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Walking in Shropshire

ShropshireIn the west of the county the remote and romantic Shropshire Hills form part of the ancient border Marches. These Welsh border lands have been fought over and disputed throughout much of our history. Of course, no one disputes the border today, any more than they would dispute the beauty of the region and the rich diversity of its landscape.

Shropshire Map Shrewsbury Wenlock Edge Shropshire Map Shropshire map Shropshire Map Telford and The Wrekin The complex geology of the area is largely responsible for the immense variety of the scenery which makes Shropshire so interesting and such a joy to walk. For example the Wrekin consists of ancient volcanic lava, whilst Wenlock Edge, just 30km south west, was once at the bottom of an ancient sea and is composed of carboniferous limestone. In fact Shropshire claims to be unique in the world, in having rocks from ten of the twelve geological periods within its boundaries.

The northern part of the county around Ellesmere was dramatically affected by being at the extremity of the ice sheets during the last ice age. Huge glaciers deposited the clay, gravel and sand found in these areas as they receded; but not before their awesome power had scooped out the depressions which today make Ellesmere a lake district in miniature.

Ludlow CastleThere is diversity too, in the character of the county's towns. Ludlow, a delightfully rural market town dominated by it's imposing castle, retains much of the charm of a bygone age. It's beautiful black and white timbered buildings, so typical of Shropshire where oak forests were once widespread, can overwhelm the visitor with it's cosy atmosphere. But Ludlow is a thriving community and has earned itself a reputation as a gastronomic centre of excellence. Not that far away Telford is a dynamic modern town full of high technology industry built upon the foundations of the industrial revolution, which all began here at Ironbridge, now a World Heritage site.

Carding Mill ValleyThere are endless walking possibilities within Shropshire's 5,000km of public paths, but the most important areas are the hills of the south west between Ludlow and Shrewsbury. Church Stretton, roughly in the centre of this area is an excellent base from which to explore the Long Mynd, a dramatic ridge of ancient heather clad hills which tower over the town. One of the most popular circuits climbs through the beautiful Carding Mill Valley, one of a number of ravines cutting through the eastern flank of the hills.

Other important hills include Wenlock Edge, Stiperstones, Clee Hills, Clun Forest and Hope Bowdler Hill. All offer spectacular open walking and panoramic vistas. The quiet, green valleys and Dales between these ranges and hills are also beautiful walking country.

StiperstonesMinsterley and the Stiperstones can provide some dramatic walking. Plan an invigorating walk from Minsterley (SJ 375049) mainly across heather moorland and some woodland and bog to reach the fascinating Stiperstones at 560m elevation. The spikes of rock and crumbling scree are unique to the area, a geologist’s paradise. We advise you not to attempt this walk on midwinter’s night, as legend has it that the devils gather here to choose their leader who is crowned in the Devil's Chair. The southbound outward route is via Ploxgreen and Snailbeach and then, after passing Snailbeach mine, climbing towards the Stiperstones ridge. Continue south to the Bridges road car park, from where the northerly return begins following the Shropshire Way. Return via Eastridge Wood and Bank Farm. A walk based on this route will be about 19km.

Much Wenlock

Much WenlockToday Much Wenlock is an attractive little market town popular with walkers drawn by the beauty of the surrounding countryside and especially the spectacular Wenlock Edge limestone escarpment. The town has preserved much of its medieval character due to lack of development in recent centuries, the industrial revolution taking place in nearby Ironbridge having past it by, and several timber framed building of note remain. The 16th century black and white guildhall is particularly appealing and is still in use as a court and also houses the Council Chamber. Picturesque houses abound in Much Wenlock, especially those in the Bull Ring, and strolling through its charming streets the visitor experiences a pleasing mix of architecture from medieval through Georgian to Victorian.

St Milburga PrioryPerhaps the towns most famous attraction is the ruins of the Priory of St Milburga originally established as a nunnery in the 7th century. It had a violent history being destroyed first by the Danes and later by the Normans and the ruins seen today date from a rebuilding as a Cluniac priory in about 1080, plus later additions. The prior’s lodge, dating from around 1500, is the most impressive remaining structure.

A Walk from Much Wenlock [SO 623998] OS Maps: Explorerâ„¢ 217, 241

Wenlock Edge This walk takes you through beautiful countryside, with an exhilarating climb up Wenlock Edge from where there are pleasant valley views. It also takes in a visit to the dramatic ruins of St Milburga's Priory. The route is a clockwise circuit leaving the town westwards towards Blakeway Hollow and then climbing to Wenlock Edge via Stokes Barn. The walk follows the Edge through woodland to Harley Hill and then Edge Wood. At a junction of paths shortly before Homer the route heads south east and follows paths leading to St Milburga's Priory, on the way passing the ruins of an old windmill, substantial school buildings on the right and crossing a dismantled railway track. From the Priory it is a short walk back to the town. About 3.5 miles.

