Shropshire Hills Walks
The Long Mynd
Date: 24th Aug 2014
Distance: 6.8 miles
Ascent: 1476 feet
Time: 3 hours 40 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SO452936
A fine walk from Church Stretton on to the Long Mynd via the Townbrook valley and returning via the popular Carding Mill valley.
Route Summary: Church Stretton - Rectory Wood - Townbrook Valley - Yearlet - Pole Bank - Shropshire Way - Mott's Road - New Pool Hollow - Carding Mill Valley - Church Stretton
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: The briefest of walks on Stiperstones in 2006 notwithstanding this was my first proper walk in the Shropshire Hills. Staying in Church Stretton for the week my aim was to bag all five Deweys (hills over 500m in height) in the area. An obvious one to start with, on a route starting from the front door of the cottage I was staying in, was a walk up on to Pole Bank, the highest point of the Long Mynd.
Anyone approaching Pole Bank from Church Stretton has a plethora of routes to choose from. The route I picked was via Rectory Wood and Townbrook Valley using the blue waymarked Pole Bank route, one of four waymarked walks from Church Stretton the leaflets for which are available from the Visitor Information Centre on Church Lane.
After a steep pull up the side of Rectory Wood the route rather perversely then descends down into the wood itself before crossing a small plank bridge below an old Victorian reservoir that once served the town. Passing the reservoir I suddenly emerged out of the trees and into the narrow steep-sided Townbrook Valley - a real moment to savour.
A clear path then gradually led me up to the head of the valley. A bit rocky in places it was a lovely ascent with nice retrospective views back towards the shapely Burway Hill. Reaching the head of the valley I made my first detour from the waymarked route to head up to the top of Yearlet, the sixth highest top in the Shropshire Hills. It was a steep pull up to the top which was marked by a large cairn that somewhat surprisingly isn't marked on the OS map.
Retracing my steps to the official waymarked route the next highlight was a close encounter with some of the ponies that live on the sweeping moorland of the Long Mynd. One mother and foal were quite inquisitive and came to within a few feet of me. The final mile or so to Pole Bank was a hugely enjoyable stride on good tracks with vast swathes of purple heather in every direction - absolutely glorious!.
Pole Bank, the highest point of the Long Mynd, is marked by a trig point and a topograph. Ironically, given the name, a pole no longer adorns the summit although some of the nearby hills including Ragleth Hill and The Lawley are adorned with a pole. The all round views were excellent especially to the north-east towards Stiperstones and the unmistakable outline of Corndon Hill which stands just inside the Welsh border. Further towards the north-east I could faintly make out some higher hills which I assumed must be the Berwyns.
From the top of Pole Bank I headed north-west on a broad track which seemed to be just as popular with cyclists as it was with walkers. Part of the Shropshire Way it led across the Burway road to a junction of tracks. I took the one known as Mott's Road, named after a Dr Mott who once used this path to reach patients in remote farms. Mott's Road led me down into the upper reaches of the popular Carding Mill Valley.
I continued along Mott's Road until the junction with the path leading into Lightspout Hollow. Here, for a bit of variation, I left the main path to take a thin contouring trod above the valley which led me to a rocky knoll towards the bottom of Cow Ridge. From there I made a further detour into New Pool Hollow to view the reservoir which had superceded the small one I'd originally passed at the start of the walk at the top of Rectory Wood.
The walk concluded by passing the visitor centre and parking areas at the entrance to Carding Mill before taking another path that led me to the bottom of the Burway Road. The contrast between the peaceful and solitary ascent via Townbrook and the very busy Carding Mill area was quite striking. All in all this was a wonderful introduction to the Long Mynd and the Shropshire Hills in general. The Long Mynd has numerous valleys, known locally as 'hollows' or 'batches', that there are so many possible routes that I could easily have spent the week exploring the Long Mynd and nothing else. As it happened now that I had bagged Pole Bank I now had my eye on other prizes.