A picturesque valley in the heart of the Shropshire Hills
Those rugged Shropshire Hills have quite the reputation, and it’s well earned. For a truly naturally beautiful day out, they really are hard to beat, and one of the best places to explore and make the most of them is at Carding Mill Valley.
The views across the hills from here are seemingly endless, as heathland that’s alive with everything from rabbits to sheep stretches out ahead, carved enticingly with trails. A stream runs through the base of the valley, in which Labradors bound and intrepid children paddle, and delightful characters such as the rare bilberry bumblebee buzz overhead.
National Trust-owned Carding Mill is the starting point for a number of walks through the Long Mynd, with something to suit all ages, abilities and timescales. Some head out on a short stroll to the reservoir, and others venture to the top of a hill. This is an ideal place to bring your hound, and there are even bridleways for those with a slightly larger four-legged friend in tow.
The birdlife here is impressive, and those marvellous folk at the National Trust have even got the place kitted out with a hide to ensure that twitchers are properly catered for. If you’ve ticked hawfinch and red grouse off your list, and fancy a bit of a challenge, how about hitting one of the orienteering or adventure trails? Then find a quiet spot for a picnic – there are few more picturesque places to sit and enjoy a relaxed meal surrounded by wonderful views, so make sure it’s a leisurely affair.
There’s plenty to spot on a night-time visit, too, with no less than four designated Dark Sky areas across the Long Mynd, including at Carding Mill Valley.
Once legs have been stretched and an appetite worked up, there’s a tearoom to retire to, which also serves as an excellent refuge should the weather turn. If the sun’s shining though, don’t miss the opportunity to take a seat on the roof terrace and savour the view as you tuck into your apple cake or wild garlic soup. There’s also a second-hand book store in the tearoom to peruse as your food settles.
Those keen for a memento to take home with them could choose to begin or end their day by popping into the shop where gifts, local produce, and anything that might have been accidentally left at home such as rugs, hats and sun cream can all be found – perfect!
AT A GLANCE
Food and drink – A tearoom with a roof terrace serves hot food and refreshments.
Dogs – Dogs are welcome but must be kept under close control.
Accessibility – There’s mobility parking and a drop-off point. There are also adapted toilets and the building has a level entrance. A few parts of the site are accessible, though it’s mostly uneven ground and narrow paths.
Opening times – Countryside: dawn until dusk Shop: May weekdays 11am-5pm, May weekends 10am-5pm Tearoom in May: 10am-5pm
Upcoming events – Swervy World – Live at the Chalet, 10th May – an evening of ragtime jazz and dance; The 12th Annual Duck Races, 18th May – rubber duck racing; Solstice Sleepout, 20th June – enjoy the shortest night of the year.
Prices – Car parking costs £5 in summer and £3.50 in winter.
Contact – Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Tel: 01694 725000. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
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