Hello dear reader,
I’m going to start this blog post about Brown Clee Hill, the highest point in Shropshire, by saying something strange: My route was rubbish, and I don’t recommend you follow it! The lower slopes were poorly marked, overgrown, crossed by extra fencing, and generally no-fun. But I promise things did improve, and for this reason I hope you’ll read on.
Having a free day between commitments in Birmingham, I took the opportunity for a little solo adventure and headed west to the quiet hamlet of Burwarton. I was kindly allowed to leave my car at The Boyne Arms, and set off to the north up the road to find the footpath after the phonebox. Things started well, with a nice new sign and an gently sloping grassy field to cross, but I was soon reduced to a slow waddle as after the first stile I was treated to knee-high grass and no further signage until after Home Covert. The path up through The Rough was passable, although the right fork took a bit of finding (on the day I visited, the stile was more or less buried in a hedge).
Perhaps the warning signs were there, and I chose to ignore them. I’d not yet spotted a single other soul, and at the border of the area of permissive footpaths (marked orange on an OS Explorer map) I defiantly passed the following sign and made my way into the woods:
It was shortly after this point that things got really tricky. My chosen path was heading northwest as marked, until I reached a newly laid fence and all evidence of a trail vanished. I followed it to the south a short way before it swung sharply downhill and I was left with little choice but to hop over the wire and make my way uphill through the sharp scrub.
Progress became easier once I rejoined the official footpath, and I wound my way through the dark canopy of Stanbroughs Wood and eventually out onto the stunning purple heather-dotted moorland that characterises much of the high ground of Wales and Northern England. The summit soon came into sight and it was an easy jog up the access road to the toposcope upon Abdon Burf.
The views were magnificent, and the howling wind blew away the remains of the previous night’s hangover. The Malvern Hills were visible past Titterstone Clee Hill to the south, the Brecon Beacons and the Long Mynd to the west, and Shrewsbury and The Wrekin to the north. Word has it you can see Snowdonia on a clear day.
My return to Burwarton was, thankfully, more of a success. Dropping onto the Shropshire Way heading south to the confluence of footpaths by Burwarton Pole, I took the soft and grassy descent via the edge of Boyne Water and the north side of Lyster Dingle.
Knowing the kitchen at pub would sadly be closed until the evening, I jumped straight in the car and drove to the very lovely Willows Tea Room in neighbouring Ditton Priors for a restorative frangipani and a coffee, and I’d heartily recommend you do the same. A lovely overnight stop at The Croft B&B in Bridgnorth rounded off a fabulous little adventure.
Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, and I think much of my trouble could have been avoided by starting in Cleobury North, joining the route at The Rough, and missing out the sections of permissive path by following the minor road a few hundred metres up the hill before taking the footpath on the left. But even with those changes, I think next time I visit Brown Clee Hill I’ll start the other side at Abdon and come up from there, for a great looking hack up through the moorland.