I’m in my sixtieth year and am planning on climbing 60 summits to celebrate. There are no criteria about height, and I can do more than one in a day. It’s half way through the year and I’ve knocked off 50! Last weekend a small window of opportunity opened up to escape to Shropshire for a couple of days and I jumped at it. All Stretton Bunkhouse looked a likely overnight option and I was able to book a 4 bed room for the two of us without paying extra for the beds we weren’t using. A quick look on my Viewranger App revealed a 10 mile loop which went almost past the door, climbing up to the Long Mynd and back via Little and Church Stretton, with a summit on Pole Bank. Perfect. We packed a few bits of food; as this was an impromptu adventure it had to be cheap and so I raided the fridge.
We arrived a bit early at the bunkhouse but were warmly welcomed. We changed into running kit in the immaculate room which had just been cleaned. Lots of helpful posters and organised signs warmed me to the owners, who built the bunkhouse 30 odd years ago. We met another couple of early arrivals who were part of a cycling group from the Lakes looking for cheaper accommodation than the rest of their group. They were getting settled in too, and planning a reconnaissance ride to check the bikes.
We went off in sunshine for our run, and navigated across to the rough moorland of the Long Mynd and into the rain, which took us by surprise. No stopping on Pole Bank as it was rather miserable and cold. But a tick in the box as it’s a Marilyn (over 1500 feet) at 1693 feet. Luckily I had a Fulfil energy bar to sustain me, although I did envy people with their cars conveniently in a car park nearby. It was still a few miles home. Bizarrely the weather cleared up immediately we starting descending a beautiful grassy bank with ponies quietly grazing, barely moving as we passed them, towards Little Stretton, back on our side of the hill. What a pretty valley it was, with a delightful looking campsite and a collection of quaint cottages. We turned left here and followed a much more mellow footpath, contouring the hillside and working our way through Church Stretton with its historical buildings and on past a reservoir and up the valley to return to the hostel. It had been a very varied outing and much to recommend it.
The evening was spent having a drink at the local pub, “The Yew Tree”, 15 mins walking distance, and cooking some supper at the hostel. Two more arrivals who were part of a walking group completed the guests. The bunkhouse sleeps a maximum of 10 in three rooms, with one shower and toilet and a separate toilet, so facilities are fine. The kitchen area isn’t large and all 10 couldn’t eat at the same time, but with fine pubs in all the villages nearby I don’t suspect that happens. You can’t take a car all the way to the hostel, but it’s a short walk and there’s a bike shed for cyclists. It’s really beautifully situated and peaceful and we all agreed over breakfast that the beds were super comfortable and it was better than a B&B and a fraction of the price. Smug!
Monday saw a quick foray up Caer Caradow, at 1506 feet this was just a Marilyn but certainly a summit. This is very close, again we walked from the hostel, but quite different landscape being formed by ancient glaciation. This was a shorter and steeper ascent with some stunning views in wind and sunshine. It was an excellent walk. I was very impressed with the area, we were lucky with the weather, but I hadn’t realised quite how interesting it was. We made the most of a small window of opportunity and it felt like a real holiday despite being only one night away from home. I think it’s called a “mini escape”. Hoping there’s some more of these around the corner! And maybe I’d better start planning the celebrations for the 60th summit when I plan to book a whole hostel and invite a crowd of friends. Now when and where will that be? I’m getting close enough to plan I think. That’s half the fun after all!!
If you stay longer at All Stretton Bunkhouse have a look at The Walking Englishman’s website for another route idea. Here is a maps showing the locations of all our hostels and bunkhouses in Shropshire.