Bedstone and Hopton Castle
PUBLISHED: 10:00 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 08:58 09 October 2012
This route rewards walkers with wonderful countryside, churches, houses and ruins. Pictures by Gordon Whiting
This route rewards walkers with wonderful countryside, churches, houses and ruins.
Pictures by Gordon Whiting
'Hopton Castle withstood a siege in the Civil War but eventually surrendered on condition that the occupants would be spared. But, the prisoners were treacherously killed, hence the expression 'Hopton Quarter', meaning treachery.
Bedstone and Hopton Castle, two stunning villages set in gorgeous countryside are visited in this month's walk, over and round Hopton Titterhill, in the far west of the county. This area is popular with mountain bikers at weekends but is generally very quiet during the week.
The small village of Bedstone sits on the hillside above the Redlake and Clun rivers, which drain into the Teme at Leintwardine. The red sandstone Norman church of St Mary's dates from the 12th century church with a 17th century timber framed bellcote and a 19th century shingled spire. Kempson's of Hereford restored the entire church in 1879. Features of interest include the Saxon font, four Kempe windows on the north wall, and memorials to the Ripley family including a cross in the churchyard. The neighbouring buildings add to the scenic and architectural attractions of the village. A short distance to the south is Bedstone Court, now a school but built as a Victorian mansion in 1879-84 for Sir Henry Ripley. It is sometime referred to as a calendar house because of the total of 365 windows (plus its 52 rooms and 12 chimneys) - one of very few calendar houses in Britain.
1. Start from the Village Hall Notice Board, with Hopton Wood Cycling events mentioned on the notice board. Walk along the bridleway to the right of the Village Hall. The bridleway is a sunken lane at first with some massive exposed roots. Climb steadily to reach an iron gate and keep straight ahead but now in open country with good views all around. A hedge is on the right as we continue straight ahead, and still climbing. Reach another gate and a choice of routes. Keep straight ahead, towards the gate in the far right corner of the field. For great views look right, to the north, towards Church Stretton and Caer Caradoc. Go on through the gate, over the brow of the field and drop down the other side. A steep path comes up from the left as we go on through the metal gate and pass an area with masses if snowdrops in season. We are now at the edge of the wood and we climb along a broad grassy track through deciduous trees, to reach a broad and nearly horizontal cross track.
2. Go straight across, following a yellow arrow and a red triangle (there are green triangles pointing along the horizontal track - post 36). Climb steeply in a bluebell area with a few deciduous trees alongside the track but the wood is mainly coniferous. Pass a track going left, but keep straight ahead, and look for several large wood ants' nests near our path. Reach a cross tracks, at post 35, but just continue straight ahead, and still climbing. At post 38 is another cross tracks, and after another 40 yards we join a wide stony track. When this track bends slightly to the left we see a broad track going off to the right, with green triangle - but we keep straight ahead, climbing along a grassy track with a yellow arrow and a 'No bicycles' sign. Cross paths (where cyclists may cross) but keep straight ahead and now descending. Reach a T-junction with a broad horizontal stony track, and turn left. After about 30 yards along the track turn sharp right at post 12 and begin to go downhill. When the track divides at post 13, fork left and carry on downhill - with a recently felled area to our right - and conifers to our left. Great views open up to Hopton Castle village with the church clearly seen and farm buildings to the left, with a linear arrangement of houses to the right. Drop down steadily and reach a broader track at post 15. Turn left here and continue downhill as this surfaced tracks winds through the woods.
3. When we reach post 17 there is a newish stile to the right of the track, and we turn here. Go over the stile and steeply down the field, enjoying the views to the village, with wonderful scenery all around and the keep of Hopton Castle down to our right. Aim for a gate in the bottom right corner of the field, and go on towards the left corner of the next field, crossing a small stream on the way. One more gate and across the middle of the final field to reach a small wooden gate and the road. Pass the church of St Edward which was formerly called St Mary. The old church probably dated from AD980 but was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1870. It was renamed St Edward's in 1927 to avoid confusion with St Mary in Bedstone. A small stream runs through the village, alongside the road, which is lined with daffodils in spring. Pass several attractive houses, including the Old Granary, and the Old Rectory (part of which dates back to Elizabethan times and contains two secret rooms). On our right in the field, is the Keep of Hopton Castle. The square tower is all that remains of the castle, which was probably built about 1300 by Walter of Hopton. The walls are of shales and sandstones and the tower is surrounded by some distinctive earthworks. It withstood a siege for a few weeks in the Civil War but eventually surrendered on condition that the occupants would be spared. But, the prisoners were treacherously killed, and hence the expression 'Hopton Quarter', meaning treachery.
4. Castle Barn is on the left and we turn right, signed to Bedstone and follow the road. A small quarry can be seen up to the left, and also to the left on a small knoll are the Warfield Bank earthworks, sometimes known as Hopton Motte. The site was possibly used for a gun emplacement when the castle below was under siege. We walk back through glorious countryside with the largely forest-covered Hopton Titterhill rising to its maximum height of 397m. to the right, and hills across to the left towards Ludlow and Clee Hill. This undulating lane takes us back to Bedstone, with immaculate playing fields visible down to our left as the houses and church tower come into sight. After the farm buildings on the left, we reach the village hall.
Starting point in Bedstone: grid ref. 368757.
Located on O.S. Explorer 201 and Landranger 137.
How to get there: Turn off the A4113 Leintwardine to Knighton road near Brampton Bryan. Follow signs on the B4367 to Bucknell and then Bedstone. Turn left off the B4367. The road divides where the entrance to the college is on the left, and we fork right here and go up to the top of the village beyond the church to the village hall.
Length of the walk: Five miles, requiring two to three hours.
Terrain: steady climb along clearly signed paths up into the forest and the top of the hill, then the descent to Hopton Castle, followed by level walk back to Bedstone.
Refreshments: Pubs in nearby Bucknell and the award-winning Walford Court Tea Room one mile west of Leintwardine.
Nearest Tourist Information Centres:
Ludlow (01584 875053)
Knighton (01547 528753).
The many places of interest nearby include Leintwardine and Clun.