Mary Webb

Please remember the Country Code, take care on narrow country roads, please park in the locations shown on the maps and make sure you don’t obstruct access to gates and lanes.

If you are planning to follow the walking routes you will need suitable footwear. The walks on the Stiperstones in Trail 3 can be rugged in parts and the weather can change rapidly, sometimes becoming severe. For these walks particularly make sure you are suitably dressed and either let someone know where you are going or take a mobile phone with you.

Shropshire Hills Shuttles:

Some of the locations on these routes are accessible on the Shropshire Hills Shuttle minibus service operating weekends and Bank Holidays April to November. Detailed timetables are available from Tourist Information Centres. Shuttles can be joined at any point on their routes.

The Long Mynd and Stiperstones Shuttle takes a circular route from Church Stretton over the Long Mynd to all the destinations on the Mary Webb Trail No. 3 and to Cothercott Hill, Ratlinghope and Bridges from Trail No. 4

The Ironbridge Gorge Shuttle takes a circular route from Much Wenlock including Ironbridge, and Buildwas Abbey from Trail No.1.

Mary Webb Trail

"Shropshire is a county where the dignity and beauty of ancient things lingers long, and I have been fortunate …in being born and brought up in its magical atmosphere"

Mary Webb, novelist and poet, is Shropshire's most famous daughter. She passionately loved the Shropshire countryside, which she knew intimately, drawing from it her settings, her characters and the rich descriptive detail of her novels and poems. Most of her forty-six years were spent within its boundaries, and like Emily Brontë and Thomas Hardy, she was unhappy when away from the country of her heart.

The Magic of Mary Webb is a series of four trails devised to guide you to the places Mary Webb loved, along walks she did many times and to locations she wrote about. There was little that Mary Webb didn't know about the Shropshire countryside, its lanes, hills, valleys and meres, its wildlife and vegetation, its legends and folklore - and its people.

If you are not familiar with Mary Webb's novels and poetry, you will find that these trails reveal some of the loveliest corners of the county, taking you deep into the Shropshire Hills, through hidden valleys and over wild moorlands. Along the way you will discover timeless villages with ancient churches, historic abbeys, a Roman city, breath-taking views, colourful market townsteashops and country inns.

Her six novels are all set in South Shropshire , the beautiful Border landscape which still today is unspoilt and has changed relatively little since her time (1881-1927). Mary Webb's fictional Shropshire recalls the Wessex of Hardy's novels, and her locations, like his, are based on real places. She also wrote many poems, nature essays and short stories, all redolent of the Shropshire countryside.

One of her novels, Precious Bane (1924), won a major literary prize; another, Gone to Earth (1917), was hailed as the Novel of the Year’ by Rebecca West; her work was praised by writers such as G.K. Chesterton, who saw her as the Shropshire Lass, and was acclaimed by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin.

But popular success came only after her death, and her novels were best-sellers throughout the 1930s. There have been many dramatisations for stage, screen and radio including a major Hollywood technicolour film of Gone to Earth (1950), now on video and DVD. Filmed on location in the Stiperstones, Long Mynd and Much Wenlock, the star of this film is the Shropshire landscape. Precious Bane has twice been adapted for television.

Text & Trails by Gladys Mary Coles © 2004

To Learn More About Mary Webb:

Biographies and Shropshire walks books...

  • The Flower of Light: a Biography of Mary Webb by Gladys Mary Coles (Headland)
  • Mary Webb:a shorter biographyby Gladys Mary Coles (Seren Books)
  • Mary Webb and Her Shropshire World - a Guide to the Mary Webb Country by Gladys Mary Coles (Headland)
  • Walks with Shropshire Writers by Gordon Dickins and Gladys Mary Coles. (Shropshire Books)
  • A Walk Around Silverton - Mary Webb’s Shrewsbury by Gladys Mary Coles & Dez Quarrell

Her main works...

  • The Golden Arrow (1916) novel written at Rose Cottage
  • Gone to Earth (1917) - novel written at The Nills.
  • The Spring of Joy - nature essays (1917).
  • The House in Dormer Forest(1920) - novel written at Spring Cottage.
  • Seven for a Secret (1922) - novel written partly at Spring Cottage and in London.
  • Precious Bane(1924) - novel written partly at Spring Cottage and in London.
  • Armour Wherein He Trusted (1928) - uncompleted novel written partly at Spring Cottage and in London.
  • Poems and The Spring of Joy (1928) Selected Poems of Mary Webb, edited by Gladys Mary Coles with Introduction & Notes (Headland, 2003). The Mary Webb Society. President: Gladys Mary Coles (0151 625 9128)

Trail One - Meole Brace & Lyth HillMary Webb Trail Map 1

This trail takes you to Meole Brace, an historic village on the outskirts of Shrewsbury where Mary Webb, then Mary Gladys Meredith, lived with her family 1902-1912, and onto Lyth Hill where she lived with her husband from 1917 to 1927.

Trail Two - Wroxeter, Leighton & Much WenlockMary Webb Trail Map 2

A trail to Mary Webb’s birthplace at Leighton, to the small market town of Much Wenlock close to which she lived for fourteen years, and along Wenlcok Edge - a remarkable fifteen mile limestone escarpment.

Trail Three - Pulverbatch, Thresholds & The Long MyndMary Webb Trail Map 3

This trail takes you to locations in Mary Webb’s novels on and around The Long Mynd, and to Church Stretton, a Victorian spa town in the heart of the Shropshire Hills.

Trail Four - Pontesbury, Lordshill & The StiperstonesMary Webb Trail Map 4

This trail takes you to Pontesbury, where Mary and Henry Webb lived from 1914 to 1916, and to the Stiperstones, a dramatic quartzite ridge in Shropshire’s hill country, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the setting of several of Mary Webb’s novels.