Well – did you see it all on Countryfile? (Sunday 8th Jan – Episode 1404 – Shropshire) What a coincidence, Matt Baker leaning on the Gate at Blakemoregate Cottage and talking about the Snailbeach mine. Go here to have an extensive read about the history of the mine area – scroll down to the bottom of the screen to see many more excellent links.
We assembled at The Oak and who should be in the car park but Charles – a great pleasure to see you again – hope to see more of you, and Maggie, this year. The weather wasn’t looking that promising but six of us set off to Snailbeach, picking up Graham on the way, arriving at about 9.40 with the weather still not making up its mind. We started up towards Lordshill through the old workings and turned off to pass the Engine Shaft building and Resting Hill chimney to break out onto open country above the village. The views from here were extensive but the weather was slowly coming in from the south west. We followed the rather mucky paths up onto the tops at Blakemoregate and started on the ridge walk proper.
The mucky weather started now – thick very wetting drizzle and low cloud – so it was on with the wet gear and on to Shepherd’s Rock. Here we turned downhill heading to my first intention, the track from The Hollies through to Stiperstones Car park. But on the recce I found that this was not a good idea – timber work around the Gatten Plantation had turned parts of the track to slurry – so the path that runs parallel to this and the Stiperstones Ridge was the best alternative. This was a bit slack in parts, but very much better than the lower path.
We paused for coffee etc at Cranberry Rock and decided to take the ridge path as the return route rather than an alternative that involved a loss of a lot of height (via Black Ditch and the Reservoir Road by Perkins Beach back up to the ridge). We negotiated the rocky ridge and joined the open paths back to Blakemoregate and from here set a route across the Hollies (read about the ancient holly trees here) and past Lordshill Chapel back to Snailbeach. Have a look for some of the lichens that were showing very red amongst the rocks and heather – Cladonia. The strange circular structure that we saw in the field above Lordshill Chapel is a ‘shaft cap’ – it has a grill on top to let the bats in and out – the one we saw was ‘Paint Shaft’, there are two others in the area: Sheep Shaft and Chapel Shaft. Bird life was not thick on the ground but we did put up a pair of grouse and heard a few others, but the best was on our return to Snailbeach – a peregrine being mobbed by corvids etc over the mine workings. (Len has just informed me that it was not a peregrine but a Goshawk – even better!)
A very good walk for a dry sunny day when you could spend and hour or two poking around the mines. Pictures here. Thanks to all who came and all who drove.
Other links to Snailbeach Mine information:
Large number of good photos and knowledgeable description here:
A pdf of probably the definitive account of the mines here. (171 pages of excellent stuff)