Walking 7 miles across the Shropshire Way from Church Stretton to Bridges will take you on ancient pathways trod by man for 3000 years.
Some steep uphill sections
Church Stretton, Ratlinghope
Lat/Long: 52.5374247266, -2.8082354534
Leave little Switzerland behind and you will travel across the great heather clad hog’s back of the Long Mynd. Past Bronze Age cairns on Drovers’ Roads and medieval byways with names like Mott’s Road and The Portway. Then through Golden Valley a place so aptly named at the end is Bridges. Once an important stop for stage coaches, now there is quiet country pub and youth hostel.
Iron Age, Roman, Anglo Saxon, Norman all have lived here. Great hilltop earthworks ring the town and the Romans marched past on Watling Street. But not just in ancient times was it famous, This is the Victorian “Little Switzerland” where top hatted and crinolined visitors came on the new railway line to take its waters and walk the hills. Even in the second World War this quiet hill bound town was busy. The then new bypass was not opened but kept as a parking lot for tanks and guns. Now it’s a Walkers Welcome town and a base for the adventurous paraglider and walker alike.
The Long Mynd
This is the very backbone of the Shropshire Hills with its heather clad slopes and hollows. Here history lies hidden at every corner. Men from the Bronze Age built cairns and in the Iron Age great hill forts. In the tracks of these long dead people the medieval drovers made their roads. And it’s seen action, with guns fired here from Napoleonic times to the Second World War. It has its share of war secrets too: From Malcolm Saville’s novels about the lone pine club to the training of peregrine falcons at Pole Cottage to intercept enemy agents’ carrier pigeons. No wonder it so inspired Houseman to write about its blue remembered hills.
What a place, in its day the motorway services for the Bishop’s Castle to Shrewsbury coaching road. There was a forge to shoe the horses. A coaching inn house to feed and water the passengers and a toll house to take their money. Now it’s bypassed and gives the weary walker a haven of peace and quiet to sit with his ale and watch the brook run by.