Pulverbach, Thresholds and The Long Mynd
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.
Take the B4380 from Shrewsbury to Pulverbatch.
Click on the map to enlarge.
Pulverbatch is the ‘Wolfbatch’ of Mary Webb’s novel Gone to Earth, where Jack Reddin, the squire, has a pew in the church.
Go through Pulverbatch to the White Horse Inn on the right and take the lane straight ahead for a few hundred yards, parking on the left.
Facing you is the mound of the 11 th century motte and bailey castle, ‘Castle Polrebec’ in Mary Webb’s final novel Armour Wherein He Trusted, the home of Sir Gilbert de Polrebec. Climb the castle mound for a panoramic view of Mary Webb Country and Church Pulverbatch, which was recorded in the Domesday Book as Polrebec . Immediately below is the road up Cothercott Hill, ‘Cotardicote’ in her
‘On a summer afternoon, about milking time, you could not find a pleasanter place than this, our hall, with the door opened wide on the rolling woods, the sunlight streaming in, the air full of the fragrancy of aromatic leaves, blossoms and the flower of the grass, coming in heady and full of life….’ -‘Armour Where in He Trusted’
Return to the White Horse and turn right on to the road signposted to Bridges to drive up Cothercott Hill. There are magnificent views to the west of the Devil’s Chair and the Stiperstones.
‘The Chair looked dark and gigantic, and not so muchlike a saddlebag chair as it did from some places, but more like an embattled castle where no torch shone.’ -
- ‘The Golden Arrow’
Turn left onto the road signposted to Thresholds and Picklescott, going through Upper Stitt. Thresholds at 1,300 ft, is the first building on the right.
The farmhouse with tall chimneys was well-known to Mary Webb who called here on her upland walks. A site of ancient habitation, Thresholds is at the junction of many upland tracks and paths, such as the old Portway (dating back to the Stone Age) over the Long Mynd. This area, in the heart of Mary Webb Country, is rich in its variety of birdlife and holds much geological and historical interest.
Park on the grassy bank outside to see the old farmhouse Mary Webb wrote about, both in a poem and in a short story ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ - ‘There were many chimneys at Thresholds Farm. It was a great place...’
Today, Thresholds is a Centre offering craft and creative arts workshops, and a variety of local interest courses (including Mary Webb).
Call in at this ‘drop-in’ centre, view the displays, choose walks leaflets and explore the surrounding countryside with its superb views, leaving the car at the Centre (tel: 01694 751 411).
Return to the road to Bridges, where the Horseshoes Inn nestles in a delightful setting beside the little River Onny. Riverside parking is ample and this makes another lovely stopping place known to Mary Webb.
At Bridges turn left to the Long Mynd, stopping first at Ratlinghope to see the village and St Margaret’s Church, an ancient religious site - ‘Slepe’ in Mary Webb’s novel The Golden Arrow, where Joe Arden and Lily marry and live.
In the churchyard is the grave of the last Sineater in Shropshire - this will interest those curious about the old Border custom of Sineating used so dramatically by Mary Webb in Precious Bane.
The Long Mynd
The Long Mynd is a major setting in The Golden Arrow. This is ‘Wilderhope’ where the Ardens ’ cottage is situated‘higher than the streams began’ and where John Arden has his sheepwalks:
‘Deborah and her father returned through the hill gate, going by tracks that ran above the steep cwms where threads of water made a small song and the sheep clung half-way up like white flies;… up slopes of tireless hills, through wet wimberries; across the great plateaux…’
- ‘The Golden Arrow
At High Park we are on the north side of the Long Mynd. Mary and Henry Webb spent their honeymoon in 1912 exploring the Long Mynd on foot from a cottage in the Ashes Valley . You have the choice today of driving across this glorious stretch of upland or catching the Shuttle bus.
From High Park , there are spectacular views (L) to the Shropshire Plain and ahead to the Stretton Hills, on the drive down to All Stretton.
‘On the green, lonely hills the sheep grazed with their lambs, and the air was never empty of their sweet, sad calling. In the warm plain the May hedges were already in flower….Once more the bracken pushed out soft fingers, and cuckoos cried from orchards at the foot of the cwms.’
- ‘The Golden Arrow’
For a longer day out, visit Church Stretton, which has many associations with Mary Webb and is ‘Shepwardine’ in The Golden Arrow, the market town where the two young couples in her novel attend the Lammas Fair:
They came down the quaint street, by the old market.. . The street was full of countryfolk, interspersed with visitors. . . Strings of hill-ponies went by, droves of bullocks, sheep with red letters on their shorn bodies....’
-‘ The Golden Arrow’
Browse through this charming town to find cafés, restaurants, inns and shops, an antiques centre, street markets and a Tourist Information Centre.
Mary Webb Trails
- Trail One - Meole Brace & Lyth Hill
- Trail Two - Wroxeter, Leighton & Much Wenlock
- Trail Three - Pulverbatch, Thresholds & The Long Mynd
- Trail Four - Pontesbury, Lordshill & The Stiperstones