Ancient Ways, Hills and Hollows

Ride Shropshire Route 5: Wentnor Ride image

Distance

22.6 miles

Terrain

Hilly, grass and stone tracks, some steep and narrow

Start from

Wentnor

Nearest to

Church Stretton, Ratlinghope, Stiperstones

Parking

At start/finish

Map reference

Lat/Long: 52.5611292209, -2.8098955947

OS: SO452962

The route

Travel the Long Mynd along the same tracks as Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age man, the Romans, Saxons, Norman invaders, medieval knights and Victorian doctors!

Estimate the age of the sunken lanes between Wentnor and Bridges by counting the number of species found in the hedgerows. Look for hazel, field maple, ash, oak, hawthorn, blackthorn, holly, damson and crab apple. They are hundreds of years old and provided not just a barrier for the animals but food for people as well. Now they are a haven for wildlife and a jam maker’s larder. Look for the Bronze Age cairns as you ride along the Portway on the Long Mynd. Were these way markers? Or were they burial mounds? In medieval times it was used as a drover’s road and you would have seen vast herds of cattle being driven along it to avoid the tolls charged on the paved roads in the valleys. There are Victorian tracks as well.

Church Stretton was at its heyday in the 19th Century. Then fashionable folk came here to take the waters and fresh air far away from the dirt and smog of industrial England. You can see the remains of Victorian waterworks and pipes all the way up the Carding Mill Valley. Even the road here is Victorian. It’s called Dr Mott’s Road, named after a local doctor who used this track to visit his patients on the other side of the Mynd.

Carding Mill Valley

Most of the upland of the Long Mynd is in the care of the National Trust who purchased the property in 1965. The Trust’s base at the Pavilion in Carding Mill Valley has been a popular spot for visitors for over 100 years.The valley gets its name for the old technique of ‘carding the wool’ at the mill. The wool from the many sheep in the area was a valuable resource.

The Bridges

The Bridges, until recently the Horseshoe Inn, dates back to the 16th Century. The inn and adjacent smithy provided services to travellers on the turnpike road from Bishop’s Castle to Shrewsbury. It was later bypassed when the road was improved but has remained a popular pub to this day.

Field Boundaries

From the Long Mynd you look west over Wentnor and Prolley Moor. The varied field enclosures tell  the story of the development of agriculture over many years. With a move away from open field strip farming in the 14th century plots of land were amalgamated to form the long narrow fields with curved hedgerow boundaries. The more regimented enclosures of Prolly Moor are the result of common land enclosed under Acts of Parliament in the 1800’s.