Clee Hill and the Three-forked Pole

Sounds like something from the Wild West, doesn’t it? This is England’s “Wild West”, not far from the Welsh border, and it’s quite a strange kind of place. The quarry on Clee Hill is still active, but there are many remains of old workings and their associated buildings and structures. There are more strange and tottering  structures at Magpie Hill – we make our way there via the remarkable three-forked pole, near a place called “Random”.
When we started out, it seemed like a perfect day for an outing, but the weather grew increasingly gloomy as we walked back from Magpie Hill. The first drops of rain fell as we unlocked the car – how’s that for timing?
Cleehill or Clee Hill? One’s the village, the other? Guess!

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Catherton Common

Sunday 6 August: we’ve parked here before, but always headed upwards onto Magpie Hill and beyond. Today, we’ll walk in the other direction, to explore the common lands of Silvington and Catherton. At the lowest point (but certainly not the nadir) of our wander, we cross the stream at Cramer Gutter, before heading back past colourful heather and ling. It’s a very absorbing little bit of countryside – scattered cottages, patches of heather and bracken, small stands of birch, clumps of gorse and one particularly fine blackberry bush, which delayed our onward progress for a minute or two…

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Clee and Magpie

If there’s a preponderance of pictures with blue skies below, it’s because we’ve not seen blue skies for a while. After the heat of the previous week, last week was cold, damp and thoroughly miserable. This afternoon’s break in the clouds demanded an outing (it’s raining again, on-and-off, as I write…). It wasn’t just sunny and warm, but the air was clear – the Brecon Beacons, our usual yardstick for clarity, stood out on the south-western horizon as we explored Clee Hill and Magpie Hill. Industry once thrived on these wind-swept grasslands, and quarrying continues to this day, though the associated railways are long-gone, their trackbeds providing good walking routes. Elsewhere there are the remains of small coal mines (what are those 8-shaped brick-built structures?), traces of aerial ropeways, a curious “three-forked pole”, a red kite, a curlew, skylarks, a farm called “Random”… There’s never a dull moment up here!

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Magpie, Titterstone and Clee

Walking in south Shropshire with a “railway” friend: one who appreciates the interest in the remnants of industry in these very quiet hills. They’ve been extensively quarried for stone – parts are still being worked – and the coal measures were exploited too, many years ago. There are former railway trackbeds, of the standard gauge line which took stone down to Ludlow, and the narrow gauge lines which threaded the workings. Magpie Hill’s stone went by a different means and route – an aerial ropeway took its stone down to Detton Ford, on the long-gone CM&DP. The concrete bases of the pylons are still in place, and there are bits of rail here and there, mostly in use as fence posts and similar. Long-abandoned concrete structures stand here and there, slowly crumbling, like the remains of some lost futuristic city. They can feel rather spooky when the mist comes down, but there’s no such nonsense on a fine sunny June day.

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Clee Murk

Thursday: there was a chance that the sun might break through later in the afternoon – it was trying when we left home. It failed – though sunbeams to the south showed success elsewhere. It was cold on Clee Hill, with patches of snow, and the views weren’t great – the hills beyond Ludlow more sensed than seen. It’s not pretty up here – a bleak landscape, with much evidence of past industrial activity. But it’s atmospheric today, and the old workings are interesting. We started out from Clee Hill village, past the noisy working quarry, and headed north-eastwards to Magpie Hill. Our return was by Random Farm and the three-forked pole (see, descending from Hoar Edge (and its frost…) to the Titterstone road. From the top of the old incline, we followed the route of the railway (more industrial evidence) back towards the car. An enjoyable afternoon.

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