Birmingham to Aberystwyth Walk
The Birmingham Aberystwyth Walk is an adventure through remote and mysterious landscapes across central England and Wales to the Irish Sea. Crossing five rural counties, there are ridges and green valleys, golden gorse and ragged hedges on bare hills, watery plains, rolling grass moors, deep, steep, woody valleys, silent forests, silvery rivers, lakes and tumbling streams.
The route starts from historic Gas Street Basin in central Birmingham following quiet, green canals through the Black Country to Stourbridge. Many people will choose to skip this urban section and start from Stourbridge and head for the long wooded sandstone ridge of Kinver Edge. From here the route drops into a shallow valley before climbing to the next ridge. The countryside is well wooded, with small fields and thick hedges and soon reaches the edge of the Severn valley, where it plunges down to the waterside village of Arley. Climbing from the river the path enters the Wyre Forest, a complicated landscape of small hills and valleys and not all trees. In one tranquil and forgotten green corner there is an interlude of open fields, isolated farms and sandy tracks.
Leaving the forest the route descends to Cleobury Mortimer from where the landscape becomes more open as the path climbs again to reach Hopton Wafers. From here the landscape changes more dramatically with fields of rough grazing and reeds, As Titterstone Clee is approached the land becomes a harsh, infertile upland, but from the top there are panoramic views of the Shropshire and Welsh hills. Now follows a long gradual fall into the valley of the River Teme at Ludlow.
West of Ludlow is one of the grandest parts of the walk as the walk climbs from the river to enter Mortimer forest and Mary Knoll. Between here and Burrington there are entrancing views to the west. After passing the 18th century fantasy of Downton Castle there is a long descent through woodland to the charming riverside village of Leintwardine. This is where the River Clun flows into the Teme and the next five miles crosses a low reedy area of small streams, ditches and Alders that is quite unlike any other part of the walk.Upon reaching Bedstone the route enters the Welsh Marches landscape of forestry, sheep and magical remoteness.
The route enters Wales at the little market town of Knighton and from here follows 25 miles of Welsh Marches countryside with wilder hills and tiny villages which eventually lead to Rhaeadr, which stands on the River Wye. The route is now in the Elan Valley reservoir country and follows the Afon Claerwen valley to its dam and reservoir. For the next 26 miles the route crosses some of Britain's wildest moorland following tracks and an unfenced road. Eventually there is a pleasant descent through rough fields into the deep, oak clad valley of Cwm Ystwyth. After another climb and further undulating moor and woodland the walk reaches Devil's Bridge.
Cwm Rheidol is a deep, steep, woody cleft between high hills and a steep path leads down to one of our loveliest rivers and follows it for 8 miles, the little steam railway alongside. After a step climb out of the valley to Capel Seion the rest of the route is simple. A sharp drop to Nanteos Mansion, a climb through the parkland of the Great House followed by upland fields, and then the last, long drop to the Irish Sea.
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