|Visited 16.4.2011. After a trip into Shropshire last week, to visit Mitchell's Fold and its surroundings, another sunny Saturday draws me back to the area for a further mooch. The Long Mynd is indelibly marked upon me, due to a sledging incident up on these hills aged 14 that left me with stitches in the back of my head (and a permanent scar!). I'll try to be a bit more careful this time...
Access to the area couldn't be easier, as Church Stretton has a train station on the Cardiff - Manchester main line. There is however the small matter of the uphill walk from there. The Long Mynd is a broad ridge a couple of miles across, but bordered on every side by steeply sloping hills which have to be dealt with from any approach. Worth pausing to look north eastwards from the town too, at the even more steeply sided Caer Caradoc Hill, with its premier league hillfort looming over the town. It is one of a long row of hills that culminates at the northern end at The Wrekin, also topped with a hillfort and the origin of Midlands expression "to go round the Wrekin" (meaning to go the long way round to get somewhere, or take a long time to get to the point). Which is appropriate enough in these fieldnotes, don't you think?
Anyway, my approach for today's trip is an easy enough one, via Church Stretton golf club. A path runs up into the hills from behind the club-house and provides excellent views of Caer Caradoc and the Lawley for most of its route. Beware flying golf balls though (often the path is unsighted from the tees). As the path gets up past the 300m mark, the neat IA ringwork of Bodbury Ring can be admired as well. Eventually the path leaves the grassy slopes of the golf course at the bottom of Haddon Hill. From here the terrain changes to the heather that cloaks the Long Mynd and which will provide the surface for most of the remainder of the walk.
The southeasternmost barrow of the group stands prominent on one of Haddon Hill's summits. It's a low mound, covered in heather, with no obvious path to it other than to wade through the heather. I decide to give it a miss (bit poor for the first barrow of the day, I know) - I think a winter visit would be needed to make it a worthwhile trek.
Instead I carry on until the path hits the minor Woolstaston - Ratlinghope Road, where it meets the Shropshire Way long distance path and the possibly prehistoric Port Way. From here the main object of my visit is clearly visible. Perched on a natural hilltop at 470m, the two central barrows - known as Robin Hood's Butts, he was a well-travelled chap - are an obvious landmark. The larger barrow, the SW, is a massive mound 35m across and 4m high. Even though its edge has been cut through by an embanked field boundary, this is a really impressive monument. Standing on its top, there are really decent views to be had - the top of Caer Caradoc can be seen to the southeast, the long ridge of the Stiperstones and nearby Corndon Hill are the major landmarks to the WNW. The barrow has a slightly "stepped" appearance, as if a smaller mound has been built on to the top of the large one.
The second barrow lies across the fence to the NE, in private land. It's a much smaller effort, ploughed right down and not much to see, although it still stands out against the skyline even in its reduced state.
Along the fence line to the northwest, there is another mound visible at a corner of the fence. Stupidly, I didn't go and investigate (nothing is shown on the OS 1/25000), but a look at Pastscape on my return home reveals that there is indeed another barrow here.
I also skip the northwestermost barrow of the group, which seems to have disappeared in the smothering heather.
All in all, this is a decent group of monuments in a lovely location. From here I head off SW along the Port Way to see some of the Long Mynd's other barrows.
Posted by thesweetcheat
20th April 2011ce
Edited 20th April 2011ce