A 9.5 mile walk on The Shropshire Way along the River Severn out of Shrewsbury to Nesscliffe Hill Country Park.

Distance

9.5 miles

Terrain

Level or gentle undulating. Crosses farmland

Start from

Shrewsbury

Nearest to

Nesscliffe, Shrewsbury

Parking

Parking is available in Shrewsbury and at Nesscliffe Hill Country Park

Map reference

Lat/Long: 52.7172919554, -2.7928594496

OS: SJ465136

The route

A meeting of the Shropshire Way and the Severn Way

This walk links Shrewsbury’s landmark Shelton water tower to the delightful and historically fascinating Nesscliffe Hill Country Park. On the way you will cross the Severn at Montford Bridge – scene of many a Welsh-English parley in times of discontent – and pass through Shrawardine (known locally as Shraden) with its remains of a Norman castle and moat.

Although this section shares much of its route with the Severn Way you will see little of the river and most of that as you leave/approach Shrewsbury. But the lack of riverside footpaths is a massive plus for otters and other wildlife that are re-establishing a foothold on the banks of what is now a much cleaner effluent-free river. It also means that the route does not become impassable at the merest hint of flooding.

Nesscliffe

Nesscliffe Hill and The Cliffe cover two wooded hills and part of a heather-covered ridge. There are expansive views over the Shropshire countryside and Welsh hills. The site includes an Iron Age hill fort, a series of impressive quarries which supplied stone for some of Shropshire’s castles and churches. There is a cave hewn into the sandstone, said to have been the hideout of the Robin Hood style outlaw Humphrey Kynaston in the 1490s. Legend has it that he would put his shoes on backwards to confuse people chasing him.

These and other features are described in a series of interpretation panels. There were once Victorian tea pavilions – put up by local landowner the Earl of Bradford – where ladies archery competitions and dances took place. Tea is no longer on offer but if you have your own you can take advantage of the discrete picnic tables and imagine the thwack of arrows and ladies a-quiver in this beautiful leaf-carpeted clearing.

You may have to take minor detours from the Shropshire Way route to take in all these features but the site is well signed with plenty of connecting paths and bridleways.

Montford – Bridge and Village

Nesscliffe’s resident robber Humphrey Kynaston on his horse Beelzebub is said to have jumped the river Severn at Montford Bridge after lawmen removed the wooden slats of the crossing. Today’s bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and built by prison labour. Its direct right angled approach resulted in a sharp bend by the toll house which at least has the virtue of slowing traffic. Charles Darwin’s parents Robert and Susannah (daughter of fine porcelain maker Josiah Wedgwood) are buried near the tower of St Chad’s Church in the neighbouring village of Montford.

Castella Isabella – Shrawardine

Castella Isabella was the Norman name for what is known more prosaically now as Shrawardine Castle. It stands somewhat forlornly in a field opposite Yeoman’s Cottage. As the OS map indicates (remains of) there is little left other than a mound, a couple of sandstone sections of the keep walls and part of the moat.

Shrawardine locals were aggrieved when much of their castle was dismantled by Cromwell’s men and the stone used to repair Shrewsbury Castle. It could be argued that they would be within their rights to ask for it back, creating a Salopian version of the Elgin Marbles. In the village there are some attractive black and white cottages which combine sandstone, brick and timber framing in a particularly striking manner.