A 12 ¾ mile walk along The Shropshire Way from Nesscliffe Hill Country Park via Melveley to Llanymynech.

Distance

12.8 miles

Terrain

Level some riverside paths

Start from

Nesscliffe

Nearest to

Llanymynech, Nesscliffe

Parking

Parking is available at Nesscliffe Hill Country Park, Melveley and Llanmynech

Map reference

Lat/Long: 52.7722651916, -2.9127827577

OS: SJ385198

The route

An explosive walk

Explosives feature at both ends of this walk. Charges of black powder and, in more recent times, dynamite were used to bring down large quantities of limestone in the imposing quarries of Llanymynech.

At the other end vast amounts of high explosive and ammunition were stored during World War 2 in specially constructed buildings, linked by sidings to the railway that ran through the Nesscliffe military training camp.

In between, the route follows the river Vrnwy for much of the way and affords the opportunity to stop off at The Royal Hill near Pentre SY10 8ES (01743 741242 for opening hours), a particularly scenic pub set slightly back from the river bank.

Melverley is a riverside village prone to occasional and inevitable flooding that comes with such a location. St Peter’s, its black and white timber framed church (one of only two in Shropshire), has been in continual danger of slipping into the river and has only been preserved by ingenious underpinning, supported by energetic and worldwide fundraising.

Riverside walking

To the west of Melverley you will find yourself walking along ‘The Argie’ - a long section of flood defence embankment. You may find the innumerable stiles rather trying along this section – especially if you have a dog – but the views and general ambience will make all that clambering worthwhile. There are various places along the River Vyrnwy near Melverley where you can ‘wild’ swim (at your own risk). Easiest of all is the confluence of the Vyrnwy with the Severn where there is a gently sloping gravel ‘beach’. A glance at the debris gathered at the base of the road bridge a little further downstream will tell you to avoid swimming when there is anything other than a mild current.Looking up and to the south you will see Rodney’s Pillar surmounting the Breidden Hills.

Admiral Rodney invented ‘breaking the line’, a manoeuvre later used to great effect by Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar. Rodney is known to have expressed his gratitude to Shropshire and mid Wales for the supply of such magnificent shipbuilding oak. On his death in 1792 his admirers chose to reciprocate by erecting an obelisk to the ‘Admiral of the White’.

The old ‘Potts’ line

Passing through the military training area to the west of Wilcott you will cross the old Potts railway line – optimistically constructed to connect mid Wales and Shrewsbury to the Stoke and the Potteries (hence ‘Potts’). It was closed and reopened twice before final closure came when the ammunition dumps were decommissioned. During one of its open phases a peculiar looking bus on rails was used to carry passengers. Apparently its steel wheels made such a screeching and rattling that people only used the service if there was no alternative.

Kinton – a curious saunter through industrial units

The pretty hamlet of Kinton features an attractive part-brick part-weather boarded tithe barn (now converted into dwellings) attached to a small black and white manor house of 1580. Such is the geography of the area that the recently constructed collection of green-painted industrial units blends well into the landscape. The Shropshire Way passes through these units by way of two sturdy wooden doors next to the large vehicle access gates at each end. The gates are locked at night and weekends but the doors should always allow access. Keep an eye out for the Shropshire Way buzzards and don’t be put off by the fact it all looks rather private. You have the right of way.