The summits of the Shropshire Hills may not be enormously high, nor particularly mountainous. But because they boast many individual tops, that serve as superb viewpoints for the surrounding areas including Ludlow.
Many of these summits have special qualities that were recognised by people a long time ago and the intriguing remains of stone circles and Bronze and Iron Age forts bear witness to this.
The best way, and indeed often the only, way to visit these viewpoints is on foot – you’ll find suggested routes to these on our Walking pages and more details about historic and prehistoric sites on our Heritage pages.
Many of these viewpoints in the Shropshire Hills are also protected landscapes, including Nature Reserves, managed by Natural England or Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Nature Reserves in the Shropshire Hills
The Shropshire Hills are blessed with a rich variety of landscapes , often providing exceptional habitats for a wide variety of species.
Many of these are protected in different ways, over and above the Hills’ designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Long Mynd is mostly owned by the National Trust, which has worked hard with commoners to reduce the impact of grazing on its heathland, and it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest on account of both its geology and its biology.
The Stiperstones ridge is a wild and atmospheric landscape and a National Nature Reserve, thanks to its special geology. Its distinctive ridge of quartzite, which shattered during the last Ice Age, last created a dramatic landscape, strewn with jagged boulders.
It is home to the common lizard and common frog and local birdlife includes red grouse, red kite, skylark, raven and stonechat.
There’s well used public access and, besides the birds and reptiles, you can watch out for magnificent green hairstreak butterflies and emperor moths.
The Shropshire Wildlife Trust is responsible for the management of a number of other nature reserves throughout the Shropshire Hills and each of these has special qualities that can be enjoyed by visitors.
Reserves in the Stiperstones and Minsterley area
Earl’s and Pontesford Hill – A steep hill with volcanic origins, boasting an Iron Age fort , great views and flower-studded grasslands higher up and traditional woodland on its lower slopes
Hope Valley – A rejunvenated oak woodland, replacing conifer plantations. See bluebells, orchids and yellow archangels, and, if lucky, dormice.
Brook Vessons and the Hollies – adjoining reserves. The former boasts giant trees: Shropshire’s biggest crab apple, birch and rowan! The latter is an ancient holly grove on the flanks of the Stiperstones.
Nipstone Rock – Some years ago Shropshire Wildlife Trust teamed up with Natural England (now English Nature), the Forestry Commission and others to restore heathland across the rugged Stiperstones ridge (including Nipstone Rock), through a project called Back to Purple. Now most of the conifers have gone and the purple flowers of heather along with juicy, dark whinberries have reappeared.
Reserves in the Church Stretton and Craven Arms area
Comley Quarry – A very special place for geologists: it was here that the first trilobite fossils to be found in Britain were discovered.
Harton Hollow – The limestone ridge that is Wenlock Edge (once a coral barrier reef!) has its own special flora, including herb paris, sanicle and sweet woodruff.
Reserves in the Clun Valley and the borders
Rhos Fiddle – A hilltop heath and wetland, boasting waders, dragonflies.
Lower Shortditch Turbary – The Lower Shortditch is an ancient monument amid a species-rich heathland, that’s also a great place to forage for whinberries.
Lurkenhope – Steep woodland that was once the home and livelihood of charcoal burners. You can still find the remains of their hearths.
Reserves in the Ludlow and Clee Hills area
Whitcliffe Common – Steep wooded slopes rise from the banks of the River Teme, in Ludlow, and to open grassland, with glorious views across the town to the Clee Hills.
Catherton Common – A wild, bleak and uncultivated ancient landscape, dotted with houses and smallholdings. A wonderful place for many birds that have vanished elsewhere, such as skylarks, linnets, meadow pipits, stonechats, wheatears and yellowhammers.
Cramer Gutter – This rich grazing pasture on the slopes of Titterstone Clee is home to many specialist bogland plants, and dragonflies.
Farfields Meadows – Two species-rich west-facing meadows.