WALKING: SHROPSHIRE HILLS, STIPERSTONES NATURE RESERVE

My second adventure into the south Shropshire hills was delightful to say the least.
I’m always in awe at how lush and vast the terrain is around these parts. Large rolling
hills clad in Heather, sheep, stones, gates and small holdings dotted here and there. It definitely has a different feel about it to North Shropshire -somewhat fresher (and I find Shropshire fresh indeed). Walking around south Shropshire is encouraged and it’s obvious by the amount of unlocked gates and no beware signs.

Stiperstones, South Shropshire

Note: Pictures taken on my Lumia 735

THE WALK, SOUTH SHROPSHIRE

One fine Sunday we explored the Shropshire Hills further.  After our adventures around the Stiperstones, we used this area to park up at (The Bog Car park) and explore the surrounding terrain. The weather seemed back to its normal self after all it is January and so you’d expect the bitter twist of the air and cold harsh wind.  But nothing a 3 in 1 wind proof and waterproof coat can’t sort out – although a base layer and fleece is  advisable  along with hat and gloves!

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ON WE GO…

From The Bog car park we took the Mucklewick walk which is one of the three circular walks.  I’m not always one for already walked paths but when a land is so vast, you can spend most of your time wandering which way to go. Since we’re not too familiar with the area, sign posted walks save time and allows you to enjoy the best of what the scenery has to offer. It was a muddy start, as we trekked up a  thin mud track which was mostly covered in a light flow of water. It leads you to creaky stairs and then out into a farmer’s field. As you walk through the field, you’re treated to precious views of the landscapes. There’s a variety of green colours, textures and on this Sunday, glorious blue skies. It’s a great place to stop  for photographs and to say hi to the local sheep munching on turnips.  I’m not too sure if we did the whole Mucklewick walk as we exited the field (just before a farm house)  and continued up a little winding road where you arrive at a second car park. This is Stiperstones National Nature reserve car park.

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STIPERSTONES, NATURE RESERVE

We went through the flooded cattle grid which opens up onto some more spectacular land equipped with panoramic views. We could have continued down the winding country lane but we headed back on ourselves and ended up at the Stiperstones Nature Reserve. This was more of a tamed walk with wooden benches perfectly set out  with idyllic accompanying views.

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It goes on for a few miles and there are Exmoor ponies dotted about which we saw two of! We shortly stopped for lunch. My rucksack contained hot honey English Breakfast tea, home made onion, potato and cumin (courtesy of Rik) soup and home made chocolate brownies with dark chocolate pieces. I’m a big fan of making my own food in general but even more so for outdoor adventures. It feels authentic. And the nutritional value is much better than a packaged sandwich or ‘energy bar’.

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There are educational posters about the reserve educating you of the fungi there’s available.  I’m a bit obsessed with mushrooms and after having wild mushroom soup given to us by neighbours who picked them locally, shop bought mushrooms just don’t taste the same. I’m on a mission to be able to identify edible mushrooms so the signs were welcomed! After lunch we carried on with the walk – one side is upland
covered in out of season Heather and the other side is vast walk-able farm land.

COMING TO THE END…

Eventually, the path  had two directions to take. We took the one that climbed the upland- it’s rockier and muddier here. The wind and rain picked up at this point albeit not torrential but just enough to provide some resistance as you walk. Once we reached the top, the sun was back out and beginning to set. I love this time of day as the the sun picks its favourite spot and  lightens up bits of the land whilst the other parts are cast into a darker shade of the shade.

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The path takes you to about a quarter of the way up to the Stiperstones which we didn’t visit again this time and so we carried on back down through the fields to the Bog Car Park. One last stop was to see some mining ruins which told a story about how this area was popular with lead mining till the 20’s which then ceased.  The area apparently is rather toxic yet despite that some of the most rare species live there.

As I didn’t have my GPS on me, we think the whole walk was about 12/13 miles. Considering my ankle, I thought it was easy to moderate. I’m definitely seeing an increase in my lung capacity so it’s nice to see last year’s adventures had a positive effect on my body!

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There is so much more to the Shropshire Hills and a GPS or compass and map
is advisable should you want to explore the off beaten track. But no matter where you are in the Shropshire hills even the beaten track seems off beaten and I think that’s due to its sheer size.

This weekend, we’re going back to Carding Mill Valley to take the reservoir path – I believe you can wild swim here but I think I’ll leave that to the warmer months.

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Where have you been adventuring lately?

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