Llanfair Waterdine to Bishop’s Castle

The Journey began with the local vicar offering holy blessing and a passing scholar some encouragement in the Latin tongue:

Salvete, peregrine illustris,

Greetings, illustrious pilgrim!

Hodie novam peregrinationem incipis.

Today you begin a new pilgrimage.

Per terras ignotas, trans montes horribiles, iter facies;

You will journey through unknown lands, across awesome mountains;

Trans vallum Offae Regis Merciae,

Over the dyke of King Offa of Mercia

Et Deo Volente, ad Castellum Episcopi ante noctem pervenies

And, God willing, you will reach Bishop’s Castle before nightfall.

Cras secundam partem itineris incipies,

Tomorrow you will commence the second part of your journey,

Inter flumina Camladium et Onnium ad terras Hyperboreanas,

Between the rivers Camlad and Onny, to the land beyond the north,

Ubi incolae peccata edunt.

Where the inhabitants eat sins.

Te benedicimus.

We bless you.

Ego autem, cespes ignavus, te in quadriga mea sequar.

I however, a lazy sod, will follow you in my car.

Spero me in medio itinere tibi obviam ituruum,

I hope that I shall meet you in the middle of your journey,

ut aromam illam caffeinam, Caledonico addito, tibi offeram.

In order to dispense that drug called coffee – with added Scotch.

Vale, et cura ut valeas.

Farewell, and take care of yourself.


The pilgrim departs – or, more correctly, shuffles-off.

Leaving Llanfair Waterdine and the Teme valley involves a delving into the hills.20121029-083105.jpg

The folds of these hills provide hiding places for new developments – large scale diversification projects that change the whole nature 9and meaning) of ‘farming’.


The lodges have been carefully scattered in the narrow valley – but one larger building (shown below) seemed to be some form of centre for the complex…. and it is… a reasonably large swimming pool! Curious that such a facility is available to those who visit, whilst those who live locally struggle with Councils and management bodies to keep open the public facilities


The route climbs away from Black Hall and its developing settlement and onto the shoulders of hills forming part of the Clun Forest passing through ‘Llandinshop’ and on to higher ground with views across to Radnor Forest.



The route proves to be a gentle delight as it leads over the shoulders of higher hills, crossing Offa’s Dyke which is taking the upward course onto Llanfair Hill (or is it the downward course to Selley Hall?) and proceeding through gates and over stiles becoming a hollowed depression made over time and regular use & leading down to Upper Treferward.

‘Edward’s Town’ – Saxon once, then post Conquest resettled and renamed in Welsh form.







The district known as Tempsiter in more ancient times is left behind & Clunsland is entered. This district was controlled by the the castle at Clun and was largely Welsh. When the Welsh Counties were created in 1536 it was included in Montgeryshire, being transferred (probably at the request of the Earls of Arundel, the family holding the lordship of Clun) in 1546. The mediaeval court records are an important resource for understanding Welsh legal procedures.

From the ridge (probably an ancient pre-historic trackway) above  The Llwyn the first views of The Long Mynd become clear. Not yet half way through day one but already the land above the destination on day two is clearly seen.



The descent into Clun is along the road – easy and gentle and near its conclusion allowing a view of Clun Castle in the valley below.

Clun Church is south of the river Clun, at the start of the ascent, on the road Knighton road.

‘A large church at the S end of the little town, externally characterised by its odd and engaging W tower with a truncated pyramid roof…’ (Pevsner, Shropshire)

The present building is described by Pevsner as ‘over-restored by Street in 1877’.

Maybe earlier action would have produced a different result – the curious story relating to the restoration is toled at http://www.clun.org.uk/church01.htm

Inside the church, at the time of passing, resting (or rather ‘fading’) on the bier lay the remains of a Creative Art Object’ ,product, early in October 2012, of a working session by visitors from Lithuania, Germany, Latvia, Romania, Turkey & France. The artwork was used as a main feature during the Harvest Festival celebrations.

The surrounding graveyard contains several interesting graves, those of the Lock family. The family are well established in the locality, several having contributed to the traditional music collections of Cecil Sharpe. Bill Lock was born deaf ‘on the road’ near Church Stoke and consequently never learned to speak, having only a frightening shriek which he used not infrequently!. However he was in many ways a greatly respected local character. He walked everywhere – and at great speed. Children would say that ‘Dummy’ (the name most people used) could walk from Bishop’s Castle to Shrewsbury (over 20 miles) in ‘two hours’. After the formation of the Martha Roden’s Tuppeny Dish and Shropshire Bedlams Morris teams he would attempt to join in the dancing.

The founder of Shropshire Bedlams, John Kirkpatrick once stated ‘He quite often turns up still when we’re dancing. ….we think it’s wonderful. And lots of people just find him absolutely terrifying. So he’s a kind of an occasional extra, which we all really enjoy, and it’s very puzzling for people who don’t understand it.

This mutually enjoyable link was such that on Bill’s death, the family asked the Morris teams to dance outside the Church before the hearse arrived. As the hearse crossed Clun Bridge and drove to the Church the dancers, respectfully, stopped dancing. On arrival and removal of the coffin one of the family stated loudly ‘C’mn, you gotta give ‘im one last dance’ and so ‘Martha Roden’s’ performed a full danced alongside Bill’s coffin.

We could all, imaginatively, hear Bill making appreciative noises.





The other grave of significance is that of John Osborne of Look back in Anger’ fame.


The lone pilgrim, required to be photographed by these important memorials, using a stick waving gesture borrowed (rather weakly) from Bill, makes his choice

and accompanied by priest and churchwarden directs the way to the lunch venue – at the White Horse.

After lunch the pilgrimage numbers are increased 100% and the two pilgrims stroll over the lower hills of Gulden Down and the woodland surrounding Bury Ditches and on towards Bishop’s Castle.



All comparatively easy and comfortable until the choice is made to follow the lower route around Acton Hill.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less travelled by

And that has made all the difference


Sometimes there are good reasons why a road is less travelled – and the ‘difference’ may simply be a longer and less comfortable  journey

The journey was slowed as the travellers struggled through thicket and bogged lanes – but eventually Bishop’s Castle was achieved!

‘The little town of Bishop’s Castle is of no high distinction, either historically or architecturally’. (Bradley ‘In the March and Borderland of Wales’).

It may be so – but it proved more than a sufficient resting place for the night – and with a jolly evening shared with others at the Boar’s Head Hotel.

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