I enjoyed this walk, especially in the sunshine. A walk up and down 2 gorgeous valleys of Long Mynd from Church Stretton. The top of the walk includes the highest point on Long Mynd and you get the history of Carding Mill on the way down. A good half day out indeed.
The Shropshire Hills are a joy to walk and can be very underestimated. I started my walk from my accommodation, Longmynd House, which is at the foot of the hill, but the GPX info I give below I have done from Church Stretton so easy for all to enjoy.
Setting off up to Townbrook Valley, the valley we go upwards in, we first have to go through some woodland, some peaceful woodland with history.
Some Long Mynd Info
Long Mynd is a 7 mile long high plateau forming part of the Shropshire Hills. Heading to one end you come to the Stiperstones Range, and the other way you have the Stretton Hills.
The name Long Mynd comes from a mix of old Brittonic and more modern. The Mynd is the old word meaning ‘mountain’ and with the new it all becomes ‘Long Mountain’, which basically does describe it well.
Whilst walking on the top of Long Mynd you will see sheep and semi feral ponies everywhere and not a fence in sight. All these sheep belong to differing farms so the way they round them up and get them back down is interesting.
There is evidence that trees up on Long Mynd were cleared for grazing as far back as the Bronze Age, 2000 years ago. Even over 700 years ago it was documented as an organised grazing area.
Over the centuries the flocks of sheep have learnt naturally their boundaries, even with no fences. Also when the farmers come with the dogs to round up, the sheep again instinctively know which farm to head to, remarkable.
Before the valleys of Long Mynd however there are some wonderful calm woodland scenes to wander through.
These woods and fields are very accessible from the local village of Church Stretton. They are so calming that readers of one UK newspaper voted it as ‘England’s least stressful place’, this place is called Rectory Wood.
Rectory Wood was originally part of the grounds around the Old Rectory and the famous landscape architect ‘Capability Brown‘ had a big hand in the original concept.
Rectory Wood is a haven for ancient trees, birds and insects. It is lovely to see pockets of land like this being preserved and nurtured for generations to come.
Out the other side of the woods you head straight into the first of our valleys for the ascent, Townbrook Valley. Beautiful, green all around and blue in the sky, it was a perfect day to be here.
The pathway wound up and around the divergence of the valley. It was hard to not stop at every step to take in the glorious scenes all around.
Looking up looked wonderful ahead, looking back looked immense as the horizon kept throwing up treats.
The path up Townbrook Valley is perfect for all manner of standards. A steady wander upwards, not a huge distance and a great way to get on the top of the Long Mynd area from Church Stretton.
At the top of the valley we found it the perfect spot to take a lunch break, looking back down and over where we came from.
From the top of the valley it was easy cross country pathway heading across to the summit of Long Mynd, that is named Pole Bank.
The green gave way to heather moorland, I can imagine this is a wide open space that changes remarkably with the seasons.
Plenty of sheep around too, lazing around in the sunshine.
The summit of Pole Bank is wide and open, with truly expansive views! Pole bank is the highest point on The Long Mynd.
The whole of the top of Long Mynd holds remarkable views but it is always nice to be at the very top and to look out to see 360 views.
The story of how Pole Bank got its name may have got lost but there is believed to have been a pole marker for shepherds up there in days gone by, but has since long gone.
In fact it wasn’t just sheep with us enjoying the time on the summit area.
Long Mynd is looked after by the National Trust and this is one of the areas where they have wild ponies enjoying the freedom of space.
Along with the sheep, generations upon generations of these ponies have grazed here for centuries.
They play a very important role in keeping certain trees and grasses down to allow the good heathland ones to flourish and keeps the natural balance in order all the way down to birds and insects.
Carding Mill Valley
Before long it was time to head back down, via another valley, the Carding Mill Valley. A valley just as dramatic as the one we went up and in fact could be argued that it is more so.
The walk down again kept the dramatic views coming, and the river running beside us brought colour to the proceedings with flowers of all kinds blooming.
We were heading down a way that many come up the Long Mynd. Yes this valley is much busier than the one we came up.
That is because near the bottom is a National Trust hotspot. Carding Mill itself. Families and young geologists enjoying the unique surroundings and history that this valley provides.
Way back in the 13th century there was a corn grinding mill here by all accounts. However more recently, in 1812 a mill was built to process local fleeces.
This mill being up here in a Shropshire valley was too far from the spinning centre of Yorkshire, so it expanded more into textiles and clothing during the mid 19th century.
Tourism came later in that century so they turned the mill into somethingelse again, to produce Ginger Beer and Soda!
The old mill was demolished in the early 20th century but the National Trust now runs a visitor centre and car park for the many visitors here.
Around the corner and a little way further down you are back at Church Stretton.
This was a fine walk, on a fine day, with some fine interesting things to see and learn about on the way. I could also see why these Shropshire Hills are known as ‘Little Switzerland’.
Route Details and GPX
Start and end point: Church Stretton
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes