Welcome all to a little adventure run, I was stuck for somewhere to explore close to home and settled on another visit to the Wrekin, it has to be one of my favourite places, a real little gem in the midlands.
I was recently looking at the history of the area as I tend to do now, to try to incorporate into my runs, when I came across a new area I have yet to explore Lime Kiln Wood and there within is a rather large set of Lime Kilns great me thought and off I set.
As ever I wake early and check the weather, rain and heavy is forecast for 8am and then clear blue sunny skies thereafter, I umm and ahh and set off arriving a little after 7:30am and start from my usual spot of The Ercal . This little wood lies just to the North East of The Wrekin and is stocked with old native species of trees, it is also classed as a site of Site of specialist scientific interest due to its unique geology and fauna and flora.
Like much of the area here, there are many myths attached to the area, setting the scientific explanation aside there is a much more fun explanation, the myth so follows
“two giants, both brothers set themselves a task of building a hill to live on and in a very short time they had piled up the Wrekin. The Giants quarreled over who would live there, however, and one of them struck the other with a spade. While they were fighting a raven came and pecked at the eye of the one who was brandishing the spade. The pain made him shed a tear which hollowed out a little basin in the rock which is always full of water to this day. It is called Raven’s Bowl or the Cuckoo’s Cup and contains water in the hottest weather. The other Giant won the battle, so he built Ercall Hill and imprisoned the defeated Giant within it. There The Giant remains to this day and at night you may sometimes hear him groan. While the victorious Giant was hurling his spade at the other, he dropped it and it split the surrounding rock, making a narrow cleft which is called the Needle’s Eye”.
Such a great story and one of my favourites, I set forth and follow the path that runs alongside the road and towards the M54, here it veers right before a bridge and another path following a small brook guides you along and towards Lime Kiln Wood. I across a small road just before the entrance to a golf course and follow the first path I come to a sign here declares Limekiln woods. Now when I was googling the history of the area I came across a modern photo of the lime Kilns, searching my OS maps shows nothing, not a drop of building and so I had to hazard a guess, knowing that from the picture it appears to be just over a high cliff, I headed in a general direction before veering off and taking a non path, scrabbling through the wood, paddling through bog before coming across a small brook, pup took time to paddle and drink whilst I checked my OS map, I knew there was a path no more that 500mtrs in front and so clambered through some undergrowth coming out on a newly laid accessible path, im assuming that this is part of a larger accessibility scheme but I cannot find much information about this (if you know then please message me). I head across the paths heading towards Limekiln road and hoping its name would hold the location of the Kilns, no such luck the undergrowth was thick here and screened anything to my right, a brief rain storm descended but was quick to leave, I headed forward until the path branches right and back up a hill, taking a guess I headed up and caught sight of what appeared to be a chimney
Feeling excited I was able to spy the rest and scrambled down a slope before hitting the mother load and what a find, these have to be some of the best preserved limekiln I have seen for some time, hardly a spot of damage on them, slightly hidden from the main path seems to have offered some protection.
I explored a little, using my torch to go inside as far as I can, metal cogs remained and made great photo opportunities, the dog seemed less impressed, just no pleasing some eh.
Happy with my little discovery I climb back up the slope and trundled along the path heading towards Short Woods and another disused mine, here there is a large pool now home to fishing, but either side of the bridge sat a brick structure that resembled a chimney, peering inside I could see the remnants of metal rungs but both shafts were now filled with debris and offered only a little glimpse.
across the fields I roamed before heading into Short Wood again and I followed a clear forestry track which ended abruptly, at the end lay a discarded Davidoff bag, I decided not to look fearing there may be a severed hand in side and carried on the route, following what I think is an animal trail it snaked through the wood gently around the trees before it came to a stop, checking with OS I followed a SouthWest route de-touring through Black Hayes wood before popping out on a farm track, easy to follow it quickly drifted back into thick and heavy wood before my next oddity of the day.
As I came down the track, I was met by a childs blue deck chair complete with a beaker and the letter M, I stare a little wondering why this was here it could be some memorial maybe the glass beaker being used for a candle but given my first name is Mike did make me wonder a little. Deciding not to stop for my own check point, I spot a large concrete structure, much is now just piles of rubble, but still offers an intriguing find. scouring around I spot 2 large concrete circular storage tubs, now filled with water and to the left of this a number of depression in the ground, one of these was complete with old leather work boots and bottles, I was able to google these and found than some dates from the 40s and 50s and seemed to be all Heinz bottles and jars all unused, I was more confused as ever.
From checking the OS map there was nothing marked other than being in the general vicinity of Maddocks Hills, I now know that this area was called the Hatch from a kindly Facebook fellow, marked on an OS map from the 1903 and up until around the 1960’s it is named the Hatch. The Hatch is old english for ‘gate to the forest’ or one who lives by the wood’, there is is some buildings marked on the OS maps from around 1950s but there is no other information about it. Again any info on this would be welcome as I am more curious than ever.
having talked briefly to a dog walker, he was non the wiser either but knew that in summer the water storage dried up and showed me another one with closed hatches on it. I trundled the path splashing and sploshing in the little stream before hitting a road and crossing into Hazel Hurst wood, I climb a small incline and manage to join the path which circle to base of The Wrekin.
So here I now stand, this curious little big hill to my right and woods to my left, The Wrekin is a curious hill, it is older than the Andes and Himalayas and started its life some 600 million years ago near the Falkland Islands, taking its time to move across the world to where it now sits. It is made up of volcanic ash and rock and yet not created by a volcano. With the oddity of the geology it is no wonder it hold SSSI, atop it’s mound sits a fort, built by the Cornovii tribe before the Roman invasion, it is said that this may have been their capital.
I took the steep route around the back leading to Little Hill, what can I say other than it is steep, very very steep, my legs burned as I tried a kind of run/walk up taking a few moments here and there I soon reached the top and took in the view,
It is no wonder that this was a significant fort given its commanding views of pretty much everywhere, they would have been able to see their attackers coming and after just one battle with the Romans they were defeated. I was watching an interesting documentry looking at the most mysterious part of our history, the Bronze and Iron age. The current theory is these places were not forts as such or as we would recgnise them, but more defended settlements or even a status symbol. I can see this, what better way to say look how powerful we are by building a massive fort atop a commanding hillside that all could see.
Atop near the trig (I’ve only just found this out, is a calendar stone and on the equinox of spring at mid day, the sun cast a ray the size of an old 6pence. I will have to seek this out the next time I am that way.
As ever I take a path which heads down the East side of The Wrekin, I love this little track as it allows some good speed and single track work, after a short time I take the direct route and run down the slope popping out on the main path and down towards Lawrence Hill car park where I trace a route along the edge of The Ercall before depositing myself back at the car.
Just under 9 miles, that’s a rough guess as I had no watch today, Id highly recommend the Wrekin as a wonder and explore, It’s history and use date back to before the bronze age and it is worth having a read of the history and myths to add a little excitement to your wander.