Oswestry, Shropshire Sunday 29th June 2014

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Dag Griffiths   Distance: 13 miles

From the town centre we head south to the River Morda on a footpath skirting the town’s cemetery. Following the river along footpaths and lanes in a westerly direction we eventually reach Offa’s Dyke Path. Heading north on the path we pass through Candy Wood and, after a continuous but gentle ascent, emerge on the common that was a racecourse until 1848. Weather permitting, lunch will be taken among the ruins of the racecourse grandstand. Next we continue on Offa’s Dyke Path before turning eastwards along quiet lanes towards Pentre-pant just beyond which we pick up a footpath that brings us back to the town centre. From this path we get a good view of Old Oswestry fort (Iron Age hlll fort) on our left. If time permits, a slight detour can be taken to the fort before completing our return along Wat’s Dyke Path.

Moderate Leader: Peter Denton   Distance: 8 miles

We leave ‘Oswestry’ along Broomhall Lane and head up to Offa’s Dyke Path through parkland, then wooded paths up to Racecourse Wood then to the Racecourse Common. Then back to Oswestry for whatever takes your fancy. A lovely walk with good viewing over Shropshire.

Leisurely Leader: Sue Daniels   Distance: 7.3 miles

On leaving the coach we make our way through the town over to the Old Fort and head on across open fields to join up with the Wat’s Dyke Path. We keep heading north on to the village of Preeshenlie taking the path over the golf course to the village of Rhewl. From here we pass a sewage works (nice!) and skirt around the village of Gobowen. We end up joining up with the Wat’s Dyke Path and retrace our steps back to Oswestry. Again, I’ve not pre-walked the route but you should be used to that by now – have I ever got you lost!!

Easy Leader: Adelaide Houghton   Distance: about 6 miles

The walk leaves Oswestry town and goes northwards to Pentre then south west into Brogyntyn Park passing the hall, stables and walled garden (a once grand estate). We then cross the B4580 to Underhill and then more field tracks, turning left onto a minor road past Oerley Hall and a reservoir, and back into the town. Lanes, field tracks and several stiles.

Notes On The Area

Oswestry is an ancient market town in the north of Shropshire close by the English-Welsh border. Its strategic position as a ‘frontier town’ has given it a turbulent history. Today the town still retains its vital function as a market and shopping centre serving north west Shopshire and Mid Wales. The narrow passageways link streets whose names conjure up images of the past – English walls, Welsh Walls, The Bailey and the Horsemarket. It is a locally important shopping and agricultural centre and has the intimacy of a rural town serving local people and home to a number of specialist and independent shops.

The origins of the town are uncertain although the towns market dates back to 1190. The name Oswestry is thought to be a corruption of ‘Oswald’s Tree’ and the legend that Oswald the Christian King of Northumbria fought a great battle against the pagan King of Mercia – Penda. Oswald was defeated and killed in the battle. Penda, as a warning to others who might challenge his rule, dismembered Oswald’s body and hung his limbs on the branches of a tree – hence Oswald’s Tree.

Most of the town centre has been designated a Conservation Area conveying a mixture of architectural styles. There are many old timber framed houses, for example Llywd Mansion on Cross Street, the Heritage Centre, the Blackgate, the Fox Inn, and the shops along Beatrice Street. Georgian architecture is also represented particularly around St Oswald’s Church where there are a number of imposing town houses complete with grand entrances and front doors.

There is a large Iron Age fort just to the north of the town. It was started over 2,500 years ago. Nowadays, only the earthworks remain, but it is worth a visit. It can be seen from the A5 going north out of the town. It is maintained by English Heritage.

Offa’s Dyke footpath, which goes from Prestatyn to Chepstow more or less along the Welsh border, passes about three miles to the west of Oswestry. It is a well maintained footpath and can be picked up at many points in the area. The paths follow an ancient earthwork which is thought to have been a defensive dyke built by the Saxon King Offa.

Racecourse Common is at the top of a hill and is the site of an old racecourse. It is possible to walk around the old circuit and there are a number of walks in this area including some through the adjacent Candy Woods. The Offa’s Dyke Path passes through the common and the woods.