Summary

This route boasts spectacular long range views into Wales, passes the Stiperstone rock formations and there are also great opportunites for bird watching. The walk does use some rocky tracks and crosses through a small boggy section towards the end.
Difficulty:
Moderate
Distance:
7.6 miles (12.3 km)
Walking time:
03h 45m
Type:
Circular

Start location

Bridges Youth Hostel Shropshire SY5 0SP

lat: 52.5625606

lon: -2.8961027

Map

Elevation

Route

1 of 0

Getting there

By Bus: Bridges is accessible on the Shopshire Hill Shuttle minibus (www.shropshirehillsshuttles.co.uk) which runs from Church Stretton to Bridges on weekends and bank holiday Mondays from April to September. It also stops at the Stiperstones Car park at waypoint [5] giving an alternative start point or opportunity to shorten the walk.

By Car: Bridges is a small place within a large network of minor roads near Ratlinghope. The limited parking at the hostel is restricted to those staying there. Those not staying at the hostel can use the car park for the Three Horseshoes Inn at the road junction just along from the hostel, as long as you intend to go in for food or drink afterwards. If you do not intend to use the pub, consider using the free Stiperstones car park at waypoint [5] on the route. 

Waypoints

1

Turn right out of the YHA and continue along the road for a couple of minutes until just before a bridge you reach a kissing gate and waypost on your left, pointing the route of the Shropshire Way. Go through the gate and go ahead on the clear path running parallel to Darnford Brook on your right. After two gates the path goes through a conifer plantation, still keeping parallel to the stream. At the next gate you leave the woods and meet a farm track coming up from a ford just down to the right. Turn left and ascend on this stony farm track which swings steadily right towards a saddle between two low hillocks. Beyond the metal gate just after the summit of the pass, the track descends gently to the right through sheep pasture to a gate leading to a road.

2

Once at the road at the bottom of the hill, turn left and immediately right down the lane towards Near Gatten Farm. Follow the track which ascends through the farm (past the old tank!), and straight on up a smaller track which starts where the main one bends right towards red-brick houses (a waypost by a telegraph pole marks the turning). Keep heading uphill, through the metal gate and on to a low pass that’s almost identical to the previous one.

3

At the pass, a stile on your right leads to a path arcing half left around the top of a slope to another stile. Cross this and go half right, diagonally down the slope, to join a farm track at the bottom. Turn left on this, pass through a metal gate and continue onwards across level marshland. On emerging at the metalled road, turn left and very soon after go right towards The Hollies Farm, via the Shropshire Way. Keep straight on through the farm buildings and through a metal gate, keep straight on up the track a short distance to a waymarked trail junction, marked with a fingerpost. Turn right for about 20 metres to a second finger post. Here, fork left and climb the field to a gate in the far top left field corner. (This is slightly different to the line of the path on the OS map.) Go through the gate and keep straight on up the farm track. When the fence on your right turns right keep roughly straight on up the field to reach a metal gate that brings you onto Natural England owned open access land, where the paths diverge. Our route ascends gently to the right, reaching the ridge top at Shepherd’s Rock.

4

Turn left (southwest) at the cairn and follow the broad, rocky track along the ridge line (A) to the Devil’s Chair and then Manstone Rocks (536m/1758ft), where a trig point marks the highest point on the crest. The final outcrop is Cranberry Rocks, from where the path drops left through the heather to an interpretative panel and car park at SO369977. (A) The Stiperstones ridge owes its distinctive appearance to a seam of Ordovician quartzite, forced upwards 480 million years ago by the same geological upheavals that formed Snowdonia. This was subsequently shattered and sculpted over successive Ice Ages into a string of sharp-edged outcrops, the most prominent of them the Manstone (536m/1758ft), Cranberry Rocks and sharp-edged Devil’s Chair. These form the focus of local folklore and superstition (see additional points of interest information.)(B) From the time of Emperor Hadrian, the real economic mainstay of this border area was lead. Hadrian’s mark has been identified on several “pigs” (or ingots) unearthed in the area, and remnants of mines and smelting chimneys still litter the western slopes of the hill, particularly around the village of Snailbeach. Ruins of miners’ allotments and hovels rest in the “dingles” on the western slopes of the Stiperstones hills. Many of them were originally squatters camps on common land: a local bye-law stated that any man who could build a chimney and light a fire in it between sunset and sunrise might lay claim to the plot afterwards. Around many of the mining settlements look out for patches of unusual vegetation, colonized by plants such as sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina) which thrive on the high lead levels of heavy metals and salt in the soil. An engaging account of the area’s mining heritage is on view at the Bog Centre, on the roadside at the southwest tip of the hill. For the Bog Field Centre (B), follow the road to your right out of the car park for 10 minutes.

