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Hills, meres, canals and castles — Shropshire Way South and North

Andy Howell (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Hills, meres, canals and castles — Shropshire Way South and North

Hiking Collection by Kit P

16

Tours

92:36 h

213 mi

14,425 ft

The Shropshire Way is a fantastic long-distance footpath that rambles about the county and occasionally dips a toe into neighbouring Wales. This 202-mile (325 km) trail is split into two loops; one to the south and the other to the north. With hills, ancient towns, meandering rivers and plenty of wonderful views, this is an adventure strenuous in length but easy on the eyes.

While the Shropshire Way has existed for many years, it went through somewhat of a renovation in 2017 and is a well-defined route with waymarkers. Both loops start out from Shrewsbury, which allows you to do one loop or both, without having to alter your plans much. At 126.3 miles (203.3 km), the south section is significantly longer than the north.

Much of the southern loop explores the stunning landscapes of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This sprawling region is a thriving area of farmland, villages, woodlands and a huge variety of hills. As you summit one hill and take in the views, you’ll be greeted by great geological diversity, from rolling green mounds to craggy ridgelines.

With castles, manor houses and ancient ruins to spot, this is a hike steeped in history. The northern loop spends much of its time tracing the border with Wales and has a much more watery theme. You’ll follow the Llangollen and Montgomery canals, the River Vyrnwy and the Severn back to Shrewsbury.

The stages I’ve outlined in this Collection more or less follow those recommended by the Shropshire Way Association, the charity that maintains the route. Most of the time, the Tours start and end in a place with at least some accommodation although, in a couple of stages, you’ll need to book transport to reach a settlement.

As the Way includes a spur up to Whitchurch, I’ve planned the route to encompass this and then continue onto Ellesmere without retracing your steps. As a result, it deviates a little from the actual route, but not by much. If you want to skip the spur, just after Whixall on stage 12, head west along the Way to Ellesmere and follow stage 13 when you reach Roundthorn Bridge on the canal.

Shropshire is a gorgeous county cloaked in countryside with little in the way of major settlements. Shrewsbury and Telford are the largest towns but really, the county is delightfully rural. That being said, almost every village has a pub and small supermarkets are never far away.

You can walk the Way at any time of year however it’s worth bearing in mind that you might struggle to complete longer stages during short daylight hours and the northern loop is liable to flooding in winter. As a result, late spring to early autumn is the best time for much of this expedition.

Shrewsbury has a well-served train station with direct links to Birmingham, from where you can travel to anywhere in the country. Several of the stages also begin and end in towns with stations on the Shrewsbury line, including Ludlow, Craven Arms and Wem. Accommodation along the route is varied, with several YHA hostels and plenty of B&Bs, hotels, campsite and private rented accommodation, such as Airbnb options.

On The Map

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Shropshire Way South

125 mi

13,075 ft

13,075 ft

Last updated: November 17, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Shrewsbury to Bridges — Shropshire Way South

    Difficult
    06:47
    15.5 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,400 ft
    750 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This first stage leaves the ancient market town of Shrewsbury and heads immediately out into its gorgeous surroundings. The route is gently undulating and has one major hill; Wilderley Hill. At 15.5 miles long (24.9 km), this hike is a solid start to the Shropshire Way but doesn’t present any technical

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:31
    11.9 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,500 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage marches across some of the Shropshire Hills’ most extraordinary landscapes, with craggy summits and exquisite views in abundance. You’ll hike through valleys, up to teetering boulders and down through quaint little villages. The first two-thirds are the hilliest and the final stretch is more

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:21
    11.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is a stage of excellent views and endless, rolling fields. You’ll enjoy challenging ascents and steep descents with plenty of places to pause and admire the scenery. Castles, ridgelines and woodlands all make an appearance on this hike. The settlements you pass are small and this section of the

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:18
    11.4 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Well and truly embracing the Shropshire Hills AONB, this hike takes you up to excellent viewpoints and down into vibrant valleys. Two hillforts reveal the ancient history of this area while the seemingly endless patchwork fields show how this county is still as rural as ever. There are some steep ascents

