Family walks in the Shropshire Hills

The Shropshire Hills are found in the south of the county and are a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It’s a great place to visit if you enjoy hill walking rather than rocky mountains. Our family walks covered three of the main areas, The Long Mynd, Wenlock Edge and Stiperstones.

1. The Long Mynd

Probably the most popular walking area in Shropshire, The Long Mynd (meaning long mountain) is a moorland plateau around 11 km long.

Carding Mill Valley - and the end of the car park!
Carding Mill Valley – and the end of the car park!

We followed a circular route from Church Stretton up towards Carding Mill Valley. Much of The Long Mynd is owned by the National Trust so there’s a visitor centre, tea room and toilets. The downside is a strung out car park which blights the valley. I appreciate visitors need to park somewhere but it felt out of place given the surroundings.

I’d chosen a slightly longer version of the National Trust 9 km Burway Loop walk. This waymarked trail was busy with lots of dog walkers, families and runners.

Walking up The Long Mynd
Walking up The Long Mynd

Along the way the kids saw a rope pull strung up the hillside so we detoured for them to have a go. All went well until the eldest fell in the mud and had a sense of humour failure!

It’s a beautiful walk up the valley onto the plateau of the Mynd. Our route took us over heather clad hills and joined with the Portway, a 5000 year old trail once used by Neolithic traders to reach Shrewsbury.

Walking on The Long Mynd
Walking on The Long Mynd

The highest point on the Long Mynd is the 517m Pole Bank. The toposcope identifies the various hills and as it was a relatively clear day we were treated to excellent views across Shropshire, the Brecon Beacons and the Malvern Hills.

Walking down to Townbrook Hollow from The Long Mynd
Walking down to Townbrook Hollow from The Long Mynd

From Pole Bank we walked downhill through the valley of Townbrook Hollow. This was my favourite part of the walk as the change in scenery from open moorland to a rugged valley was completely unexpected.

Our path wound down through woodland, past a small reservoir. Just before reaching Church Stretton we found a huge tree. So huge that even three people joining hands couldn’t stretch around half the trunk!

Tree hugging!
Tree hugging!

2. Wenlock Edge

The limestone escarpment of Wenlock Edge runs between Craven Arms and Ironbridge. Our 9 km circular walk started from the National Trust car park just outside Much Wenlock.

Our outward route took us along a broad muddy bridleway through Blakeway Coppice, an area of woodland on the scarp face of Much Wenlock. We were treated to occasional views through the trees and some strange sounds which we eventually attributed to farm animals.

Wenlock Edge
Wenlock Edge

Presthope NT car park marked our halfway return point and the start of several interesting features. We followed steps down into the disused Knowle Quarry and found an information board detailing the local geology. A little further ona bird hide overlooked some well used bird feeders. We sat for a while, watching the woodland birds flitting between the feeders, enjoying their cafe.

The Shropshire Way joined our path as we traversed alongside Lea Quarry. Limestone isn’t extracted here anymore so the signs warning of detonation times are superfluous. However the quarry is now a timber storage and wood chipping facility. As evidenced by the screeching sound of logs being fed into the huge chipper.

The view from Wenlock Edge
The view from Wenlock Edge

Towards the end of we stopped at Major’s Leap viewpoint. This is named after Major Smallman who escaped from the Roundheads in the Civil War by jumping his horse over the edge. His horse died (and supposedly its ghost haunts the area) but he was saved by falling into a crab apple tree. We had a quick peek over the edge; it’s definitely a long way down!

3. Stiperstones

Our visit to the Stiperstones didn’t have the most auspicious start. Heavy rain and a flat tyre meant we started out much later than planned. On the positive side, most of the rain had cleared by the time we reached our starting point, the Bog Visitor Centre.

The Bog Visitor Centre is housed in a Victorian former school and was once part of a village with more than 200 buildings. The area was mined for lead and barytes but nowadays feels remote and peaceful. Although the centre was packed with wet cyclists eating homemade cake and taking advantage of the heating to dry off.

Walking the Stiperstones, Shropshire
Walking the Stiperstones, Shropshire

Due to our flat tyre we only had time for a short walk so took an out and back route from the Bog Centre up to Manstone Rock. The Stiperstones offer a different walking experience from elsewhere in Shropshire. It’s quite rocky underfoot but if the rocks don’t trip you up the heather will! For this reason the walk is best for families with older children.

