Hidden in Plain Sight – the best walks in the Shropshire Hills

The Long Mynd in the Shropshire Hills

There's a well-kept countryside secret at the heart of England that might surprise you with its wonderful upland walking, trails, history and heritage. The Shropshire Hills, which bridge the gap between the mountains of mid Wales and the industrial flatlands of the Black Country, are also the location of our most popular country house, Longmynd House.

Church Stretton is the walking heart, and year-round walking, with or without guides, in this border area is fantastic. From any of its hillsides you’ll be able to look down on a patchwork of greenery, undulating pastures and arable farmland, divided by hedges, rivers and woodland copses. It’s never truly mountainous, but has enough distinctive peaks and rocks to keep a walker happy for decades. According to Peter Toghill, a top UK geologist, who lives in Church Stretton, “Shropshire exhibits a more varied display of geology than any other area of comparable size in Britain”. Explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on a short break or week away, with trails right from the front door of the house, and discover wonderful walks through heather-covered hills, valleys and ancient woodland. You could immerse yourself in nature, uncover the areas industrial past or tackle sections of the classic long distance trail here too.

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Introducing Longmynd House

In the middle of the Shropshire Hills, just outside and above the picturesque market town of Church Stretton, Longmynd House is a country house retreat that delivers a welcoming and relaxed feel, cosy stay and spectacular setting.

The house’s position on the hillside above Church Stretton, among woodland trees and in the shadow of the Long Mynd, make it an ideal base for walkers looking to explore right from the front door. Wake early to watch the sunrise from your balcony; take a dip in the heated outdoor pool and gear up for a great day in the hills on walks of rich variety. And with Iron Age forts, historic castles, idyllic market towns and cracking trails of all kinds crossing the Shropshire countryside, there’s enough to keep explorers of all ages and interests on their toes.

Our top five Shropshire Hills and Walks

1. The Long Mynd

This broad heather ridge lies to the west. Several crag-fringed, steep sided small valleys cut into it and provide superb walks to the tops. Trek the Carding Mill Valley from where you can access a fantastic waterfall known as Lightspout, look out for the long twisting valley of Ashes Hollow and climb to the rockiest top, Devil’s Mouth, which has great views. Alternatively, ascend to the Pole Bank, the summit of the Long Mynd, past swathes of heather and wild ponies, for 360⁰ views of up to 50 miles.
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2. Stiperstones

The Stiperstones ridge is easily recognisable thanks to the jumbled quartz tors at the southern end of the ridge. Nearly 500 million years ago the summit would have risen out of glaciers, whose freezing and thawing shattered the tors to form scree, but these days it provides stunning panoramas of the area. The crags are named prosaically – look out for the Devil’s Chair, Shepherd’s Rock and Manstone Rock, which is the highest point.

3. Caer Caradoc

Although not the tallest Shropshire Hill, this is the most iconic, with a distinctive shape and precipitous sides studded with dark volcanic rocks. There’s an Iron Age fort on the summit to explore; Caradoc, also known as Caractacus, was a British chieftain who resisted Roman rule for more than a decade; he is thought to have fought, and lost his final battle on this mountain. Marvel at the landscape and imagine the feet that trod here before you.
The Lawley, Shropshire

4. The Lawley

The modest sized Lawley is just 377m high, and the ridge is only 2 miles long, but it is the best pure ridge in the region. While it’s not exactly Crib Goch or Striding Edge, it still has far-reaching views over Shropshire from its grassy ridgeline, and as you stride out you’ll get a wonderful sense of openness. It also pairs well with Caer Caradoc and Hope Bowdler Hill for a longer walk.
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5. Ironbridge Gorge

This one isn’t immediately accessible from the house, and it isn’t a hill, but you can’t come to Shropshire and not see the Ironbridge Gorge. Here the River Severn forges its way through low wooded hills. It’s held to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the setting for the world’s first mass producer of cast iron and the location of the first cast iron bridge, built in 1779 to link two important industrial towns. All the original industry is now long gone, but the area remains a World Heritage Site, and you can walk through history on gentle paths and trails.

When to visit Shropshire and what to expect to see

  • During Spring: European gorse is one of the first plants to flower, filling the air with the scent of coconut. Throughout April spring annuals start to bloom too
  • Between Mid-March and early May: birds begin to arrive for summer. Ravens lay eggs in February and the young hatch from mid-March, when the adults can be seen foraging for food on the hillsides. Stonechat, snipe and ring ouzel nest in April. The numbers of teal and curlew here have fallen, but red grouse numbers are good, and you’ll spot pairs feeding in the short heather until early May – they have a distinctive cackling call. Later, large flocks of mistle thrush move up the valleys to feed on bilberry
  • Between March-April: amphibians become active. Frogs spawn in early March, common toads later in the month. Newts appear in the ponds in April and you’ll start to spot common lizards basking in the sun
  • In May: bluebells burst into life and you can walk through carpets of them in Helmeth Wood
  • Over summer: insects are at their greatest numbers; common heath moths fly in good numbers, and in the evenings fox moths and oak eggers skim the heath. Stroll through the bracken to spot stripy broom moth caterpillars and disturb squadrons of silver-line moths
  • During summer: butterflies including small heaths, graylings, green-veined whites and, if you’re lucky, dark-green fritillaries flutter along the edges of the paths and across dry grassy areas
  • In July: tufts of cotton appear on the cotton grass, and the pink flowers of bog pimpernel spot the wet marshy areas
  • Between July-August: local whinberry crops start to appear, covering the Long Mynd in a purple carpet of flowers; seek out these carpets by following the heady scent
  • From August: birds migrate to the lowlands and coasts, or to Iberia and Africa.