Where – Acton Burnell circular to Caer Caradoc.
Some weeks ago I did a little run over in the lovely Shropshire, for some reason I never posted about the day so thought I would now.
It was after watching countryfile one sunday evening and watching the presenter talk about The long mynd. She talked about places I had never been and my interest was sparked.
Logging into OS mapping online brought up a whole new area, Caer Caradoc. Id never ventured onto this hill before always staying around the long mynd. After searching around for a route I settled on my starting point of Acton Burnell.
Never having heard of it before a quick google showed this entire village to be a conservation area along with a 13th century fortified manor house, it is suggested that Acton Burnell Castle was never used in anger, instead designed to impress when the king and his entourage waged war against the pesky Welsh.I wasnt aware at the time that admission is free, but it is a reason to return.
Id picked my route to skirt main roads as much as possible, the end mileage should see me around 17miles.
I arrived just after 8am, the village a quiet sedate little place, old buildings were numerous, there was no one about and so parking up I grabbed my garmin only to realise I hadn’t replaced the batteries, so today it would be map and wing it day.
It wasnt long before I hit my first snag, after crossing a small field, I was met with a footpath that vanished into shoulder height rape seed. Being so early in the day, dew still covered the plants and after 2mins of wading through I was soaked. Luckily the day had started to warm already and so it was only a minor discomfort.
It made a nice change to find well maintained signs and fences, all to often they appear to be missing or broken these days. My first picture was pure luck. The combination of early sun, rapeseed in the distance and ploughed fields made a scene that reminded me of the famous windows screen saver. Filled with a new enthusiasm I set off at a kind and gentle pace, crossing more fields and tracks.
The thing about this area, you don’t have to go high to capture stunning views, I stopped momentarily at an old ruined cottage named as the Barn Cottage and only a few steps to the South lay an intriguing piece of history and folk-lore. The Frog Well, interestingly it is not mark on the OS maps but has come to light whilst I was trying to find information about the cottage. This well is less of a Holly well and is reputed to be hold the Devil in Frog form. Now the actually name Hob is an old English name for the Devil and there is a causeway named after the Devil also, which given its close proximity to the roman road may explain its name. The myth behind this well is a little shrouded but is said to come from the “Husk Myth” involving the prince and the Frog, it is said the water always cold in summer and always warm in winter, the Devil and his imps reside here, three frogs are always seen together with the largest frog always submerged.
The views expansive and something im sure the previous occupants enjoyed, but I am unable to find any information as to the history here, the building is listed on maps going back to around the early 1900’s but nothing before that, plus with all the Devil associations here who knows what happened to the previous occupants. I had planed to run along The Lawley joining is from its start near Bently Ford Farm, but after running through a causeway Wood, an ancient place filled with Ash and Yew and nestled away by its edge is Frodsley Lodge and circa 1591 hunting Lodge built for the Scrivens, also reported was a find of a Roman Votive altar. After getting slightly side tracked, I found the road I needed and joined the Lawley just after Black Hurst Farm. Here I met a number of other runners who quickly diapered off into the distance.
It might not be high but in parts it is steep, The Lawley forms part of a volcanic ridge that stretches towards The Wrekin and like its larger cousin consists of some of the oldest rocks on earth. Marked on the OS map are two settlements, most likely Iron age and consisting of a fortified enclosures or Hill Fort, it continues on for around 2 miles and is a worthy leg killer.
It is an odd sight when you first come across it, a seagull weathervane I cant find much reference as to why this was here or why a seagull was chosen but it makes an interesting sight non the less.
By the time I had reached the top, the runners in front were already at the bottom. I paused for a bit taking in the views, before running down the opposite side, arms outstretched zigzagging my way. I passed other walkers and was glad i was going down,behind me on a lower path DofE groups, obligatory large rucksack and illuminus orange covers. Crossing another field i managed to avoid being electrocuted or stamped on by cows and was soon at the foot of Caer Carodoc.
I was seriously out of hill shape, panting my way up, i was met with by a guy in his early 50s who effortlessly sauntered past me. I smiled an exhausted smile and carried on. eventually reaching the top
Looking back along the Lawley and onto the Wreakin. Atop the sumit sits a large Iron age Hill Fort, the reputed capital of King Caractacus who fought his final battle against the invading roman horde, around here lays a cave reported to have been a hiding place for the King after the fort fell. On this visit I wasnt able to find it and so resolved to returning to find it at a later date.
Turning round i retraced my steps, this time veering left down onto the wilderness and then tracing the oddly named Hoars Edge ( i think it means grey in old english?). It never ceases to amaze me of the spaces where no one goes, Hoars edge was a quiet little track running almost parallel to the Lawley, i became slightly lost in the Birch coppice
before coming across a trig point and happily found my way after that. It was an enjoyable day, giving me a taste of the hills i miss and views i crave, luckily it was a hot day which made it more pleasurable. I returned into Acton Burnell to find a village of what appeared to be chinese teenagers, it was an odd thing to come back to and at one point thought id got lost. Finding out that there’s a boarding school for international students made sense.