Clun to Llanfair Waterdine. Serenity, Conflict and Inspiration.
Stoned Tracks, lanes and cross field bridleways
Clun, Llanfair Waterdine
Lat/Long: 52.4207425639, -3.024863157
A 7 mile linear ride from Clun to Llanfair Waterdine through beautiful countryside and places of historic interest. Clun was described by AE Housman as “the quietest place under the sun” but this façade belies this active little town, this gentle ride will take you to the border village of Llanfair Waterdine where you will find part of the ancient monument of Offa’s Dyke.
Clun’s ancient origin’s can be traced from Saxon times and the settlement has a history of growth as a prosperous market town to a decline becoming a charming backwater in the heart of the Shropshire Hills. Here traditions survive, the most notable being the annual Green Man Festival in May. This is when Frostie, Queen of Cold challenges the Green Man in the Battle of the Bridge. If the Green Man doesn’t see her off then there is no Summer in the Clun Valley.
Clun has not always been such a peaceful spot. This has been one of the most turbulent and fought over borderlands in Britain. It is Offa’s country where the Saxon ruler built his magnificent Dyke to mark the extent of the great Kingdom of Mercia. You will cross the earthwork where it is revealed at its best striding across Llanfair Hill and wonder at how this monument was achieved at a time when the only equipment available was man and shovel.
In order to quell a Welsh uprising against the Norman Conquest King William created the Marcher Lordships. These were granted to his most valued supporters and they were given virtual independence as long as they upheld and protected the Norman lands. Clun was the location chosen by the Marcher Lords to build their line of defence. The remains of this stronghold still overlook the town. Look back as you climb up out of the Clun for a glorious view of the town.
In more recent years Clun has provided inspiration for artists and writers. It is believed that Sir Walter Scott wrote ‘The Betrothed’ whilst staying at the Buffalo Inn. The playwright, John Osborne, spent many years in the parish and his final resting place is in Clun churchyard. Bruce Chatwin’s ‘On the Black Hill’ gains much of its atmosphere.
Clun Castle began as a motte and bailey castle built by the Norman, Robert de Say, around 1140-50. It was originally built with timber defences but these were replaced by a stone structure to create a formidable Norman fortress. The castle became the property of the Fitzalan family who endeavoured to make the village a place where Welsh and English cultures would intermingle but their effort was short-lived. The castle was abandoned in the late 13th century and consequently fell into ruin. The remains are under the guardianship of English Heritage and are freely accessible to the public.
You will cross the mighty earthwork, Offa’s Dyke, believed to have been built by King Offa of Mercia in the late eigth century AD. Archaeologists argue the purpose of the earthwork – was it purely delineating the extent of the Kingdom of Mercia or was it a military structure with the intention of keeping out the Welsh? In total the monument is 80 miles long and the Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail follows most of its course.
Rivers Clun and Teme
The River Clun rises in the Clun Forest hills, near Anchor, and meanders south east to join the River Teme. The source of the Teme is in mid Wales and forms the England-Wales border for much of its length in Shropshire. These rivers support significant populations of otters. This is a conservation success story and many stretches of water throughout the county now provide homes for these elusive animals after an absence of many years.