March 13 – MOT for our car in Wormelow

Magnolias are Flowering

Hi from Gillian and Michael

Yesterday I asked Gary and Chris where they would recommend for us to take our car for its yearly MOT. They both recommended the garage at Wormelow so I gave them a ring and got an appointment for 10.30 this morning. It was about a 20-minute drive away. When we arrived there were cars everywhere but we were pleasantly greeted by one of the owners and were told our car was next to go into the garage and to come back in an hour.

I had researched the area and found the there was a short series of four geocaches which might fill in the hour so off we set. It was not raining today but the wind was strong and pretty cold but not to worry. We walked through a huge car park to a cafe which seemed like it was in an unusual place and that only people who knew it was there would be able to find it. The footpath made it look as if we were walking along someone’s driveway and was not signposted but we kept going and soon found a marked footpath. It was incredibly muddy which was not surprising considering the rain we have been having. We might have given up had it been a normal day but we are on foot and didn’t have any other options. We finally sidled around the mud until we came to the haunted bridge.

The manor house nearby was originally commissioned by Sir James Rankin, an international shipping and trade magnate who inherited the Bryngwyn estate. In 1868 he built himself ‘a magnificent mansion delightfully situated and commanding one of the most extensive views in Herefordshire and perhaps one of the finest landscapes in England’. It was here, Sir James brought up his family and became one of Hereford’s largest private benefactors. During the second world war the army was stationed at Bryngwyn, and Italian POW’s were housed there and worked on nearby farms and in the construction of the Church at Hoarwithy.

It is a grade II listed building, much of the original craftsmanship remains and large parts of the Manor have remained untouched for some years, including the former servants quarters, solid oak staircase, many marble columns, wooden doors and floors, stone archways, stained glass windows and gargoyles. The house has now been converted into apartments.

According to a local myth, the bridge collapsed whilst a local farmer was crossing his cattle over it. It is said that he and the livestock drowned in the brook below and you can still see his ghost at certain times of the year. Looking for this cache at night time would certainly add to the atmosphere. The clue was a bit of a mystery at first but then Mike noticed the initials carved on the tree and we soon found the cache.

The next part of the track went around the side of a field but there was a well-heeled track which was never ploughed up so it made for easy walking. The wind here though was fierce and bitterly cold. Partway up the track, there was a lone tree which is where the next cache was hidden but after looking for about half an hour we had to give up. We looked everywhere looking for any sign including a fake piece of bark which is what I thought might house the cache but to no avail. I did, however, find a letter to the fairies from a little girl which I read and then replaced. I hope the fairies answer her letter.

Then the GPS changed direction and pointed straight up a dauntingly steep hill. It was so steep you could not see the top. We climbed over the stile and began the slog up the hill beside a row of trees. Neither of us felt overly happy about being so exposed in this gusting wind as the potential for trees to fall over was great but we finally made it unmolested to the top. That is the steepest hill I have walked up in a very long while but to turn back meant going through the mud again. The views out over the estate and surrounding land were amazing and well worth the effort. The cache was beside another stile only feet away from a house. Luckily there was no one in the house or else it would have been very difficult to look for the cache. What a stunning place to have a home though as those views are just second to none.

We then walked down the long, rough driveway to fourth and last cache. The hint for this cache was “a magnetic nano soon to be engulfed by the tree” and we immediately saw the site where the cache should be hidden. It was a metal waratah growing right through the base of the huge tree. In fact, there were many pieces of barbed wire also pointing out of the tree which Mike managed to scratch his hand on. The wows of geocaching! The nano was not there but after Mike rummaged around on the ground he soon found it and after we signed the log we attached it to the underside of the waratah again. He remarked that the magnet was not very strong which would account for why it was on the ground.

We finished our walking circuit and arrived back at the garage on time to find the MOT was completed and the car had passed. The brothers who own the garage are lovely and they checked the oil for us, topped it up a bit with oil, without charging us any extra,  and we were soon on our way home. When we arrived home the weather was lovely and the river was running very high so we went down the garden with Hector to see the river and to see if the magnolia is flowering yet. It is still only budding but we don’t want to miss it flowering as it is so beautiful. The swing chair is between two magnolias and as soon as Mike sat down Hector jumped up onto his lap for a cuddle. So cute!