A 10 mile walk along The Shropshire Way from The Stiperstones to Snailbeach Lead Mine, Poles Coppice Nature Reserve and onto Exfords Green.
Woodland paths and stoney tracks. Often uneven and undulating. Some steep sections
Stiperstones Nature Reserve
Parking is available at The Stiperstones Nature Reserve, Snailbeach
Lat/Long: 52.6464802852, -2.8032985087
Walking from Shepherd’s Rock on the Stiperstones to Exfords Green will show you to some of the best preserved remains of Shropshire’s mining heritage.
Think of what the hills would have been like in days gone by. All the way along the ridge would have been smoke belching chimneys of the boiler houses used to power the mines. They ran the pumps to keep the mines dry, ran the ore crushers and powered the wheels that lowered the miners deep into the ground.
And not just in recent times, they have been mining here since the Romans arrived and there is proof. In 1796 they found a Roman ingot at Snailbeach that weighed 193 lb and was engraved with the name of the Emperor Hadrian. Now it’s different, all is quiet and the ridge abounds with nature.
When you get to Blakemoorgate make sure to take the short detour to see the miners’ cottages. In the late 1800s small settlements of squatters began to appear on the hills around the lead mines. The ones here have been renovated and show so well what life for these miners would have been like. A stone built cottage with a garden root store and a byre for their pigs and cows. It must have been a bleak life in winter so high on the hill.
Snailbeach Lead Mine
This carefully restored lead mine was the biggest in Shropshire and is said to have produced the highest amount of lead per acre of any mine in Europe. But all the noise and bustle is in the past, the now still buildings and machinery show so well what it was like in its heyday before its run down and closure in 1955.
There are nearly 2000 years of mining history to be found here. To run the mine there were collieries in Pontesbury and a railway line to Minsterley and at one stage an aerial ropeway carrying coal and ore over the hills.
The hills and nature
It’s not all industrial past to see, you will walk the wonderful Lordshill, through Poles Coppice nature reserve and around Earl’s Hill with its Iron Age fort. Here the wildlife abounds. There are ancient oak woodlands thick with wild plants and orchids abound in the old quarries. If you have the time and energy walk up to the Iron Age fort on Earl’s Hill, it’s worth it. To the north there is no higher land for a many a mile and the views over the flood plain of the River Severn are spectacular.