A Walk on a Wild Ridge

I meant to return to the Stiperstones in Shropshire during August when the hills would be a purple haze. Unfortunately the damp weather conspired against me but on a gloriously clear day in mid-September I did go back. The Stiperstones is a spectacular 10-kilometre ridge in south-west Shropshire rising to 536 metres above sea level.

Information
Information

We started the walk this time from the Knolls car park which lies between the Bog Visitor Centre and the hamlet of Bridges at the base of the Long Mynd. There is a fairly short all-ability trail on a broad, level, well-surfaced track running along the southern edge of the Reserve.

All Ability Trail
All Ability Trail

There are resting perches and a tapping rail as well as plenty of benches providing views over the area, although the actual quartzite tors are only just visible. There are no benches on top so make the most of these.

Take a rest here
Take a rest here and admire the views…
views to the east
views to the east
Trail end
Trail end

You can continue along this route and then up towards the Devil’s Chair, but it is over rather rough terrain so after strolling along this trail we returned to the car-park and headed up the smoother path to the ridge. From the start point you have a climb of around 375ft (115m) but this first part, although steep, is easy to hike up as the surface is wide and grassed, though you should look out for the occasional rock hazard and boggy ground.

Grassed hill path looking back towards the car park and the Long Mynd in the distance
Tors
Looking up towards the Tors on the ridge

Reaching the top of the ridge you are greeted by the most spectacular landscape. The skyline is dominated by the rocky crags rising dramatically above the traditional hill farms. The views are breath-taking. No towns are visible from here though we could make out the pink towers of Buildwas in the Severn Gorge to the north east and the volcanic looking hump of the Wrekin. We could even make out the shape of Titterstone Clee to the south east, but it was too hazy by now to photograph. Of course there are no motorways, so no traffic noise to disturb the peace. A buzzard or two glided on the thermals in the far distance and even the sheep were quiet. There was a palpable sense of stillness.

Views Westwards to Wales
Views Westwards to Wales
Corndon Hill to the south west
Corndon Hill to the south-west

The pathway at the top though is no longer smooth. It is best to wear good walking boots with ankle support and use a pole to help you wend your way between and over the hundreds of rocks randomly thrown around the tussocks of heather.

A slip or trip up here would not be good. To the left of the path are the Cranberry Rocks, to the right along the ridge lie the Manstone Rock, the highest point at 536m with a trig point on top showing distant points of interest including Corndon and Stapeley Hills (where Mitchells Fold can be found), the Devil’s Chair and furthest away, Shepherds Rock.

Manstone Rock

This is a wild and atmospheric landscape, with a geology of national significance. The Ordovician ‘Stiperstones Quartzite’, which makes up the ridge was shattered during the last ice age (more than 15,000 years ago). Severe and prolonged frost produced today’s shattered, boulder-strewn landscape. The jagged tors, including the Devil’s Chair, are outcrops which proved more resistant, while below them, water, frost and gravity combined to form natural stone striping and stone circles.

Where has the sun gone?

We didn’t continue to the Devil’s Chair, the next tor as the weather had clouded over (had someone gone to sit on the chair?) and the path was still very much rock-strewn. Given my recent ankle injury I didn’t want to tempt fate and so we turned around and went back down to the car park. If you want to you can carry on and return along a different more rugged track which leads to the Ability Trail below. Or even continue along the ‘Stiperstones Stomp’ passing the rest of the tors before the route undulates gently and downhill for the last two miles to Habberley where you can catch a Shropshire Hills Shuttle minibus. These run between Habberley and the NNR car park and other points at weekends and bank holidays between Easter and the end of September.

Long Mynd and south towards Clee Hill and Ludlow

If you enjoy a walk, long or short, then have a look at Jo’s site where you are welcome to join in.

