The 'Wells' in Tenbury Wells only came about after attempts in the mid- to late 19th century to capitalise on the mineral water in the town's wells. The restored Pump Rooms, dating from 1862, are its other legacy. Built late into the fashion for spas – with Malvern Wells, Droitwich Spa, Buxton Spa and the like already established – it failed to yield prolonged success.
Apples under threat
Once upon a time Tenbury was known as 'the town in the orchard'. It has been estimated that between 1970 and 1997, 64 per cent of Britain's orchards were grubbed up. Why? Often it was because the grants system operated by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) encouraged many farmers to grow cereals, not top fruit. Orchards on urban peripheries were, and those that remain still are, ripe for house-building. The cider industry is still thriving – witness the number of young orchards you may see while driving in the two counties – but some varieties of apple are verging on extinction.
One company trying to reverse that trend is the family-run business Frank P Matthews, fruit tree nursery growers for over 100 years, which sells more than 150 varieties of apples for eating, cooking and cider production. The company also has a commercial interest in tree heritage, being the supplier of rare species of fruit trees, not just apples but also plums, pears and cherries – all once a major part of the countryside in the area and throughout the country. Indeed, the company supplies varieties of fruit that were once unique to the different counties of Britain – apples from Cornwall, Surrey, Norfolk and Worcester as well as their 'native' Herefordshire.
Capital of holly and mistletoe
Tenbury Wells still celebrates its connections to the apple orchards with an annual apple festival, AppleFest, held every October. However, the town is also noted for its large mistletoe festival, with many events during November and December. (You are likely to see large clumps of mistletoe hanging from the trees during your walk.) An annual wholesale auction is held every December for both mistletoe and holly, and it is deemed that the prices paid here will determine the cost of both commodities in the shops and markets around Christmas.
Leave the car park by the 'no exit' sign (for cars!). Over the bridge with railings turn left. At The Crow Hotel, turn right, then immediately left. Now walk through Tenbury Wells. Cross over beyond the black-and-white pub, the Pembroke House, follow Oldwood Road but soon take 'Berrington'. After 200yds (183m), after The New House and opposite the bungalow, Somfield, cross a stile. Go half right to another, walk on level ground, following power poles. Cross a ditch in a gateway by some willows. Go to the top left corner of a long field.
Turn left, then in 30yds (27m) right. Cross fields to join the driveway of Manor Farm. About 40yds (37m) beyond the bridge here turn right at a triple waymarker, and go down steps and across a planked ditch to a stile. Cross fields for 440yds (402m). Veer down and right to the left of a power pole, through a rusty gate, then across the field past two barns, keeping them on your left. Pass The Green's farmhouse to a minor road.
Take the footpath directly opposite, down a small, tussocky pasture. At the lakeside turn right, passing the Cadmore Lodge Hotel & Country Club. In the car park's far left corner cross a bridge beside a thatched mill house. Turn right along a gravel track, passing new log cabins; within 400yds (366m) reach a junction.
Turn right. Around 50yds (46m) before farm buildings fork right, through a gate, to an (overgrown) handrail up to a garden gate. Pass to the right of the house, to a minor road T-junction. Turn left. In 170yds (155m) take the fingerpost left, up some steps. Cross this field diagonally. A path leads through trees to Berrington Mill. Turn right, up the lane, then right to Matthews' tree nursery at Berrington Court.
Take the track before a house. Enter the nursery. Walk beside mind-boggling numbers of potted trees under glass (or plastic). Leave this gravel track where it cuts down through woodland, taking a stile ahead and right. A meadow leads to Bednal Bridge. Just beyond it take double gates into trees. Keep your line when this ample track runs out. Go up an abrupt bank, crossing a footbridge to do so, keeping out of trees. It's now straightforward to the outskirts of Tenbury, guided by yellow waymarkers. Round the backs of gardens, emerge through a gate.
Turn left, but only for 20yds (18m). Take a hedge-hugging kissing gate, on the left. In the thistle-wrecked meadow, skirt right for 40yds (37m) to a grass track. Turn left, away from houses, for 40yds (37m) more. Turn right (a gate aperture is now behind you) to hit suburbia again. Turn left. Move left at 'No cycling' sign. Keep on the paved footpath, left of No. 14, soon beside tall garden fences. Emerging at the church, turn left. Opposite a church gate turn right, down Church Walk, to Teme Street and thence your car.
Town streets, field paths, minor lanes, many stiles
Undulating mixed farmland, small market town
Lead preferable most of time
OS Explorer 203 Ludlow
Long-stay car park, beside swimming pool, Tenbury Wells
Off Teme Street and on Market Street
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.