A shorter Long Mynd Walk - By Amy Porter
This route will take you through similar terrain as the above Long Mynd loop, covering some of the same tracks. It provides you with a shorter walk, avoiding Carding Mill Valley, which can get very busy on warm days and holidays. The route provides you with a combination of valley ascents, the uplands and Pole Bank summit, and a descent across an open plain where you can enjoy views across the batches and toward Church Stretton. Parking is free at the above grid reference. The closest facilities are in Church Stretton, a short drive away.
Proceed across Rectory Field and through Rectory Wood, past the Mainwaring’s Gothic garden and pool. Climb the wooden steps to the right of the pool to reach the gate onto Townbrook, or continue around the pool and up the path straight ahead. This takes you to a small reservoir, the original water supply for Church Stretton, formed in 1857 which is now an attractive pool full of trout. Continue ahead to join Townbrook path and proceed along the well maintained path, with the stream to your left. The climb is steady and prolonged, but there are plenty of welcome resting points, which offer the opportunity to glance back at the view. The north facing slopes have a covering of bracken and grasses, namely sheep’s fescue and common bent with bilberry, heather and an understory of mosses and lichens. On the south facing slopes, grassland and thickets of gorse dominate the terrain.
Above: As you climb the batch, the view begins to unfold behind you, with Devil’s Mouth Hill in the foreground, and Caer Caradoc beyond.
Knarled hawthorn provide signal posts for whichats and tree pipit, and also provide welcome shade for grazing sheep. Note on the south facing slope, there are many sheep scrape’s carved into the slopes, usually occupied.
Continue climbing until you reach a couple of natural rock steps and the path narrows. A short distance ahead is a waymarker with a blue arrow pointing in the direction of Pole Bank (bear right and not straight ahead). This is a common place to take a few minutes to recover from the climb whilst enjoying views over Church Stretton and hills to the east.
Above: Carneddau Welsh Mountain pony. The landscape is arid and dry, following the hot summer of 2018. A bad year for heather, as much was scorched during this heatwave, and was subjected to heather beetle over the ensuing mild winter. It is currently in a state of repair.
Continue along the broad, grassy path that swings right and once heading in the direction of Burway Road, take the left fork. Continue until you reach Burway Road, crossing over to take the wide stone track ahead. This leads to the Port Way, where a left hand turn will bring you to Pole Bank summit, at 516 m. Continue to reach Burway Road and turn right to Pole Cottage. Opposite Pole Cottage, take the path to the left through the scrub and head towards Round Hill. There are frequent flyers from the nearby Midland Gliding Club a short distance further along. The views across the batches are breathtaking with every turn, offering a different aspect of each steep cut in the landscape. As you continue bearing left, views will open up over Minton Hill to the south and Ragleth Hill to the east.
Above: Carneddau Welsh Mountain ponies and newly born foals are frequently found on the grassy slopes between Round Hill and Callow Hill. Packetstone Hill is to the centre right.
The contrast to walking through the deep batches and high over the uplands offers wonderful variety thoughout the walk. The pathway is carefully crafted over and around hillocks to provide views from all aspects, with Grindle and Nills hills to the left and Minton Hill and Callow Hollow to the right. As you proceed forward, you begin to descend with Small Batch to your left.
Above: Ancient trees line the path down towards Little Stretton, with Small Batch below to the left.
Continue down the tree lined pathway and through a 5 bar gate. Here, you will cross the stream and then the small ford. Turn right and follow the road, branching to the left to continue to the Ragleth Inn, or turn right at the junction onto Ludlow Road to the Green Dragon. Both are highly recommended lunch stops, leaving a short walk back to your starting point.
Return to the ford and turn right over the stile and up the steep ascent towards The Owlets. This is also a beautiful evening walk, with the sun setting across Caer Caradoc, Hope Bowdler Hill and Ragleth Hill to the east.
Above: Sunset over Caer Caradoc.
Continue across the fields, sticking to grass worn path until you reach the wooded walk. This brings you out at Ludlow Road, where you take an immediate right to stick to the wooded track until you reach Cunnery Road. Continue along the road until you reach the carpark starting point.
In summary, this shorter circular walk of the Long Mynd has a more direct ascent to the summit than my previous walk, which is very telling in the steeper ascent. The views allow an appreciation of just how expansive the Long Mynd is. It is an easy walk to follow if have an OS map. The distance allows you to take this route as a half day walk, with lunch at one of the recommended pubs and an afternoon to explore the hills to the east.
Short Long Mynd Loop: Townbrook – Pole Bank – Callow Hollow
Distance: 7.1 miles
OS Explorer 217