Walk 3529 - printer friendly version
Stiperstones from Snailbeach Walk
Author - Daryl Smith
Length - 7.0 miles / 11.4 km
Ascent - 1150 feet / 348 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference SJ373022
Lat 52.6139370 + Long -2.9274599
Postcode SY5 0NZ (approx. location only)
This is a superb Shropshire Hills walk in an area rich in history and folklore with outstanding scenery and wildlife coupled with lovely views. Our route includes the main part of the Stiperstones ridge with its fascinating rock formations and returns through Stiperstones village. The Stiperstones extend to the south beyond our route should you wish to extend the walk.
Our walk starts from the village of Snailbeach south-west of Shrewsbury, turn off the A488 at Ploxgreen near Minsterley. Car parking is extremely limited in Snailbeach and it is best to use the village hall car park, parking is free, but donations are requested. There are public toilets at the car park. Snailbeach Mine is well worth visiting; guided tours including an underground experience can be booked with Shropshire Mines Trust. The Stiperstones Inn is handily placed near to the end of the walk.
From the car park go up the lane in the direction of Lordshill, at the top of the first incline turn right into the mine site. Just behind the shaft with timber headgear you will see steps at the side of another mine entry, this is the start of our path. Go uphill through trees onto Resting Hill. Out of the trees go slightly right of straight ahead, on a flat area close to the hilltop veer left to a kissing gate.
As you cross Resting Hill, long distance views to the north and west open up and once through the kissing gate you are rewarded with a view down the tree-lined valley of Crowsnest Dingle.
Follow the left-hand fence line then drop down a little to a side-by-side gate and stile giving access to open moorland and follow a clear path through heather and whinberry then turn right onto a wider track. Ignore the wide green path at Blakemoor Flat and the jagged outline of the Stiperstones will soon be in sight followed by developing views to the west and south. Look down into Mytton Dingle and you will see Stiperstones village at the mouth of the valley.
The Stiperstones ridge is formed by a quartzite rock upended by unimaginable geological forces when continents collided, with a dramatic jagged profile created by shattering in the last ice age. This exposed sedimentary quartzite is unique in England. Named outcrops of rock in the order that you approach are Shepherd's Rock, Devil's Chair, Manstone Rock (the highest point) and Cranberry Rock.
Folklore abounds in this strange landscape. Some say that the Devil sits on his chair during the summer solstice to recruit followers whilst others maintain that the Devil has not been seen in these parts since he was outwitted by Slashrags the Tailor at Cranberry Rock! The winter solstice is also not free of the supernatural; the ghost of Wild Edric, a Saxon warlord who fought against the Norman Conquest, is said to gallop on horseback over these hills through the longest night pursued by that of his wife.
At Cranberry Rock go slightly right down the southerly end of the ridge; ahead you can see Nipstone Rock on the detached section of the Stiperstones. Just before a main entrance into the nature reserve turn sharp right and follow a path along the line of Black Ditch. At the next entrance to the nature reserve turn right on a bridle path, continue to follow the bridle path. Shortly after the path crosses an access track to a reservoir it then turns left through the reserve boundary. Once through the boundary do not follow the bridle path any further but go diagonally right to a stile in the opposite corner of the field.
Over the stile and back in the nature reserve, go left of straight ahead and the way will become clear where the path goes down through a copse of trees; turn right in front of the next stile and follow the boundary fence of the reserve. Stiperstones village will soon come back into sight. Down in the valley past farm buildings you emerge onto a track, turn left and follow the track as it becomes a lane and leads to the northern end of the village at the side of the Stiperstones Inn.
From here you can simply walk along the quiet country lane from Stiperstones village back to Snailbeach, with intermittent views across the broad valley to your left. If you do not want to walk on the road there is a footpath option that is probably best if you are walking in a large group or a family with young children and this is the route indicated on the outline route map.
For the footpath option from Stiperstones, turn sharp right at the rear of the inn before you get to the road and go up the driveway. You will soon come to a boundary defined by a field gate with an adjoining stile, after this boundary turn immediately left up a steep but thankfully short slope. Keep to a path along the left-hand boundary of the woods and you will emerge through the grounds of a cottage then drop down to a driveway leading to the lane on the outskirts of Snailbeach.