A wonderful 7.5 mile walk along Wenlock Edge, from Wilderhope Manor into Much Wenlock.
Woodland paths and stoney tracks
Limited parking is available at either Wilderhope, Presthope or The National Trust carpark just outside Much Wenlock. Parking is also available in Much Wenlock town
Lat/Long: 52.6014502233, -2.5518225267
Walking from Wilderhope to Much Wenlock you are heading towards the town where the embers of the Olympic Games were rekindled. Think of that as you stride along Wenlock Edge, but don’t race to get to the finish, the beauty of the Edge is worth lingering over. When the sun shines through the trees and the autumn colours glow, it’s golden. On the Edge you need to watch where you are walking. Huge chunks of its world amous limestone have gone; industriously quarried away. The Edge’s stone was formed in a warm shallow sea that teemed with life 425 million years ago. If you’re lucky you may trip over a fossilised sea creature that’s been lying here all that time waiting for you to find it.
Wildwoods and robbers
Lime-loving orchids are commonly seen in the woods along the Edge in late spring. These ancient coppices are also home to dormice; our native species, not the ones introduced by the Romans for food. Even so, ours are just as rare as the hoard of Roman coins found at Westward Farm. Speaking of coins, keep yours hidden when passing Ippikin’s Rock or the wicked robber-knight, said to haunt it, may try to lighten your purse.
Quarries and kilns
The Edge’s greenery disguises its industrial past. You’ll notice the quarries getting bigger as you get closer to Wenlock. A discus-throw from Ironbridge and the Severn, Wenlockian limestone was vital for iron makers as well as a multitude of other industries. The fertile fields of Corve and Ape-dales are ‘sweet’ with its bounty, the rock cooked to make a slaked-lime soil improver in the many limekilns found along this sinuous scarp.
Christianity and pilgrimage brought wealth to Much Wenlock. The abbey, built for the Anglo-Saxon princess St Milburga, became the centre of a large, powerful and wealthy estate under her care. Later, Norman monks fortuitously ‘found’ St Milburga’s remains. These elevated their priory’s place on the pilgrimage map, bringing huge prestige and wealth. In the nineteenth century it was health, not wealth, on the town’s agenda. In 1850 Doctor William Penny Brookes started the Wenlock Olympian Games to improve the well-being of his patients. His efforts inspired French aristocrat, Baron de Coubertin, to begin the modern Olympic Games in Paris in 1896. He recognised Dr Brookes as their true ‘Founder’. Famed for its games, Much Wenlock is also thought to be one of the loveliest towns in England.