Manstone Rock, Stiperstones
Manstone Rock, Stiperstones

I originally planned to walk to the Devil’s Chair rock formation but we settled for the trig point on top of Manstone Rock instead. When I say ‘we’ I actually mean everyone in the family apart from myself. I chickened out of the final scramble on slippy rock up to the trig point itself.

Although this was only a short walk it provided views galore. We also startled a couple of grouse which flew up in front of us as we walked. It would have been the perfect shot into the sun if I’d actually had my camera ready!

More info

  • The Shropshire’s Great Outdoors website is a great resource for walkers and cyclists.
  • The Bog Visitor Centre is open 7 days per week from the end of March to the start of November.
  • During the summer season (May to September) a shuttle bus operates around the Stiperstones and Long Mynd. This gives walkers flexibility to choose linear routes along the hills; we’d have certainly used this if it had been operating during our stay.
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10 things to see in the Land of Lost Content museum, Craven Arms, Shropshire

Sometimes less is more. But not in the Land of Lost Content, a museum dedicated to British popular culture in sleepy Craven Arms. Its three floors are stuffed full of everyday household items collected from the last century. A less kind description might liken it to a hoarder’s house but whilst it might look haphazard the owner, Stella Mitchell, has collated her life’s collection into 32 themed areas.

No photographs are allowed in the museum so I’ve chosen to describe 10 parts of the collection that stood out for me. The museum is so full of memorabilia that if you visit you probably won’t even see these. Yet I defy any adult not to walk into this museum and immediately recognise something from their childhood!

1. Scratchy toilet paper

A bowl full of the awful scratchy stuff I remember from school days in the 1980s. I never thought I’d see this again. Certainly not missed but compellingly tactile.

2. 1960s Kenwood chef food mixer

A design classic. I’ve always wanted a Kenwood Chef, but cannot justify the outlay. Out of interest I looked up the model they have in the museum and you can still buy restored versions today – for more than the cost of a brand new one!

3. Woolworth’s corner

A shrine to Woolworths with closing down posters, a child’s top from the sale and newspapers with headlines announcing the demise of Woollies.

4. Sinclair C5

One man’s view of our future transport; which didn’t quite go to plan. Attached to the ceiling above the stairs. Could you imagine a world where we all drove C5s?

5. Politically incorrect items

A signed Jimmy Saville photograph, Robinson’s golly models and Hitler youth memorabilia. Some may question the continued inclusion of items no longer considered acceptable. But to exclude these would be to deny the past. Better we reflect and appreciate that society has moved on.

6. Sweets

There’s an entire section dedicated to sweets. A half full jar of Roses, a cutout cardboard Milk Tray man and packets of Spangles. There’s even a modern One Direction themed sweet bag. I’m sure it will soon blend in with the rest of the exhibits.

7. Christmas decorations

I’m so used to modern decorations that I had forgotten how bad they were when I was a child. Paper chains, green tissue paper bells and spindly artificial Christmas trees.

8. Mobile telephone from the 1980s

It really was a brick. And only mobile in that it was physically possible to carry it and the battery pack if you had strong arms.

9. Stuffed Jack Russell

Realistically lifelike sitting on a chair. Evidently it arrived in a big box in the post one day. Whilst I’m tempted to send the museum some of my 1980s items, who would send a dead pet through the post?!

10. Technology

It’s often technology that ages the fastest and this is proved perfectly in the museum. A Nintendo gameboy, ZX spectrum, black and white TVs, typewriters; all cutting edge at one point but dated and near enough obsolete now.

As you can see from the above review I was primarily drawn to those items I remember from my childhood. There’s plenty (understatement) to see in the Land of Lost Content museum for all ages although younger children might find some of the dolls and mannequins scary. Our older children enjoyed it as they like to take every opportunity to remind us how old we are and this provided them with plenty of ammunition!

More info

  • The Land of Lost Content museum in Craven Arms, Shropshire is open daily except Wednesday from 9am-5pm from February to November. It is closed in December and January. You’ll struggle with a pushchair or wheelchair as there is very little room between exhibits but there is a stairlift between floors. An adult tickets costs £5, a child’s ticket £2.50.
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