The Spring 2022 issue of Country Walking magazine is looking forward to sunnier days, when there’s more warmth in the sun and the bluebells are flowering in our woodlands.
The month’s Classic route is my blooming bluebell belter of a walk around Church Stretton’s Ragleth Hill and Helmeth Hill. It’s a seven-mile route, but it’s one to be savoured, not rushed.
From the centre of Church Stretton, the route escapes up the lower flanks of Ragleth Hill, meandering through the edge of Ragleth Woods to make the most of the bluebells that appear here.
From there, it’s a long saunter along Ragleth’s summit and then down the other end, for a return trip along Ragdon Lane. It may be road walking, but it’s quiet, you’re often accompanied by red kites and buzzards and topiary pigs. (Check out the issue for a photo!)
Then the route drops down to the outskirts of Church Stretton again, around towards Caer Caradoc, where it then deviates into Helmeth Woods, owned and managed by the Woodland Trust.
Helmeth Woods are bursting with bluebells during April and May. The narrow paths weave their way through them – do stick to the paths, otherwise you’ll end up trampling on them!
In the magazine, I suggest circumnavigating Helmeth Wood, but deviating on a narrow path up to the summit. There is a path down the other side of the hill, but it’s steep and not well marked, so the safest course of action is to retrace your steps and follow the main route around the hill.
It also means you see most of the bluebells that are here!
And if you’re lucky to visit on a sunny day, the wander through Helmeth Woods is nice and cool!
The route returns to the point where it enters Helmeth Woods, but then cuts back down to town, where there is no difficulty in finding some refreshments from the town’s pubs or cafes. And the great thing about this route is that you can start it from the railway station or the bus stop in town, so why not leave your car at home?