As all roads
around the Stiperstones seem to lead to or from the Bog Visitor Centre,
it seems sensible to take time out here for a drink and home made cake
while you browse the local craft stalls and ponder which route to take.
Peter and Hilary have spent many a happy hour here putting the world to
rights and working on paintings and poems, surrounded by the beautiful,
mysterious landscape “where Shropshire’s border kisses Wales”.
this old stone building was once the village school - the heart of a
thriving rural mining community that also boasted a pub, miner’s
institute, lead mine, and houses: how lovely it would be to go back in
time and see it in its heyday. Little remains of the village now, save
information boards that tell of its past: grass and wild flowers carpet
the scrubby ground, whilst red kites soar and skylarks sing in the
peaceful skies. It has a sort of magic ..... as if spirits from the
past are standing beside you, or fairies are peering from beneath the
best views and
scenery are reserved for those who go on foot from here, but even if
you ride on the Shropshire Hills Shuttle Bus or travel by
car there’s plenty to tempt the eyes and fire the imagination.
mine shafts dot the area around Shelve, Lordshill and Snailbeach,
lovely old inns offer a warm welcome at Stiperstones village,
Habberley, Priestweston and The Bridges (Ratlinghope), and perilously
steep dingles plunge down to the road from the Stiperstones ridge. Old
miners cottages still stand along the roadside and up on the hillside,
converted now into more modern homes. The larger towns of Bishop’s
Castle, Church Stretton, Montgomery, Ludlow and Shrewsbury are all
within a 45-minute drive.
Walkers are spoilt
for choice, with a number of waymarked walks (Flenny Bank, Mucklewick
Hill) as well as dozens of footpaths and tracks in all directions,
including the long distance Shropshire Way. A stony track alongside the
visitor centre disappears westward into the trees ... follow it and you
will discover a delightful hidden pool, fairy circles, cattle and sheep
grazing in the fields, rabbits playing on soft, grassy banks and, if
you venture far enough, an ancient stone circle known as Mitchell’s
Fold on top of Stapeley Hill.
Walk uphill and
you will find yourself heading onto the infamous Stiperstones ridge,
where heather, cowberry and whinberry cloak the slopes, and bog cotton
dances in the wind. July - September are the best months to catch these
plants in all their glory, when the slopes wear their purple mantle
dominate the skyline and scatterd rocks make the path a tricky
traverse, but on a bright day quartzite seams sparkle in the sunlight
and add a special fascinating magic. Cranberry Rock, Manstone Rock, the
Devil’s Chair .... the whole area is steeped in folklore and legend.
Information boards at the Visitor Centre recount tales of Wild Edric
and the Devil, and also tell of fictionalised settings used by famous
local authors Malcolm Saville and Mary Webb.
From the top of
the ridge views stretch for miles in all directions: north to
Shrewsbury past the restored mining settlement at Blakemoregate; west
beyond the great bulk of Corndon Hill into mid-Wales; east towards the
Long Mynd (where you may spot gliders, paragliders and hang gliders on
a nice day); south towards Nipstone Rock, Black Rhadley Hill and Ludlow.
Drovers used to
follow a track along the ridge with sheep, cattle, pigs and geese, en
route from mid-Wales to the markets in Shrewsbury: you can easily spot
the crown of conifers on top of Bromlow Callow that was said to be a
landmark for them. There, too, the final scene of Mary Webb’s novel
“Gone to Earth” was shot for the Hollywood film of 1950.