The remote and romantic Shropshire Hills form part of the ancient border Marches. These Welsh border lands have been fought over and disputed throughout much of our history. Of course, no one disputes the border today, any more than they would dispute the beauty of the region and the rich diversity of it’s landscape.
The complex geology of the area is largely responsible for the immense variety of the scenery which makes Shropshire so interesting and such a joy to walk. For example the Wrekin consists of ancient volcanic lava, whilst Wenlock Edge, just 30km south west, was once at the bottom of an ancient sea and is composed of carboniferous limestone. In fact Shropshire claims to be unique in the world, in having rocks from ten of the twelve geological periods within it’s boundaries.
The northern part of the county around Ellesmere was dramatically affected by being at the extremity of the ice sheets during the last ice age. Huge glaciers deposited the clay, gravel and sand found in these areas as they receded; but not before their awesome power had scooped out the depressions which today make Ellesmere a lake district in miniature.
There is diversity too, in the character of the county’s towns. Ludlow, a delightfully rural market town dominated by it’s imposing castle, retains much of the charm of a bygone age. It’s beautiful black and white timbered builings, so typical of Shropshire where oak forests were once widespread, can overwhelm the visitor with it’s cosy atmosphere. But Ludlow is a thriving community and has earned itself a reputation as a gastonomic centre of excellence. Not that far away Telford is a dynamic modern town full of high technology industry built upon the foundations of the industrial revolution, which all began here at Ironbridge, now a World Heritage site.
There are endless walking possibilities within Shropshire’s 5,000km of public paths, but the most important areas are the hills of the south west between Ludlow and Shrewsbury. Church Stretton, roughly in the centre of this area is an excellent base from which to explore the Long Mynd, a dramatic ridge of ancient heather clad hills which tower over the town. One of the most popular circuits climbs through the beautiful Carding Mill Valley, one of a number of ravines cutting through the eastern flank of the hills.
Other important hills include Wenlock Edge, Stiperstones, Clee Hills and Clun Forest. All offer spectacular open walking and panoramic vistas. The quiet, green valleys and Dales between these ranges are also beautiful walking country.