The Pipe Walk at Carding Mill Valley
This walk is a great way to see some beautiful views and also to really get to the heart of 'those blue remembered hills', as mentioned in the poem by A E Housman.
See hints along the way to the area’s industrial past
This walk also has a strong focus on water, following the stream up to the dark-blue reservoir, along the Pipe Walk and finishing at Lightspout waterfall.
Carding Mill Valley, grid ref: SO411949
If you are starting from the Chalet Pavilion, follow the stream uphill to the top car park.
Cross the stream on the sturdy vehicle bridge opposite the green ticket machine. Ahead, the track curves around a spur of the hill, before opening out into a broad side valley. You are now walking along New Pool Hollow, named after two early mill pools.
New Pool Hollow
The mill pools along this stretch used to feed water down to the carding mill that was situated in the valley in the 19th century. The valley was ideally situated in the centre of one of the best wool producing areas of England and the stream could produce cheap water power to the mill. There was also cheap local labour and a good market for carded wool. The actual carding mill only lasted around 80 years, but the name stuck. It's worth taking a moment to look back at the views every now and again along this stretch.
Keep following the path along New Pool Hollow until you come to a small palisaded area.
Bodbury Ring hill fort
Go inside the palisade and look back on the path you have just walked. As you look up, you'll be looking directly at Bodbury Ring hill fort which is more than 2,500 years old. It was in constant use throughout the Iron Age period by the Cornovii, a Celtic tribe of people found across Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Herefordshire. They used the hill fort to guard their herds of sheep and cattle. From the top of the hill, they’d have been able to see people coming from miles.
Within 440yd (400m), climb the reservoir's retaining bank.
Completed in 1902, this 12-million-gallon reservoir was built to support Church Stretton's aspirations of growth as a fashionable spa. The dark blue of the reservoir reflects the surrounding trees.
Walk along the length of the reservoir bank and pick up the path that goes around the edge of the hill.
The pipe walk
The pipe walk gets its name from the fact that every so often you can see the remains of the Victorian pipe that collected water from the top of the valley. You will also spot the hatches that could be used to turn off the water heading into the reservoir if there was a problem with the pipe itself.
Continue around to the other side of the hill. Here you will be looking down on the top car park and Carding Mill Valley. Follow the path as it gently descends to join the path below.
Here you will walk along a good length of the pipe. The reservoir used to supply the water to Church Stretton, so these pipes were vital to the collection of water for the reservoir.
When the valley divides 550yd (500m) later, take the left-hand fork and climb the crude 'pitched' stone steps into Lightspout Hollow.
The sound of tumbling water fills the deep, narrow V-shaped valley. Its slopes, clad in bilberry, bracken and heather, are dotted with hawthorns and mountain ash. Watch out for brown trout in the pools and noisy stonechats, buzzards and red kites overhead.
Rising above the stream, the rocky path snakes uphill around interlocking spurs. Continue for 550yd (500m) and you will arrive at Lightspout waterfall. Return downhill by the same route.
Reverend Carr nearly plunged to his death here, lost in a snow blizzard in January 1865. To Victorian visitors, the Lightspout was a 'miniature Niagara'. After prolonged rain, the 4-metre cascade is spectacular.
Lightspout Waterfall, grid ref: SO431951
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