Walk up Caer Caradoc Hill from Church Stretton
|7.71 km||416 m||2.5-4 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: SO468 932 just outside Church Stretton
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Loads in Church Stretton, I just haven’t had the pleasure yet!
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This is well farmed land, and at the time this was written, early April it was lambing season so try and respect that, keeping dogs on leads is a MUST! The descent through the woods on Helmeth Hill is quite steep and the ground is slippy, alternative route available. There are lots of sheep tracks and variations for this route, whilst navigation is fairly straight forward, on a poor vis day extra care is needed.
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Walk up Caer Caradoc Hill from Church Stretton Route Map and GPX Download
Summits and Places on this Route
Walk up Caer Caradoc Hill from Church Stretton Details
The Shropshire Hills sit in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). There are 50 tops that sit in a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, river valleys, farmland and quaint villages. Bagging all 50 is a wonderful way to explore the Shropshire area, a county rich in history and medieval tales.
This route takes in one of Shropshire’s most enjoyable hills Caer Caradoc Hill (459M), rising above Church Stretton, Caradoc is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of Shropshire’s Hills, its craggy ridge suggesting a hill of much greater stature – an impressive Iron Age hill-fort crowns the top. This circuit takes in another three tops, Helmeth Hill, Willstone Hill and Hope Bowdler Hill; a not so common loop that sits on the “Quiet” side of the valley with the more popular and frequently visited Carding Mill Valley and The Long Mynd sitting to its West.
1) Parking is a layby on the left-hand side of the B4371 just outside the centre of Church Stretton town, this is a relatively small space that can probably fit no more than 10 cars, so getting there early is recommended. From here you take the well sign posted track that heads in a NW direction (shown as Hope Bowdler Hill on the sign, although we will be taking a different path shortly after), up through a farm named Gaerstones Farm on OS MAP EXPLORER 217. Continue through until you eventually come to a stile on your left-hand side.
2) Cross over the stile and head towards the stile on the other side of the field, it sits slightly hidden just left of the large green silos and at the woodlands edge. Hop over the stile and head into the woodland. There are lots of trails in this woodland, but my advice is a right at the “Helmeth Hill” sign and take the path that snakes left gaining height up to a very nondescript top. As you are surrounded by trees the view is hidden, but a nice place to be none the less.
3) Once you have established the highest point of Helmeth Hill (344m), take its high crest North, a path that drops into the lower woodland and towards the foot of Caer Caradoc. As you drop further into the woodland the path is faint and on a steep decline so great care is needed here. An alternative route is to head back to the “Helmeth Hill” sign and take the lower track that runs along the base of the hill, eventually hitting an easier path with steps. As you reach the bottom of Helmeth you will come to a fence line, turn right and travel along, gaining a small amount of height (fence line now on your left), and towards a stile. Cross this style and bare left immediately, through the gate and towards the stream at the foot of Caer Caradoc.
4) Negotiate the stream and head up onto the hill in front of you, there is an obvious path that runs across its base, ignoring this you need to take the Northly, eroded and less obvious track – a route that gains height quickly. The path becomes more distinct shortly after, keep on this path through the gate and up towards “Three Fingers Rock”.
5) The path now bears NW, dipping and rising its way up towards Caer Caradoc’s top. On this level plateau of a summit you get great views towards Lawley Hill to the North, Carding Mill Valley & The Long Mynd to the East, and the rest of your journey to the South East.
6) Once you have taken in the views and have had a bite to eat and a sip of something warm, head back in the same direction but find a track that breaks out to your left and down into the valley. You will come to a gate at the bottom, head through that and onto an obvious gravel track. Travel along this a short distance before taking a left onto the mounds that sit to the East. There are no obvious paths here but skirt around the two mounds, you will eventually come to a gate, negotiate this and take the light path around eventually coming to a gate.
7) Pass through this and take the track immediately in front of you that gains height towards a crest in between Willstone hill on your left, and the ridgeline to your right. As you top out onto this crest take a left over the style, continue with the fence line to your right, through an open gate and onto Willstone Hill (403m). Here you will find a nice rocky outcrop to sit and soak up the views back towards Caer Caradoc.
8) Now head back the way you came, fence line now on your left, back through the open gate and over the stile. Bear left (South) now along a track that takes you over to Hope Bowdler Hill, another very indistinct top but with great views towards Wenlock Edge to the East. From here take a Westerly baring towards the cairn of an unnamed hill, follow the ridge SW towards the point where you started, taking in several rocky outcrops including Gaer Stone, here you will get stunning views over the town of Church Stretton and across to The Long Mynd.
9) Carry on and head down towards the gate, do not pass through it though, take the track that bears right and drops down towards the farm, fence line on your left. Go through the gate and into the field, fence line still on your left and towards another gate in the top left-hand corner of the field. You are now on the track back to the layby.