• Start: Car park just north of Shobdon Church, OS ref. 341629.
  • End: Car park just north of Shobdon Church, OS ref. 341629.
  • Country: England
  • County: Herefordshire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: Bateman Arms: 01568 708374
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 203 and 201
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Greta Pennington of the Mortimer Group of The Ramblers leads a walk from Shobdon Hill to Strawberry Hill Gothic

Underneath the arches

Greta Pennington of the Mortimer Group of The Ramblers leads a walk from Shobdon Hill to Strawberry Hill Gothic

There is some evidence that Shobdon was a pre-Roman settlement. It is thought that a Roman road ran from the south west to join the Roman road to Leintwardine; there is a reference in the Domesday Book. In the 18th century, when the Bateman family built Shobdon Court, it became an estate village, with the majority of the population employed by the estate.

1 With your back to the lane down to the church, walk north, up the quarter-mile long, tree-lined avenue to The Arches. These were once part of the chancel of the Norman church that was replaced in the mid 18th century, by the present church. The Arches originally formed the chancel arch and two doorways. The sculptures that are of great national interest were made by masons of the Herefordshire School of Romanesque Architecture. The Norman church was erected at the expense of Oliver de Merlimond, a steward of the Mortimers, who was awarded the manor at Shobdon by them. It is said that this was the first building, in Herefordshire decorated by the Herefordshire School. More examples of their work can be seen at Kilpeck and Eardisley churches. About 15 yards to the left of The Arches follow the path through the woods to the lane; turn left to walk along for about quarter mile, passing Uphampton House on the right. Take the lane, on the right, opposite The Parks, that leads towards Shobdon Hill.

2 Just before the Shobdon Forest Research Field Station, cross the stile on the left and follow the field edge keeping the woods of the field station on the right.

About two thirds along the field, cross the stile at the end of the fence and walk along the track. Almost immediately, turn up the track on the right, to begin walking up Shobdon Hill. As you ascend, you pass a great variety of trees and the views open up to the west and the south.

3 At the top of the hill go left to walk along the crest. Here you can see the reasons why the hill presents such a jagged profile from a distance. Many of the trees have been felled. On the right, you look down into the steep valley of the River Lugg, and the tree- covered hills to the north.

4 At the end of the ridge, bear right, keeping the wire fence on your left, to follow the well-marked track going down hill. After about 150 yards look out for the small path on the left, that leads up to a stile that you cross.

5 This path now contours round the hillside, with a steep, wooded slope on the right. You have views down to the village of Byton. Continue on round, on this path to the sigh post. Go sharp left up to the stile, and then follow along by the side of the hedge and woodland to the gate and stile at the end of the field. Keeping the barn on your left go across to the stile, and walk up the field alongside the fence, and then down to the stile, into the wood. As you emerge from the wood, cross the next stile and walk across, and down the field to the gate. Walk on, keeping the fence on your right, to the next gate, with the fence and hedge, still on the right, to a grass track leading down to the right which you take down to the gate, to walk down the well-defined track, keeping the farm on the left. Below and slightly to the left you can see Shobdon Airfield. Glider crews trained here in the Second World War for the D Day landings and for Arnhem. It has a busy glider and aero club.

6 Cross the road at the bottom of the track, to the gate opposite. Slant left across the field to the stile, and continue on the cleared path through the crops, slanting to the left of the electricity pole, to the stile at the left hand corner of the field. Cross left over the corner of the next field and follow the fence down to the dip and the stile.

There is a farm over to the right. Turn sharp left after crossing the stile and walk beside the fence to the stile.

7 You are now going to cross an area that was glaciated during the last Ice Age and this has left a legacy. There are a number of small lakes and ponds and low hillocks. These are drumlins that are composed of moraine debris. The ponds are kettle holes. This is a dampish area to walk through. To the right, hidden by the trees is Pearl Lake, one of the largest areas of open water in Herefordshire. Follow the fence, crossing the stiles, and winding your way through the gorse bushes to the sloping area where some horse lanes have been marked off. Walk straight over to the stile and walk along the top of the field, then bear left through the gap, at the copse, to continue walking with the trees on the right, to the woods ahead. Cross the track that comes down from your left, to enter the woods, at first on a small grass track that very soon opens up to a well defined path up through the wood. After crossing the stile, on the right, follow the track up left. The Motte, of what had once been Shobdon Castle is to your right. There are some very large oak trees growing round the edge. Go through the gate and right to the car park.

8 Before leaving, go down right from the car park to the church. Built in the 18th century, it is built in the style known as Strawberry Hill Gothic. According to Pevsner the interior is delightful and ought to be kept in a state of high finish. A visit makes an interesting end to the walk.

The walk

Explorer map OS 203 Ludlow. OS ref. 341629. Car park just north of Shobdon Church
Maps: OS Explorer 203 and 201
Distance: 5 miles
Grade: Moderate with steady uphill to top of Shobdon Hill at more than
1,000 feet above sea level
Stiles: 14
Nearest town: Leominster
Refreshments: Bateman Arms: 01568 708374
Toilets: None
Public transport: There is a regular bus service between Leominster and Kington via Shobdon.
Contact Traveline for details on 0871 2002233

*This route was correct as of January 2011*

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