BEWDLEY has been a trading centre since prehistoric times, when it lay on the route of a Bronze Age track known as the Clee-Clun Ridgeway.

However, it was its position on the Severn that enabled Bewdley to develop into a major inland port.

Water-borne trade was well established by the early 15th century and Bewdley’s first bridge was built in 1447, further boosting development.

The town had some strategic importance too, as the river crossing it guarded was in the politically unstable Marches, and in the hands of the Mortimers, most powerful and ambitious of the Marcher lords.

For a time, Bewdley was probably the administrative centre of the Council in the Marches of Wales, before the council moved to Ludlow.

In 1499, nearby Tickenhill Manor was the venue for the marriage of Henry VII’s eldest son Prince Arthur to Katherine of Aragon.

Bewdley became one of the four principal ports on the river – the others were Bridgnorth, Worcester and Gloucester. Its early prosperity is evident in the splendid buildings lining the narrow streets and the waterfront.

Many of them are medieval, timberframed structures which were given new brick façades in the 18th century.

Decline set in when the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal was joined to the Severn, not at Bewdley but downstream at what then became Stourport.

The Industrial Revolution passed Bewdley by and lack of income meant minimal development, ensuring the survival of the picturesque old town which now attracts large numbers of tourists, including walkers.

Both the Worcestershire Way and North Worcestershire Path start at Bewdley, and the Geopark Way and Severn Way pass through. Plenty of other footpaths converge on Bewdley, most of them well maintained, and there is a two-mile waymarked trail to Ribbesford, much of which is included in the walk described here.

You can download an informative leaflet about Ribbesford Circular Walk or pick one up at the information centre on Load Street.

Ribbesford Woods is managed by the Forestry Commission so there is open access, meaning you can vary the route described here if you wish.

There is also open access to Three Cornered Wood, which belongs to the Woodland Trust and is by the Severn downstream of Ribbesford.

FACTFILE START Bewdley Bridge; grid ref SO787754.

LENGTH 7½ miles/12km.

MAPS OS Explorer 218, OS Landranger 138.

TERRAIN Woodland, plantation, pasture, riverside towpath; hilly in places.

FOOTPATHS Excellent, apart from some minor waymarking issues in Ribbesford Woods, probably the result of recent forestry operations.


PARKING There are car parks available to use on Dog Lane or Gardners Meadow in Bewdley. Alternatively, park at Blackstone Riverside Park and start the walk there.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Bus 295/303 or train to Kidderminster, then 2/2a/2c/125/291/292 to Bewdley; or 295 to Stourport then 15 to Bewdley; or save time by taking the 295 to Stourport then walking along the banks of for 15 minutes to pick up the route at Three Cornered Wood; or 01905 765765.


ORDNANCE SURVEY Worcester News recommends the use of OS Landranger Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Landranger 138.

DIRECTIONS 1 Head downstream on Severnside South and then past Gardners Meadow. Keep straight on at all junctions, soon going under the bypass and through Blackstone Riverside Park to meet Ribbesford Road. Cross over and turn left, then shortly take a bridleway on the right and follow it to St Leonard’s Church. Join the Worcestershire Way, which passes through the churchyard then continues uphill, along the edge of a field and then along the edge of Ribbesford Woods, eventually passing The Beeches to meet Heightington Road.

2 Turn left, then almost immediately left again, back into the woods, leaving the Worcestershire Way. Follow a footpath to a forest road and turn right. Proceed past piles of stacked, recently-felled timber to an unsigned crossroad. Go straight on, along a track which soon swings left to descend through the woods. Turn right at the bottom of the slope, then shortly left, past a chalet park to Ribbesford Road. Cross over and turn left.

3 Take a path leading to the river and walk downstream for about a mile. You will eventually come to a flight of steps giving access to Three Cornered Wood. You can go through the wood to the road, or you can continue a few paces further to find a permissive path which follows the edge of the wood to the road. Either way, cross the road to a footpath opposite and walk along a field edge until a gate gives access to another field on the left.

4 Walk up Stagborough Hill.

The path splits into several branches, offering multiple choice with minimal waymarking, but it hardly matters which path you take as long you head for a hedge at the top of the slope. Turn right beside the hedge, soon passing to the left of an extensive patch of gorse. The path soon crosses to the other side of the boundary, but then crosses back again and you keep going in the same direction, with woods and fields on your left, and uncultivated grassland and gorse bushes on your right.

5 After you pass two large yew trees, a gateway on the left gives access to Ribbesford Woods. Continue in the same direction, going straight on until you come to a vehicle barrier. Join Heightington Road here and turn right past Glebe Cottage.Take the next left, towards Park End, briefly rejoining the Worcestershire Way, but keeping straight on when the Way turns left.

6 Turn right at the next junction, on a woodland-edge path, and keep straight on at another junction. Walk through fields to Park Farm, pass to the right of it and follow the driveway to Heightington Road. Turn left to cross the bypass on a bridge then take a path on the left just after a green-painted, corrugated-iron building. Walk to a junction and take the right-hand path, which crosses a field to meet a track. Turn left, then go straight on to reach Park Lane at Bewdley. Turn right to the town centre.