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A circuit based on the Secret Hills Discovery Centre at Craven Arms. Although of modest length, there is a considerable variety, traversing woodland and meadows, before returning past Stokesay Castle.
The castle, owned by English Heritage, is open to visitors all the year round, but the opening days and hours are reduced throughout the winter. Apart from the comparatively short lane after Whettleton, there are no really hard ascents. Walking surfaces vary a good deal but are generally good; the most likely problem is water ponding under the railway bridge a little way past the half-way point.
This walk may be muddy in places after rain.
Behind the Discovery Centre is a large map and signposts. Follow ‘3 Woods Walk’ on a surfaced path, passing the ‘Mammoth Tusks’ and then soon turn left on a smaller path. Go through a waymarked little gate to reach a lane, passing a house on the left with historic motoring signs over its garage. Keep straight on past attractive timber-framed houses to a gated metal footbridge over the River Onny.
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1. Cross the bridge and go straight ahead across a field. Near the top of the field, do not go over the stile ahead, but cross a signposted footbridge over a stream on the right. Continue ahead with a hedge on the left to a waymarked gate/stile onto a track before reaching Whettleton farm. Pass through the farm to join a minor road. Turn right onto the road and pass a large detached house on the left.
2. Turn left immediately, at a signpost, to walk up an old lane, rising quite steeply, with snowdrops by the wayside in January. To the left is the site of a Civil War skirmish. At the bottom edge of Norton Camp Wood turn right at a fork to follow a path near to the edge of the wood rising gently. (At this fork ignore the path straight ahead where there is a waymarker 20m further on)
3. Look carefully for a Y junction where the track rises to the left through the woodland. Fork right here next to the boundary fence, descending. Stokesay Castle is now in view. Continue, ignoring a stile on the right and a waymarker on the left. Pass above detached houses. Ignore tracks to the left. Keep straight on when a waymarker is seen on the left, ignore a track to the right and continue to a more distinct track at a T junction. Turn right onto the track and just after a bend turn left at a signpost for 3 Woods Walk Main Route downhill where you see Keepers Cottage gate on the right. Turn left and go left onto a surfaced road.
4. At a grassy area near house No.155 keep right going uphill signposted 3 Woods Walk. After a house on the left turn right to descend on an unsurfaced road, pass through the large Park Farm and reach the A49 along the farm access road.
5. Cross the road to a signposted footbridge over the River Onny. Turn right over a stile and follow the farm track around the edge of a large field to reach a railway bridge. (Strictly, the right of way goes diagonally across the field). Pass under the bridge – with difficulty after heavy rain! Go over a waymarked stile ahead and continue up the field. Turn right before the stile (which goes into woods) and cross 2 fields (passing old kilns on the left) returning to the side of the railway. Cross a stile and walk beside the railway line for about three quarters of a mile, passing an old quarry structure on the left. Stokesay Castle is in view ahead. At a fork go right descending and cross a level crossing. Continue along a surfaced lane to a large pond and Stokesay Castle. Pass the church before joining the A49.
6. Turn left along the footpath close to the road. In 100m cross the road to a signpost ‘Meadow walks and Visitor Centre’. Go through a kissing gate, turn left by a post with waymark, to follow a clear path, roughly parallel with the A49. To the right is the Onny Meadows area. After crossing a plank bridge, the track becomes gravelled, leading directly back to the visitor centre.