Mortimer Trail Re-invigorated
Meeting virtually in late 2021, various Herefordshire and Shropshire walking enthusiasts, saddened by how the lovely 30-mile Mortimer Trail had become neglected in recent years, agreed to give the path some ‘Tender Loving Care’. Two years on and the Trail is buzzing again!
There’s a brand-new Guidebook available in local bookshops and Tourist Information Centres, published by Herefordshire Area Ramblers Association, to update and replace the out-of-print one. Also available from David Whyman Map Sales.
In November, BBC Countryfile magazine published a fantastic feature article about the Trail by author Julie Brominicks. Recent visitors to Ludlow Castle will have noticed, near the entrance, a stunning new panel all about the Trail, with a similar one soon going up at the Trail’s Kington end.
Online, there’s an active Mortimer Trail Facebook page where walkers can post photos, feedback, and information about the Trail, and a Trail website hosted on the Visit Herefordshire website
There is also now a 12-strong group of volunteer Trailblazers who look after the Trail section by section, clearing overgrowth, refreshing the way-marking, and reporting any major issues.
Trailblazer Charles Edwards, who edited the new Guidebook, says: “More people from near and far are noticing the improvements to the condition and way-marking of the Trail and are walking or running it. It’s both a great project for local people looking for a different walk challenge, and an attraction bringing people in to discover the area’s beauty, inns, shops and other attractions.!”
Trailblazer Gwyneth Bowyer, who manages the Facebook page and the volunteer Trailblazer team, says: “Countryfile’s ‘discovery’ of this hidden gem of a Trail confirms what we already knew, that the woods, hill-forts and river valleys of South Shropshire and North Herefordshire offer some of the finest walking in Britain outside the National Parks. Maintenance is like painting the Forth Bridge: just as you clear a fallen tree here, downpours elsewhere flatten the bracken across the path, or a stile starts wobbling, or a mudslip swamps the path, or a way-mark disc goes missing – but sorting them gets us out enjoying the Trail in all seasons.”
The Mortimer Trail is so named after the mighty mediaeval Mortimer family who played such a prominent role in the region which the Trail traverses, and indeed in wider English, Welsh and Irish history, from 1066 to 1425.
The 30-mile Trail can be walked in either direction in three days (recommended) or in more or less time depending on the speed of the walkers. There is a moderate amount of hill climbing and some slippery and muddy stretches in wet conditions. Trail walkers – and dogs! – need to be able to navigate stiles.
The Trail was founded in the 1990s by local walking enthusiasts, including international expert on Trails, Professor Les Lumsdon, supported by Herefordshire County Council. The Trailblazers operate under the auspices of Herefordshire Area Ramblers Association and comprise members of Mortimer and South Shropshire Ramblers Association groups, Kington Walks, Walkers are Welcome and individuals.
Image: Trailblazers Gwyneth Bowyer & Jason Phillps at Croft Ambrey