With restrictions lifted in England, we name our top six country walks east of Offa's Dyke
Rejoice! We can travel throughout England and enjoy our fabulous countryside again.
To celebrate, we asked our walking editor Matt Pike to name his top six country walks in the English Border counties. As usual, you can click on the hyperlinks for a printable map and directions. Enjoy the freedom!
1. Water way to go
Magically, you can normally hear a waterfall before you see it. And as soon as you do, you’re transfixed, as the distant sound gets louder and louder until you’re facing this colossal roar head-on, with more water than you can even contemplate plunging into the pool and onto the rocks below. The characteristic steep, deep valleys of the Borders mean cascades are commonplace, not least on this trail in Carding Mill Valley in Shropshire. "It's a walk through what many regard as Shropshire's finest valley," says Matt. Click here
The Borders may be the epitome of tranquillity, but it hasn’t always been such an idyllic place, as the multitude of castles built either side of the Welsh Border testify. In the Middle Ages, life here could be turbulent, but fortresses were built as a statement of power as well as a practical defence. And so magnificent were they, even those that suffered extensive damage over the centuries still draw the crowds today, including Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire, where this walk will take you. "It offers the chance to see the Wye Valley at its best," says Matt, "overlooked by the stunning medieval castle." Click here
3. Love Ludlow
This town trail was included in last year's run down of romantic rambles, and it certainly makes a full day of it, with stunning vistas to compete with the charming streets of Ludlow in Shropshire. "It makes for a relaxing stroll through an enchanting historic town, with another castle of course." says Matt. Click here
4. Time to rhyme
As many of you probably know, the Border landscapes have been a terrific source of inspiration for artists. But not just visual artists – there’s a long history of poets featuring the Welsh Borders in their work, and retracing their footsteps can be truly inspirational. On this walk you can discover the countryside that was responsible for war poet Wilfred Owen to put pen to paper. "It also offers a rare opportunity to explore lowland heath, while enjoying fine views with minimal effort," says Matt. Click here
5. Manmade marvel
While the Welsh Borders are renowned more for their natural wonder than their buildings, the region is nevertheless home to some beautiful, interesting and important architecture. And one of those has to be Hereford Cathedral, where this wander takes you. "You can take in one of the region's finest buildings, and also enjoy a riverside stroll," says Matt. Click here
6. Bridge over troubled waters
After all the problems with Covid-19, it'd be easy to forget the havoc wreaked by the floods just four months ago. Ironbridge was one of the worst hit areas, but one of the driest Mays on record has seen the waters subside considerably, offering safe passage around this historic Unesco World Heritage Site in Shropshire. "An iconic bridge, scenic gorge and wildlife-rich woodland are all on offer on this walk," says Matt. Click here
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