5

The return leg to Bridges starts diagonally opposite the car park exit, where a stile leads to a path between gorse bushes. Take this and follow the field boundary on your left to the next corner, with Knoll’s Farm to your left. Go straight on through a metal gate in the corner, go left down the track for about 10 metres and turn right on another track, keeping the farm buildings to your left. Go through metal gates and continue to wooden gate posts at a gateway where waymarkers indicate a bifurcation in footpaths at SO365974. (There was no gate hanging on the posts when the walk was checked in 2017.) Turn left here, through a small coppice and over a little plank bridge, ignoring the gap in the hedge to your right. Keep the trees to your right as you drop down the slope and cross over the stile in the bottom corner of a marshy field. Continue across boggier ground fringed with gorse with the field border to your left. From here, the path ahead across pasture is clearly visible – but there’s still a bit of wet ground to negotiate. Cross a stile in a corner and keep ahead across another field to a stile that brings you to open fields at a low ridge, from where the route downhill is dry and well used. Go half right on the path down the steep bank in front of you to reach a stile in the bottom fence. Cross it and keep straight on with the fence on your right. When the fence goes right bear slightly left to a stile by a gate in the far fence. Keep straight on down the next field, parallel to a small valley on your left, to find a stile and plank footbridge in the bottom hedge. Go half left up the bank to find another stile that leads onto the road at SO373963. Turn left onto tarmac here. Follow the lane for about 5 minutes, passing Kinnerton Hall Farm.

6

About 50 metres after the last barn you will see a waypost pointing left through a metal gate. Go left here on a broad, unsurfaced track that fords a stream and climbs steeply up a bank on the other side. Turn right and follow the fence on your right all the way to the next corner where you cross a footbridge over a ditch. Keep straight on with the fence on your left in the next field, then when approaching the far hedge go diagonally right to the far corner where a metal gate leads onto a road. Turn left towards Bridges and then right through a gate onto a signposted footpath, at a point where the road bends to your left. Cross a footbridge to reach the three Horseshoes pub. Keep straight on along the road just left of it for a short distance to return to the YHA.

Notes

For information about staying at the Youth Hostel, which also has camping facilities, see http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/bridges

The Three Horseshoes pub in Bridges once had a terrible reputation, with a landlord who hated walkers. It is now (2017) run by the excellent Three Tuns real ale brewery from nearby Bishops Castle and is walker friendly again. If you use their car park, please do pop in for a drink afterwards.

Visitor information centres can be found at the Bog Field Centre (where refreshments are also available) and in Church Stretton.

More Walks like this one can be found in the Rambler's Guide to the Shropshire Way by Shropshire Ramblers (Pengwern Books). A guidebook for the whole of this 225km/140mile circular trail from Wem with useful background and maps. 

This route is covered by the OS Explorer 216 and the OS Explorer 217. 

Problem with this route?

If you encounter a problem on this walk, please let us know by emailing volunteersupport@ramblers.zendesk.com. If the issue is with a public path or access please also contact the local highways authority directly, or find out more about solving problems on public paths on our website.

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Join the Ramblers and enjoy

  • unlimited free access to 50,000 Ramblers group walks
  • a library jam-packed with thousands of tried-and-tested routes
  • a welcome pack teeming with top tips plus our quarterly Walk magazine
  • exclusive discounts from our partners
  • knowing your support is opening up more places to walk and helping more people discover the joy of walking