|Outline Map →||Route file →|
Date: 29 May 2003
Start / Finish: Minsterley.
Maps: Explorer 216 Welshpool & Montgomery.
|Day 1||Stiperstones, Heath Mynd & Corndon Hill||17 miles / 3700 feet (27.4km / 1127m)|
|Day 2||Marrington Dingle & Long Mountain||22.5 miles / 1600 feet (36.2km / 487m)|
We had long intended to visit the Stiperstones ridge and M4 refers to the four Marilyns that form the basis for this route, using the ridge as a starting point.
A lane leads ESE from Minsterley up to Fernside where a footpath continues to the old quarries, now a nature reserve. Diligent mapwork led us out on the path SSW through Maddox's Coppice and the plantation above Snailbeach, where the ridge path begins E and curves round SW to be joined by the Shropshire Way (SHW). When Devil's Chair first comes into view in the distance it is an arresting sight but it looks less impressive on closer approach.
The rough stony track leads to the trig point at the summit of Manstone Rock 536m, perched on a rocky tor which gives extensive views. Continuing SW past Cranberry Rock we followed the SHW over Linley Hill and down to Linley Hall at 347927. From the minor road a footpath leads W towards Heath Mynd through a plantation and joins a byway that climbs to a lane at 333932. Here we found an easy grassy track leading uphill towards the summit, and this got us most of the way up leaving a brief walk over easy short heather to the trig point which gave good views. Descending steeply W to another byway track we made a short diversion S along the lane to a stream at 331935 where we collected good water. Returning NW then W along the track we crossed the A488 and followed minor roads W to Hyssington and N around Woodgate Farm to the start of the Corndon Hill track at 307953. This ascends around the base of the hill to the start of the permissive path at the plantation corner at 302972 (there is another tiny stream a short way before the corner). This climbs very steeply alongside the plantation to the summit trig point.
Descending gingerly back W down the steep path to the stile we turned L then R down the attractive valley flanked by Lan Fawr. Just before Lan Fawr Cottage a footpath leads down to the lane where we turned L then R down the access track to Lower Aldress Farm. A footpath leads W down to Marrington Dingle where an easy track gives a pleasant walk N to Whittery Bridge and footpaths continue N to Hockleton Bridge and NW to Stockton 265011. This is where the real footpath problems started. There was no sign of the path NW and we eventually took the longer route NE through Gunley Wood to the lane, walked L along it then SW via Red House to Sandywell Wood, where more time was lost finding our way out of the wood. We eventually made it to the road head at 250026 and lost height down the road looking for the side footpaths - no sign of them - and ended up at the Offas Dyke path (ODP) at Kingswood. At least this was reliable and we followed it NE to the last objective Long Mountain.
It was late afternoon and rather than face more difficulty we decided to take the minor road NE that curves round to bring us within a mile of Aston Rogers at 334077 - a daunting 6 mile hike but it would speed things up dramatically. Virtually traffic-free, this actually turned out to be a good route, sticking to the high ground with open views and very little height is lost or gained until the final descent. From that point tracks and paths led SE with negligible problems through Aston Rogers and across the valley to the B4499 and Minsterley.
The Manstone Rock area was well worth the visit but the lasting impression of this area, away from the well frequented bits, is one of battling with non-existent footpaths for little reward, and we doubt that we will return.