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I’m the first to admit that I haven’t always given the Shropshire Hills the credit they deserve for walking routes. Too often I’ve been of the mindset that if I’m going to drive almost two hours from my home in Warwickshire to Shropshire, I may as well stay in the car an extra hour or so and get to the mountains of Snowdonia.
I’ve done a little bit of walking in the Shropshire Hills many years back, namely Carding Mill Valley and Stiperstones. And I had a weekend of camping and mountain biking in the hills almost a decade ago too. But last Sunday I decided it was time I explored a little bit more and got to know this area of outstanding natural beauty a little bit more. A quick Google search told me that Caer Caradoc is as good a place as any to go walking on a Sunday morning, so that’s exactly what I did.
Caer Caradoc from Church Stretton Walk
12 km return
I’m always a fan of a town where you can park near all of the town centre amenities but walk straight up into the hills in a matter of minutes, and that’s exactly what Church Stretton seems to be. With the Long Mynd to one side and Caer Caradoc to the other, it was no surprise to pull into a car park outside a Co-Op and see several other walkers getting their boots, jackets and backpacks on ready for a day in the hills.
It only takes a few minutes to walk to the start of the route and the town is soon behind you with the hills looming up in front of you. Caer Caradoc stands at 459 metres and the summit was once the site of an Iron Age hill fort. This is where the hill takes its name from and the Welsh translation is Caradog’s Fort.
There are several options for walking to the top of Caer Caradoc, I chose a circular route that is fairly gentle on the way up but particularly steep on the descent. There’s a link to the route below and it’s completely up to you which way round you choose to walk the route. Or I should say, it’s completely up to your knees on which way around you tackle this route, depending on whether you prefer steep climbs or steep descents.
From the summit, there are incredible views of the rolling countryside all around. Of course, the Long Mynd stands adjacent across the valley, but from the top of Caer Caradoc you also look down across The Lawley and over to the Wrekin in the distance. It was from this point that I realised just how stunning the Shropshire Hills are and what I’d been missing out on. It’s very easy to sit on the summit of Caer Caradoc and begin planning your next walks over the surrounding hills.
The route that I took over Caer Caradoc was a relatively short one at just over 5 miles from the car park and back. This allowed plenty of time for exploring the summit, stopping for photos and admiring the views. There’s also a cave to explore close to the summit; if you can find it.
When is the Best Time to Visit Caer Caradoc?
This Caer Caradoc walk is easy to follow and the trails are well-surfaced, meaning that it’s a great route for any time of year. Naturally, the views are incredible on a clear day so let’s hope you’re lucky and get clear weather on your visit.
Church Stretton is a popular place for walkers and mountain bikers on the weekends so expect plenty of people on the summit and a high demand for limited parking spaces. If you are heading there on a weekend then you probably want to arrive early to guarantee a space.
Caer Caradoc Walking Route
There are plenty of options to make this a longer route if you are feeling energetic once you’ve reached the summit, but I followed this relatively short route that heads straight back to Church Stretton.
You can find the full route on OS Maps here.
Parking and Facilities for Caer Caradoc
Parking for this walk is at the Easthope Road pay and display car park. The postcode for the car park is SY6 6BZ, allegedly. My sat nav took me a few miles away from the car park so be careful with that one.
There are toilet facilities at the car park and there is a Co-Op opposite for any last-minute supplies. This is also the centre of Church Stretton so you are only a couple of minutes walk from the shops, cafes and pubs if you wanted to take a look around or go for a coffee or a pint after your walk.
Things to Do Nearby
Church Stretton is a great location for a weekend of adventure and once you have completed your Caer Caradoc walk there are plenty of other options.
If you’re up for more hiking then the Carding Mill Valley walk to the Long Mynd is a classic Shropshire Hills route and was voted 44 in Britain’s Favourite Walks last year. This route begins just a few minutes away from Church Stretton and is the most popular walk in the area.
The Shropshire Hills are also great for mountain biking and nearby Minton Batch is often voted as one of the best natural singletrack descents in the country. There are a few options for hiring bikes in Church Stretton too, and once you’ve headed up into the hills there are plenty of options for fast, slowing trails.