Church Stretton

 

Now we have reached the long days of summer it becomes possible to explore walking country a little further afield from our usual haunts in the North West. The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is well within range for an away day or weekend. Its main town Church Stretton is ideal for climbing to the top of Long Mynd the broad upland ridge to its west.

Start/finish: Church Stretton Railway station.
 

Fact file

Distance: 10k 6 miles
 

Time: 3 - 4 ½ hours

Summary: The route climbs to the ridge on a good track up a steep sided valley and then returns by a grassy ridge.
 

Maps: OS Explorer 217 The Long Mynd & Wenlock Edge

 

 Map by kind permission of Johnston Press

Directions.

1. From the railway station head up into the town centre along Sandford Avenue. Where it meets the High Street keep ahead into Burway Road. Keep on this as it passes a patch of open ground on the right surmounted by a handsome shelter

 

and then begins to climb steeply still within a residential area. After the last house on the right turn right onto a bridleway leading into Carding Mill Valley. The National Trust, which owns over 2000 hectares of land incorporating Long Mynd, has a visitors centre in Carding Mill Valley. The bridleway drops down to the complex and lower car park.

 

Keep ahead to the upper car park and then follow the obvious track

 

as it climbs the valley. Streams cut deep into the hills so that for much of the ascent you feel completely enclosed. 15 minutes from the upper car park a path shoots off to the left

 

providing a slightly shorter alternative way to the ridge. Continue on the main path following the sign for the shooting box some 30 minutes from that point.

2. As the path reaches the top of the ridge it crosses heathland to meet the Shropshire Way.

 

Here turn left and keep on the broad track as it follows the ridge to cross an unfenced road

 

and then climb to Pole Bank the highest part of Long Mynd at 516 metres.

 

Needless to state it is a commanding site and there is a view pointer to help you identify many of the surrounding hills. From end to end Long Mynd is seven miles long and at its widest point three miles across. There are a number of ancient Bronze Age archaeological sites showing that the hill has long been the centre of human activity. Nowadays it attracts a wide range of visitors. Many do not venture far from the car parks in Carding Mill Valley. For walkers and mountain bikers the hill is a magnet. Also it is an ideal place for gliding and is the base of the Midland Gliding Club one of the country's oldest. Keep on the main ridge aiming for a wooded enclosure - the location of Pole Cottage. As you near it join road which continues past the cottage.

3. Pole Cottage is a shack with four sides, a roof and not much else.

 

Ask a child of five to draw a house and they will draw Pole Cottage. It is used as a checkpoint on the 50 mile Long Mynd Challenge Walk and a pleasant place to picnic. The walk continues 100 yards beyond it on the road and then branches left on a grassy path

 

that soon joins a broader grassy path

 

taking you over Round Hill to a pronounced dip in front of Grindle.

 

Follow the path right as it rounds the flank of Grindle and passes below Callow on an obvious path

 

taking you down to Little Stretton.

 

4. On the edge of the village pass a campsite and cross a footbridge next to a ford.

 

Immediately after turn left onto a path that climbs steeply up to an escarpment

 

that parallels the Ludlow Road in the valley to the right.

 

Keep on this as drops through woods to join the road.

 

Turn left. Here you have a choice - to continue along the road into Church Stretton

 

or take a bridleway on the left. When this reaches a residential street turn sharply right on a permissive path leading through the wooded grounds of Longmynd Hotel. On reaching the main drive of the hotel turn left and then at its gate turn right to descend to the town centre.