A historic market town worth visiting in its own right, Much Wenlock has big-screen connections. Scenes from the 1986 film Clockwise, starring John Cleese, were shot here. Cleese plays an irate headmaster, who attacks a phone box outside The Raven (note to film spotters: the phone box was moved when the pub was renovated) and scrambles out of the window of a Georgian house opposite.
Countryside beyond the town was the setting for the classic 1950 film Gone to Earth. Wenlock Edge is a steep, wooded limestone escarpment that is famous for its dramatic views, fossils and rare flowers.
Walk up High Street, then at the junction (look out for the Gaskell Arms Hotel) turn right up Victoria Road. When the road forks, bear left down Stretton Road, signed Wenlock Edge. After 300m, turn right along a track named Blakely Hollow. Ignore a small path on your right and carry straight up, through a gate. 15m past the National Trust (NT) car park turn right, signed Harley Bank. The path then climbs and bears right through ash trees.
Climb a stile, then after 30m, go through a gate with beautiful views over the Wrekin, Shropshire’s landmark isolated hill, from the top of which you can see 15 counties. Cross a track, climb a stile, then pick up a path running left. Go through a gate then turn right over a stile into woodland and down steps (labelled on the reverse of the post as the Jenny Wind walk). Take care of the small open quarry to your left, and follow the path right. Turn right at the pink NT marker, down a wooded path until you reach a T-junction; turn left. When you come to a crossing of paths, go straight ahead signed Blakeway Coppice. Take the higher path when it forks and head uphill. Stay on the main track, eventually bearing left uphill. Turn right at the T-junction, through a gate.
1. TWO AND A QUARTER MILES
Take the lower path on your right, after which it’s just a matter of following the path as it dips through Blakeway Coppice, beside Wenlock Edge. The thickly wooded escarpment runs for 18 miles and is a haven for rare lime-loving plants such as bee orchids, while 29 species of butterfly are attracted by the diverse flora. Fallow deer browse the dense undergrowth, and look out for hunting buzzards, kestrels and sparrowhawks. You may even catch a rare glimpse of the dashing hobby.
When the lower path joins up with the main track, turn right along it – there’s a stunning viewpoint on your right after a few metres – then shortly turn off it again signed Presthope. Follow the path as it dips downhill a little before joining a main track heading left. When you come to a fork, take a left uphill, walk past a gnarled old tree then turn sharp left into a car park.
2. FOUR MILES
From the rear, right corner of the car park, turn past a viewpoint, following Lea Quarry walk signs. Beyond the quarry, the path runs on the narrow crest of Wenlock Edge.
Eventually you come to the path junction from earlier – turn right, keeping to the path, signed Much Wenlock. Retrace steps to the start of the walk.
Mainly waymarked paths through woodland, which may be muddy in places.
HOW TO GET THERE
Much Wenlock is 13 miles south-east of Shrewsbury on the A458. There is a car park in the centre of the town, just off St Mary’s Road and a National Trust car park off Stretton Road in Blakeley Hollow.
By public transport:
Buses from Shrewsbury (32mins), Bridgnorth (21mins) and Telford (47mins).
The Raven Hotel
30 Barrow Street,
Much Wenlock TF13 6EN
The Gaskell Arms Hotel,
Much Wenlock TF13 6AQ
☎ 01952 727251
The Wenlock Deli
11 High Street, Much Wenlock TF13 6AA
☎ 01952 727429
Longville, Much Wenlock TF13 6EG
Open Sundays April-Jan, adult £3, child 50p. Available as a youth hostel at other times. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 217.
Grid ref: SO 623 998
Much Wenlock Visitor Information Centre & Museum
The Square, Much Wenlock TF13 6HR
☎ 01952 727679
Shropshire Tourist Information