217: Church Stretton & the Long Mynd

OS Explorer map 217, The Long Mynd & Wenlock Edge: Church Stretton & Craven Arms – I do not own this map, but had visited it before starting this blog. Visited again for this post 29th December 2019.

During my short December 2019 trip to Shropshire with the Dearest Progenitors, I visited two new map areas (though the place where we were staying was in neither of these). The first was the outing to Ludlow that I described in my last post. The second of these was a trip I made the very next day, when I dragged Father Dearest out on a walk on the Long Mynd.

Father Dearest and I atop Pole Bank, the highest point on the Long Mynd, near the start of our walk. Unfortunately it was rather misty!

The Long Mynd is a high-ish heathland plateau in Shropshire, as you might guess fairly long in shape, running for about seven miles north to south. There are roads over the top of the Mynd, so, after I made a cooked breakfast for the three of us, I got Mother Dearest to drive us up to a point on top, and planned a route that would have my father and I gradually descend to the town of Church Stretton over three and a bit miles. Mother Dearest, not being up to a lot of walking, would proceed straight to Church Stretton and enjoy herself in cafés and shops until we came down to meet her for lunch.

The route of our walk on the Long Mynd

The route started off as a wide gravel path over the Mynd’s flattish top, staying pretty level even as we went over Pole Bank, the Mynd’s highest point. Unfortunately, it was a misty day, so there wasn’t much to be seen from up there, though I expect the view is great on a clear day, given the “viewpoint” symbol shown on the OS map at that point.

Soon though, we started to descend, on a littler-used grassy path that followed a stream down into a quiet, sheltered, and very pretty grassy valley that started out tiny, and gradually grew as we followed it. Here, we were pleased to encounter some wild horses that were not very shy of us at all – it was very nice!

A mile or so of that brought us to a more significant path, providing surer and less boggy footing, and brought us into view of other people on occasion. However, we soon encountered a bit of an obstacle in the form of a steep and rather slippery-looking staircase cut into the rock: it looked a little too perilous for comfort, leading us to push through vegetation trying to find a shallower way down, but this failed us, and we soon returned and went for it. It wasn’t too bad in the end – it transpired that Father Dearest hadn’t noticed the steps at all on the first look, thinking it was just an extremely steep bit of path, which would indeed have looked rather alarming – and a little care saw us down soon enough.

The rocky stair that caused us a little consternation!

The valley soon widened out a lot as the path became a road with little car parks for walkers, and we were approaching Church Stretton. We met Mother Dearest as planned, who’d enjoyed her couple of hours with out us, and had a well-deserved lunch together in a café. Mine, say my food records, was a cheese and sundried tomato sandwich with salad, which sounds very pleasant!

After picking up a couple of items in the Co-op, we headed back to the cottage, and the day later, back to my parents’ home in Northamptonshire, to celebrate New Year’s Eve the next night with various family members. It was an enjoyable little holiday!

Previous visits

In my not-so-long-ago post about Shrewsbury, I told you of my 15th birthday, when my parents took me and a small group of school friends away on a short holiday to a house in Shropshire. This was actually the second time this had happened: I asked for it specifically because I’d enjoyed the events of my 14th birthday. This earlier trip was rather similar in most ways, but in a slightyl different location – the house we stayed in was somewhat further south, in the village of All Stretton, in this map area.

While we spent some time messing about inside, and playing the Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game (which we were all very into and, to some extent, still are), the main memory I have of this trip is of all the time we spent playing around outdoors. The house sat on the side of a steep little valley, and one could stumble down through some woods to the valley floor, where there sat a stream: we spent many hours here, engaged in silly activities such as rolling down the hill, swinging off tree branches and, especially, building little dams in the stream out of sticks and little stones, then wathing to see whether they could hold against items floated down to hit them.

We had a really nice time, and when it came round to doing a similar thing for my 15th birthday, I think I was a little disappointed that we didn’t do the stream thing again! I still enjoy messing about in little streams – the dam-building game never gets old!

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