Stoned Tracks, lanes and cross field bridleways
Alveley, Cleobury Mortimer, Highley, Stottesdon
Lat/Long: 52.3810387137, -2.484765418
Ghostly horses are only one of the day’s encounters. You can hail historic steam trains, pass by the last rope ferry in the country and see why the Severn was the M5 of its day.
At Stottesdon stop off at the church for Shropshire’s finest font. The village’s name probably means the hill of the herd of horses. Our concern however is with a ghostly coach and four white horses. A small bottle in Kinlet Church contains the ghost of Sir George Blount. If the bottle is broken, he will come back to haunt Kinlet Hall.
Sir George’s daughter fell in love with their page-boy. Her father refused to let her marry. When Dorothy inherited and finally married, the squire’s vengeful spirit returned. His ghost would appear driving his coach and four white horses across the dinner table. Dorothy called in the priest to ‘bottle’ his spirit and place in his tomb. She was troubled no more.
The Severn is Britain’s longest river. Shropshire became the cradle of the Industrial Revolution because the river linked it to Bristol and abroad. At Hampton Loade is Britain’s last surviving rope ferry. Since the 17th century the ferryman and current alone have carried passengers across the river.
The Severn Valley railway was built almost 150 years ago. The route follows the Severn for most of its 16 miles. During its first hundred years the line was never a financial success. But today it is one of the leading steam railways in Europe.
This narrow arched bridge is on the route of an old packhorse trail. Local’s call it the Donkey Bridge reflecting the common use of donkeys as pack animals. The trail ran from Ludlow to the River Severn at nearby Hampton Loade, where a ferry took travelers across the river. The route was important for the movement of agricultural produce from south Shropshire to the industrial region around Dudley and the ‘Black Country’.
The reservoir supplies water to south Staffordshire and is also used by a sailing club. Shropshire Wildlife Trust have created a nature reserve on part of the site with controlled water levels that produce shallow pools to attract wild fowl and wading birds. The reserve is also good for dragonflies and damselflies with eleven species recorded here.
Severn Valley Country Park
The Severn Valley Country Park lies on the other side of the river at Alveley. Situated on the site of the old mine works there is a visitor centre and parking. To get to the park continue along the High Street to Barke Street. Follow this left down past the golf club to a small car park. Go through the gate and cross the Severn Valley Railway line. (Take great care, steam trains use this line). Follow the path left down to cross the bridge. Continue straight on then follow the main track right up to the centre.