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Heyjude

I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

55 thoughts on “A Walk on a Wild Ridge”

  1. A well-documented walk in impressive countryside, Jude. I had a holiday in Shropshire once, based in Much Wenlock. We went out and about a fair bit, but I didn’t get to the Stiperstones, so nice to see them here.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

      1. Not crowds. It’s a challenge to walk up on the ridge, some of those rocks are substantial, you find yourself practically rock climbing o_O – well OK that might be stretching the truth a little bit. There were a few ‘proper’ walkers/climbers and some families with small children riding on shoulders. Rather them than me.

    1. It is a shame the all ability walk isn’t longer and you don’t get good views of the ridge, but you do get glorious views east and south so it is still a beautiful place to visit.

    1. Thanks Sylvia. The ankle is pretty much fine, though still a twinge or two at times. I just need to be careful! And yes, once that sun disappears the whole site looks very spooky. And once we were back at the car the sun came out again and it was glorious!

  2. I love tor scenery – I know it from Dartmoor. This area you have highlighted on your lovely walk is new to me…had no idea the geology was similar. Wonderful far reaching views, too. A great Autumn walk, I’d say.

        1. It’s the local name for bilberries. They used to grow in profusion on the Stiperstones, and everybody bunked off school and other duties during picking time in August. I think they are related to blueberries, but are smaller with a more intense flavour.

  3. That first shot is a heart stopper, Jude, and your Manstones rocks are wonderful! Wouldn’t Meg love this? It’s a truly beautiful walk! Thank you so much. I know you love your gardens but this is really exceptional for your landscapes. I wish we’d had more time when we were down there, but we had James small, so probably couldn’t have taken to the heights. 🙂

    1. A shame Meg will miss these rocks. I shall have to remember to steer her in this direction when she returns. I never considered myself a landscape photographer Jo until fairly recently – I was always more interested in gardens and architecture. But holidays in more remote places and the USA and Canada with their huge vistas got me into attempting a landscape shot or two and I could see the attraction.

  4. I guess what jumps out at me is the purple heather. I imagine it is even more beautiful in person 🙂 … and that rocky path brought back memories of my hike on the Bruce Trail. That stuff is brutal to hike through – with your weak ankle, it was a good decision to avoid it.
    Loved your pictures 🙂

    1. I would have liked to have seen the heather in August but it was a miserable month and the Stiperstones are best seen in sunlight! That rocky track was the original cause of my foot problems as I walked the length of it one Christmas time in wellies and later on suffered from Achilles tendonitis. Never been the same since. This time though I wore proper boots and had a pole which helped navigate through the rocks beautifully.

  5. Jude holy moly when I saw the lead photo I pulled out my climbing gar. A beautiful, albeit somewhat strenuous, hike. Such beautiful vistas. some things are worth sweating for!

  6. The history around how these rocks formed is so interesting and i bet there is lots of local folklore around them too. Great photos and you must have climbed high to get those vistas.

    1. If you click on the link at the beginning it takes you to a post about the folklore. It’s an easy ascent, not far up either, but the path on the ridge is very rocky.

    1. It was lovely to get up there on what started as such a clear day, a shame the mist and haze came in once we were on the top and I couldn’t photograph the views southwards. Still, I was happy to see some remnants of purple 🙂

  7. Lovely Jude. The rock outcrops remind me so much of those we walked up to recently along the Devon coastline (yet to post about that…). I do love our British landscape. As always, so enjoyed this walk and visiting your beautiful part of the world with you 🙂

    1. You are so right, we do have some lovely landscapes in our small island. I assume you are talking about north Devon? That has dramatic jagged cliffs! And the Valley of the Rocks is amazing, if somewhat vertiginous!

      1. South Devon in this case Jude, by Soar Cove, close to Salcombe. I’ll post pics soon and you’ll see what I mean. Really struck me looking at yours. I’ve not been to the Valley of the Rocks, sounds very dramatic 🙂

    1. Yes it is an odd name. I was taken aback when I first read it, but apparently there was a mining village called Bog in the centre of lead mining. No I know, it still makes you laugh 🙂

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