Best Pubs for this walk
George and Dragon, High Street, Much Wenlock Tel: 01952 727312 (Good Pub Guide)
This pleasant and atmospheric inn dates back to 1700 and has a reputation among locals and visitors alike for excellent food and beer. Jacket potatoes, rarebits, ploughman's and tasty sandwiches are on offer, together with a good selection of main dishes.

Talbot, High Street, Much Wenlock Tel: 01952 727077 (Good Pub Guide)
Dating back to 1360, this inn was once part of Wenlock Abbey. There are several rooms with low ceilings and comfortable seating. The lunchtime menu consists mainly of standard bar food, but might include thai fishcakes, lasagne or steak. There is a little courtyard with tables and flower tubs for summertime eating.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pub Walks for Motorists - Shropshire, Staffordshire and West Midlands' by Roger Noyce

A few miles north east of Much Wenlock and close to the new town of Telford is Ironbridge, home of the Industrial Revolution. There is much to see and do at this World Heritage Site related to the history of this dynamic period including the remarkable cast iron bridge spanning the River Severn. This was the first cast iron bridge in the world, erected in 1779 and still in use. The Severn Way and the Shropshire Way both cross the bridge and superb views of the bridge and gorge can be had by following the paths on the south bank, west along the Shropshire Way or east along the Severn Way.

Travel Northwest from Ironbridge and you will soon bump into The Wrekin, a gloriously wooded whaleback hill to the west of Telford with the Shropshire Way running along its spine. A ridge walk offers magnificent views and you can return on woodland footpaths along the lower flanks to create a circular route. There is a car park at grid reference SJ 637093 which is also adjacent to an outlier hill called the Ercall which is a Wildlife Trust reserve well worth exploring for its flora, fauna and geology.

Shrewsbury

ShrewsburyThe county town of Shrewsbury, nestled in a loop of the river Severn, has managed to retain the old world charm of its attractive centre. The old town has a compact layout of outstanding half timbered black and white buildings, perhaps the most famous of which are Abbot's house and the gabled Ireland's Mansion. Narrow alleyways such as Grope Lane have great character and take one's mind back to Elizabethan times. Exploring these narrow medieval streets is a pleasant way to pass an hour; and if you have a little longer a visit to the splendid Rowley's house museum will improve your knowledge of Shrewsbury's history. If military matters are of interest the castle houses the Shrewsbury Regimental Museum.

Shrewsbury was established as a Saxon town positioned within an almost complete loop of the River Severn, thus providing a natural moat around the town for defence. A castle was later built to defend the small gap in the loop.

A Walk from Shrewsbury [SJ 498123]

Shrewsbury, River Severn loopThis is an enjoyable riverside meander on the edge of one of England's finest towns. The walk is contained within a series of crazy meandering loops that the River Severn makes to the east of Shrewsbury. Leave the town along Abbey Foregate and head for Shire Hall. Continue heading east until you reach the River Severn. Turn left and follow the Severn Way around the meanders until you eventually return to the town centre.
Best Pub for this walk
Armoury, Victoria Quay Tel: 01743 340525 (Good Pub Guide)
Excellent bar food and restaurant
This walk is fully described in the guidebook '50 Walks in Shropshire' by Julie Royle

Bishop’s Castle

Bishop's CastleBishop's Castle is a quaint and quirky medieval market town in the hills of South Shropshire, just a few miles from the Welsh border and Offa's Dyke. The town clings to a steep little hillside at an elevation of about 150m and yet is surrounded by higher hills. There is nothing remaining of the original Norman castle, which was the origin of the town, except part of a wall. Until 1967 Bishop's Castle was the smallest borough in England. The town holds a number of annual fetes, including a walking festival, folk festival, real ale festival and a Mayfair and Midsummer fair.

castle 02The Shropshire Way comes through the town and it is an ideal base for exploring this ancient and unspoilt land of rolling uplands, valleys and castles. The town has two pubs with breweries attached, The Six Bells and the Three Tuns both of which also offer good food. There are lots of other pubs and restaurants, good small shops and excellent facilities. It is a friendly, down to earth place loved by the local townspeople.

A Walk from Bishop's Castle [SO 324886]
You can enjoy a circular walk of about 7 miles through a gently hilly and mostly pastoral landscape with great views. Leave Bishop's Castle heading north along Bull lane. Head northwest along footpaths via Castlegreen to Bankshead and then Shepherdswhim. Then head south to Bishop's Moat and Upper Woodbatch. Continue south to meet the Shropshire Way, which will take you back to Bishop's Castle.
Best Pub for this walk
Three Tuns, Salop Street Tel: 01588 638797 (Good Pub Guide)
Excellent bar food and restaurant.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook '50 Walks in Shropshire' by Julie Royle
OS Map: Explorer™ 216

Church Stretton

Church StrettonChurch Stretton, in the heart of Shropshire's finest walking country, has an idyllic location. Set in a narrow valley, with the Long Mynd ridge to the west and the Stretton Hills and Caer Caradoc to the east, its attractive red roofed houses fit snugly into the environment. It has a long history as a country market town, being granted a market charter by King John in 1214, and Thursday markets are still held here.

