Books, Falcons and Bombs

Ride Shropshire Route 6: The Stiperstones Ride image

Distance

12.5 miles

Terrain

Hilly, grass and stone tracks

Start from

The Bog Carpark

Nearest to

Pontesbury, Stiperstones, The Bog

Parking

At start/finish

Map reference

Lat/Long: 52.5933744156, -2.9266417153

OS: SO373999

The route

Ride over wild haunted moors and down steep valleys that were once the realm of Wild Edric. Pass Bronze  and Iron Age cairns and forts, medieval houses and the stark skeletons of old mine workings.

The Stiperstones with its distinctive ridge capped with stone tors is the legendary meeting place of Shropshire witches. One of the larger tors is know as the Devil’s Chair. The whole of the ridge has been mined for minerals, mainly lead, since Roman times and maybe before. Indeed a huge ingot of lead weighing nearly 90 kilograms and bearing roman markings was found nearby.

Be careful on the moors, Wild Edric haunts them. Edric the Wild was a real man, a Saxon noble, who owned vast tracts of Shropshire and the borders. He lived in the 11th century and fought the Norman invaders before finally making peace with King William.

Legend says that Edric is not dead but imprisoned in the lead mines condemned for listening to the Conqueror. At dusk you may see a rider in a green cloak and feathered cap. This is Edric who with his fairy bride Lady Godda gallop across the hills whenever England is threatened.

The lead mine at Snailbeach was the largest in Shropshire and richest in Europe. Worked for almost 2000 years it only closed in 1955. The remains have been preserved, and the panels tell the history of the mines and the terrible disaster that took place here.

 

Bilberries

Bilberries, known locally as whinberries or wimberries, are heathland plants widely distributed on the Stiperstones. Traditionally harvested by local people using a special combs, the berries were at one time sold for the making of dye and provided valuable income for poor mining and farming families.Whinberry pie is a local delicacy.

Mary Webb

Mary Webb (1881-1927) author and poet, wrote evocatively about this area. She portrayed the lives of the local miners and farmers and their struggle to survive in such a rugged landscape.

Her best known novels are Precious Bane,Gone to Earth and The Golden Arrow.

The Bog

There is little left of what was once one of the largest lead and barytes mines in Shropshire. Lead mining ceased in 1883 but the site was worked for barytes during and after World War I.

All that remains of a once thriving community, demolished in the 1970’s, are the school, (now a The Bog Visitor Centre), a former pub and the ruins of the miners institute.