SIMON WHALEY

Lower Whitcliffe and Wheelers Vallets

Out now in the February 2020 issue of Country Walking is my 7-mile wander around Lower Whitcliffe and Wheelers Vallets – just west of Ludlow.

It’s a gentle wander, perfect for taking slowly to explore the surrounding landscape, and offers some wonderful views, as well as the opportunity to spot some pretty impressive Victorian engineering.

Country Walking magazine February 2020

The route begins near the outskirts of Mortimer Forest, and soon offers tantalising glimpses of the views across Ludlow and Titterstone Clee Hill.

Ludlow and Titterstone Clee Hill.

There is some quiet lane walking, which I don’t mind, because it is relatively easy walking (assuming there aren’t many potholes 😝), giving you more time to look back towards Ludlow, or across the fields of South Shropshire.

A quiet country lane near Ludlow

The image the magazine used to accompany the walk nearly didn’t happen! It was a classic case of remembering to look behind you when you’re out walking. I was happily wandering along the lane and suddenly though, “I wonder what’s behind me.” When I turned, I saw this:

St Laurence’s Church tower denoting Ludlow Town Centre.

This particular walk is, technically, a circular walk, although it could probably be better described as a rectangular walk, because it’s a route of two long parallel sections joined by much shorter sections at either end. It means, throughout the first half of my walk I could see the entire second half of my walk … high in the slopes above me, through Mortimer Forest.

Mortimer Forest – the second half of the route.

While the first half of the walk is open countryside and views, the second half is all about what lies beneath the ground. Thankfully, there are some pretty big clues to be spotted, hidden amongst the trees of Wheelers Vallets.

This image shows one such clue … however, the first time you spot it, it’s from a little bit further away …
Undulating hillside!

I found it difficult to believe that this section of the route follows an aqueduct – the pipeline linking the Elan Valley reservoirs in Wales to the Frankley Reservoir in Birmingham. Birmingham’s water supply is transported over 70 miles, through gravity only, along a pipeline passing through the woods here.

As the route returns to its starting point, some of the undulations get bigger – big enough to warrant more Victorian architecture to get the pipe across deep valleys.

Aqueduct 1
Aqueduct 2

And being thaty bit higher up, the views across South Shropshire are even better along this section, too.

South Shropshire views

So if you fancy a wander with some fine views and some great examples of Victorian engineering, this little wander near Ludlow is a few hours well spent!

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