A Friday to Friday trip with our motorhome representing our first trip in it out of East Anglia. It was loosely planned with our overnights being a mixture of small campsites, wild camps and pub stops. Despite some of the facilities at the 2 sites we stayed at being absent (we only had electric hook up for 1 night out of 7!) things went surprisingly smoothly. Overall we had 3 nights in the Malvern Hills area, 2 nights beside the River Wye and 2 nights in the Forest of Dean.
While in the Malverns we walked miles covering the whole length of the hills including the Herefordshire Beacon, Midsummer Hill, the Worcestershire Beacon, Millennium Hill and Chase End Hill together with a visit to Great Malvern town on one of our walks. Highlights from a natural history angle were 2 Tree Pipits, Raven, Grayling with some nice plants inluding Lesser Calamint, Fragrant Agrimony, Woolly Thistle, Sneezewort, Large-flowered Evening Primrose, Bifid Hemp Nettle and Heath Groundsel. We stayed at a small site in the Golden Valley, a pub stop at Stifford Bridge Red Lion and a wild camp by the church at Hollybush.
Phase 2 of the week was the picturesque Wye Valley and 2 nights on a lovely little site right beside the river. The spot was withing walking distance of Symonds Yat and we spent a lovely time here visiting Ross-on-Wye, Goodrich Castle, Hereford (including the cathedral and the iconic Mappa Mundi), Kilpeck at it's church with carvings and 'Sheela-na-gig' as well as loads of walking. Unsurprisingly a Peregrine was at Symonds Yat and in the area we also had Raven but it was flowers again that stole the show with Ploughman's Spikenard and Keeled Garlic at Goodrich Castle, Common Figwort, Round-leaved Mint, Sneezewort, Water Chickweed near our campsite and then a fabulous arable field headland not far from the river. This held a superb variety of plants the highlights being Blue Pimpernel, Lesser Swinecress and Marsh Cudweed. Some nice Oak Bracket fungi was found in the woods as was lots of signs of Wild Boar activity including footprints in the mud.
The final leg of the trip was a couple of nights in the Forest of Dean. The first was a wild camp beside Cannop Lake in the heart of the forest. Whilst chilling that evening we had Silver-washed Fritillary, 24 Mandarins, 2 Grey Wagtails, Kingfisher, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker for company! On a lengthy couple of walks out from there the following day we had Ivy-leaved Bellflower, Crimson Clover, Love-in-a-Mist, Tutsan and again loads of signs of Wild Boar activity but frustratingly no sightings. Our last night was spent at the Rising Sun pub stopover in the middle of the forest. Walking from here during the afternoon gave us Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Southern Hawker, Woodland Dor Beetle and while at New Fancy View Blackening Waxcap and more Lesser Calamint. We ate in the pub that night amd afterwards went for a dusk walk back into the forest - and finally scored with 2 Wild Boar that we tracked quietly for some while before they emerged briefly under a trackside tree. A Fox was also seen. It was a fantastic way to end what had been a very successful first real holiday in the moho. Bring on the next one!