OS Explorer map 242; start at Wellington station; 5–6 miles depending on route chosen; generally moderate with steep ascents in places; allow 2–3 hours
On this walk you’ll pass through ancient oak woodland and see evidence of 500 million years of history in the Ercall (pronounced ‘Arkle’) quarries. You’ll visit the foot of Shropshire’s beloved ‘little mountain’ The Wrekin, with optional access around or over it. You can also make a circular route extension to Limekiln Wood with its industrial heritage.
1 Using the Platform 2 exit, turn right and follow the road up towards the town where, at the T-junction, the new main route of the Shropshire Way can be found (waymarkers point to the south and north of the circular route). Turn left and go through Market Square, keeping to the left of the black-and-white building (currently a branch of Subway). Walk along Crown Street, then carry straight on up Tan Bank. Cross Victoria Road and continue through the pedestrian access way into the next section of Tan Bank. After just over 30yds take the brick footpath on the right. Cross the next road (Roseway) and take the rising footpath immediately opposite. Carry on past the allotments on your right and Sunnycroft on your left.
2 Cross Holyhead Road by the pelican crossing and head straight on to Golf Links Lane. Continue up the lane and pass under the motorway bridge.
3 Immediately after the bridge, turn right to follow the signposted footpath through Ercall Wood. (Directly opposite this entrance you’ll find steps leading to a possible three-mile walk extension using a circular path through Limekiln Wood.) Once in Ercall Wood, cross the footbridge and bear left into the main part of the wood. After a short distance the route forks right (following the mustard-coloured Wrekin Forest Trails waymark) and rises steeply. (For a gentler alternative bear left at the fork and keep to the wider main path which rises more slowly along the side of the hill. You will rejoin the main walk at point 4.)
Follow the main path where it opens out uphill, bearing left to join the ridge. Turn left along the ridge and take in the fine view over Wrekin Golf Club as you approach the top. (If you wish you could continue along the ridge for more views over quarries and The Wrekin, then return to the junction of the path just up from point 4.)
4 The two routes recombine at the foot of the short sharp descent on the left. Continue straight on to follow the main route (or, from the gentler alternative, turn left). After a few yards the path will begin to swing right and descend. Follow the path downhill as it bends to the right and approaches the first quarry.
5 About midway down the hill you will come to a junction with a waymark on the left. The main route carries on down the hill but the short ‘mountain goat’ path on the right leads to a ledge inside the quarry and, above that, the base of the Ercall Geological Unconformity, where Ercall granophyre meets Wrekin quartzite and clearly marks a shift from volcanic to sedimentary rock.Be sure to turn around here for a special view of The Wrekin not many people get to see.
Upon reaching the base of the first main quarry you’ll find an interpretation board and a large stone inscribed with a poem. Looking up on a sunny day you’ll see the colourful rocks shining out near the top of the quarry face. Continue downhill until you reach a pool on the left. Take the hairpin left at the end of the pool and follow the path uphill to the Dairy Pit, after which the path steeply descends to the Little Wenlock Road. Turn right at the road and follow it to the Forest Glen car park. Cross the road and continue on a few yards to the entrance to The Wrekin.
6 This is the main access point to The Wrekin, from which routes over and around the hill can be made. A straight up and down will add three miles and 800ft to your walk, while a circuit midway up the hill will add four miles. Refreshments are available at Halfway House during opening hours. Continue along the road until you reach a footpath on your right (at a road junction, with a sign marked Uppington on your left).
7 Turn right along the footpath, follow the path around the reservoir with its views of the Ercall, and then turn right to reach Ercall Lane. Follow the road until you pass the Buckatree Hall Hotel on your left. Cross into the fringe of the woodland where you see a wooden footpath sign, turning left to head towards Wellington. Follow the paths that run alongside the road as closely as you can until you reach the motorway bridge.
8 Immediately after crossing the motorway bridge, turn left along the footpath which emerges at a small roundabout at the top of Hampton Hill (offering great views over north Shropshire). Take the road which descends steeply down Hampton Hill to reach Holyhead Road. Turn right, cross the road and turn left into Bowring Park (opposite the Red Lion pub). Follow the path to the main entrance (where there is a pavilion café) on Haygate Road. Turn right, heading towards the town centre and cross the road by the John Bayley Club. At the junction, turn left along Bridge Road and walk until you reach the traffic lights. Turn right here, walking down Market Street (past the Pheasant Inn) and back to Market Square.
Discover more walking routes in Shropshire with our Slow Travel guide: