A Circular Walk From Bishop's Castle To Bury Ditches Hill Fort

Bishop's Castle → Colebatch → Acton → Bury Ditches → Brockton → Colebatch → Bishop's Castle

Mostly fields, some forest, a little tarmac. 9.7 miles. Circular. Lots of stiles.

The Iron Age hill fort of Bury Ditches has some of the best views around. This walk leaves BC south on the Shropshire Way, then goes cross-country to the hamlet of Acton. There you climb up through a wooded valley into the forest, then on to the fort.

A short walk on a quiet lane takes you down to the hamlet of Brockton, and from then it's fields again back to 'The Castle'.

Bishop's Castle To Colebatch

As ever, we start our walk in The Six Bells with a pint of home-brewed ale. Leave through the front door and turn right, then immediately right again into Kerry Lane, then immediately left into Church Lane. Walk past the Church Barn, then turn right just past the fire station. Walk a few yards up here then turn left up Field Lane – an unsurfaced vehicle track going gently up hill.

Carry on up Field Lane until you come to a large gate by some houses. Pass through the gate and past the houses then through a smaller gate and continue in the same direction along the narrower path. This is part of the Shropshire Way.

Follow this path through several gates until you go over a stile and into a field which slopes down steeply in front of you. On the far side, roughly opposite to where you are standing, you will see a stile next to a gate by a small stream. Go down the hill and cross the stile into a muddy track on the far side. 50m or so up this track you will come to a paved lane. Turn right.

Colebatch To Acton

In a few yards you will see a stile up on the bank to the left. Climb over then proceed slightly uphill and to the right across the field to another stile . Cross this stile too, then head for a gate and stile diagonally across the next field. Climb this stile and enter a large uphill field. We exit this next field via another stile in the far left-hand corner. The views behind you are excellent here.

In this next field walk up along the left hand hedge until you reach another gate and stile near an old iron barn. Pass over the stile, walk past the barn then follow the edge of the field to the far left hand corner. Here you will find another stile and behind it some steps down onto a lovely tree lined path.

Follow this path uphill until the field on the right gives way to woodland. There is another good view here. Watch out for a stile up the bank on the left. Climb over it and carry on uphill following the edge of this next field. Follow the path as it bends to the left following the edge of Blakeridge Wood.

(On the day I took these photos the farmer had erected a temporary electric fence half way across the field. He kindly left a metal gate at the end, however, permitting walkers to pass. Thank you farmer.)

Carry on along the edge-of-field path, passing through a large gate, until you see a wide path turn left downhill towards Acton. Follow this path down, through a gate , until you reach the A488.

At the main road turn right for 50m or so, then turn left up the drive towards the huge chicken barn. As you approach the barn move into the field and walk to the left of the hedge . In the corner you will see a feint path up to a gate. Pass through the gate and walk along the footpath behind the chicken barn and towards the hamlet of Acton.

At the end of the path, pass through another gate and walk down past another barn towards Acton. Go straight ahead initially, then round to the right at Acton Farm. Immediately turn left through a gate into the farmyard then through a further gate into the farm garden. This is signposted. Leave the garden by a further gate opposite.

Cross a small grassed area to a further gate/stile , then another to another stile. In the next field go around to the right past a stable until you come to another stile next to a pair of gates. Cross the stile into the next field and walk along its edge up to the far end cross over a further stile and wooden bridge into the next field.

Acton To Bury Ditches

This field slopes upwards and there should be a path straight across . On the far side climb over a stile in the hedge and emerge facing the lovely house at Brookbatch. Turn left then in a few yards turn right past the garden of the house and follow the path as it leads upwards into the forest.

This path will lead us most of the way up the valley. Follow it as it climbs with a little stream on your left.

Eventually you will see a stile on the right and the path goes sharply to the left crossing over the stream as it does so. Follow it to the left then as it goes uphill to the right. This path alternates between feeling like a vehicle track then a narrow footpath then a vehicle track again. Just follow it and eventually you will emerge onto a junction of wider logging roads.

