Shropshire’s Essential Entertainment Guide
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Distance 2.5 Miles
Duration 50-60 minutes
Start point: The Breidden Pub carpark
About 10 miles to the West of Shrewsbury and literally minutes from the England/Wales border, you will find a few hills known as the Breidden Hills.
There are 5 mighty lumps that make up this cluster. Each one can be accessible from the various villages that surround the range of hills. The Breidden Hills range is made up of Rodney’s Pillar (1,198ft) - with its monument proudly standing on the top; Moel y Golfa (meaning Bare or Bald Hill), being is the highest at 1,322ft; Middletown Hill (1,204ft - Cefn y Castell, meaning Castle Ridge), Kempsters Hill and Basely Hill being the smaller two that make up the cluster.
There is some impressive history linked with this group of hills. Breidden Hill is an extinct volcanic hill, although the volcanoes never came to the surface but lifted newer rocks and Middletown Hill which is 2 metres shorter has remains of an ancient Iron Age Hill fort which may have been the site of the last stand of Caractacus, who led the British resistance to the Roman conquest.
Rodney's Pillar at the top was built by the men of Montgomeryshire who supplied oak wood from the area and shipped it down the River Severn (which runs nearby at Bausley with Criggion) to Bristol where Admiral Rodney's naval fleet was built.
Today Rodney's Pillar is increasingly being used as a navigational aid by helicopter pilots in this area, due to its visibility from large areas of Wales. It’s a real landmark in the local area and can be seen from many miles. From 1789, for many years people would meet in the vicinity of the pill every year for a festival of food, drink, poetry and music. It’s sister hill, Moel y Golfa is the ‘Marilyn’ of the group. You may have heard of a ‘Munro’ which is used for a Scottish mountain over 3,000, this term means it has a prominence of 856ft regardless of overall height. When you put them both together you get a Marilyn Munro. The giant of the hills has a monument of Gypsy Kings on the summit. The monument is nowhere as impressive as neighbouring Rodney’s Pillar. It’s surrounded by railings sadly looking in a bad way and has two very interesting dedications on it. The markings are in memory of two Romany Chells (Gypsy Kings), one being the son of the other. The son had the monument raised in memory of his father, who is now himself remembered in the remarkable words carved on the newer plaque.
View from summit of Moel y Golfa
From the Welshpool road near a small Powys village called Trewern, you will find Middletown Hill. The second highest of the group and the 7157th highest peak in the British Isles. Walking this is one of my favourites as it’s quick enough to do if you don’t have much time but want spectacular rewards. In half an hour you can be at the top taking in the sights. This hill is fun in all weathers. In the summer you can sit at the top enjoying the peace with the sun beaming down, and even in the winter you will find yourself ploughing through knee deep fresh show. It attracts many adrenalin seekers wanting to slide down the steep hill on their slider of choice, from mini skies to handmade wooden sledges.
Snowy summit of Middletown Hill looking down
Starting from the Breiddens pub you make your way across the main road up a gravel track through a disused quarry. The path works its way up and eventually levels out to a small area enough to fit a few cars. You can access this point from a few lanes linked with neighbouring villages.
You can either stay to the left traversing around the small Kempsters Hill or challenge yourself to take the right path to climb up it - this is the hill thrill seekers head to when the snow comes out, and is also perfect if you want the view without having to go to the Middletown summit.
Suddenly from here you are greeted with the lure of the bigger brother that lies ahead. As you make your way to the base of it, there are again other paths that may take your fancy instead of the hilly ascent. The path to the right takes you quite steeply back down to the track you walked previously walked up. If you are in luck you may catch a glimpse of the beautiful deer that roam the hills. If not that, you will see many different birds and wildlife that tread the land.
The summit is worth every step and one of the great reasons to walk any one of these trio of hills is that you can be in awe of the Shropshire landscape that circles around you. You can see for miles - the Wrekin, Pontesbury, Stiperstones and even on a clear day you can see the mountains that live in Snowdonia. Reach the summit and you will be treated with 360 degree panoramic views of The South Shropshire AONB.
The routes from here on either carry on straight over with the option of walking Bulthy Hill back over the England/Welsh border or head back down and take the left path that winds you all the way back down to the start. With the car parked at the local pub, there is only one thing left to do!
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