The Clee Hills and the Corvedale
“From Clee to heaven the beacon burns
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again.”
A E Housman, A Shropshire Lad
Charming and captivating. But look a little closer and you’ll unearth the hidden heritage of the Clee Hills and the Corvedale. Coal mining on the Clee Hills started in medieval times while the Corvedale was alight with blast furnaces and iron foundries. Billowing black smoke would have filled the valley as chunks of the hills were carved out.
All the Clees – Titterstone, Brown and Clee have Iron Age and part Bronze Age hill forts/ settlements. The Clees are the only hills written on the famous medieval Mappa Mundi and also have a huge industrial as well as archaeological heritage. Brown Clee is also the highest hill in Shropshire at 540 metres. It also has a memorial to the 23 airmen [British and German] who crashed into the hill during the war. It is thought there were more crashes on Brown Clee than any other hill in Britain.
Today the scene is somewhat different. Black dhustone is still quarried on Titterstone Clee, but Brown Clee is silent. Nature has reclaimed the hills and remnants of rare wildflower meadows survive while the disused quarries have become home to a wealth of wildlife, including the peregrine falcon.
The Corvedale is the broadest valley in the Shropshire Hills and the River Corve is lined with alder. Over the last five years much of the alder has been coppiced to restore the river habitat – look out for the blue flash of a kingfisher or imprint of an otter paw along the river bank.
Things to do
Walking in the Clee Hills
The Shropshire Way guides you over both Titterstone and Brown Clee and a circular walk has been devised around Brown Clee taking in Nordy Bank hillfort – unusual as it only has a single rampart.
As the name suggests, this is a beautiful walk through the Corvedale taking in three castles along the 11-mile route. The walk crosses the River Corve. Look out for black poplar trees, nationally rare, but you will see a number along this walk – you can’t miss the locally known ‘Corfton Three’ at Corfton. You can make this walk shorter by following alternative paths.
Explore this beautiful historic town. Wander through the medieval streets and lively market square, and explore Ludlow Castle and the River Teme just below. Rocks make the Landscape
Rocks make the Landscape
Follow the GEOTRAIL around Titterstone Clee to explore and understand the underlying geology of this area. Trail guide available from local Visitor Information Centres or for more information visit www.shropshiregeology.org.uk
(grid ref SO 647 795)
Over 100 flowering plants have been recorded in this boggy meadow, once part of Catherton Common. Look out for aptly named bog asphodel and bog pimpernel and watch dragonflies skimming about in the summer, specialities include the keeled skimmer – its only location within a 50-mile radius – and the large golden-ringed dragonfly. Late summer you might find marsh gentian as well. Cramer Gutter is looked after by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Nestling in the rolling landscape twixt the Clee and the Severn, Cleobury Mortimer and its nine surrounding parishes make up Cleobury Country. Experience a different pace of life with a stroll along the refurbished High Street to St. Mary’s, with it’s rare twisted spire; a ramble around its 30 leafleted walking routes; cycle the byways through rural villages or ride the Jack Mytton Way. It has geological and industrial heritage connections to the Clee Hills which you can explore along the Clee to Severn extension of the Shropshire Way passing through Cleobury Mortimer and the Wyre Forest.