The Clee Hills and the Corvedale
"From Clee to heaven the beacon burns
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again."
A E Housman, A Shropshire Lad
(2009 celebrated Housman's 150th anniversary)
Charming and captivating. But look a little closer and you'll unearth the hidden heritage of the Clee Hills and the Corvedale. Coal mining on the Clee Hills started in medieval times while the Corvedale was alight with blast furnaces and iron foundries. Billowing black smoke would have filled the valley as chunks of the hills were carved out.
Today the scene is somewhat different. Black dhustone is still quarried on Titterstone Clee, but Brown Clee is silent. Nature has reclaimed the hills and remnants of rare wildflower meadows survive while the disused quarries have become home to a wealth of wildlife, including the peregrine falcon.
The Corvedale is the broadest valley in the Shropshire Hills and the River Corve is lined with alder. Over the last five years much of the alder has been coppiced to restore the river habitat - look out for the blue flash of a kingfisher or imprint of an otter paw along the river bank.
Things to do
Walking in the Clee Hills
The Shropshire Way guides you over both Titterstone and Brown Clee and a circular walk has been devised around Brown Clee taking in Nordy Bank hillfort - unusual as it only has a single rampart. Walk leaflets are also available on each hill. Ask at local Visitor Information Centres or visit www.shropshirewalking.co.uk
Three Castles Walk
As the name suggests, this is a beautiful walk through the Corvedale taking in three castles along the 11-mile route. The walk crosses the River Corve. Look out for black poplar trees, nationally rare, but you will see a number along this walk - you can't miss the locally known 'Corfton Three' at Corfton. You can make this walk shorter by following alternative paths. Buy the walk leaflet (50p) at local Visitor Information Centres or download a copy at www.shropshirewalking.co.uk
Everyone loves Ludlow
Follow the town trail to explore this beautiful historic town. Wander through the medieval streets and lively market square, and explore Ludlow Castle and the River Teme just below. Ludlow is also famed for its food with local produce on the menu at the many cafés and restaurants. The regular farmers' markets and annual Food Festival also show off the quality and range of local produce. Town trails available from the Visitor Information Centre in the Market Square, tel: 01584 875053. For festival dates and complete event listings see our events section.
Rocks make the Landscape
Follow the GEOTRAIL around Titterstone Clee to explore and understand the underlying geology of this area. Trail guide available from local Visitor Information Centres (£1.50) or for more information visit www.shropshiregeology.org.uk
Cramer Gutter Nature Reserve
(grid ref SO 647 795)
Over 100 flowering plants have been recorded in this boggy meadow, once part of Catherton Common. Look out for aptly named bog asphodel and bog pimpernel and watch dragonflies skimming about in the summer, specialities include the keeled skimmer - its only location within a 50-mile radius - and the large golden-ringed dragonfly. Late summer you might find marsh gentian as well. Cramer Gutter is looked after by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Mahorall Farm Nature Trail
This small family run farm, once a traditionally mixed farm, now makes real cider using apples from the farm and surrounding area. The farm is a mix of pasture, woodland, orchards and streams with stunning views across the Teme valley and the nature trail takes in the best bits. You may also be lucky enough to meet Duncan, Tabasco and Taboo, three Exmoor ponies who look after the wildlife site. The nature trail is free and visitors are welcome. Along with cider, the farm shop sells hedgerow syrups, chutneys and other seasonal delights. See www.farmcider.co.uk.
Nestling in the rolling landscape twixt the Clee and the Severn, Cleobury Mortimer and its nine surrounding parishes make up Cleobury Country. Experience a different pace of life with a stroll along the refurbished High Street to St. Mary's, with it's rare twisted spire; a ramble around its 30 leafleted walking routes; cycle the byways through rural villages or ride the Jack Mytton Way. It has geological and industrial heritage connections to the Clee Hills which you can explore along the Clee to Severn extension of the Shropshire Way passing through Cleobury Mortimer and the Wyre Forest.