Church Stretton, Shropshire Sunday June 28th 2015

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader: Selwyn Williams   Distance: approx. 9.0 miles

Leaving the town via Rectory Woods, inspired by Capability Brown, we lead on through Carding Mill Valley past the 1920’s Swiss Chalet and on up the Long Mynd. Good flat walking past the shooting box, Pole Bank. We turn left at Pole Cottage to descend via Small Batch to Little Stretton. If time and energy allow we can climb sharp and steep up Ragleth Hill for our final descent back to base. We climb up 500m, or 1500ft.

Moderate Leader: Hazel Anderton & Ruth Melling   Distance : 8.5 miles

A very pleasant varied walk as we go across fields, down lanes, through woods and over a bracken covered moor. After leaving town we go to the east of Church Stretton to the Stretton Hills. We first skirt Helmeth Hill where there are good views of Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler Hills, then skirt Hazler Hill before going up Ragleth Hill where we can enjoy 360 degree panoramic views. Next we drop downhill, re-cross the main road and go through the hamlet of Little Stretton where we can slake our thirst at the Green Dragon if we have time. We then make our way back to town along the foothills of the Long Mynd. There are lots of up and down with the steeper ups being short lived, but the coming down from Ragleth is very steep so a stick is recommended. We need good weather for going up Ragleth but this walk can easily be modified or shortened if the weather is poor as there are lots of alternative footpaths in the area.

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance: 6.5 miles

After leaving the toilets by the Co-op we cross the main road and make our way past houses, up a narrow path to stiles and uphill through woods. We turn right at the road and then left down to Chelmick. Then we go along lanes and footpaths and through fields to Acton and Ragdon until we come to Jack Mytton Way. We follow signs for Ragleth Hill, but instead of going up we go down through woods on a steepish path on the Shropshire way until we come to the housing again at Ragleth Road. Then it is over the main road to the coach. A pleasant walk with several easy stiles.

Easy Leader: Jackie Gudgeon   Distance: 5 miles

Will the ‘easy’ walkers please stay with me from the coach, and we will find cafe and toilets together.
Our walk today takes us into the hills to the east of Church Stretton in the shadow of Caer Caradoc and the Hope Bowdler Hills. We cross the A49 at the traffic lights and follow lanes and tracks, climbing steadily, to reach Cwms Cottage where we turn south to Cwms Farm and Gaerstones Farm to skirt round Hazler Hill to join the Jack Mytton Way back through woodland to the cafes, pubs and other fleshpots of Church Stretton. Mostly decent tracks, although it could be muddy through woods. Some ups and downs but nothing difficult. Splendid views throughout.

Notes On The Area

Church Stretton lies on the A49 between the ancient towns of Shrewsbury and Ludlow and is also a stop on the main train line from the Northwest to South Wales It is in an idyllic spot between the Stretton Hills and the Long Mynd, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Church Stretton, a natural centre for walkers because of its attractive hills, gets its name from the Roman Road “Watling Street” part of which now forms the A49 by-pass. Church Stretton means “street town” or, literally, “the Church which stands near the Roman Road”. The town lies in a vale of soft shale overlaid with boulder clays. Just out of town is Old Rectory Wood, 17.5 acres of mixed woodland with a yew-shadowed pool, fine views of the Stretton valley, and delightful meandering paths.

The great 6 mile range of hills known as The Long Mynd, rising to 1,700 ft, is a world of its own. It encompasses wild moorland where red grouse whirr out of the heather, waterfalls that cascade into half-hidden valleys, springs that rise icy clear through bog moss and pink bog pimpernel, bracken covered hillsides, and sunlit streams. The Burway, a single track road climbing steeply out of the town, gives spectacular views of the surrounding Shropshire Hills. A track called The Port Way has run along the ridge for more than 3,500 years. Much of the Long Mynd belongs to the National Trust and parts are leased as grouse moors, with commoners having rights to graze their sheep and ponies.

Across the narrow valley, to the east of the town, is the miniature mountain range of the Stretton Hills. The valley itself follows an enormous fault, a break in the earth’s crust, and separates the rounded ‘whaleback’ of Long Mynd from the even older and craggier summits of Caer Caradoc, The Lawley, and Ragleth Hill. Long Mynd was formed from ancient sea-bed sediments, whereas the Stretton Hills were formed by the lava and ash spilled from volcanoes some 900 million years ago. Like The Wrekin, their rocks are among the oldest in Britain. On the summit of Caer Caradoc is a high and precipitous Iron Age hill-fort, enclosing some 6 acres with well-defined double ramparts. It is said that the British chief Caractacus made his last stand here against the invading Roman army.

Church Stretton is an ideal spot for the tourist. It is a lovely little town with good independent shops. As well as being a great walking area there is also horse riding, mountain biking, hang gliding, paragliding for the adventurous, and golf at England’s highest golf course. There is a walking festival in mid-August, this year from the 20th to the 23rd. At weekends and bank holidays there is a bus from Carding Mill up to the top of the Long Mynd. And, there are some great B & B’s in the area.