Shropshire is a wanderer’s dream; you can spend hours traversing hills, forests, valleys and bogs without encountering any traffic. Sometimes you won’t see another human being. Several major walking routes pass through Shropshire (including two sections of the Offa’s Dyke Path), while the Shropshire Way – a huge project to link walkers’ favourite routes and scenery – offers waymarked footpaths which cross the length and breadth of the county. See shropshireway.org.uk for details of improvements.
© Derek Houghton
Shropshire has several Walkers are Welcome towns, which means each has joined a national initiative to ensure their locales are attractive for walking, offering information on nearby walks and keeping footpaths and signposts well maintained. You’ll find many pubs and cafés bearing the Walkers are Welcome window sticker: feel confident they’ll not mind your muddy boots and wet-weather gear.
Below are a few of my picks for the best places to walk in the county. More ideas for exploring Shropshire on foot are shared at shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk/walking.
Offa’s Dyke Path
Offa’s Dyke Path is classed as a National Trail, running for 177 glorious miles along or near the earthwork, through moors, river valleys and woodland from the Severn Estuary just south of Chepstow in Monmouthshire to the north Wales coast at Prestatyn in Denbighshire.
Shropshire has two sections of the trail: in northwest Shropshire (from Bronygarth on the border with Wrexham down towards Llanymynech) and also in the south, heading down west of Bishop’s Castle, past Newcastle (west of Clun) towards the path’s halfway point at Knighton in Powys, where you’ll find the Offa’s Dyke Centre.
© Caroline Jane Anderson, Shutterstock
One of the first walks to conquer in Shropshire is The Wrekin. It’s no Ben Nevis, but the ‘little mountain’ symbolises home to many people who live in Shropshire. According to local tradition, you may only consider yourself a true Salopian once you’ve passed through the cleft in Needle’s Eye, an outcrop of rock near the summit.
© EddieCloud, Shutterstock
This six-mile ridge towers nearly 1,760ft above sea level at its highest. To walk the Stiperstones on a clear day is uplifting and invigorating, while chill winds and bleak skies will inevitably cast a forbidding mood over the range. From the top you can see Wales to the west (Corndon Hill is over the border in Powys); the Long Mynd to the east and The Wrekin to the northeast.
Waymarked paths will keep you from getting lost: there’s a short (545yds) all-ability trail and also the Stiperstones Stomp which takes you five miles over to Habberley. From there you can walk back or, when they’re running, catch a Shropshire Hills Shuttle Bus.
© Gordon Dickens
In Welsh myndd means ‘bare mountain’, which is misleading here as Shropshire’s Long Mynd is officially moorland: a wild, sweeping moorland plateau running for around ten miles, covering almost 6,000 heather-tufted acres and rising to 1,700ft above sea level. Don't worry about its perils, though – the Long Mynd is clearly waymarked and not half as dangerous as it sounds, as long as you tackle it in fair weather.
The ridge is flat with pleasant walking conditions: you’ll see ponies and sheep grazing in the heather and bracken as you make your way over the grit and shale upland. The Long Mynd is easily accessible from Carding Mill Valley and Church Stretton. You can also drive over it via the single-track Burway, but with a gradient of one in five at times and a sheer drop at your side, it’s safer and more fun on foot, horseback or bike.
© Oswestry Tourist Board
This is a 12½-mile walking route around Oswestry, conceived by the Ramblers’ Oswestry Group. Divided into five shorter sections, it takes in several sights, including Racecourse Common and Old Oswestry Hillfort – both excellent places for revitalising walks and wonderful views.
© Shropshire Council Tourism
Shropshire’s meres are great places to walk, with flat pathways and plenty of wildlife to spot. The Mere at Ellesmere is the obvious starting point, but I prefer Colemere for a circular, and somehow more satisfying, stroll. It’s fun with small children, who can find dens in the trees and look out for squirrels.
Discover more of Shropshire's treasures in our Slow Travel guide: