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.
The friendly Walkers are Welcome group here runs free guided walks of between 1½ and two hours from outside Wellington Leisure Centre on the first and third Sunday of each month, starting at 14.00. They also organise the Wellington Walking Festival, which takes place in the second week of September, offering a diverse programme including literary walks, ‘memory’ walks, and routes designed for families with children.
© 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: