Distance: 25.5km (15.8 miles).
Climbing: 1,000m (3,281ft).
Time: 2hrs to 4hrs.
The Stiperstones is a hill in Shropshire that’s often overlooked (metaphorically, if not physically) in favour of the more easterly, bigger and more recognised mountain biking hotspot of the Long Mynd. There’s some great riding and different views to be had over this way though, as well as a very good, old-school waymarked MTB trail.
Earl’s Hill Nature Reserve car park (grid ref SJ 409/057, postcode SY5 0UH).
Take the M54 to Telford, then the A5 to Shrewsbury and then the A488 towards Pontesbury. Turn left before the town, just after the tractor forecourt, following signs to Pontesbury Hill. Keep right at a fork and the car park is on the left.
Maps & books
Ordnance Survey Landranger 126: Shrewsbury & Oswestry.
Ordnance Survey Landranger 137: Church Stretton & Ludlow.
Try the Stiperstones Inn (01743 791327, www.stiperstonesinn.co.uk) or Mountain Edge in Marshbrook, near Church Stretton, which has camping, pods and log cabins (01694 781515, www.mountainedgeresort.co.uk). It also has a pub on site, the Station Inn, and bike hire. There’s lots more choice in Shrewsbury – see www.visitshrewsbury.co.uk. The Mytton Arms in Habberley (01743 792490) is good for an en-route pint but doesn’t do food. Bike shops include Blazing Bikes in Marshbrook (01694 781515, www.blazingbikes.co.uk) and The Trailhead in Shrewsbury (01743 537124, www.thetrailhead.co.uk).
Out the back of the car park, join a bridleway along the edge of the wood. Pass through a few gates (technical at times) and keep right at a fork. Go down to a T-junction and turn left through a gate.
Follow the field edges to a gate, then bear right on a wide track. Go through a farmyard, then right on the road. Pass the pub, turn left at the grass triangle and then take the first right.
At the car park, bear left and join the cycle trail. Follow it to a wide track in the open. Stay on this, uphill. Bear right, through a gate, then turn left.
Turn left on the road, then left again, down to a lone house. Go through a gate and back uphill, onto a rough track. Keep right at the forks and climb to the top. By the cairn, stay on the main track.
For a good lunch spot, keep ahead up a rocky track to some big rocks. Then retrace your steps.
Bear right (left if you’ve taken the lunch detour), down the grassy track. Follow this right and then left. Through the gate, join a track past some houses. At the road turn right (or left for the pub).
Follow the road for 2km into Snailbeach. Turn right on Shop Lane, 100m past the church. Keep right at the fork, past the old mining buildings. Go right on the road, uphill, and follow it back to where you were earlier. Go left through the gate, retracing your steps to the cycle trail (uphill, right through the gate and down the doubletrack). Turn left onto it, where you left it earlier.
Follow the trail for 6km, to where it drops steeply (on the Indigo Illusion section) to a forest track. Turn left, leaving the cycle route, and then keep right, downhill. Bear right at a junction, down to a road.
Turn right into Habberley. Go right at the T-junction and then left, back past the pub. Retrace your tracks through the farm but keep ahead (not left, back through the gate), uphill, on a different track to before. Rejoin the bridleway from earlier and follow it back to the car park.
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Routes produced in association with Rough Ride Guide
MBUK Big Ride images by Russell Burton