Church Stretton - Long Mynd

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Church Stretton and the Long Mynd (16th July 2014)

This walk starts from and returns to Church Stretton railway station, taking in Pole Bank, the highest point on the Long Mynd. These hills are part of the Shropshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are full of dramatic long views and variety of nature. It is quite a stiff walk of around 11km and took us around 3 hours. Leave the station by the service road and continue ahead on Sandford Ave. Take the High St., third turning on the left and after about 50m cross the road and take a small road to the right of the church. Cross another road onto a track, passing between stone gate posts, into a park. Climb the grassy hill ahead, keeping just left of Old Rectory Wood on the right. When you are almost level with a large house turn right into the wood through a gate and then shortly turn left onto a wider crossing path. Follow around a contour for about 100 m and then the path heads steeply down into a valley. Cross a small stream (Town Brook) on a bridge and then climb the other side of the valley towards a fenced enclosure which has a small reservoir within it. Go ahead with the reservoir on the left, through a gate and follow a clear path up the valley. The stony path stays close to the stream, rising steadily up the valley as foxgloves and buttercups give way to short cropped grass and thistles. Climbing higher bracken and gorse take over. Higher still you pass the last of the stunted hawthorn trees. Areas of scree intrude in the steeper parts and then heather begins to appear. Turn round to look back the way you have come. Now you are higher than the steep hills which loomed above you only fifteen minutes ago. Just across the valley Caer Caradoc Hill is imposing and on a clear day you can see way beyond, to the long smooth green sweep of Wenlock Edge. Further still, to the SE, the highest point in the Shropshire Hills, Brown Clee Hill is visible behind the nearby tops. The path sweeps round to the right as you reach the top of the valley. Once on the plateau itself the path joins a road. Continue left along this, taking the left fork at the next junction. In 300m the road turns left but leave it here to take a stony track going straight ahead. In another 300m follow the path going right at a junction. The highest point on Pole Bank (516m) is a short way off to the left. For the next kilometre the path crosses high moorland with good views west over the Shropshire hills and into Wales. At Shooting Box cross over a road with a car park on the left and shortly after pass a partially ploughed out bronze age disc barrow. In 300m at a junction of paths head to the right, taking the narrower path which curves round to descend towards the floor of a small valley, Lightspout Hollow. The path becomes more rocky and you have to scramble down some short sections. The biggest rocky section hides Lightspout Falls which may be just a trickle or a significant waterfall, depending on the state of recent weather. Continue following the stream downhill until the valley opens out into a larger one, Carding Mill Valley. Turn right here, crossing the stream to stay on the right bank of the larger stream. At a car park the track becomes a minor road continuing down past National Trust owned properties, some renovated from parts of the former carding mill which occupied the site. There are toilets and a teashop here. Continue on down the valley but take the footpath which leaves the road, staying higher up to the right. It curves away around the headland of Burway Hill, joining Burway Road to descend back into Church Stretton. At a road junction cross over and bear left into a road which leads to another cross roads in 100m. Cross here to return to Sandford Avenue and the train station is ahead in 200 m.

Distance walked 11.2km (7.0miles). Ascent 270m

The Offa's Dyke Path is one of the official UK National Trails, running from Chepstow to Prestatyn, is an old fortification/boundary bank and ditch (dating from at least the 8th centurey and possibly older). The total length is just over 285 kilometres (175 miles).

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