A dog friendly walk from DogPeople

A dog-friendly walk from DogPeople
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Hopton Heath and Hopton Woods Circular (8 moderate)

Hamish walked from Hopton House B&B, if not staying there we suggest you start from Hopton Heath (some parking on east side of railway near station) or Hopton Castle where there are limited parking opportunities. Hopton Heath is near Craven Arms and Ludlow.

From Hopton House (at grid reference SO 3801 7760) TURN RIGHT on a lane, quickly reaching a T-junction. TURN RIGHT, signed to Hopton Castle and Obley, away from a railway bridge (there are wide grass verges here - where you might park if the ground is dry and all else has failed!). Follow lane to Hopton Castle village - some care is required as sections of lane are quite narrow. CONTINUE AHEAD past a left hand turn to Bedstone (castle remains can be seen on right hand side [RHS] of this lane). CONTINUE AHEAD past right hand turn to Twitchen. Pass a public telephone box on your RHS. Follow road as it bears left and crosses a stream (Upper House Farm on your RHS). As road bends right CONTINUE MORE-OR-LESS AHEAD through a 6 bar metal gate into a field (note white disc marker on gate).

Follow a clear track across the field. CONTINUE AHEAD through a metal gate (right hand of a pair of gates) still following the clear track. Go AHEAD through another gate (open when we walked), still following the clear track (stream by gate may not run in summer months). Follow track as it BEARS LEFT towards woods near the head of the valley. Go through a metal gate into the woods.

Follow a track away from the gate as it bears left and uphill. TURN RIGHT at tracks T-junction and follow track as it bends right and climbs. As the track starts to descend note a marker post on RHS of track. TURN LEFT as indicated by a red arrow marker on the post (#6 - you'll see more numbered posts later). Follow the grassy track uphill, a steady climb with good views through breaks in the trees to your RHS. At post #5 CONTINUE AHEAD (don't turn left). CONTINUE AHEAD as the track merges with another. CONTINUE AHEAD across a semi made track at post #7 and continue on a grassy track, passing a no cycling sign as you go. Keep ahead with woods on you left hand side (LHS) and a field beyond a line of trees on your RHS. CONTINUE AHEAD on the same track at the end of the wood - a forest nursery with deer fencing now on your LHS.

Go through a pedestrian gate to the RHS of a field gate then TURN LEFT keeping to the LHS of farm buildings (Meeroak Farm on map). Follow a clear track as it passes in front of the buildings on your RHS, then through a wooden 5 bar gate (open when we walked - plenty of space to its LHS if locked). Follow the track ahead (footpath goes to the right just after the gate but rejoins the track further on). At tracks junction TURN LEFT onto a semi made forest track just before a Forestry Commission Hopton Woods sign (grid reference SO 3449 7625). Note 'Slow barrier ahead' sign and post #45. Go past the metal barrier and follow the track (sign says 'access required at all times, do not obstruct barrier). A bridleway runs in a sunken way to the RHS of this track and can be used as an alternative - access to the start of it near the Forestry Commission sign. Follow the track until it bends left with a 'no mountain bikes please sign on its RHS. TURN RIGHT on a grassy track (that the sign refers to) and follow it downhill. After about 100 metres TURN HARD LEFT at a tracks junction (you are now on the bridleway). Follow the track down to a metal gate (stream on your RHS). CONTINUE AHEAD through the gate towards a farmhouse and buildings (Gripesnest on map). Go to the front of the house (don't turn right on lane just before it) and follow a track uphill to the right of the house - the valley and stream (Darky Dale) are now on your RHS. CONTINUE AHEAD through a metal gate (with summer house over a fence to your RHS). Follow the track uphill through a gate to reach a semi made forest track.

TURN RIGHT on track (more-or-less ahead). After some distance look for post #36 on your RHS at a cross tracks. TURN LEFT uphill as indicated by a red arrow. This is another steady climb. CONTINUE AHEAD as a track turns left (red and orange arrows on post). CONTINUE AHEAD at cross tracks by post #35, pass #38 on opposite side of junction - keep ahead, still uphill. CONTINUE AHEAD (slightly left) when you reach a more major forest track, still slightly uphill. CONTINUE AHEAD at #23 (pointing right), pass a no cycling sign and join a grassy track still going uphill at first. The track levels, then starts to descend just beyond a pile of stones on your LHS. Cross a cycle route, keeping ahead on the grassy track. Follow the track downhill to reach a cross tracks.

CONTINUE AHEAD, scrambling a few metres on a rough path to reach a second track, downhill (if you don't fancy this scramble you can turn left on the first track then right at the next junction). TURN RIGHT on the lower track. At next junction, by post #13 with a red arrow, TURN LEFT. Follow a clear track, level at first then downhill (forestry operations made the track very rutted in places and created side tracks when we walked). At more major track TURN LEFT by post #15 and follow the track downhill via right hand and left hand hairpin bends. Pass post #17, keeping ahead on the track (view of Hopton Castle remains through tree line on your RHS). As the track climbs a little FORK RIGHT and descend to the edge of the wood (where you entered it earlier). Go through metal gate and retrace your route back to the start (following the clear track across fields back to the metalled lane in Hopton Castle village - turn right on lane).

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