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:44
    11.0 mi
    2.3 mph
    625 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Unlike the previous stages, this hike sees just one hill before spending the rest of its 11.8-mile (19 km) wandering along relatively flat landscapes. This walk takes in much local history, with the stunning Stokesay Castle kicking things off before passing through ancient Bromfield and ending in Ludlow

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:10
    11.1 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,750 ft
    1,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage of the southern loop takes you to the third-highest point of the Shropshire Hills AONB at Titterstone Clee, which sits only a fraction lower than Brown Clee and the Stiperstones. The hike climbs gradually and leaves its descent until the last third, so there aren’t too many ups and downs over

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:20
    11.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,325 ft
    1,625 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage of the Way begins by hiking to the highest point in the AONB, Brown Clee. A large hill with a ridgeline, the views are mesmerising and reveal just how rural Shropshire is. Starting and ending away from settlements, you need to plan this Tour perhaps more carefully than others.

    

    Start at Wheathill

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:30
    12.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    600 ft
    1,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage of the Way takes in plenty of intriguing scenery including an old tramway, glorious woodlands, an ancient town and some exceptional views. Gently undulating but with no real ascent or descents, this is a marvellous hike through Shropshire’s pretty countryside.

    

    Start at Wilderhope Hall and hike

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:21
    11.1 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,900 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The section of the Way leaves historic Ironbridge and leads you to one of Shropshire’s most iconic landmarks; the Wrekin. After its recent renovation, the Shropshire Way also takes you over the Ercall, the Wrekin’s smaller neighbour. As a result, this 11.1-mile (17.9 km) hike has some fairly hefty climbs

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    07:42
    18.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    475 ft
    675 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage is a hefty 18.8 miles (30.2 km) and is the final section of the southern loop. It has little in the way of elevation change and is a straightforward walk, but if you’d prefer to split it, you can stop at Upton Magna or Uffington and catch the number 524 bus to Shrewsbury. The hike passes through

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:54
    16.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    675 ft
    575 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This is the first section of the Shropshire Way’s northern loop and leads you north to the county’s flatter landscapes. This extensive plain is highly fertile, making for wonderful farmland. The route remains rural but there are more towns and villages nearby than in the southern loop. This pretty Tour

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:57
    14.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage is actually a spur in the loop but as the endpoint in Whitchurch is pretty, I’ve plotted the next stage 13 to go directly from Whitchurch to Ellesmere, so there’s no backtracking required. Alternatively, if you’d like to cut out Whitchurch, you can walk from Wem to Ellesmere following the

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:11
    15.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    A section of this Tour, from Whitchurch to Roundthorn Bridge is not technically the Shropshire Way. Instead, it follows the towpath of the Llangollen Canal, to avoid having to backtrack along the spur route to Whitchurch. This hike largely uses the towpath and seldom leaves the canal until the outskirts

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:43
    14.0 mi
    2.5 mph
    125 ft
    175 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Another canal-based stage, this hike leads you along both the Llangollen Canal and the Montgomery Canal, including a drained section. Locks, bridges, villages and peaceful towpaths make this 14-mile (22.5 km) walk rather peaceful.

    

    Start in Ellesmere and follow the canal out to the south as it meanders

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:58
    14.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    375 ft
    350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage follows the River Vyrnwy for the first half as it curves and loops its way through farmland. The river is liable to flooding in the winter, making this a Tour for drier months. Flat as a pancake until the hill at Nesscliffe, this is a relaxing hike across fields and a few lanes. Serene to

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:09
    12.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage largely follows the Severn Way, meandering about the landscape via fields and lanes to the end in Shrewsbury. Flat, the final quarter follows the river closely as it loops into and around the historic market town.

    

    Start from Nesscliffe and cross over the A5 to reach the village of Wilcott

    by Kit P

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    16
  • Distance
    213 mi
  • Duration
    92:36 h
  • Elevation
    14,425 ft

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