Experience the drama of this wild and atmospheric Welsh Border landscape that attracts the Devil, Wild Edric’s ghost and lightning!
You can count the number of properties visible in the panoramic vista from the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve car park on one hand. Close your eyes and all you’ll hear is the melodic song of the skylark high above. Sandwiched between the Long Mynd and Wales, this dramatic quartzite rock ridge, Shropshire’s second highest hill, feels remote. No conurbations spoil the landscape. Unsurprisingly, these spectacular views inspired DH Lawrence and Mary Webb.
Deposited over 480 million years ago, these unusual glistening rocks were shattered during the Ice Age, leaving behind a series of teeth-like tors along the ridge’s repitilian-like spine, the most famous of which is the Devil’s Chair. Here, on the longest night, the Devil reputedly sits and holds an audience with local witches and evil spirits. Visit on a spring day you’re more likely to startle nothing more than a friendly red grouse hiding amongst the upland heather, or a common lizard basking in the sun.
A linear all-ability trail forms the start of this route, enabling wheelchair and pushchair users to savour some of the remoteness and vistas of the Stiperstones.
A – All Ability Access
Walk to the end of the car park, and take the smaller wooden gate on the right. Resting places exist at 50 metre intervals along this section, ideal for sitting and watching the Exmoor ponies and the Hebridean sheep used to manage this landscape. At the end of the all ability trail, continue ahead on an obvious track (all ability trail users should turn around and retrace their steps). Pass through the Gatten Plantation, ignoring the side tracks on the left, and continue through a gate, and trees, onto a rougher path, eventually emerging into a field. Follow the left hand edge to a track, with Hollies Farm on the right.
B – Lightning Conductors
Continue ahead briefly, then bear left, up to a field corner. Go through a gate, and continue climbing to a stile. Local legend tells that if you see Wild Edric’s ghost galloping across these fields on horseback, then flee, for he warns of impending war. He was a little upset when William the Conqueror snatched his Shropshire land, and he’s still angry.
From here, Shepherd’s Rock (right) and the Devil’s Chair (left) thrust high into the skyline. In stormy weather the quartzite’s composition attracts lightening strikes, often accompanied by thunder. In her novel Golden Arrow, Mary Webb’s characters refuse to cross these paths during storms!
Fork left after the stile, towards the Devil’s Chair, climbing to a junction on the top of the ridge.
C – Broken Apron
Tremendous views pull the eye westwards, across mid-Wales. Despite being only 44 miles as the crow flies from Birmingham City Centre, the modern world feels a lifetime away.
Turn left and climb towards the Devil’s Chair, so called when the strings on the apron the Devil was using to carry the rocks broke, resulting in this mystical mound. Take care, for the mess made means the path is rocky underfoot. Meander between the Chair and a smaller outcrop, to continue along the ridge, passing Manstone Rock, the highest point at 1,758 feet. From here, the path descends to a junction, marked with a small circular cairn.
D – Back to Purple
Fork left and descend on a grassier route through the heather. Natural England’s Back to Purple project aims to restore the heather to this 10 km ridge, improving the habitat for species like emperor moths, green hairstreak butterflies, and hairy wood ants. Pass through a gate beside an information panel to return to the car park.
How To Get There
From Shrewsbury bypass, take the A488 south for approx 13 miles. Turn left onto minor road signed Shelve and The Bog. At junction turn right and follow brown tourist signs.
Find Out More
The Bog Visitor Centre,
The Bog, Stiperstones, Shropshire, SY5 0NG
Tel: 01743 792484
The Stiperstones Inn
Stiperstones, Snailbeach, Shropshire, SY5 0LZ
Tel: 01743 791327
Traditional family-run (for 45 years) free-house, home to the famous Stiperstones Inn Whinberry Crumble!
Jasmine Cottages (Self-catering)
Tel: 01694 731679
The Wilderness cottage (Sleeps 5) is a detached former miner’s cottage, sitting at the foot of the Stiperstones.
Mined by the Romans, Snailbeach was the largest lead mine in Shropshire. Guided tours available Easter Sun/Mon (Apr 20th/21st).
© Simon Whaley