I have been reading a few books about Shropshire of late
Todays little bimble takes in Wenlock Edge, a Limestone ridge running for some 18ish miles, I say ish as it depends what article/website you read.
It holds a world importance with in Geology circles, dating to some 425million years old, formed when the midlands held a warmer climate near the Seychelles. The Sullarian period dominated by coral reefs, the start of life on land and the first time fish developed jaws, Wenlock even lends its name to a period within the Sullarian era, with Ludlow offering another.
But today we explore relatively more recent history.
Our first figure is a rather villanous 13th century knight Ippikin, well less of a knight and more an all round nasty guy. There are rumours that Ippikin was the son of a knight, cast from his land and inheritance due to his un-natural cruelty and temper.
For years Ippikin and his band of robbers terrorised the edge, from their cave they robbed and pillaged anyone unfortunate enough to come across them. The stories differ, from some saying he had struck a deal with the devil, to having
supernatural powers to renew his youth every 70 years. All the locals feared him enough to stay away from his hideout where he is reputed to have kept his ill-gotten gains, mere men feared him but mother nature feared no mortal man and one night shook the earth so violently it caused a stone to tumble and trap Ippikin and his robbers inside. Soon their food ran out and they died trapped inside. Legend tells that Ippikin’s rock is the sealed entrance, the highway mans spirit still roams the edge. standing above the suspected cave only the foolish are brave enough to try and summon his spirit, repeat the following ‘Ippikin, Ippikin, keep away with your long chin!’ but beware you may anger his spirit and he is prone to pushing those over the Edge.
it’s a cracking little places the wild garlic fills the air with that heady early summer aroma. It was hard to spot a potential rock fall big enough to block such a cave but with the local geology being of limestone it would lend itself to caves and rock falls, perched upon high it is easy to see amongst the twisted ancient wood why such a place retains the folklore.
It was such a hot day that I dare nor run to far with the pup, not far from here lies another wonderful folk tale, this one involves England civil war, horse chases and leaps of faith.
Major’s leap so named after Thomas Smallman, a local lord of Wilderhope manner, finding that his home had been looted by Cromwell’s men he set off in pursuit and retook his possessions, returning home he was captured by a larger force and held captive in his own abode, using a secret passage he managed to escape, thundering along Wenlock Edge in fevered escape, his pursuers closed the gap quickly, not wishing to be captured again he spurred his horse into jumping from the cliff edge
His horse died but he lived and managed to return with a Royalist force and retook his home. Standing here looking over, it’s a hell of a drop and one a man of steely determination would attempt.
I covered some 10miles overall, my first explore of the Edge, a quarry sits to the side of the path and warning signs declared blasting may be happening, these are but two of the many legends in the area the famous abbey still awaits an explore along with Much Wenlock its self.