This is my second trek into the wilderness that is South Shropshire. I’d been lusting after Wales a lot previously. There’s something rather remote about South Shropshire, it seems less accessible, less shared by its locals and I don’t blame them, who’d want to share such a lush beauty?
I’ve made it a goal this year to start to explore more of the county that I live in (Shropshire) and although I’m up to the north of it, it’s only an hours drive to get to the likes of Stiperstones, Carding Mill and Clun Valley.
I like to start New Year’s day with some outdoor action, you know, start the year as I mean to go on? Last year, I was at Llandegla on the mtb, puffing and panting up what’s called among friends ‘Cardio Hill’ and boy did it set the tone for 015. To carry on outdoor tradition, this New Year’s day, we all took a walk up the Stiperstones. It’s my first Shropshire Hills walk since my ankle thing and I was a little apprehensive about aggravating it which I did but less of that!
After parking in the first car park (free) we walked up a winding country road after seeing a sign for the view point. Little did we know that we could have drove up to a closer car park where the start of the Stiperstones walk begins, however, we got the true sense of hill views as we meandered up the narrow, puddle infested roads.
I was carrying everyone’s supplies – I say that, like I had a week’s load on my back but actually it was only two bottles of water, a big flask of tea, a first aid kit and some lunch… It’s not much but since I’ve not been doing much, I thought my fitness would have gone down hill (no pun intended) but I was pleasantly surprised.
The short grassy Shropshire hill was somewhat crowded by panting dogs, shouting children and red in the face parents who no doubt had the same idea about starting the year off on a good note. It was nice to see people up and about. We walked up the out of season Heather clad hill for about 15 minutes until the neat sodden and part muddy grass ended and suddenly the path became full of embedded rocks with some small and other large grassy gaps. This wasn’t my favourite part.
The views, panoramic, the smells, damp, the sky, grey, the wind, slightly on the wild side. I’ve recently started to become a lot more mindful of my surroundings and not just notice the obvious senses. For me, I use my eyes and ears a lot but not my sense of smell or touch. Sometimes, I’ll have a quick talking to myself so I’m aware more so of the natural world around me.
To look at the Stiperstones, they strike me as being odd. Large piles of rocks piled on top of one another which you can climb, there’s about 6 in total: Shepherd’s rock, Devils Chair, Manstone rock, Cranberry rock, Nipstone rock, and The Rock. Towers of grey stone rows with a small distance to walk in between each one. Personally I don’t find them appealing to look at as they’re dominant looking but I guess they sure do emphasise the dramatic scenery of South Shropshire way.
We decided to walk from one end to the other and stop half way for some honey tea and a cheese and onion pastie (keeping it real). On the way back, the wind turned nasty and the clouds began to swoop in around us. It fascinates me how mountains and hills create their own weather systems. Thankfully every part of me was toasty except my face which was being battered by harsh northerly winds. I was happy to just make the car as the torrential rain went even more torrential.
My ankle was starting to hurt too. The path around these parts is hard work if the ankles are not in the right condition and I found myself climbing up one of the Stiperstones only to get my ankle stuck in between two rocks which I yanked out harder than I realised… Good job hot water bottles have been invented.
I truly enjoyed my adventure into South Shropshire. The Stiperstones is an easy walk up and one I’d do again with my hiking sticks once at the top. Right now my ankle is giving me some noise but I’ll be back this weekend to explore the South Shropshire hills some more. Although this time, we’ll take the grassy meandering ones and stay away from any rocks.
Tell me about your adventures…