I Found My Thrill ... On Whinberry Hill (a.k.a. Heath Mynd)

Bishop's Castle → Lydham → Heath Mynd → Lydham → Bishop's Castle

Mostly off-road. Some tarmac. 11.5 miles. Stiles.

Heath Mynd is known locally as Bent Hill or Whinberry Hill.

It is an obvious hill to climb from Bishop's Castle as it dominates the area a couple of miles north of the town, it is pretty big (it is a ‘Marilyn’), and, as ever for this region, the views from the top are beautiful, as is the walk there and back.

Bishops Castle to Lydham

As always we start in The Six Bells with a pint of home brewed ale. Out of the front door of The Bells, turn right, then right again into Kerry Lane. In 150m or so, turn right up the short steep path into the town playing fields. Follow the path along the right hand side of the field then exit under the arch down onto Union Street.

Turn left and walk up Union Street right to the top where it meets Welsh Street. Wave as you pass my house. Turn left into Welsh Street by the building that was once the Black Lion pub.

(According to old timers, The Black Lion was once a favourite watering hole of Haile Selassie, a.k.a. Rasta Far I! A God incarnate. I am not making this up. Search the Internet for film of Him in Bishop’s Castle.)

In 100m or so turn right up Castle Street.

At the junction at the top go straight across, then between the second and third houses on the left, turn onto a footpath with a ‘Shropshire Way’ sign. Go to the left of the garage then pass through a gate. Keep to the left then up a small rise, then along a tunnel-like path between trees to a further gate. Through this gate follow the well-defined path across the field and up the hill opposite. At the top pass through another gate then go round to the right then through yet another gate into the Fox Holes campsite. You pass this statue and a bench.

In 50m or so turn left into the main camping field, then walk along the nearside edge of the field to the far end. Leave the camp site over a stile in the hedge at the end. Follow the obvious path across the field then down alongside the small wood. Eventually you will descend to the gate onto the B4385. (Take care at this gate! The steps are uneven and I managed to fall over into the thistles here – just 10 minutes into my walk!)

Turn right uphill until you reach the drive on the left to Upper Heblands Farm. Next to the drive take the path which goes diagonally across the field. On the far side of the field pass through a small wooded dip then turn left as you emerge. Follow the path as it edges the next field. (In places the 'official' path is overgrown with nettles and all but impassible. Just walk along the edge of the field instead.)

Follow the path down until it enters a wooded area. Continue through the wood until the path emerges though a gate and into the parallel field. Follow the fence down to the bottom of the field. You will then emerge onto a wide farm track. Turn right and follow this track to the A488. Carefully cross the main road and walk along the far side into the hamlet of Lydham.

Lydham to Heath Mynd

In Lydham, carefully cross the junction with the A489. In front of you will now see Lydham Village Hall. Follow the Shropshire Way behind the left hand side of the hall. Pass through the kissing gate and into the field behind. The exit from this field is in the far corner, but there are often cattle here so you may wish to walk around the right-hand periphery rather than taking the direct diagonal route.

Leave via another kissing gate then cross the next field then over a plank bridge and stile on the far side. This next field is covered in earthworks from the old More Castle. Check it out on Google Earth.

Here you have a choice. You can stay on the path as described below, or divert to visit the delightful hamlet of More.

If you are sticking to the path, enter the field and bear left. The path across the field roughly follows the power lines. The exit gate is in the far hedge over on the far left side.

Pass though this gate, over the lane then into the field opposite. Follow your nose across this field, another smaller one, and then a third larger one. Eventually you will emerge onto a tarmac lane. Turn left. Follow this lane up to the T-junction in front of Linley Hall then turn left.

In a few hundred metres or so this lane bends slightly to the left and the wall on the right becomes a hedge. Here climb over the stile by the public footpath marker post, and into the field on the right. We shall exit this field in the far, diagonal, corner, so walk up the small hill, over the top, and then on to a gate and stile. There is a sign warning you that there are ‘Pigs at Large’! Through the gate, follow the path up the rough hill. It is somewhat overgrown but easy to follow. There are good views here.

Once at the top, the path leads downwards through a wooded section. Follow this down and eventually you will come to a T-junction with what my OS map shows as a ‘white’ road. Turn right, through the only muddy part of this walk, then through another gate with a pig sign. Now follow the vehicle track upwards and around to the left to the wind turbine at the top. Pass through the gate and Heath Mynd is now in front of you. Notice the vehicle track opposite leading up the hill. We will descend by this track later.

Up The Hill and Down Again

Your shortest route to the top is probably to follow this track. But I do not recommend it. The path is steep, and it only goes as high as ‘Claire’s Ring’: the picturesque stand of trees visible for miles on the southeast flank of the hill. And from there it is a hard slog through heather and whinberries to the top. My recommendation it to give up on a full-frontal assault, and instead opt for a stealth attack from the rear. So we will now walk around the west side of the hill then around to its north.

At the wind turbine, go left along the tarmac lane. At the next junction, with an information panel on the right and a lane going downhill to the left towards the A488, keep straight on round the hill. In a while there is another information panel, the tarmac lane goes down left to The Hollies, and a deeply rutted, unsurfaced track goes right and gently upwards towards the back of the hill. Follow this track upwards until you reach its highest point, then turn 90 degrees right on to another vehicle track that winds around the back of the hill.

Eventually the track bends to the right, following the contour of the hill, and at this point watch out for the twin tire tracks of a 4x4 route up to the summit. This is pretty easy to spot in summer but, I guess, would be invisible in snow. Follow this track for an easy ascent to the top.

On top is a cairn, a trig point and a strange elliptical stone wall. I have seen this described somewhere as a ‘shelter’. I guess it might work if you were three feet tall.

When you have enjoyed the views, descend by the same route. (If you can’t see the path in the heather, head in the direction of the Stiperstones and you will find it.)

Back Down To Lydham

Once back down to the perimeter track turn right and follow it down as it edges the pretty valley of Linley Big Wood. After a while you will approach a wooded section. There is a gate on the left, and another, less well-defined, vehicle track goes off to the right near some deciduous trees. Take this track as it goes gently up hill and follow it around the hill.

Once you come around to the southeast side of the hill the track plays a dirty trick on you – by turning sharp right and heading straight up hill to Claire’s Ring. At this point you could follow it upwards, but I choose to carry on following the contour of the hill. With the exception of a few sheep trails there is no path, but the going is not hard. Just keep going around keeping roughly the same height and eventually you will meet the vehicle track we left a few minutes ago as it comes back down. Turn left and follow it back down to the wind turbine.

At the turbine pass through the gate and descend by the same track you came up on. At the bottom, pass through the ‘Pigs at Large’ gate, through the mud, then in a few yards, ignore the turn to the left down which you descended earlier, but keep going straight. This wooded track is quite overgrown in places but is easy to follow. After a while pass through another ‘pig’ gate and keep walking in the same direction, but now without the undergrowth. Pass through one more gate as the track skirts a set of breeding pens. One final gateway and you will be back on tarmac.

Keep straight on then immediately right . Follow the lane through More Farm, then over a crossroads. Now follow this lane back into Lydham. Turn left on the A488. (The first time I did this walk it was a scorching hot day and I was very happy at this point to buy a cold drink from the wholemeal foods shop.)

To get back from here to Bishop’s Castle, just retrace the route you took on the way out.

I know it will be punishment having to walk past other pubs, but it will be worth it once you make it back to the bottom of the town and The Six Bells. If I happen to be in, buy me a pint and tell me about your walk.


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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