Shropshire Hills Walks
Date: 26th Aug 2014
Distance: 6.0 miles
Ascent: 1240 feet
Time: 3 hours 20 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SO452936
A super walk from Church Stretton contouring around the slopes of Caer Caradoc before returning over its interesting rocky top.
Route Summary: Church Stretton - Essex Road - Cwms - Little Caradoc - Caer Caradoc - Three Fingers Rock - Church Stretton
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: After spending most of the day at List's Hill Victorian Town near Ironbridge my family were fairly tired by the time we got back to our holiday cottage in Church Stretton. As they only wanted to chill out and watch a bit of telly it gave me the perfect excuse to don my boots and head out for another walk.
Church Stretton is a superb base for walking and as with Sunday's walk on the Long Mynd I was able to set off on foot from the front door. After carefully crossing the railway line and the A49 I followed a small lane and then a slightly muddy field side path to enter the wood at the foot of Helmeth Hill. It is interesting to note that to the right of the fieldside path there is a dark holloway which was presumably part of the old route to Cardington but which now looks quite wet and uninviting.
After crossing a stream I followed a thin path to join a track which was the old road to Cardington. The track climbed gradually along the flanks of Caer caradoc and provided good views across to High Bowdler Hill and Willstone Hill. High above the path on my left the dramatic rocky outcrops crowning the top of Caer Caradoc increased my sense of excitement.
Not far past Cwms Cottage I left the main track by a stile and was faced with a choice of two routes. In the end I decided not to follow the fork descending all the way to Comley but instead took a path which after a short climb contoured beautifully around the slopes of Caer Caradoc to reach the col with Little Caradoc. The views really began to open out on this section especially towards The Lawley and beyond to The Wrekin. Below the path to the right there also the prominent grassy hump marked on the map as Robin's Tump.
After a short detour to the top of Little Caradoc I commenced the steep but enjoyable pull on to Caer Caradoc. The name of the hill links it to Caradoc (Caractacus) who led the British tribe of the Cornovii against the Roman invaders in the first century AD. It is one of two such named hills in Shropshire and is also one of the possible sites of Caractacus's eventual defeat. An Iron Age fort once stood proud on the summit of the hill and and towards the end of the steep section of the climb I crossed over what was clearly once part of the outer bank of the hillfort.
Regardless of any historical associations it has Caer Caradoc is a fantastic hill. Not only is it shapely and steep-sided but the summit area is a fascinating place with some fine outcrops of volcanic rock, the best of which are to be found to the south-west of the summit overlooking the track I'd walked up earlier in the walk. Despite the overcast conditions the views were also excellent and included almost all the major hills in Shropshire.
Eventually leaving the summit behind I enjoyed a steady descent southwards to reach another notable outcrop known as 'Three Fingers Rock'. A bit further on there was a sudden and steep descent to a stream that I'd crossed earlier and from where it was a simple case of re-tracing my steps back in to Church Stretton. This was a super walk and I just wish that the sunshine that had been forecast for the late afternoon had put in an appearance. Caer Caradoc on a sunny summer evening would have been an even finer walking experience!