The Long Mynd – The Long Mountain
Whenever we consider a hike, our minds are all too quick to highlight very particular areas, dependant on your location in the kingdom we call home. For me, The North West puts Snowdonia, The Peaks, The Lakes and Yorkshire as my 4 ‘go-to’s’ for a good, rugged hike. That was until a short conversation with a colleague drew my attention to the Shropshire Hills.
When I think of Shropshire, I think of rolling green countryside, plenty of pubs and not much else. I hadn’t even visited before this particular day! So, where better to start than one of the most popular National Trust properties in the area, Carding Mill Valley & The Long Mynd (Translated as ‘The Long Mountain’). With histories dating back to the iron age across the entire area, there is certainly a wealth of reasons to visit, regardless of your hiking ability.
Starting in the upper car park of the Carding Mill Valley property, the route works its way back down the valley along a pretty well-established track, passing the National Trust Café and Shop on the right-hand side. The perfect opportunity to pick up the paper OS map you’ve obviously left at home and stock up on snacks for the day ahead.
Working down the valley and then following the contours around the ridge line, a short walk through a quiet forest, passing Townbrook Valley, is easy-going and full of nature; eventually breaking out into sheep pastures, be sure to stick to the footways in this area, as the right of way is across private land so premature erosion is both unfair and against the code!
A steep decent toward a modest looking campsite just outside of Little Stretton is the beginning of the slog up onto the plateau of The Long Mynd. As you enter the access land, the sweeping valley ahead of you comes into view, showing what I would consider a stereotypical Shropshire view.
As the route takes you towards Barrister’s Plain, a short ascent takes you up and onto the Long Mynd Plateau, allowing your pace to build. The sheer stretch of seemingly flat ground is somewhat surprising, almost as much as the established nature of the ‘Jack Mytton Way’, a road that ascends and crosses the entire length of The Long Mynd.
As the route files past a car park, Pole Cottage comes into view, nestled within a small, tree scattered piece of land, perfect for cracking out the stove and brewing up a hot drink, out of the elements. After the morale booster, a short dart to Pole Bank cairn shows the endless extent of the moorland all around; if you’re lucky the wild horses will be around for a few pictures.
The route continues along the Jack Mytton Way and past an ancient burial site; this sort of history in an area can make up for the lesser dramatic scenery on show. Knowing that there was human activity hundreds, if not, thousands of years ago in the very spot you’re standing has a certain ‘fizz’ about it.
Heading for a nice steep decent straight into Carding Mill Valley between Calf Ridge and Haddon Hill, head straight back to the café for a well-deserved real ale and slice of cake. If time is on your side, there are a few waterfalls and reservoirs in the area which provide perfect picture opportunities for your scrapbooks.
As I’ve mentioned in previous route reports, sometimes it’s not about heading up the highest peak or steepest slope; hikes like these are about discovering the history of the land around us. In a similar manner to the Stanage Edge route report I’ve recently published, this route is relatively easy and accessible for all and by no means boring!
Car Parking is £5 on the national trust property, which is always a good shout considering the investment the National Trust plough into their properties. You could go a step further by subscribing to National Trust membership to support them even more and receive free parking at their properties! There’s plenty in Church Stretton should you want a more substantial meal or pint within walking distance of the car park.
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Remember to always carry the paper version of the map you’re using! I like to add a trace of my route and date it, providing a record of all the places I’ve been!