T’other week, Muddy Madam received a message from her friend Lucy, and she had good news. Lucy had been fortunate enough to have won 4 different glamping weekends, but unfortunately she wouldn’t be able to attend one of them, and that’s where our little adventure begins.
After a couple of e-mithers with Martin, who runs Lilla Stugan with his family, I set about planning our 3 night stay in a Swedish style cabin in deepest, darkest Worcester. After checking the weather and local pubs for evening meals I set about checking the important aspect of staying in an different county for a few days, and that was checking Trailwise and the GLASS website for suitable green lanes in the area. Doesn’t everyone?
Arriving home from school on the Thursday evening we threw our kit in the back of Deux Smurf, and after a few errands, set off for Alfrick Pound, which is around 20 minutes from junction 7 off the M5, Worcester.
Now, on first impressions, Lilla Stugan, which is Swedish for ‘little house’, looks tiny, but looks, as we know, can be deceiving. Granted, we needed to stoop through the doorway, but the inside is really quite large, perfect for two people.
Once unpacked we made ourselves comfortable, and whilst Muddy Madam acquainted herself with the outside shower and toilet block, I prepared our evening meal. I say prepared, I turned on the Firepod pizza oven and created a couple of to-die-for pizzas! ( If you are curious about the fantastic Firepod pizza oven read my review here.)
I often find it difficult to sleep in a new bed for the first few nights, but not here, after an evening chugging down a complimentary bottle of red wine whilst sat in front of the log burning stove, I was totally zonked out by 10.30pm.
Friday started earlier than expected due to the dawn chorus, seriously though, what have birds to say to each other that early in the morning? I forced myself to have a lie in till around 9am, I was on my hols after all!
After breakfast our plan was to explore some of the lanes that I’d found on Trailwise, and after consulting with my scribbled map, and of course my ViewRanger app, we set forth.
Our first lane was Trailwise reference SO7252-01 and SO7254-04, or Highfields Lane. We arrived at the southern end, and drove past a few houses, before reaching 2 gates (you go through the one on the left). Just as I was closing the gate I spied a figure in who was one of the residents, so I went over to exchange pleasantries. He told me that the old lady who lived at the opposite end of the lane used it as a short cut in her Allegro, but she couldn’t these day due to damage and overuse.
As we said our goodbyes I wandered back to Deux Smurf a bit worried over what state the lane would be in. There was a bit of mud and a large puddle next to the first gate, but other than that, easy. It’s a single track with trees and hedgerows on either side, making it very quite, and there's plenty of wildlife to spot.
The weather had been kind, therefore the going was good, though after a downpour I can imagine it would be a tad slippery in sections. I stopped a couple of times to take photos, as I do, and immediately caught the attention of the cows in fields on both sides of the lane. The ones on the left casually strolled over to see us, whilst the cows of the right literally charged towards us, they were pretty eager to get to know us, or hungry!
Our next lane, Knightswick Old Road, Trailwise ref SO7254-01, was pretty much straight on, and once you reach the barn, veer left along a pair of ruts in the verge just before you reach the farmhouse.
At this point Muddy Madam had doubts that we were on the right track, as the deep, yet dry, ruts that continued straight along the hedgerow seem to vanish at the gate at the bottom of the field. Another concern for Muddy Madam was the dozen or so cows grazing in the distance, and how enthusiastic the last herd was. She needn't have worried they were chilled and kept on grazing almost oblivious to us.
As I said, the ruts are quite deep, but not enough to trouble Deux Smurf, though there was a few scrapes from underneath at times, but all was good in low-range second gear.
I knew that when we reached the bottom of the field we took a sharp right turn, but was it before or after the gate? Enlarging the map on my iPhone didn’t really help, but just before we reached the gate I could just make out some ruts in the deep grass that followed the contour of the hedge.
Up until this point I'd had Deux Smurf just in low box, but because the grass was quite lush and the ground looked a little damp, I decided to engage her centre locking diff. I’m not certain if this did the trick but this last bit caused the wheels and tyres to get quite muddy.
