up the Clent Hills are Wychbury, Walton and Adam’s Hills. Walton Hill is the highest, Wychbury Hill is the smallest and Adams Hill is the busiest welcoming nearly one million people every year.

Today Nimmings car park was quite empty but during school holidays and at weekends the site is heaving with people of all ages and physical abilities, some on foot, some on bikes, some in buggies and prams and some in wheelchairs and disability scooters.

I was so glad that it was quiet today. It is always quite scary for us dogs trying to negotiate a forest of legs and wheels. The access path leading up to the hills is very narrow and everyone gets squeezed together so we much prefer to stay on our leads until we get up to the viewpoint. That way, everybody is kept safe and happy!!

On the slope above the path stands a magnificent 250-year-old beech tree which was still partially clad in its summer foliage despite the repeated attempts of the gusty winds to dislodge its russet-coloured leaves. This lovely old tree was fenced off to prevent excessive foot and paw fall which could easily compact the soil and so making it more difficult for the roots to soak up the nutrients

We walked on our leads until the path opened out at the viewpoint. The sky looked grey and threatening and the clouds skidded across it. We were glad to be let free and I immediately demanded my ball and then ran off with it with Bruno in hot pursuit. There was no one around for him to greet or play with so he wouldn’t leave me alone, much to my annoyance! I managed to keep just far enough ahead of him to find a lovely smooth grassy slope upon which to lie down on my back and roll. It was so good to feel the damp soil beneath me and to smell the crushed grass as I rolled gently from side to side. I was so happy that I completely forgot about my ball and Julie and Tony didn’t notice for ages. I could tell that Julie was cross with me, but she couldn’t really tell me off when she had company - ha-ha!!

Although the Clent Hills are not a Site of Special Scientific Interest, they still boast some fabulous vistas in all directions, and it wa so exhilarating for us to run across the tops with the wind in our fur.

As with so many British beauty spots there are myths and legends associated with Clent. Legend has it that this area was once ruled over by a king who had three children, two daughters and a seven-year-old son called Kenelm. One of his sisters was determined to have the kingdom for herself so she persuaded her lover to murder Kenelm by beheading him. However, the pope in Rome learnt of this evil act and he instructed a group of monks to investigate. At the point where they found Kenelm’s body a spring miraculously arose which was said to have great healing powers. The monks carried the body to Winchcombe and wherever they stopped springs arose . When the body arrived at Winchcombe the bells rang out without any human effort. Back in Clent, Kenelm’s sister was terrified to hear the bells and they say that both of her eyes fell out as she anxiously read her psalter. Of course, she and her lover were executed and Kenelm’s final resting place became a place of pilgrimage. Kenelm was canonised and his special day is celebrated on 17th July each year.

There are four stones standing on the top of Adams Hill and these really look as if they should be part of some mythical story too .

On a wild and windswept day like today, you could easily imagine them secretly rolling down the hill in the middle of the night, snatching a drink and returning to the top before daybreak. Sadly though, they are just one of numerous follies dotted around the Hagley estate.

It is a hard job for the National Trust, who own and manage the Clent Hills, to make sure that the hills cater for all visitors. However, it is equally important that the hills are looked after to both benefit and conserve the local wildlife. To do this, the National Trust have employed cattle to graze the open grassland on Walton Hill.

To any visitor, it looks as if the cattle are free to roam but their movement is actually controlled by an invisible fence, provided by a wire laid underground which is linked to head collars worn by each of the animals. This is really no different to using normal electric fencing but at least there is no chance of Bruno and I getting a shock– Phew!!

Bruno and I have a very healthy respect for cattle, and Julie always puts us on our leads so that we don’t ‘spook’ them. Sometimes, the cattle can be too interested in us and then Julie has to drop our leads so that we can all run to safety. The cattle don’t mean us any harm though.

We walked back towards the car park. The wood-enclosed path was thick with orange, red and russet leaves and these sprayed in all directions as Bruno, and I raced through them. The weak winter sun bathed everything in a gentle golden light and the wind sent flurries of leaves twirling to the ground.

There was the unmistakable aroma of cooking bacon as we neared the car park and Julie and Tony decided to treat themselves to hot bacon butties. The smell was amazing, and Bruno and I showed off our best behaviour in the hope of winning a smidgen. How could our humans possibly resist our pleading eyes and wagging tails?

What a lovely end to the walk!

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