Ropes, Romans and Royal Hunts.
Lanes, tracks and cross field bridleways.
Lyth Hill Car Park or alternative start, Church Pulverbatch Village Hall (Tel: 01743 718409) Small donation requested
Lyth Hill, Shrewsbury
Lat/Long: 52.674141944, -2.8307231825
Lyth Hill, with its panoramic views of the Shropshire Hills, sweeps us through time. To the east, near Bomere Pool, was the kettlehole where the remains of woolly mammoths were discovered. The road that runs east west along the bottom of the hill was known as Salter’s Way in the Middle Ages. It is likely that the Romans went this way, with pack horses, from Viroconium at Wroxeter, carrying Cheshire mined salt to pay the Stiperstones lead miners. In the Middle Ages, a Royal Hunting Forest, or Haye, covered the area to the south. In more recent times the area gave inspiration to Mary Webb, the author of Precious Bane, who lived near Spring Coppice. The 18th century saw stage coaches travelling up the hill on the turnpiked toll road from Bayston Hill. We travel the rough track; described useless in 1821 when the turnpikes were removed. Passing by where ropes were once made, and the remains of the old windmill, we follow the bridleway past Spring Coppice and downhill. Here deer are now farmed, where once they were hunted.
Old tracks and quiet lanes take us to the Vinnals. In spring, primroses clothe the banks of the hedged lane south of the ford, and you could be a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, with maybe an owl silently watching you. Past The Gorse, a small remnant of the Royal Hunting Forest, the route follows what remains of a once old hedged lane, past old coal pits, and along a wooded brook side path to Longden Common.
Old parkland with distant views to the south, takes us up by Longden Manor, to where the north Shropshire Plains can be seen stretching out ahead. We follow the narrow lane down to the small hamlet of Plealey. This was once a community of small copyholders, who unlike freeholders, held their land according to the custom of the Manor. Tenants title deeds were a copy of the relevant entry, listing their rights and duties, in the manorial court roll. There were six farmhouses, some timber framed, others now Georgian fronted, grouped around a square, with the tradesmen, and farm worker’s cottages on the three lanes radiating from this centre. There was a smithy, a wheelwrights shop, and a shoemaker. We take the north side passing the chapel, timber framed houses, and converted barns, and follow the old road, now a field edge track, to Shorthill, passing the late 16th century Sibberscote Manor. Arscott golf course lies ahead, with wonderful views back to Pontesford and Earl’s Hill, but we are never far from old coal mines. A colliery had been established near Arscott Coppice by 1767, and in the 19th century had 3 shafts, and there was also a brickworks north east of Arscott Hall. There were shafts near Moat Hall linked by a tramway to the Shrewsbury road at Annscroft. A horse called Curley used to pull several small tubs of coal at a time from the pits near here to the wharf at Annscroft. It closed in 1934. The old tracks are more peaceful now as we pass Woodhall, and the early 17th century timber framed Moat Hall, now partly brick clad, and return via quiet lanes to Lyth Hill, to take in again the wonderful views.
This route links to the Humphrey Kynaston Way at Church Pulverbatch and Pontesbury. A circular route can be done from Church Pulverbatch using the linear and circular routes- please see map in leaflet.
Windmill and Rope Walk
The windmill, built about 1835, and the ropewalk, shown on OS. 1881 running from the east, up to just north of the Lyth Hill viewpoint car park, were operating in 1841. The windmill prepared the flax, which was then twisted, as also was hemp, to make rope for ships, mines and farms. The Davies family carried out rope manufacturing there until around 1890.
This is the area of the former Hurst Common. The old farm house at The Vinnals, recorded in 1565, fell to ruin, but was said, by a past occupier, to have been an inn on an old coach route to Bishop's Castle.
Cottages were built here in the l8th century to house miners from the nearby coal pits. The Red Lion is an old coaching Inn which dates from the early 19th century. A micro brewery has recently been established here.
Plealey Methodist Chapel
The chapel was built by Richard France in 1828 on Corfield’s yard, which he bought for five shillings. Sibberscote Manor was held by the Barret family before 1660. Sold to the Warter family, by 1812 it was just a farmhouse. It fell into great disrepair, but in recent years has been rescued and wonderfully restored along with the adjoining barns. The gardens now lead down to a lake with swans.
Woodhall is substantially an early 18th century house, but some fragments of an earlier house remain. This was coal mining country and the long closed pits of Wood Hall and Moat Hall, were part of the Shrewsbury Coalfield where coal lies under a layer of red sandstone.