Mortimer Forest, South Shropshire

Worcester News: BEAUTIFUL: There’s some stunning scenery along this countryside walk BEAUTIFUL: There’s some stunning scenery along this countryside walk

THIS is a delightful walk in the hilly countryside of Mortimer Forest where south Shropshire meets north Herefordshire with panoramic views across the Marches.

The best views are from Bringewood where a ridge reaches 363m. On clear days the views are magnificent but even on a cloudy day you can see across Herefordshire to the Black Mountains on the Welsh border and the Brecon Beacons beyond.

Shropshire’s contribution to the scene includes Wenlock Edge, Long Mynd, Clee Hills and the Wrekin.

Although the landscape is the main reason to do this walk, there are numerous architectural reasons too such as Ludlow’s 469 listed buildings. There is also much to see at Bromfield, including a 14thcentury priory gatehouse, while Deep Wood provides a fine view of imposing Downton Castle, a fortified mansion built for a Ludlow MP in 1778. The various constructions which mark the course of the otherwise invisible Elan Valley pipeline are also interesting – look for a viaduct (easily missed but above Lower Wood Road at point three) and two pump-houses.

It is a longish walk but a glance at the map suggests several possible short-cuts. You could go down Dinham (left of the castle entrance), cross Dinham Bridge and turn right to find a no through road which becomes a bridleway through Priors Halton into Oakly Park, allowing you to join the longer route at point three.

Another option is to join Lower Wood Road via the waymarked Mortimer Trail, meeting the longer route towards the end of point three (Brick House on the OS map). Lower Wood Road is a very attractive no through road with excellent views and hardly any traffic.

Either of these short-cuts is a good choice in times of flood when the Shropshire Way may be under water.

FACTFILE

Start: Castle Square, Ludlow, grid ref SO509745.

Length: 11 miles/17.5km.

Maps: OS Explorer 203, OS Landranger 137 or 138.

Terrain: Woodland, plantation, farmland, parkland. Hilly in places.

Footpaths: Mostly excellent.

Stiles: None.

Parking: Ludlow park-and-ride (alternatively, at Whitcliffe or Mortimer Forest – see OS map).

Buses: Faster by train, changing at Hereford; cheaper by bus changing at Kidderminster to the 292. You can also go by bus via Hereford on Saturdays (and on the outward journey only on weekdays, returning via Kidderminster) but it’s more expensive except for those with free passes.

See worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or call 01905 765765.

Refreshments: Ludlow and Bromfield.

DIRECTIONS:

1 Take a footpath to the right of the castle entrance and descend past the castle walls to a junction by a beech tree. Turn sharp right on another path which descends to Linney. Follow this lane to the left and stay on it until it bends right.

Go straight on instead, joining a footpath marked with the Shropshire Way’s buzzard motif.

Walk through fields to Coronation Avenue (B4361). Turn left, then left again on Burway Lane, which becomes a bridleway. Follow it to Bromfield Road (A49).

2 Cross the A49 and walk along the road opposite for 120m before turning left on a bridleway which runs between a house and Ludlow racecourse. The bridleway then continues between the railway and the racecourse to reach a level crossing. Turn left to the A49 at Bromfield and use a subway to gain the other side. Take a quiet road (for example not the Leintwardine road), which passes the church and priory gatehouse.

Stay on the road as it becomes a bridleway running through Oakly Park.

3 Take another bridleway on the right. Follow it to Lady Halton, ignore another bridleway branching left and proceed to Poles Farm and the Poles where the bridleway bends left, climbing slightly to Lower Wood Road. Turn right.

When the road bends right go straight on along a forest road into Deep Wood. Keep straight on at subsequent junctions staying close to the woodland edge.

4 Take the left-hand branch when the forest road forks. Climb quite steeply away from the woodland edge ignoring all branching paths.

The forest road twists and turns uphill and when it returns briefly to the woodland edge it provides a fine view of Downton Castle. Continue to ignore all branching paths and then go to the right when the forest road forks.

5 Take the steepest path at a fiveways junction, soon skirting a knoll to reach another junction.

Keep straight on along a ridge-top path bordered by beech trees. At the next junction climb to an open, grassy summit then continue along the ridge-top until forced to make a sharp right turn. Descend to meet a forest road and turn left. Walk through Hazel Coppice to join a road, continuing in the same direction.

6 Pass a house called Mary Knoll to reach a track accessed by a pair of metal gates. Despite the lack of signage two bridleways leave the road here. Walk along the track, which soon swings left. Keep straight on at a junction, beyond which blue arrows indicate the way for a while. Re-enter woodland and keep straight on at all minor junctions.

7 Eventually you will come to a major junction. The bridleway continues roughly straight on, sunken and stone-surfaced. This is the most attractive route but it is slippery after rain or snow. If you are not sure-footed you may prefer to turn left on the waymarked Mortimer Trail, following it to Ludlow. If you do choose the bridleway it is easily followed to the woodland edge where it swings left to descend to the road. Turn left, then take a path on the right after a few metres. Descend to meet the Mortimer Trail and follow it to Ludlow.

Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 203

Please note this walk has been carefully checked and the directions are believed to be accurate at the time of publication. No responsibility is accepted by either the author or publisher for errors or omissions, or for any loss, accident or injury, however caused.

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