Commons to common
Lanes and woodland sandy and grass tracks
Nesscliffe Countryside Heritage Park
Hopton Hill Pine Car Park, Nesscliffe
Lat/Long: 52.773227893, -2.9056432291
Shrubbs Common on Hopton Hill is reputed to be the smallest Common in the England. Once mostly grassland with grazing rights, the Jones family built a squatters cottage in the middle in the early 1900s, and lived there for 19 years. Some of the bluebells and flowers are escapees from their garden.
We pass through and up onto The Cliffe Common and its sandy bridleways. Watch out for the flash of the green woodpecker and colourful jay. The ridge route gives panoramic views all over Shropshire, to the Welsh mountains, and north to the Cheshire Plains. A plaque marks the site of the WWII Home Guard look out post. This is a lowland heath with heather and whinberries. Beside our route, at the north end of the Common, are the remains of the turf sided Cliffe Cabin, built by squatters.
The onward route takes us through Little Ness, where the Pinfold and pond lay to the east of the Village Hall, then to Adcote, once home to the Darbys of Coalbrookdale, past Adcote Mill, and on past the old lane to Flanders Ford, too deep for all but horse riders now, and the stepping stones are long gone.
We travel on to Yeaton with its two mills on the River Perry, to Baschurch. Here we turn onto Dyas Lane, where we pass by the old Coffin Stone, and cross the War Brook to Walford Agricultural College’s land. The Shropshire Farm Institute opened at Walford in 1949 on 750 acres, pioneering part time courses in Agricultural subjects. Today, it also has an equestrian centre. We go through Old Woods to Merrington Green Common, where Commoners would once have come to graze their stock, gather firewood, and get marl to improve their land.
Coffin Stone, Dyas Lane and Baschurch
Coffin Stone, Dyas Lane, Baschurch Coffins used to be carried from Walford to Baschurch Church, with plinths to rest them on along the way. The restored Coffin Stone, with its flat top, can be seen to the south side of Dyas Lane. Another Coffin Stone lies to the west of the grass triangle off Nobold Lane, Baschurch.
The Merrington Green marl pits are now havens for wildlife. The one that lies to the west of the Hollins Lane, is fringed by marsh horsetail (Equisetum palustre from the latin for horse – equus). Poisonous to equines, these plants are descended from some of the oldest plants known to man. Dragonflys can be seen darting over the pool, with their rainbow colours flashing in the sunshine.