South West Shropshire


Church Stretton lies between Shrewsbury and Ludlow on the A49. It is the nearest Shropshire has to a spa town and was a popular destination for Victorians wanting to 'take the waters and the air.' Today it is considered as Shropshire's gateway to the hills, and whether coming from the north, south or east the fine views of Ragleth, Hazler, Hope Bowdler and Caer Caradoc hills, as well as the Long Mynd, do make one's arrival in this area very exciting. Church Stretton is a pleasant town to visit, especially on a summer morning before visitors to the town start to crowd the pavements. Even in the winter it is surprising how busy the little town can become with visitors who break their journey along the nearby A49 to stretch their legs. (see Church Stretton)

Clun is one of the largest parishes in Shropshire, and is a sprawling, hilly parish in the south west of the County. It can be a cold place, especially on the windswept hills, in the winter, but on a fine summer's day it is a glorious parish to explore. The history of Clun goes back much further than this ancient bridge, for it is positively inundated with sites of ancient settlements and fortifications. The most well-known is probably Caer Caradoc in the south of the parish. Clun also has its castle, a splendid ruin to the west of the town. This castle was important in the line of defences which kept us in, or them out, depending on one's nationality. It is a Norman castle, well protected by the river Clun which washes its ramparts. The Clun Forest is worthy of a mention. By dictionary definition "forest" once meant a tract of woodland or wasteland preserved for game. In the sixteenth century it is recorded that the "faire Forest of Clunne is a great forest of red deer and rose" not, you will note, of oak or elm.

The parish and village of Hope Bowdler are only a mile from Church Stretton, straddling the B4371, Church Stretton to Much Wenlock road. In the north of the parish is Hope Bowdler Hill, and to the west, just over the parish boundary, are Ragleth, Hazler, Helmeth and Caer Caradoc hills, each adding their splendour to the views within the parish.
The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is approached along an avenue of yew trees. It is a l9th century church but its settings tends to give the feeling of a much older building. It is most likely that there was a church here The history of this parish goes back centuries before Henry I, the Normans and even the Romans, as some of the neighbouring hilltop forts attest, and on Hope Bowdler hill there are distinct signs of a former Celtic field system.

About two miles south-west of Bishop's Castle stands the township of Cefn Einion, a reminder, if nothing else, that Wales is not far away. But west of Cefn Einion lies one of Shropshire's most rural parishes. The road leading to the north-west from Cefn Einion follows the river Unk along the valley to the village of Mainstone.
Further on the valley turns to the west and one is faced with the choice of heading north to the Welsh-English border, or turning south then west up to the top of Edenhope Hill. The latter route will reward the visitor with views that make the heart sing out with the sheer joy of it with a succession of valleys sparkling in the sun a simple affair needing no embellishment by man in such a beautiful spot. Close beside the church, Offa's Dyke crosses the road, climbing the hillside on either side.