Much Wenlock Circular Day Hiking Ironbridge Shropshire England UK
Much Wenlock Circular Day Hiking Ironbridge was about 11.5 miles in distance and was a recce for a charity event to be done later in the year.
This was a lovely spring walk and the blossoms were out on the trees.
There was a variety of walking on this route.
We passed by Wenlock Priory; followed some of the Shropshire Way; walked through woods; along a disused railway; along a track beside the River Severn; passed the famous iron bridge in Ironbridge town and Buildwas Abbey ruins and along quiet country lanes.
Much Wenlock & Ironbridge Hiking, Shropshire Video
This video slideshow shows the highlights of this Much Wenlock & Ironbridge Day Hiking, Shropshire trip.
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Much Wenlock & Ironbridge Hiking, Shropshire Route
Much Wenlock Circular Day Hiking Ironbridge was an anti-clockwise route which started in the town centre of Much Wenlock. It was a well waymarked route, hiking across fields and also through woodlands and offered a great contrast between scenery views and history. Although not a difficult or very strenuous hike, the length of this route would make it a moderate grade.
The first leg of the trip was in a north easterly direction, mainly along the Shropshire Way route. We passed the ruins of Wenlock Priory before entering the countryside and passing through the hamlet of Wyke. We then went through Benthall Edge Woods and along Benthall Edge. Next we descended hundreds of wooden steps through the thickly wooded hillside of Ironbridge Gorge with dramatic views of the power station. Finally, we hiked along the disused railway track and crossed the now famous iron bridge into Ironbridge town.
After lunch, the second leg from Ironbridge back to Much Wenlock was in an “L” shaped direction. The first section led us west through the gorge along the River Severn, over Buildwas Bridge, past Buildwas Abbey ruins and later through the woods of Buildwas Park. The second section led us south, mainly along a long and quiet country lane back to Much Wenlock. Although a quiet country lane care should be taken on the lane, especially when approaching bends.
Note that there were a lot of paths and various waymarked trails within Benthall Woods and this could be confusing. A number of the paths have dead ends and some sections along the edges of disused quarries can be dangerous. Please stick to the route through the woods. Take great care when hiking along Benthall Edge and beware of tree roots so you do not trip over the edge. I also recommend beginners taking their time descending the hundreds of steps down into Ironbrdige Gorge.
Much Wenlock & Ironbridge Day Hiking, Shropshire Local Info
Much Wenlock is located on the A458 between Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury at the north ¬east end of Wenlock Edge. It is an charming old town with some black and white, and stone houses and cottages. It has a town farm, a timbered guildhall from medieval times and a 12th-century church. Much Wenlock is also the home of the modern Olympics. William Penny Brookes, a local surgeon who founded the Wenlock Olympian Society that held annual games, is said to be the inspiration for the modern Olympic Games. Every July, Much Wenlock still holds its own Olympian games.
Wenlock Priory remains are quite impressive and belonged to the Cluniac order which was founded by the powerful Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger of Montgomery, not long after the Norman Conquest. A section of the nave’s south side and the church’s south transept still survive and date back to the 13th century. There is also the chapter house which is noted for its intricate carvings. The priory is also thought to be the resting place of Saint Milburga, who was reported to have performed miracles. These days, the priory is being looked after by English Heritage.
Ironbridge is located on the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge. It gets its name courtesy of the iron bridge, the first in the world, that was constructed in 1779 and which spans the River Severn some 30 metres. Ironbridge and the surrounding areas are attributed with being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The ready supply of timber together with sources of limestone, coal and iron locally, made this region of Shropshire an early hub for the iron industry. Abraham Darby revolutionised the iron industry in 1709 at his Coalbrookdale works when he smelted iron ore with coke in place of the usual charcoal. This event freed the production of iron from its dependence on the scarce source timber and facilitated the expansion of the industry. In 1986, Ironbridge was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is a major tourist destination within Shropshire these days
The Iron Bridge Of Ironbridge
As Ironbridge and the local areas became a major producer of iron, demands for a new bridge to cross the Severn gorge were made. Construction was started during the summer of 1779 and on New Year’s Day 1781 the bridge was opened to traffic.
Albert Edward Bridge
The Albert Edward Bridge was constructed by the Coalbrookdale Company and opened in the November of 1864. It is a railway bridge crossing the River Severn and spanning 61 meters. These days it only carries coal to Ironbridge Power Station and is also a Grade II Listed Building.
Ironbridge Power Stations
Ironbridge power stations are also called Buildwas power stations and refer to 2 coal fired stations that have been built at Buildwas next to the River Severn. Ironbridge A was the first which was decommissioned and then demolished in 1983. Construction of the present day Ironbridge B station started in 1963 but power to the National Grid until 1969. In an attempt to seamlessly merge the station into the natural environment, the cooling towers were positioned so that they cannot be seen from the famous iron bridge; the station buildings are hidden from view by wooded hills when viewed from Ironbridge; and the cooling towers were made with concrete containing a red pigment to blend with the local soil colour. It also has a single chimney 205 meters high which is the tallest structure in Shropshire.
Buildwas Abbey is located on the south bank of the River Severn a few miles west of Ironbridge. It was founded in 1135 as a Savignac monastery by Roger de Clinton who was the Bishop of Coventry. In 1147 the abbey was absorbed into the Cistercian Order. The surviving buildings are mainly 12th century with the church being more or less intact, an outstanding example of the Transitional style. The stone for its construction was quarried in the nearby Broseley and today the abbey is in the care of English Heritage
Buildwas Park is an estate located between Ironbridge and Much Wenlock and borders the historic Buildwas Abbey. It has about 1,200 acres of mature woodlands that were planted more than 50 years ago for the specific purpose of game shooting.
When Done & With Whom
I did this hike with my Partner Anne and a friend called Richard in April 2011. Richard was the organiser of a charity walk to be done later in the year by the company Richard works for. We drove from home to the starting location of Much Wenlock and parked on one of the streets in the town. Parking in the streets was limited but there is a small pay and display car park available. Alternatively, I believe you can pay to park in the Wenlock Priory car park.