Although only a short lane I think it could get quite difficult during wet, wintery months, especially if you’re travelling north to south.
Because I’m thoughtful, and Muddy Madam was beginning to look a little bored, I figured now was a good time to explore some of the local towns and villages in the area, and it was coming up for dinner, that’s lunch if you live in the south, so we decided to stop off at the Mayfly cafe just off the B4204 for some much needed sustenance.
On the way back we decided to find a particularly long lane that looked quite interesting, which is locally known as Hayley Dingle lane, or SO7455-01 and SO7554.01 on Trailwise.
Starting at its northern end, the lane narrows and becomes surrounded by overhung trees, so be careful if you have a roof rack with lights fitted. I appeared that this section doesn’t get a lot of sun so remains wet and muddy in some sections, but no hassle, and I’d imagine good for all terrain tyres.
What I haven’t mention thus far is that whilst searching on Trailwise for suitable lanes, pretty much all that I’ve driven so far had recent comments on them describing their surface conditions, etc.. On one comment the author wrote that his Range Rover Sport had managed to navigate the steep inclines with ease.
I mention this now because, as we turned a corner, guess what we saw coming in the opposite direction, yes, a Range Rover Sport shod with mud terrains. Coincidence? Of course not! We chatted briefly about the condition of the lane, and the other lanes that we’d driven, and of course his comments on Trailwise, then we went our separate ways.
From this point the lane continued as a single rut and quite narrow, threading our way through the trees, which reminded me of the tracks around Eastnor Castle. Just as the lane widened it went into a steepish incline, again being very dry this wasn’t a problem, but after a downpour I could imagine it being a bit tricky.
At the top we took a sharp right along a boundary fence and to our left was lots of evidence of off-piste driving, it’s such a shame.
Then, as quickly as we turned right it was a sharp left along a narrow track with some fairly deep ruts that can be straddled if you’re in a 4x4 with smaller tyres or not a lot of ground clearance.
From here it was another 90 degree left, and another incline into a wide section that looks like it’s used as a turning point for heavy farm machinery, then another incline, then a dusty single track lane to the main road.
I was quite tempted to turn around and drive it again, but we were also quite hungry, and our belly’s often take priority, so we headed back to Silla Stugan for a shower and change.
Martin had put a list of local eateries in the welcome pack and one that caught our attention was the Roots Family Farm Shop who, on a Friday served pizza on a bus. Oh yeah, you read that right! Outside their farm shop is an old double decker bus that’s been been converted for eating in. It was a great atmosphere with even better pizzas, what more could we ask for?
Sadly there was no muddy green-lane adventures on Saturday, instead we spent all day and lots of money in Ledbury. In the evening we found a fantastic pub with amazing food called the Chase Inn at Bishop's Frome, (Worcester WR6 5BP), we can’t recommend their food enough!
Once we arrived back to Lilla Strugan, Muddy Madam switched on the radio to listen to the Eurovision Song Contest (there's no TV), and I just fell asleep.
Sunday arrived with that strange yellow globe still in the sky, the cool breeze shook the Apple trees and the ground was once again enveloped with white Apple blossom petals, it really was quite a visionary delight. Muddy Madam and I lounged around for a bit and enjoyed a late breakfast, and after packing most things back into Deux Smurf we had a lovely walk around the nature reserve that backs onto the farm whilst pondering life’s mysteries - and what to eat for dinner (lunch).
I wanted to drive the lanes we'd driven on Friday and a few more we didn’t, but on acceleration Deux Smurf had acquired a worrying metallic rattle from her nethers. I had a quick rummage underneath though I couldn’t find anything wrong, but I decided to give them a miss this time anyway, and take our time driving home.
Overall, Muddy Madam and I had a great time, Lilla Stugan was a fun place to stay, and one which I would heartily recommend. Not only is it cosy with beautiful surroundings, but Martin and his parents were the perfect hosts and made us feel welcome.
For more details on Lilla Stugan, click here.