The Shropshire Hills is an enchanting part of England where myths and legends collide with history and beauty.
Forged by shifting tectonic plates and shaped by man over thousands of years, the rolling hills tell the tales of times past through geology and ancient remains scattered upon them. With a rich heritage of hillforts, castles, mottes and Offa’s Dyke, this area linking England to the Welsh mountains tells a story of centuries of border strife.
On top of breathtaking beauty, history and heritage, the Shropshire Hills is also famous for absolute peace and serenity. Despite being very close to Birmingham, Shrewsbury and other big towns and cities in the midlands, the area is a haven away from the hustle-bustle where one can revitalize with solitude in nature.
Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1958, the area covers a quarter of the county of Shropshire. It is a living, working place, renowned for tranquility and beauty, where remote heathland merges into pastoral lowland.
Interestingly, the Industrial Revolution is said to have begun in Shropshire. Owing to this, there are some excellent examples of the county’s industrial heritage that are worth exploring, too.
This Collection takes you to some of the most iconic spots in the Shropshire Hills—and to some hidden gems. You will discover the heathland plateau of Long Mynd, a glorious ridge that stretches for miles offering spellbinding views; the iconic summit of Caer Caradoc, shaped by tectonic plates and topped by a fine example of an iron Age fort. You will be taken to the best ridge walk in Shropshire, The Lawley, and hike over the jagged quartzite tors of the Stiperstones, which were formed nearly 500 million years ago.
You will also see the Bronze Age stone circle at Mitchell's Fold and visit the world’s first iron bridge, situated in the valley where the Industrial Revolution began.
This Collection explores some lesser known areas including, surprisingly, what many historians say is the best example of an Iron Age fort in the Shropshire Hills, Burrow Hillfort.
As most of the routes here centre around the historic market town of Church Stretton, it is a good choice to stay. It is the only town in the Shropshire Hills ANOB and has a fine choice of hotels, bed and breakfasts, pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops.
The area known as Craven Arms is also a fine choice for those looking to escape into the countryside entirely, with lots of b&bs, bunkhouses and pubs with rooms.
If you are arriving by train, the Manchester to Cardiff service calls at Church Stretton, Craven Arms and Ludlow. The Heart of Wales rail service runs between Shrewsbury and Swansea and calls at Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Broome, Hopton Heath, Bucknell and Knighton. There are decent bus links around the AONB, too.
For more information about the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, visit: shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk.
For local bus timetables and information, visit: shropshirehillsaonb.co.uk/enjoying-the-shropshire-hills/getting-here.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
Caer Caradoc is one of the most iconic summits in the Shropshire Hills.
While it might not be the tallest hill, it certainly has the most character. With distinctive shape, volcanic rock crags and topped with an Iron Age fort, you will find it an interesting hill to climb.
Part of a range known as the Stretton Hills, Caer Caradoc sits alongside the Church Stretton Fault, a dividing line between two tectonic plates.
When the western plate sank beneath the eastern plate millions of years ago, the land was forced upwards and the range was created.
From the layby on the B4371, it is a gentle ascent past Gaerstones Farm until you are afforded with a spectacular first view of Caer Caradoc. From there, you descend down into the woodland to the base on the hill.
The route up Caer Caradoc chosen here is the steepest and you will need a good level of fitness and hiking ability to attempt it. The effort is worth it, though.
At the top, you are treated to breathtaking panoramas over Long Mynd, The Lawley and Church Stretton that stretch for miles. There is also a fine example of an Iron Age fort to explore.
After strolling through delightful Shropshire farmland, you rise once again to return via the Cardington Hills and Willstone Hill.
Following a steep push to the summit of the Hope Bowlder, the hard is all done. From here, you can enjoy the panorama for the last few miles and take in splendid views over Caer Caradoc.
The jagged quartzite tors of the Stiperstones make it a stand-out character in the Shropshire Hills.
Geologists believe the ridge was formed nearly 500 million years ago when it rose out of glacial ice and was broken apart by constant freeze-thaw weathering.
The Stiperstones are shrouded with myths and legends; inspiring many writers, painters and photographers over the years.
According to legend, the ridge was created when the Devil dropped a load of rocks he was carrying to fill a valley. As the Devil could not be bothered to move the rocks, they have remained there ever since.
Whether you prefer to mythical or geological explanation, the Stiperstones afford an undeniably glorious walk that is serene, peaceful and packed with mesmerizing views.
On this route you will see the prominent crags: Devil’s Chair, Shepherd’s Rock and Manstone Rock, which is the highest point.
This is a leisurely hike that anybody with average fitness and ability will find easy. However, due to the rocky nature of the area, a strong pair of boots is advisable as it can be tough underfoot.
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Long Mynd is one of the star attractions of the Shropshire Hills. The heathland plateau—rich with wildlife, sheep and wild ponies—boasts views that will take your breath away.
