June Walks Giveaway: The Wrekin, Shropshire
This walk is reproduced from our popular walking book 'Kiddiwalks in Shropshire'. The walk was originally put together with children in mind, but it's suitable for all ages!
📥 To download this walk and take it with you, click here!
THE WREKIN, SHROPSHIRE
Distance: 3.5 miles
There was once a giant with a grievance against the people of Shrewsbury and he set off with a shovelful of earth to dam the River Severn and flood the town. As he strode across the flat fields he met a cobbler carrying a bag of old shoes for repair and asked him how far he had yet to go. The cobbler, seeing what the giant had in mind, replied that it was so far that he had worn out all these shoes along the way – whereupon the giant angrily flung down the earth he carried, thus creating the Wrekin!
Whatever you may think of that story, the lonely hump of the Wrekin does have a magical air about it and you can’t pass it without wanting to be up there. You can just tell it has a fantastic view! To children it looks like a proper mountain, a real challenge they can’t wait to take on. So choose a fine day, pack a picnic, binoculars for the view, a camera to record the achievement and perhaps a few goodies for a reward at the summit. Off you go!
HOW TO GET THERE & PARKING
Leave the A5/M54 at junction 7 and head south towards Little Wenlock. After about 1 mile (just beyond a road junction), the car park is on the left.
Parking: Forest Gate free car park, under the rocks on the Little Wenlock road
(GR: SJ 638093). Map: OS Explorer 242 Telford
1. From the car park, return to the road junction and cross the road to pick up the wide uphill track. After a couple of sharp bends to the right it reaches a house and then a barrier onto the mountain.
2. Turn left here and continue up the obvious broad track. In the 1st century AD a hill fort was established here, and the path passes through its two gates, inturned gaps between ramparts. At the summit a toposcope identifies all you can see.
3. Walk straight ahead across the summit to pick up a narrower descending track. Just after leaving, the rocks on the left contain the Needle’s Eye (see Background Notes). Continue steeply downhill to arrive at a crosstracks where you can see a
low hill ahead (aptly named Little Hill).
4. Turn left here on a path running through woodland around the flank of the hill. After about ½ mile it is joined by another track coming from below. Simply keep ahead with open fields now on your right to arrive eventually at the broad track on
which you set out. Turn right to descend to the car park.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Wrekin is composed of volcanic ash and lava, but it was never a volcano. It rises to only 407 m (1,335 ft) but looks much bigger because the land around is so low-lying. It isn’t quite alone either. The Wrekin has a very little sister, the Ercall (pronounced Arcal) alongside and from this route you can see the old quarries on the Ercall. The two-tone pink and grey rock is particularly interesting to geologists.
The Wrekin’s summit, like so many others in Shropshire, shows the presence of an Iron Age hill fort. Quite possibly this one was the capital of the Cornovii, and a tribal meeting place. In climbing you pass through the two fort entrances that are gaps in the ramparts – the outer is Hell Gate, the inner (narrower!) Heaven Gate.
The view from the summit on a clear day is said to encompass 17 counties. The ‘Beacon on the Wrekin’, lit up at night, is a transmitting station used for telecommunications and broadcasting. The rocks on the left just beyond the summit contain a slit known as the Needle’s Eye. Legend has it that it was made by warring giants wielding a spade! It is said that to consider yourself a true Salopian, you must have passed through the Eye – but don’t even think of trying it with the children!
This whole area was once a Norman hunting forest and today there are still large herds of fallow deer roaming the woods. Tiny nonnative muntjacs have joined them.
- Alex Batho