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The Kerry Ridgeway


The Kerry Ridgeway is usually a ‘must’ for walkers of ancient roads1, but we enjoyed more what was either side of it: views of Wales & Shropshire, stone age burrows, the strange tracks that cross it (including Offa’s Dyke) and a touching memorial to a pedlar William Cantlin/Cantrell. 

 

Make sure, if you can, to walk the Ridgeway when the sun’s out; you can see 70 miles on a good day.

 

It was trodden by drovers, of course, but 8,000 years after it was first used.  They stopped at The Cider House (SO 108847) for a pick-me-up before taking their cattle over the top (#1). 

 

It’s promising at this point, but thereafter we found little open hillside: barbed wire or forestry hems you in on one side or both all the way to Pantglas.  Then it’s tarmac to Bishop’s Castle.  A delightful walk, but not much evidence of droving to stir the blood, except for two old drovers’ inns: Castlewright Cottage on the right and The Dog & Duck less than half a mile on (#3)...

 

...so Thank Heaven for the views on the way (#2); and the strange mounds and ditches; and the motte & bailey castle at Bishop’s Moat.

 

(Two warnings: at SJ 216882, after emerging from Kerry Wood, do not relax & follow the ash track; branch left on to grass.  Secondly, after Moat Hill at 299897, fork right along Kerry Lane, signposted ‘Lydbury North’.)

 

Then enjoy the splendid, hard-drinking town of Bishop’s Castle.  Four times more pubs per inhabitant than where I live, all serving fine food and, impressively, Three Tuns Ale – actually  brewed in the town.  I also recommend the £2 guidebook to the Ridgeway.   You’ll find it in the Town Hall at the top of the main street. 

 

Confession: we were more impressed by Stank Lane, which continues the line of the ridgeway ESE of Bishop’s Castle in the direction of Craven Arms, Worcester...and London.   An impressive holloway leads up the hill; a much more impressive milestone crowns it (#4 & 5).

 

1 It is written up in great detail by Wayne Smith in his excellent book The Drovers’ Roads of the Middle Marches

The Kerry Ridgeway image 1
Up to the top...
The Kerry Ridgeway image 2
..where Cross Dyke meets the KR
The Kerry Ridgeway image 3
The Dog & Duck
The Kerry Ridgeway image 4
Up Stank...
The Kerry Ridgeway image 5
..& London is 157 miles away