In the 18th and 19th centuries, follies were the height of fashion. The focal point of this walk is Flounder's Folly, a stone tower on top of Callow Hill, the highest point of Wenlock Edge. Like so many follies, it has an entertaining tale behind it, which may or may not be true. The story goes that a wealthy merchant called Benjamin Flounder ordered the tower to be built in 1838 so he could admire the view across Corve Dale to his fine house at Ludlow. But he got a nasty surprise when he first climbed to the top of the newly completed tower. His mansion was not to be seen - there was a hill in the way. 'Take it down' he roared, and it's unclear if he meant the hill or the tower. Both were spared, however, when a watery gleam on the horizon was pointed out to him. Benjamin was placated by the suggestion that it was the Mersey, and that he would be able to watch his ships leaving Liverpool. The initials BF are carved into the stonework and, as more than one person has observed, perhaps that says it all.
Why did he have the tower built? It may have been for the view, or perhaps it was a fashion choice. But he might even have had altruistic motives. Several British follies have been built purely because a generous landowner wished to provide work at a time of high unemployment.
The first follies appeared in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the 18th century that the craze took off, partly reflecting a new enthusiasm for all things classical. Wealthy young men were educated in the classics, then sent off on the Grand Tour. They came back full of the glory that was Greece and Rome and set about building temples on their country estates. This developed into a romantic search for the ideal landscape and people would enhance, as they thought, the view from their country seats with all manner of towers and castles, preferably ruined. At least there is nothing pretentious about Flounder's Folly. A tall plain tower built from local stone, it has been restored and can be visited between 11am and 3pm on days when a flag flies from the top.
Walk down Corvedale Road, cross the River Onny and turn left into Halford. At a junction with a view of the church, turn right towards Dinchope. Pass a farm, then take a footpath on the left. It climbs to the far corner of a field, then along the left-hand edge of another.
When the hedge turns a corner, continue across the field to a stile by a power line pole, then up the next field to a concealed stile, near the top left corner. Turn left along a lane. Pass a turning for Strefford, then fork left and walk up to a T-junction.
Go a few paces right to a stile below a fingerpost confirming that you're following the Hills and Dales Hike. Just follow the frequent waymarkers, which guide you across fields and into woodland, before sending you zigzagging up graded and stepped paths to the top of Callow Hill.
Turn left at the top, skirt round Flounder's Folly, then return to the edge until you are forced to descend sharp left on a forestry track. The slope eases and the track swings right then passes a barrier to meet the Dinchope–Westhope road.
Go straight ahead, then left at a triangular junction. Where the lane bends right (to Moorwood Farm), bear left on a bridleway.
Follow the track round as you enter Strefford Wood. Keep right at a fork, on the descending bridleway. Lower down it is sunken and muddy. Follow it out between fields to a lane. Turn left, then right, crossing Quinny Brook at a footbridge next to a ford into Strefford.
Turn left on a no through road, which becomes a track. Bear left through fields to a footbridge over Quinny Brook. Cross the bridge and go forward to another. Cross this and go ahead again to a stile just beyond three large oaks. Keep straight on, past Berrymill Cottages and through a copse into a field.
Follow the trodden path the length of the field. Go through a wood, then across fields towards Halford, keeping left of a fence. Turn sharp right on a track by School House, then left on a concrete footpath to a bridge across the River Onny. A permissive path on the left runs near the river back to Corvedale Road.
Mostly good, not always clear between Quinny Brook and Halford, muddy in places, 12 stiles
Pasture and woodland on scarp slope of Wenlock Edge
Off lead in woodland, on lead in pasture
OS Explorer 217 The Long Mynd & Wenlock Edge
Car park off B4368 Corvedale Road, Craven Arms or small car park/picnic area on same road on outskirts of town
None en route
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Perhaps nowhere else in England will you find a county so deeply rural and with so much variety as Shropshire. Choose a clear day, climb to the top of The Wrekin, and look down on that ‘land of lost content’ so wistfully evoked by A E Housman. Peer through your binoculars and trace the course of Britain’s longest river as the Severn sweeps through the county, from the Breidden Hills to Wyre Forest, slicing Shropshire in two. To the north is a patchwork of dairy fields, hedgerows, copses and crops, broken at intervals by rugged sandstone ridges such as Grinshill or Nesscliffe, and dissected by a complex network of canals.
Spilling over the border into neighbouring Cheshire and North Wales is the unique meres and mosses country, with serenely smooth lakes glinting silver, interspersed with russet-tinged expanses of alder-fringed peat bog, where only the cry of the curlew disturbs the silence. South of the Severn lies the Shropshire Hills AONB. It’s only when you walk Wenlock Edge that you fully discover what a magical place it is – glorious woods and unexpectedly steep slopes plunge to innumerable secret valleys, meadows, streams and farmhouses, all tucked away, invisible from the outside world.