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Croft Castle is a manor house set in extensive parkland with stunning views over the Welsh Marches. Managed by the National Trust, the castle has the usual N.T. opening season. Nearby Croft Ambrey is a superbly sited iron age hill fort, with even more dramatic views in several directions.
This walk links the two, passing through parkland and woodland, with a return along the picturesque Fishpool Valley, landscaped many years ago to add to the attractions of the estate. Most of the route is along excellent tracks, with some muddy sections possible.
The National Trust provide a leaflet with several walks.
From Upper Norton, by-pass Ludlow on the A49, turn right at Woofferton on B4362, by-pass Orleton, turn left along B4361, right at B4362 and look carefully for the signposted right turn to Croft Castle at Cock Gate.
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The first part of this walk follows the National Trust Blue waymarks to the top of Croft Ambrey.
Leave the Visitor Reception wooden building and follow signs ‘All walks’. Go through a kissing gate by a cattle grid on the right.
1. In about 100m, turn right by a blue waymark to start the gentle ascent along a track. On reaching a large gate, go through a small gate on the left onto a path through trees and then through another small gate on the right into a field walking over grass straight up the hillside. There is a post with a blue marker and a green plaque relating to a magnificent Spanish Chestnut tree. The track is hardly marked on the ground; stay about 40m from the ditch/hedge on the right.
2. Go through a kissing gate at the top of the meadow, join a forest track, go ahead, uphill; there is a ‘Croft Ambrey’ sign. A house is visible to the right. Enter ‘Croft Wood Forestry Commission’. Go straight ahead across a forest roadway (blue waymark on a post). Pass a National Trust information board, now going gently downhill. On reaching a junction of paths, go through a space by a fence on the right following signs to Croft Ambrey (ignore the stile on the left). Turn left by a National Trust sign, keep straight ahead and then start to climb up the hill fort curving to the right and then to the left. At the top there is a view of a great quarry and tiny villages such as Yatton Marsh and Leinthall Earls. The ramparts of the hill fort are in the opposite southerly direction.
Return down the hill on the same path until reaching an unmarked stile ahead, go over it and turn right.
3. Stay with this narrow path just below the outer rampart of the hill for about 1/2km, a wonderful elevated promenade (this is the Mortimer trail). After a sharp little rise reach a well placed seat and more waymarks. Go through a waymarked gate and ignore a stile on the right.
4. Turn right, through a little gate immediately before the path begins to rise. The waymarks still include ‘Mortimer Trail’. Descend to a forest roadway at a signpost. Go straight across to continue down the path. Cross another forest roadway, staying with the same path and the same waymarks, now along the bottom of the attractive Fishpool Valley, steadily downhill. At the first major junction bear right, passing a small brick building and a former lime kiln.
5. A short distance past the first of several pools, turn right, then fork left in a few metres to rise steadily up the valley side. Go through a gate at the top. Head towards a post in the field and continue straight on, passing a large isolated tree before joining the outward route. Turn left to return to the car park.