The Green Man
Stoned Tracks, lanes and cross field bridleways
Bishop's Castle, Clun
Lat/Long: 52.4836816223, -2.9144090852
If your ride is blessed with fair weather you have the Green Man to thank for it. On May Day every year he gives battle on Clun’s narrow packhorse bridge with the Cruel Frost Queen. If he does not triumph over her, summer will not come to the Clun Valley.
Happily, he usually wins. He stands for harmony with nature and fertility. This ride is filled with his generous bounty. The Green Man can be proud of his work. He’s been working in Walcot Wood (above Lower Down) for centuries. In a small valley the National Trust is preserving nearly 50 veteran oaks. These 400-year-old unusually shaped trees were into their second century when Clive of India bought the estate in 1763.
Thirty years ago the Green Man seemed to have suffered a setback at Bury Ditches. Severe storms felled many of the trees on this exposed summit. However, it’s an ill wind … The Forestry Commission realised they had camouflaged one of the finest hillforts in Britain. They cleared the timber. This astonishing structure of ramparts and ditches will transport you back 3,000 years. If the Green Man’s doing his job, the views are superb.
He also fancies himself as a gardener. In Clun there is one of his gems. Behind the gates on Hospital Lane lies the Hospital of the Holy and Undivided Trinity and its colourful garden, “spectacular in Spring and Summer.” Once upon a time it was a haven for “twelve old men of good character.” In their blue liveries and top hats they were taken to church by horse-drawn carriage.
When Housman wrote of “the quietest places under the sun” was he thinking of the Trinity’s almshouses?
Clun is an attractive small town built either side of the River Clun. At the bottom of the town the road crosses a medieval bridge, from which you see the remains of a Norman castle. Clun and the villages around it are known from A E Houseman’s famous verse:
Clunton and Clunbury
Clungunford and Clun
Are the quietest places
Under the sun
As you leave Lybury North you pass the entrance to Walcott Hall once the home of Clive of India.
Bury Ditches is one of over fifty Iron Age hill forts that survive in Shropshire. The site itself has extensive ramparts giving spectacular views over the Shropshire Hills.