I generally hate the word ‘bimble’ as it conveys an image of ‘old folk’ struggling to walk very far. But its all I seem to able to manage lately with work and other stuff; so a bimble it was today because I needed an excuse to get out in the fresh air, even if only for a couple of hours.
I decided at the last minute to head off to Brown Clee and get some height and fresh air as it is afterall the highest point in my home county of Shropshire at 540 metres.
I drove out of Shrewsbury and headed for Cleobury North on the B4364 and the picnic spot at the foot of Brown Clee.
The golden slug parked opposite the picnic area
A bitterly cold wind greeted me as I donned boots and rucsack and headed off through the gate and the gentle climb up through woods and sheep fields.
The path was quite clear and I also had printed off an A4 OS map from ‘getamap’ just in case. The route can be seen in a screenshot above.
The walk through the woodland was easy and I saw nobody at all during the trip up.
Quarrying was for long the main income of the area as can be seen by the skeletal remains of buildings and walls. It was widely known as a dangerous and gruelling job. People would walk to the Abdon Quarry on Brown Clee Hill from as far as Bridgnorth and Ludlow, and often they would tend to at least one other job. They were quarrying for Dhustone (Dolerite), a very hard and challenging material to extract.
The Abdon Clee quarries closed in 1936, and by this time the area had become almost industrial, with a concrete plant, tarmac plant in Ditton Priors, plus a small railway to move the stone – and the quarries themselves. If the wind was coming down over the hill it was apparently possible to hear the stone crusher at the top crunching away, even down in Cleehill village.
After the quarries closed, a lot of the quarrymen went to work at the Cockshutford quarries on the other side of Brown Clee. But the dhustone there wasn’t as good quality and durable as over on the Abdon side and that quarry failed to after a short period. Many of the men returned and worked at the naval ammunition depot set up at Ditton Priors at the start of the war. The quarries totally finished in the 1930s and 40s.
Brown Clee Hill lies five miles north of its sister and neighbour, Titterstone Clee Hill. The highest peak of the hill is Abdon Burf, at 540 metres high with Clee Burf at 510m.
This picture shows the viewing stone on Abdon Burf summit and Titterstone Clee on the horizon.
Much more of Brown Clee Hill is private land than on Titterstone Clee, and large areas are covered with coniferous plantations. The eastern expanse of the hill is in possession of the Burwarton Estate under ownership of Viscount Boyne, whilst the western fringes of the hill are owned by various private land owners and the parish of Clee St. Margaret.
Whilst the radar facilities of the Clee Hills protect aircraft, both hills were once a hazard to aircraft, and a memorial commemorates the 23 Allied and German airmen killed here when their planes crashed into Brown Clee during World War II. The first aircraft to crash into Brown Clee was a German Junkers 88, on 1 April 1941. Two Wellington Bombers, a Hawker Typhoon and at least two Avro Ansons also crashed here. It is now thought that there were more wartime crashes on Brown Clee than any other hill in Britain. The engine and other parts of one of the Wellington Bombers are said to rest on the bottom of Boyne Water, Brown Clee.
As you can see it was a dull dismal day on top and I must say its probably the most unimpressive of the Shropshire Hills in my humble opinion, especially on a ‘bimbling’ day like today.
BUT it got me out of the house for a while so I musn’t complain!