As at Worcester, the Severn here is a quiet, slow-flowing river. From Gloucester to Bewdley the old gravelly fords and sandy shallows have disappeared, and the “gentle art” has had to adapt itself to these changes; fish once familiar to anglers are now strangers, rarely, if ever seen on this side Gloucester; but the regulations enforced by the Severn Fisheries Commission, and the vigilance of local associations, will, it is hoped, soon be the means of repeopling the Severn with those members of the finny tribe once common to its waters. Steam-tugs and trows, propelled by screw or paddle, now navigate the river, each with a dozen old-fashioned barges at its stern; but this portion of the Severn being comparatively free, it is a favourite breeding place with pike, who for reproductive purposes seek the stillest portions of the stream. Dowles Ford, at the mouth of the brook of that name, which enters the river a little above Bewdley, also Laxlane Ford, and Folly’s Ford, are each famous for their trout.
Leaving Bewdley, we pass the line of railway to Tenbury, but confine ourselves to the Valley of the Severn, along which the river and the rail are now close companions nearly all the way to Shrewsbury. The elevation of the embankment above the river affords glimpses of Bewdley Forest, or, as Drayton calls it, the Stately Wyre.
“These scenes are desert now
Where nourished once a forest fair;
When these waste glens with copse were lined,
And peopled with the hart and hind.”
But portions of the district still are wooded, affording famous fields for botanists. Seckley Wood comes down to meet the bold projecting rocks above the river; and we have Eyemoor Wood and others right and left on approaching Upper or Over Arley.
Twenty miles from Worcester, is one of the sweetest little villages along the line. Its ferry on the river, its timbered cottages, partially concealed in green indentations of the hill, its grey church tower, and those of the castle near, are a picture of themselves; but when showers of blossoms crown the orchard trees in spring, or ruddy fruits hang ripe in autumn, the scene is more enchanting still.
The castle tower is 120 feet in height, and commands an extensive sweep of country, through which the Severn in the distance winds its way, in and out, like a silver thread. The gardens and grounds contain rare shrubs and trees, imported by the late Earl Mountnorris; to visit which R. Woodward, Esq., the present proprietor, like the late earl, very rarely refuses his permission.