Saturday, 23 November 2013

Haddon Hill via The Pike, and Pole Bank - Shropshire 8.11.13

A circular walk, 7.4 miles, 3 - 4 hours.

A Shropshire hill walk beginning in the town of Church Stretton, that includes the highest point in the Long Mynd range.

It's quite a rare occurrence that I will visit my home county and not make an excuse to have a roam in the hills surrounding the town of Church Stretton. On the eastern side of the town are the less walked but still beautiful Stretton Hills, however to the west of the town are the hills of the Long Mynd, easily the most popular set of hills in the Midlands to walk.
  
I had drawn up a route that would take me up into the Long Mynd and to its highest point - Pole Bank. I have covered a walk in the past that also included Pole Bank, but that walk is much longer. This walk however is half the distance at just under seven and a half miles.

 It was a wet day, some heavy showers had battered the area overnight and it had remained light rain throughout the morning. It was also a later start to a walk, not arriving into Church Stretton railway station, where the walk starts from, until 11.30.

The route heads left out of the station and through the town...
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 201
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 202
At the top of the main street that runs through the town, the route heads right at this crossroad, along the B5477 'Shrewsbury Road' for about 500 yards...
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 203
The route then cuts left along a lane sign posted for 'Carding Mill Valley'...
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 204
I've said before when writing up a walk on the area, that this place will always be my favourite place to walk in the country. It will never fail to impress me as long as I visit this place, and even on this wet and cold November day it still gave a sense of excitement.
Here entering out into the Carding Mill Valley...
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In the Summer this grassy area is swarming with cars parked up with families enjoying this special place...
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Easily one of the quietest day's I've encountered in the Carding Mill Valley it was nice to have the place almost to myself. Here passing the normally thronging with tourists National Trust cafe...
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 208
The route now cuts off the road via a small wooden footbridge and crosses over a stream. It then follows an incredibly well maintained path on the other side of the stream. In the below photograph you can make out the first climb of the walk, a ridge of rock known as The Pike...
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Here approaching The Pike, with Haddon Hill to its left...
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The steep ridge as expected was a bit slippery on this day...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 213
Once you have passed the exposed rock of The Pike, you come to a slightly easier path to walk on...
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The Pike commands some fine views of the upper Carding Mill Valley. Here looking towards Cow Ridge, and further along the valley, Calf Ridge in their Autumn clothing...
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Here looking back along The Pike towards Burway Hill on the left, with Devil's Mouth directly ahead, and Yearlet behind to its right...
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The top of The Pike brings you towards the edge of a golf course. The route cuts left and joins a footpath that skirts the edge of the course...
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Haddon Hill up ahead now...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 224
Here looking back across The Pike towards Bodbury Hill with its distinctive ring, which is the remains of an Iron Age hillfort...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 228
This path I'm following at this point is not marked down on an OS map, but it remains easy to follow through the bracken and heather towards the top of Haddon Hill...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 230
Here approaching the windy top of Haddon Hill. The popular Jack Mytton Way path can be seen clearly to the left of the below picture too...
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Pole Bank in the distance from the top of Haddon Hill...
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The path continues now from the top of the hill...
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The path soon merges onto a Bridle Way, here cutting left to follow it...
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The Bridle way brings you out onto the Shropshire Way path, one of England's longest footpaths, this is easy to follow and is dotted with way markers.
Above the clouds here on the Shropshire Way, skirting the edge of Wild Moor...
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The path splits at this point, but the way marker on the right hand path indicates 'Pole Bank Walk'...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 239
Shropshire isn't really well known for its moors, but these can be a tricky place to navigate in low cloud, as can the vast majority of the Shropshire hills. This part of the Long Mynd can feel quite remote even on the sunniest of days...
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 240
The path continues across the moor towards Pole Bank now. The Knolls, another near-by high point, can just about be seen over the moor ahead on the left...
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And finally to the summit of Pole Bank, the highest point in the Long Mynd, complete with Trig Point and Toposcope at 516 metres...
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A small path heads north east from the Trig Point through the heather towards this track...
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This track then brings you out onto a lane that heads east past a point on the map called 'Boiling Well'. The route continues for a short time on the lane before reaching this area in the below picture, where a way marked footpath indicating 'Townbrook' cuts to the right...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 248
Way markers continue here allowing easy navigation...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 254
Yearlet hill ahead here. You have a choice to cross this hill, either by the path that cuts along its northern edge to the left, or you can go right over the top - which I decided to do. Both paths are visible here...
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Ponies grazing, with craggy Devil's Mouth beyond...
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Heading up the steep side of Yearlet...
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More Ponies, this time guarding the summit of Yearlet...
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The route continues across Yearlet and starts to head downhill...
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Ragleth Hill...
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Three of my favourite hills in the country here. From left The Lawley, Caer Caradoc, and Hope Bowdler Hill...
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An Autumnal scene as I head steeply downhill here...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 275
The path eventually brings you to this small reservoir...
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My route crosses over a small footbridge that allows you past the reservoir, before cutting right and down through a kissing gate into 'Rectory Wood'...
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Keeping left here and following the lower path through these pleasant woods...
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Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 280
The path takes you past this small pool and folly...
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The path then eventually brings you out onto this small park as you enter back into Church Stretton...
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And finally back to Church Stretton railway station completing the walk...
Pen y Fan and Pole Bank walk 286
Overall a nice little hill walk that can be done in more or less any weather. As I said this is my favourite place to walk in the country, however if you do find yourself in this part of the world, take some time to explore this fantastic region and enjoy these wonderful Shropshire Hills.
Thank you for reading.
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