On this 12 mile section of the Shropshire Way from Bishop’s Castle to Clun you will find some of the quietest places in Shropshire.
Some steep uphill sections
Bishop's Castle, Clun
Bishop's Castle and Clun
Lat/Long: 52.4948056205, -2.9974642849
Leave the unspoilt town of Bishop’s Castle and you are soon on ancient drovers’ ways and the Saxon earthworks of Offa’s Dyke. This really is border country, the heart of the Marches, steeped in history. With wonderful place names like Woodbatch, Reilth, Middle Knuck, Hergan Hill, Three Gates and Whitcott Keysett.
A special part of the walk is along the bare windswept Cefns (this means “ridge” in Welsh) with its unspoilt views in every direction. Then it’s into Clun, one of Housman’s “quietest places under the sun” with a ruined castle, tranquil air and fine inns.
How could this wonderful little town ever be called Rotten but it was. Until 1832it was one of the “rotten boroughs” that returned two members of Parliament with so few voters that all could be bought. But its beginnings were far earlier, first a 12th century Anglo-Saxon settlement and then the site of a Norman motte and bailey. It’s also an “open village”. Many of the small villages in South Shropshire were “closed villages” totally owned by the local estate with all the people working for the landowner. Villages like Bishop’s Castle grew in the 19th century when landowners cut down the number of people permanently employed and seasonal workers were forced to rent their own accommodation in these open villages. It also has a history of making fine ale and two fine small breweries still exist. For more information about Bishop's Castle, visit the Town Hall website.
Walk in the footsteps of Saxon armies when you follow a section of Offa’s Dyke. It was made between 757 to 796 AD by Offa King of Mercia to form a defensive boundary between England & Wales. I wonder if the Saxons ever fought the Celts here?
The wonderful ridge running from Three Gates to just outside Clun is called the Cefns. Its probable part of an ancient Drover’s road that followed the ridge to avoid the marshy, forested and often full of robbers lower land. Look closely as you walk it and you will find a stone circle.
Take time to wonder the village and explore more than just the waymarked path through it. There are many hidden gems and some wonderful hostelries. This is the smallest town in Shropshire and is smaller than many villages. It’s the only town in the county never to have had a railway line or station.