As the area is managed by the Natural Trust, there are a few ways to tackle Long Mynd that are clearly marked, of varying lengths.
On this route, you follow the stony track alongside the stream to Carding Mill Valley. Then, rather than taking the main route up to Long Mynd, head left up Lightspout Hollow; a narrow, steep sided valley leading up to the Lightspout waterfall.
The waterfall is impressive, especially during wet weather. The steep and rocky scramble alongside it is a lot of fun, too. If you are not keen on a little scrambling detour then stick to the main path and head left at the top.
Following a brief push to the top of Long Mynd, you are treated to incredible views over the Shropshire Hills, all the way to Pole Bank, the highest point, where the valleys of Wales sit proudly in the distance.
From this halfway point, all the hard work is over, and it is one gradual downhill all the way to Carding Mill.
For the long distance lovers, this route affords you a spellbinding tour of the Stretton hills.
In one day, you can claim the county’s prize hills and ridges, while enjoying the endless panoramas they afford. It is a challenge, but rewarding if you are game.
On this route you will conquer Caer Caradoc, an iconic hill forged by tectonic plates and topped with an Iron Age fort. You will also take on The Lawley, the best ridge walk in Shropshire, and discover the joys of Long Mynd, the most beloved of all the Shropshire Hills.
In winter, you will need an early start and plenty of energy to tackle this route. However, in the height of summer, you can afford to be a little more leisurely, stopping for the views and possibly into a tearoom or pub along the way. Plus, you are only venturing around Church Stretton and can take a shortcut back to town at many points.
You will need a very good level of fitness to attempt this route, as well as adequate boots and clothing, map, compass, water and other essentials. Other than that, happy hiking.
To make your Shropshire trip complete, pay a visit to Ironbridge Gorge. Heralded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the area boast a rich heritage.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, the low wooded hills of Ironbridge Gorge are cut by the mighty River Severn as it powers through.
This route begins by taking you to the number one view in town, the Rotunda. Built by iron-master Richard Reynolds in the 1790s, the now ruins were once a roofed structure with a revolving seat that allowed panoramic views of Ironbridge Gorge and The Wrekin.
From there, you head to the star attraction, the Iron Bridge. The first of its kind in the world, the bridge is an example of innovation—a technological trailblazer.
Then, following a delightful circuit on the riverside, you arrive at Bedlam Furnaces, the impressive remains of one of the first coke-fired blast furnaces.
There is plenty more to explore, too. If you have more time, venture off the route and explore the canal, river and town itself. To learn more about the area’s industrial heritage, check out Ironbridge Museum.
For more Information, visit: ironbridge.org.uk.
The Shropshire Hills is famous for Iron Age forts and this route takes you to one of the finest examples, Burrow Hillfort.
You would imagine that such a specimen would be jam-packed all year round. However, this hidden gem is surprisingly quiet.
Considering this route takes you to ancient remains, has spellbinding views every step of the way and transverses lush farmland, ancient woods and rolling hills, that is quite a treat.
From Hopesay, stroll alongside the gentle stream and make a leisurely ascent up to Burrow Hillfort.
It is easy to see why the fort made such a good strategic military position: the views stretch for miles-and-miles, richly rewarding your efforts climbing to the summit.
Despite thousands of years passing, the defensive ditches and entrances to the hillfort are clearly visible today and it is easy to imagine Iron Age soldiers walking in your very footsteps.
After heading down through Woodland and back to Hopesay, where you start, make a figure-of-eight to ascend Wart Hill Iron Age settlement.
While there is little evidence of the settlement these days, there are lovely views from atop the steep-sided conical hill.
From there, it is downhill all the way back to Hopesay with non-stop views over Burrow Hillfort.
The area that this route explores has been a hotbed of human activity for thousands of years.
From Neolithic farmers to Bronze Age settlers, Iron Age warriors right up to modern day hikers, the landscape feels alive with ghosts of the past.
There is more than just tantalizing mix of myth, legend and history here, though. This part of Shropshire, at the point it collides with Wales, is serene and beautiful.
Moments into this hike, you arrive at Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle. Legend has it that a wicked witch was turned into stone here after milking a magical cow dry during a time of famine.
In reality, the stone circle was built by Bronze Age Man roughly 4,000 years ago. There are 15 stones now but it is believed there were up to 30 originally.
From there, it is a leisurely stroll to the summit of Stapeley Hill and a gentle descent into the pastures below, before you tackle the ascent to Corndon Hill.
Your climbing efforts are rewarded richly at the summit of Cordon; mesmerizing views stretch for miles over Shropshire and into Wales. There are examples of ancient burial cairns that are obvious to see, so keep a look-out.
As you make the circuit back through farmland, heather and rolling hills, just think about the many people that walked in your footsteps all that time ago.