Church Stretton to Craven Arms

We’d thought of doing this by using the train, leaving the car at Craven Arms – then realised we could make the same journey free of charge using our bus passes… An interesting trip too – not entirely along the A49, the Minsterley Motors 435 service uses some very narrow lanes through Wistanstow and Bushmoor. Who’d be a bus driver in south-west Shropshire?

Starting out from the bus stop in Church Stretton, we aim for the top of Ragleth Hill for lunch. We’d have got there quicker if we’d spotted the waymark roundels at the foot of Poplar Drive. Later, after lunch, we find ourselves taking another little detour at Hatton Wood, where the correct path isn’t the obvious one. Soon mended. After the Apedale prairies, we’ve another short climb ahead of us, onto the Wenlock Edge beyond Wolverton. It’s a very enjoyable walk through the trees along here, before we drop down to Strefford and follow the Quinny brook, and later the Onny, back to Craven Arms. On the sound principle that these things come in threes, we take yet another wrong turning where, once again, the obvious route is the wrong one. By the time we arrive in Craven Arms, we’ve earned those ice creams. But what an enjoyable walk! Plenty of variety, and a perfect day for it.

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The Mynd in January

Wednesday 4 Jan: “We’ll be out most of the day – you’ll have to amuse yourself…” No problem – it’s fine, bright and intermittently sunny. I’ll start from the Carding Mill Valley and work my round to Little Stretton, then up to the top beside Small Batch, and come back down Mott’s Road. There are one or two tricky bits on the path through the woods – soft and slippery – otherwise it’s a very pleasant route. The sun’s trying hard, and though it doesn’t always succeed, it provides me with some fine sunbeams to the south-west.

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Grandstand

The Hope Bowdler hills are not the highest  in Shropshire, but later in the afternoon, at this time of year, they provide one of the most spectacular viewpoints for the border country. Beyond the numerous ridges, picked out in the golden light, our south-western horizon is filled by the broad table of Radnor Forest. We have to feel sorry for all the others – those who weren’t up there. We only saw three people, and one of them, a runner, didn’t really seem to be paying much attention (What is this life if, full of care…). There are one or two showers about; happily, they pass us by. It’s not all good – there’s a biting breeze, and the temperature is dropping quickly as the sun nears the horizon. We’re almost glad to get back to the car.

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Gogbatch and the pond

It’s cold on the Mynd this afternoon – the wind’s in the north-east, biting after a few spots of rain. We’re walking from Gogbatch up to the pond on the Portway, a very pleasant and easy ascent. The forecast had suggested brighter conditions, which we begin to enjoy after the first mile or so. The sun’s low in the sky now – the clocks will soon be going back – and it’s dropping noticeably as the afternoon progresses. The light is everything it wasn’t during the summer months – warm in colour and directional, picking out the detail in the landscape like a spotlight. Weather permitting – and today it did – this is a great time to be out on the hills.


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Tautology on the Mynd

No, nothing to do with the once-popular pets – in fact we kept up a pretty good pace (these new boots must have belonged to Mercury; happily their wings are invisible to mortals). We were walking an 8-mile circuit from the Cardingmill, out via Cwm Dale and Batch Valley – which might roughly translate as “Valley Valley” and “Valley Valley”. Nomenclature notwithstanding, it’s a very pleasant route, which takes us to the Mynd plateau and an easy stroll to the highest point at Pole Bank. The days are getting longer, but so were the shadows as we approached the top, so the photos must end there…

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The mist came down

Blue sky by lunchtime, with lots of nice wispy cirrus – an ideal afternoon for the hills? We drove out to Hope Bowdler, but the clouds regrouped (despite the forecast) and, by the time we arrived at the Battlestones, the mist was coming down. No return along the ridge today – we’ll take the lower path and keep the views.

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