Last weekend we immersed ourselves in Shropshire's industrial heritage. After learning that human caused climate change made last week's record-breaking heatwave at least 10 times more likely, we headed to Ironbridge. It's now something of a bitter pill to swallow that the long celebrated town, named after the world's first iron bridge erected over the River Severn at Coalbrookdale in 1779 and its spectacular wooded gorge, together formed the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, but also set the world on a dangerous trajectory. It's also ironic that thousands of tourists add to their carbon footprints every year by flying in to visit the very place responsible for one of the world's most pressing issues.
The Shropshire hills are renowned for their wild beauty, valleys and quaint market towns, but less so for the industrial relics clinging on close to the summit of Titterstone. In medieval times, ironstone and later coal were mined, in particular from bell pits (shallow workings) Over the years, large numbers of quarries were opened up on Titterstone Clee to exploit the dolerite or "dhu stone" named after the Welsh word for black. Incidentally, nearby Ludlow was once the capital of Wales. All but one are now abandoned...and abandoned places are a magnet to someone like me.