“Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows
What are these blue remembered hills
What spires, what farms are those?”
A E Housman, A Shropshire Lad
At the heart of the Shropshire Hills lies the Long Mynd with the rocky outcrops of the Stiperstones to the west. Visually, these two ‘hills’ are very different – the Long Mynd is a large and long plateau, while the rugged outline of the Stiperstones ridge is unmistakable. Together, they make up the largest area of heathland in the Shropshire Hills. Come late summer these hilltops are a sea of purple and not to be missed. Along with the heather a variety of other plants flourish here including bilberry (known locally as whinberry), and this in turn attracts many insects and birds – look out for a green hairstreak butterfly or stonechat on the gorse.
As well as a wealth of wildlife, the area is steeped in history and folklore. Shooting Box is one of sixteen Bronze Age burial mounds found on the Mynd and the 5,000 year old ridge-way, the Portway, once carried Neolithic traders high and dry above the wet and wooded valleys. During the 1870s the Stiperstones area was one of Britain’s main sources of lead. Remains of this once thriving industry are scattered along the western slopes of the Stiperstones. Both Mary Webb and Malcolm Saville set their stories in these hills, and there is many a myth and tall tale to be told.
Things to do
There are lots of leaflets and books describing walks in this area and there are miles of public footpaths to follow. Ask at the local Visitor Information Centres or visit Shropshire’s Great Outdoors website Try a walk in Carding Mill Valley to Light Spout Waterfall to listen to the bubbles
The Shropshire Way enables you to follow clearly marked paths from Long Mynd to Stiperstones.
If you prefer great views with no driving, map reading or parking to worry about the Shropshire Hills Shuttles run at the weekends and Bank Holiday Mondays from Easter.
Visit a local bike shop to get hold of a map to trails for Mountain Biking on the Long Mynd, or pick up a sustrans map for on-road routes which include some great climbs. You can also hire bikes locally. And look at this great video showing an afternoon bikeride on the Long Mynd.
Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton
Here you can play in the Stream, watch birds from the hide, pond dip and relax with a picnic, or you can simply use the Valley as a base for a day’s walking. There are excellent visitor facilities including a tea-room, shop and parking.
A warm welcome awaits you at the Bog Visitor Centre, along with home-made cakes, local crafts and displays on the history of the area, the folklore, where to walk and much more. The centre is run by local volunteers and based in an old school with gas lights.
Ruined engine houses, blacksmith shops and tall chimneys tell of a time when the lead mines of this area were the most productive in Europe. Underground trips into Day Level are available when the Snailbeach Mine Visitor Centre is open.
At the heart of the Shropshire Hills, this picturesque market town has been a popular visitor destination since Edwardian times. It retains a variety of independent shops, traditional tea-rooms and pubs, alongside restaurants with different cuisines. This is a town with a thriving cultural life, as reflected in its musical events and festivals, plays and the largest Art Exhibition in the county.
Opportunities abound for walking, running and cycling in the surrounding hills and the upland plateau of the Long Mynd, above which soar gliders, para and hang gliders. There are regular flights of hot-air balloons within the area, and Paragliders also operate from Corndon Hill. With its 600 million-year old rock formations, wooded valleys and dark skies, this area is renowned by geologists, bird-watchers and astronomers alike.
Discover interesting hidden buildings & churches plus opportunities to seek out Industrial Archaeology from the mining era.
Come birdwatching, explore woodland, heathland and looking at wildflowers.
There are country pubs / inns in each valley offering a wide range of refreshments including locally sourced food and real ale.
Even if you don’t wish to participate, watch the skill of the gliders, para and hang gliders from the top of The Long Mynd or hang gliding from Corndon Hill. Regular Balloon flights also take place in the area.
There are also Music Festivals, art studios and a wide range of activities to be found in this little known area.