(I do not expect you to lose your way in the forest, but if you do, just remember two things: We are heading for the hill fort and the hill fort is at the highest point of the hill. So as long as you keep going uphill you will get there eventually!)

At this junction take the road to the left then follow it as it bends around to the right.

The road then bends sharp left, and at this point we leave the road and turn right up a narrow uphill path into the forest. Follow this narrow path as it leads you up hill. Once it starts to flatten out you may notice a split where the footpath goes right and tire tracks go left. The vehicle track is best but either will take you to wide forestry road in 100m or so. On this road turn left.

Shortly you will come to a split in the forest road. The wider road goes right but we go left up the lesser track. Follow this path as it takes you higher. Eventually you will see a stub off to the right. Ignore this and carry on until you reach a junction at the highest point just before the track starts to descend. At this point turn right onto another path towards the fort. There is a way-marker post here.

As you follow this new path you will see the earthworks of the fort through the trees to your left. Eventually you will arrive at the gate which is the back entrance to the fort proper. Pass through the gate and follow the path up into the fort.

Bury Ditches Iron Age hill fort today consists of two concentric elliptical earthworks and ditches. If you climb up onto the left earthwork and follow it around you will eventually see the toposcope. If you climb on to the right-hand earthwork and follow that around you will see the best views. I suggest you take your time and do both.

We will leave the fort via the ‘front’ entrance which is diametrically opposite the entrance we came in through. When you have finished looking around locate this gate, pass through it, then follow the long straight path down to the car park. You pass this fella near the bottom. Keep to the left at the bottom and you will arrive at a couple of picnic benches. An ideal place for a rest. And a picnic.

Bury Ditches Back to Bishop's Castle

From the picnic benches walk down to the tarmac lane and turn left downhill. Follow this lane down through Lower Down and eventually down into the hamlet of Brockton. At the first junction in Brockton ignore the wider road to the right but go straight ahead. In around 150m pass over the footbridge next to the ford then follow the lane as it leaves Brockton.

Shortly after you leave the hamlet you will see a stile and gate on the left. Pass through into the field and walk straight across to another stile in the middle of the opposite fence. Go straight across the next field to a pair of stiles either side of the drive to Kemp Brook Farm. Cross the drive then, near the far end of the hedge on the left, you will see a stile onto a bridge over the stream.

Cross the stream then go directly across the next field to a stile in the opposite hedge. (Beware this field can be boggy near the stream.) Over this stile, turn right, then cross another stile just a few metres away. Go diagonally across this field then over a further stile in the opposite hedge. This takes you into a further large field which we leave via a gate half way along the left border. Pass through the gate then through a stile on the right into yet another field. Go diagonally across this last field then over a stile in the hedge and down onto the tarmac lane.

(These last few fields belong to a stud farm and often hold horses. They also seem to have a group of large, long-horned cattle. You may wish to divert from the direct routes and walk the edges of the fields instead to avoid getting too close to the animals.)

On the tarmac lane turn left and walk up to the crossroads with the A488. Cross carefully and carry on up the lane opposite. In a couple of 100m you will meet the path you came down this morning. Just turn right and follow the path back to BC.

(I do not recommend it, but if you are worn out by the time you get to Colebatch, or if it is raining, you can save time and distance by walking back to BC directly up the A488. I do not recommend it because it is an ‘A’ road and there are places without pavement. If you choose to do this, walk on the right hand side of the road except when this would place you on the inside of a bend. Pass ‘The Pines’ care home then go through this kissing gate which will take you onto Church Lane.)

When you get back to ‘The Castle’ why not stop in the Six Bells for a pint of home brewed ale. Should I be in do not be embarrassed to buy me a pint.

Click here for a sketch map of the route.

If you have Google Earth installed use it to open this file to see the walk.

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