The Wrekin

The best-known landmark in Shropshire is the Wrekin, at only 1,335 feet it has attracted a lot of attention given its modest size. Those of you who have passed Shrewsbury on the M54 heading to mid-Wales will have noticed this volcanic-looking lump by the side of the road and from the Cressage side (south of Shrewsbury) which is my usual approach these days, it looks like a sleeping dragon with the tree-line resembling scales along its backbone. From the top you can supposedly see 15 counties.

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The pink cooling towers at Buildwas in the Severn Gorge

Whenever I drove around Shrewsbury when I first came to the county in 2002  I used to say to the OH that I could never get lost if I could see the Wrekin – I just headed straight for it – so I was amused to find this saying “a Shropshire mon is nivver lost if he con see the Wrekin” Apparently I wasn’t the first to think of it though naturally being from Yorkshire I’d never pronounce it like THAT!

wrekin 043I remember my mother referring to a circuitous route as “going all around the houses”, here in Shropshire it is “going all around the Wrekin”.

There, somewhere, nor-nor-east from me
Was Shropshire, where I longed to be
Ercall and Mynd, Severn and Wrekin, you and me

~ John Masefield on the heaving deck of a ship in Cardigan Bay Continue reading The Wrekin

The Stiperstones

The word Stiperstones comes from “stripped-stone” an effect caused during the last Ice-Age, a geological abnormality that is unique to Britain.” ~ Michael Raven

(Y Carneddau Tuon – The Dark Rocks)

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The Stiperstones is a wild ridge of Quartzite tors surrounded by a sea of heather located south-west of the county town of Shrewsbury and offers panoramic views of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But the mystery and fear generated by the serrated skyline led to some sinister associations in the past.

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Shropshire has more than its fair share of giants. There is a Giant’s Chair on Titterstone Clee, but the feature with the same name found on the Stiperstones has become known as the Devil’s Chair.

The story is that the devil came over from Ireland with a leather apron full of stones either to block the Hell Gutter, a ravine on the side of the hill, or to dam the River Severn. He sat down to rest on what became the Devil’s Chair and when he got up his apron strings broke and the great stones were scattered all around.

Whenever he can, the devil flops into the chair so that his weight can help push down the Stiperstones since he believes that if they sink into the earth, England, a country he hates, will perish. If anyone else dares to sit in his chair a thunderstorm will immediately erupt.

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Mary Webb (author 1881-1927) wrote in her book ‘The Golden Arrow’

Nothing ever altered its look. …it remained inviolable, taciturn, evil. It glowered darkly in the dawn, it came through the snow like jagged bones through flesh…

source: The Folklore of Shropshire by Roy Plamer, printed by Logaston Press

stiperstones 154BTW Google spell-check wants to replace Stiperstones with superstitions – how spooky is that?

Wintery Blues

Following a thread posted on my visit to Stonehenge I noticed that I had commented on my Avebury  post that I still had to have a look at a local stone circle in Shropshire: Mitchell’s Fold Stones. That comment was made in March 2014.

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Yes that is snow on the lens…

So on Saturday, in bright sunshine I decided to take the shortish drive (25 miles) to find these stones. As we turned off the road and approached White Grit (Powys) the covering of snow on the lane alerted me to the fact that maybe this was not such a good idea.

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I need a vehicle like this one!

Continuing up the lane to the car park with the ice/skid light illuminating on my dashboard I hoped that I would be able to turn around at the end. Reversing down this track was not really an option. The sun was still shining, though there was an ominous black cloud in my rear mirror.

As with many prehistoric sites Mitchell’s Fold is subject of legend. It is said that a fairy gave a magic cow in times of famine which produced an endless supply of milk. An evil witch tried to milk her into a sieve, and realising the trick the cow disappeared. The witch was turned into a stone and a circle of stones was built to ensure she could not escape.

The stone circle is not too far from the parking area, but the temperature was somewhere around 2°C and the wind was raw. The landscape (that which was still visible) looked amazing. Wrapping up in scarves and gloves and hiking boots we headed up towards the stones, which were sadly hidden in the blizzard that then hit us!

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I tried – honest I did, but I can’t say that this was my best photographic venture despite risking frostbite.

Oh, well, I will try again in the summer – this vista is well-worth exploring, stones or no stones! And there are barrows and cairns in the area too.

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(This stone circle was constructed in the Bronze Age, over 3,000 years ago, using dolerite stones from Stapeley Hill. Today there are 15 stones arranged in a rough circle, but there may have been as many as 30).

If you enjoy a walk, long or short, then have a look at Jo’s site where you are welcome to join in.