Five go mad in Shropshire

Daniel Butler and friends found historic Bishop's Castle rich in scenery and pubs

'The historic road from Ludlow past Stokesay was controlled, probably from the 8th century, by the bishops of Hereford who built a castle where the gap narrows between the mountain lines of the Long Mynd and the Clun Forest. Only a small garrison was needed to keep a check on the Welsh and to regulate the town which had sprung up on this 'road of the castles'."

The Encyclopaedia Britannica's entry for Bishop's Castle is hardly exhaustive, but the brief reference to the critical role of geography was enough to send five of us off to investigate the area's walking possibilities. Although it now has a marvellous feeling of tranquillity, for several centuries this small Shropshire market town lay at the heart of some of the most fought over terrain in Britain.

There are several excellent pubs, but we chose to start and finish our walk in The Three Tuns, a former coaching inn, with its own brewery, dating back to the 17th century. Its helpful manager, Keith Kightley, sorted out a selection of suitable walks, promising a hot meal on our return. With a couple of two-year-olds in tow, we picked a short walk south of the town, to Cwmmawr Dingle - a path through ancient woodland.

Fortified with XXX bitter we set off down the High Street, ignoring the threat of rain. We headed boldly for the Norman church at the bottom of the hill before we were turned left along Church Lane. This path soon forks and we took the right branch, turning left almost immediately to wander up a track that forms part of the Shropshire Way.

At the end, we found ourselves in the front garden of The Fields, a whitewashed cottage. We were faced with a choice: either carry on in a straight line for a longer walk or turn right across open fields. The weight of the toddlers on our shoulders was beginning to tell and the pub's gastronomic delights were starting to call. So we opted for the shorter walk, stopping first at some sloe-laden blackthorn hedges. As we harvested a tiny fraction of the bumper crop, we looked over superb views of the Long Mynd - the 16-mile ridge that runs parallel to the border. In the past it was a place of mystery, with the rocky promontories of the Stiperstones surrounded in superstition. Today, it is a Mecca for hang- and paragliders. Although spectacular in any weather, the view was much improved by the sudden emergence of the sun, dappling everything in a warm light with the contours of the hills highlighted by the scudding shadows of clouds. The improved weather brought out the wildlife, too, and in no time four pairs of buzzards were wheeling overhead in the stiff breeze.

In spite of the hilly surroundings, our own walk was comparatively gentle. The toddlers were able to run alongside, chasing the dog and diving into hedges for the last of the blackberries. We continued over the ridge, crossing a rickety stile to be confronted by views north and west into Wales. Then we crossed another open field, aiming for a stile, beautifully framed in a wall of overgrown hedge and strongly reminiscent of a castle doorway. After crossing the next, much smaller, field and yet another stile, we were in the bottom corner of the wood - where the children were delighted to spot the white-and-red tops of fly agaric, those classic "toadstools" beloved by illustrators and garden gnome manufacturers.

By now, however, there was just one thing on our minds - how quickly could we get to our wild mushrooms on a bed of black mushroom rice and the casserole of chicken and duck? Just as important, which of the pub brewery's four beers would we pick to go with it? So the toddlers were swept on to shoulders and we completed the final half mile into town at a jog.

The meal was everything we had hoped and all five of us were soon too full to consider the afternoon stroll which the scenery deserved, but we compensated for this by watching a peregrine circling high above the town. Then we set off on a guided tour of the brewery.

Maps: OS Landranger 137; Pathfinder 930. The Three Tuns (01588-638797) also provids maps.

From The Three Tuns walk down to the church. Turn right and then immediately left. At the sign to The Pines, turn right and then left along the Shropshire Way.

When you reach a whitewashed cottage on the right, either:

a) Carry straight on until the fourth stile. Do not cross, but turn right. Cross two more stiles, at the third, turn right towards a wood - Cwmmawr Dingle. Walk through, going right at the footbridge and left to the gate. Go through and then left and walk down the hill.

Or b) turn right alongside the cottage, crossing a stile into a field. Go up the hill and over two more stiles. Then walk to the field's far corner and cross a stile in a tall hedge. Cross the next small field, turn right and walk down with the hedge on your left.

Either way, next go through a gate at the bottom of the field and turn right along a lane, then right again on to the road on the outskirts of Bishop's Castle.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice