Magpie Hill and Hoar Edge

A walk from Cleehill village (again), across the empty grassland to the dereliction (“it’s creepy!”) on Magpie Hill, then back via the three-forked pole and Hoar Edge, down to Rouse-Boughton Terrace and along the old railway track. It’s hazy – there’s been fog further east, I think, but not here. The sky is blue and clear – not a single cloud, perfect for the display provided by three red kites, high above the quarry as we near the end of our wander.

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Via Random

We’ve left the car at Cleehill village, and we’re heading for the spooky remains of industry on Magpie Hill. It’s a grey day, and the air’s cold – it’s also clear, with views extending to the Brecon Beacons. Recent rains mean that, away from good surfaces, there’s no shortage of mud, so today we’re mostly on hard-surfaced tracks across this remote hill country. The outward route takes us past the curiously-named Lower Random Farm, on what was once a mineral wagonway, disused for more than a century. Inevitably, the sun breaks through when we’re in the car heading homewards; unexpectedly, it’s raining (again!) as we near home.

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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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Cleehill Curiosities

Tuesday: We’re exploring in the southern part of the Clee hills – Magpie Hill and Titterstone Clee, and Clee Hill itself (Cleehill – all one word – is the village). The curiosities are many, not all easily explained. Who would think to name a place “Random”? Then there’s the three-forked pole – shropshirehistory.com quotes a map of 1571 which described it as a “A fforked pole neare to a place whence on old Stone Crosse stood formerly”. Those space-age mushrooms on Titterstone Clee (there was once a rocking or “teetering” stone) are not quite what one would expect, though, visible from miles around, they aren’t really unexpected. But those brick-built figures of eight – what were they for?

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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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