It was glorious. There was a hint of the summer warmth to come, as the sun slowly sank behind the Long Mynd. I was on Hope Bowdler Hill, one of the quieter Stretton Hills, and not far from Caer Caradoc.
This photo in the May 2019 issue of Outdoor Photography is just one of several I took that evening, and the route I offer in the magazine is the most direct to the Gaer Stone and the summit (mainly because of the limited word count).
There is a more leisurely route to be taken from the large layby at the top of the hill on the B4371 Much Wenlock road, right on the outskirts of Church Stretton (OS Grid Reference:SO 468 932).
Take the kissing gate in the hedge bordering the layby into the field (there may be livestock about) and bear diagonally right towards the far corner of the field. Pass through into the next field, following the same contour line, as you run parallel with the road.
Continue through to the next field and, on the ground, it looks like the path forks, with a path veering left to the far corner of the field. Legally, the right of way continues ahead to the opposite boundary hedge, and then a permissive path turns sharp left, climbing along the hedgeline, up to a stile.
Cross this and bear left, along an obvious path that climbs steadily. Pass into the Hope Bowdler Hill Open Access area and climb along the ridge towards a fingerpost and gate. At a junction of paths here, the direction is obvious – ahead and up to the Gaer Stone.
The views from here are idyllically British (and Welsh Border): green rolling hills, wooded escarpments, fields of sheep grazing, interspersed with crop fields and the occasional blast of yellow brilliance as the rape fields bloom.
The Gaer Stone is an impressive, rocky outcrop, thrusting up from this far corner of the hill, climbable by those seeking an extra bit of altitude, although do take care!
The summit ridge path continues its climb from here, with some wonderful views of the less-frequently-seen eastern flank of Caer Caradoc, and a great vista of Wenlock Edge.
Listen out for the sprit-lifting song of the skylark, and the more frequently-heard mew of a red kite (pairs breeding on the Long Mynd are spreading their wings across this side of the A49 now).
Creating a circular route is simple from the summit. Continue along the summit path, dropping down Hope Bowdler Hill’s north-east face to a junction of paths beside a boundary fence. Turn left and drop, bearing left to pick up the Open Access land boundary fence. Follow this (ignoring Cwms Farm on the right), continuing to reach the far end of the hill, parallel with the Gaer Stone, upon the left.
This brings you to the path identified in the article. Turn right, across a stile and drop steeply along a field boundary (livestock), to the bottom, and then join a wide track. Turn left to return to the main road and layby.
And I hope you capture some wonderful images too.