Despite being the tallest hill in Shropshire, Brown Clee (540m/1770ft) receives a fraction of the visitors of its showier neighbours further west. Visit the Long Mynd or Stiperstones on any weekend and you’ll be sharing the well-trodden paths with plenty of other people, all out enjoying the fresh air. Perhaps it’s the lack of obvious access and parking that keeps Brown Clee off most people’s radar? Or the fact that from pretty much any direction it looks like a fairly uninspiring lump; a featureless dollop of a hill? Whatever the reason, it does mean you can often find yourself at the windswept summit with just the ravens, skylarks and, if you’re lucky, the resident population of wild ponies for company. And that is far from a bad way to take in the finest view in the county!
I think it’s fair to say Brown Clee hides its charms from the casual observer rather well. There are no soaring crags here; no tumultuous waterfalls nor pointed peaks. The easterly aspect presents itself as dense woodland and plantation, the west as sheep-nibbled grassy slopes.It’s all a bit… well, dull really.
It’s not until you set foot on Brown Clee that things begin to make sense.
From the east, good paths lead uphill through woods filled in springtime with birdsong and flowers. Trees soon make way for open scrub and a tantalising glimpse of the views to come. The summit, Abdon Burf, is soon reached and with it one of the most expansive views you’re ever likely to see. On a clear day you’ll spot the Brecon Beacons, the mountains of mid-Wales and Snowdonia, the Peak District, the Midlands conurbation, The Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills.
Now it feels like you’re on a proper hill. The mile and half romp across open moorland to Brown Clee’s second summit, Clee Burf, is as good as you’ll find anywhere, and for those prepared to dive off piste there’s plenty to explore on the way. There’s been a human presence on Brown Clee since at least the Iron Age, with the remains of hill forts still evident. More recently, the peculiar geology of Brown Clee has been exploited to provide limestone, coal and a hard volcanic rock known locally as Dhustone. Now, air traffic control masts stand in stark contrast to a memorial to WW2 plane crashes and bring us bang up to date. There’s certainly plenty to ponder on the return journey, and another change of scenery as the way meanders down through the landscaped grounds of the Burwarton Estate. Talk about variety!
With so much wildlife, scenery, archaeology, geology and history on offer, we thought it would be a great idea to run a guided walk over Brown Clee. If you agree and would like to see this fascinating landscape for yourself and learn more about it, please join us on Sunday 3rd May. Click here for more details and booking.