Hoofprints of History
Stoned Tracks, lanes and cross field bridleways
Roman Bank, Rushbury
Lat/Long: 52.5129711405, -2.7072465925
Church Stretton and the Long Mynd were enthusiastically promoted in the 19th century as “Switzerland without the wolves and the avalanches”. The panoramas and the air are just as stimulating today. As a bonus you are following a route that Man has taken for thousands of years.
Before you reach the Mynd, there is one final reminder of those pilgrims on their way to Milburga’s bones for the salvation of their souls. Coming from the south-west they ascended Wenlock Edge at Eaton by means of Jacob’s Ladder.
The Long Mynd or Long Mountain, is a large moorland plateau cut by a number of ravines running east wards and called locally ‘batches’ or ‘hollows’. It is some 15 km in length. The heather and bilberry (known locally as ‘whinberry’) provide cover for grouse. The Mynd is the most southerly grouse moor in Britain.
The Jack Mytton Way follows The Portway. People walked the Portway 5,000 years ago. The name indicates a road to a town, or to the local market towns. It avoided the heavily wooded valleys and their streams. Along the route are small round burial mounds. They are the earliest man-made remains to survive in the Shropshire landscape.
The Portway was used for the neolithic (4000-2500BC) axe trade. Stone axes were essential in the clearance of land for settlement. Much later the route was used throughout the Roman and post Roman period. It was a Kings Highway in the Middle Ages. For centuries drovers taking cattle from Wales to Shrewsbury via Bishop’s Castle used the Port Way. In the early 19th century it was also used by farm wagons, perhaps to avoid toll gates. Today’s bridleway is then only the latest use for this historic track.
The highest point is Pole Bank. The views stretch from Snowdonia to the Cotswolds. There is a toposcope, built to mark the diamond jubilee of the founding of the Council for the Protection of Rural England, which identifies the various landmarks.
Eaton under Heywood Church
The squat, square tower, topped with battlements, dominates St Edith’s Church (St Edith is an Anglo Saxon saint). Inside there is a Norman nave, thirteenth century chancel and rare fourteenth century life-size wooden effigy.
Chelmick Manor Farm
As you pass through Chelmick you will see Chelmick Manor Farm, a stone built Elizabethan Manor House. Its foundations are much older dating back to the eleventh century, while the left hand side of the house is of a much later construction bearing the date 1719.
The Stiperstones, seen to the west with its distinctive ridge capped with stone tors is the legendary meeting place of Shropshire Witches. One of the larger tpors is known as the Devil’s Chair. The Stiperstones area is littered with the remains of old lead mines, said to contain Wild Edric and his family who can be heard mining underground. Wild Edric was the leader of an Anglo-Welsh revolt against the Normans in 1069-70, and whenever a war is about to break out he and his followers are reputed to ride across the Stiperstones.
The wool from the many sheep that populated the area was a valuable resource. The valley gets its name from the old technique of ‘carding the wool’ at the mill.