From the northern outskirts of the town the walk along the Beautiful Cardingmill Valley and up onto the open Long Mynd ridge makes a very enjoyable excursion. There is an ancient track way, The Port Way, along the 16km length of the ridgeway offering spectacular views in all directions. Over 4,500 acres of heath and moorland on the Long Mynd are safe in the protection of the National Trust.

From the town there are also paths to the east up to Caer Caradoc, at 500m the highest point on the Stretton Hills. There is a well-known cave about halfway up this hillside where according to local legend the British Chieftain Caractacus made his last stand against the Romans in AD50.

If you only have time for a taster walk in Church Stretton then plan a route to sample both the Stretton Hills and the Long Mynd. Head east to Helmeth Wood, a Woodland Trust nature reserve, and then make for the east side of Caer Caradoc via the lower slopes of Hope Bowdler. Go around the north slopes of Caer Caradoc and then head west, crossing the main road and railway, to All Stretton. Ascend the Long Mynd, follow the ridgeway for a short distance and finally descend back to the start.

A Walk from Church Stretton [SO 453036]
This is a walk onto the Long Mynd along mostly moorland tracks and paths. Leave Church Stretton by Old Rectory Wood, picking up the path that follows Town Brook and climbs to eventually meet a road which you cross to ascend to Pole Bank where the route meets the Jack Mytton Way. Follow the Way south and you will soon join the road again. Follow the road and then turn left along a path signed for Little Stretton. On reaching Little Stretton follow a path heading north, parallel but west of the B5477 road back to Church Stretton.
Best Pub for this walk
Royal Oak, Cardington Tel: 01694 771266 (Good Pub Guide)
Excellent bar food and restaurant
This walk is fully described in the guidebook '50 Walks in Shropshire' by Julie Royle.
OS Map: Explorer™ 217

Ludlow

LudlowThe ancient market town of Ludlow on the southern borders of Shropshire is dominated by the sandstone tower of the parish church of St. Lawrence and the dramatic castle ruins, one of the gems of Shropshire. Set on the river Teme where it is joined by the river Corve, the town has developed around the castle, strategically sited and built in 1085 by the Earl of Shrewsbury to defend Norman lands from the troublesome Celts. The view of the castle ramparts seen from the western Marches side of the Teme is incredibly romantic and well worth the walk from the town; catch it in a morning mist and it is utterly magical.

From Ludford Bridge walk up splendid Broad Street with its fine Georgian facades interspersed with black and white box framed buildings and you will be duly impressed. Visit the Feathers Hotel in the Bull ring, one of the best examples of 17th. Century half-timbered buildings in England to confirm your impression. Ludlow has a captivating mellow charm and, as it is also a great base for walking, you should not need too much persuading to stay. The food is good too; for all its history and rural charm Ludlow is a thriving community that has applied its strengths intelligently to the needs of a tourist economy. The town is now renowned as a gastronomic centre of excellence with several restaurants boasting Michellin stars, although a meal for two will cost you the price of a good pair of walking boots.

To the north east of Ludlow are the Clee Hills; Titterstone Clee the closest and Brown Clee directly north of it. To the west of the Clee Hills lies the distinctive long profile of Wenlock Edge and between them the attractive Corve Dale. All of these areas offer excellent walks.

If you wish to walk from Ludlow plan a route to the Mary Knoll Valley. This walk to the south west of Ludlow offers superb views of the town and castle on the return route. Leave the town by Ludford Bridge and, after following the Leominster road for a short distance head off right to walk up the Mary Knoll Valley. The valley and surrounding woodland is part of Mortimer Forest, home to fallow deer. Return along the Bringewood Chase ridge, in parts following the Elton road to Ludlow. The high ground gives splendid views of the castle and town.

A Walk from Ludlow [SO 510746]
This is a walk through high pasture and woodland above the River Teme. Leave Ludlow via the Dinham Bridge and follow the Marches Way path North West to Priors Halton. Then head south on a path leading into Mortimer Forest. On reaching a lane turn left and follow the lane to Whitecliffe Common and the famous cliff face embedded with 400 million year old fossils. Follow a path known as the Breadwalk along the south bank of the Teme and cross the river back into Ludlow across the Ludford Bridge.
Best Pub for this walk
Church Inn, Church Street Tel: 01584 872174 (Good Pub Guide)
Excellent bar food and restaurant
This walk is fully described in the guidebook '50 Walks in Shropshire' by Julie Royle.
OS Maps: Explorer™ 203

 

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