2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
Paul, Stu and Frank took part in the Six Shropshire Summit Hike, a 36 mile Hike over Six Summits (obviously) on Saturday 11th June 2011, event report as follows.
We travelled up from Reading to Ludlow Friday night and made a slight detour to check the location of the finish location at Titterstone Quarry.
We eventually arrived about 10pm, couldn’t see a pub within walking distance and therefore spent what was left of the night with a cup of tea enjoying the hospitable comforts of the Travelodge Hotel. As a note, we had booked two “twin family” rooms which we learnt meant a double bed and a sofa, not even a sofa bed. Apparently “they don’t do rooms with twin beds in this hotel” upon further enquiry about the room facilities, really?

We settled down for the night before rising at 5am and leaving the hotel at 5.30am to get to the finish point for 6am. There we boarded a coach with about 50 other people, which then travelled to the start location at Corndon Hill, which took about 45 minutes.
The weather was sunny and cool as we departed from the Coach and walked a short distance to the start point check in. It was a pretty relaxed affair as tallies were handed out, clipped and people set off up Corndon Hill.

The first summit was pretty steep and you started to get out of breath quite quickly, the initial exertion up the hill couple with the fine weather meant jackets and tops being removed by many walkers as they reached the summit.
The view from the hill was fantastic, rolling green hills, clear skies and warm weather and absolute picture of beautiful Shropshire countryside.
After a brief pause, we headed down the hill and followed country lanes and paths for about 5 miles until we hit the second Stiperstones summit. This climb was longer but not as steep as we travelled up the path, as we got closer to the top the path became a mass of loose stones and rocks (hence the name Stiperstones I guess). We had been travelling alongside a few smaller groups but at this stage people had started to break off at their own pace.
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
We had our tallies clipped as evidence at reaching the checkpoint and then headed back down the Stiperstones and followed a long country lane towards the Longmynd Summit. This part of the route is almost the reverse of the first few miles of the Longmynd Hike and so some of the views were familiar. The sunny weather was in full effect as we marched roughly on a 3mph pace.

The route involved a long descent before a slightly sharper ascent along a track path towards the Longmynd Summit where we paused to have some sausage sandwiches whilst Stu attended to his feet, which were a little sore. There was limited water available here in a plastic container next to a 4×4 but we had sufficient supplies at this stage and had intended to fill up at the next checkpoint.

Frank and I headed off as Stu finished attending to his feet and agreed to catch us up. From the Longmynd Summit there was a long slow descent towards the town of Church Stretton.

By this time, we could only see a handful of other walkers. We had learned there were only 60 participants which was a lot lower than the 200 or so they had catered for in the past which was a shame as there were fewer people to engage with during the day.

We had the OS maps and checkpoints marked and had intended to at least attempt a bit of navigation ourselves although it was all to easy to fall into the habit of following the group ahead of you. As the group in front of us moved out of sight, I started to rely on my Garmin as I had downloaded a recommended course which shows up as a black line and beeps when you go off course. As an experiment, I was going to test the accuracy of this (having not relied on it before) whilst we used the maps as and when required. The Garmin route was pretty much spot on throughout the majority of the day although the lack of marked locations and roads/paths on the Garmin (it was just and direction indicator or a black line) didn’t give you a total appreciation of the route.
The next checkpoint was at Church Stretton Fire Station and the village/town was quite visible as we headed in that direction. As we arrived at Church Stretton we found out it was the local Summerfest with stalls, music, people out and the roads closed which created a good atmosphere. We followed the Garmin path straight to the Fire Station where we stopped for a bite to eat, refilled our water bottles/hydration packs and I bought and downed a bottle of coke from the local Spa opposite the Fire Station.
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
After a 10-15 minutes stop we were off from that checkpoint and headed over the bridge towards the Caer Caradoc Summit. We joined up with another group of 3 walkers as we took the short but steeper path to the summit. We could feel the effort in your legs and calves as you steadily made your way to the top. This summit was a bit of tease as just as you thought you had reached the top, you found it to be a small ridge and another ascent further on and on. Frank was starting to feel the effects of the hill climb and his paced slowed but he continued to make progress and Stu and I got a little ahead of him as we arrived at the Summit point.
We waited for Frank to arrive and started to look around when he hadn’t arrived a few minutes later. As we looked down from the Summit we saw another 4×4 at the bottom of the hill with Frank standing next to it. The checkpoint had been at the bottom of the summit and Frank had taken the shortest path to the checkpoint and had negated part of the climb. We had no phone signal at this point so it wasn’t possible to text/call but we had only lost 10-15 minutes of time and Stu had taken the opportunity of sun-bathing at this point despite the heavy breeze at this exposed location.
I took the shortest path down this hill which basically involved sliding down the hill on my rear as Stu took a slightly more cautious descent and we joined up with Frank again before heading off towards the next checkpoint. We had covered about 16 miles and 4 of the 6 six summits at it was now early afternoon, so we were hoping to make up some time as the next summit was over 10 miles away.
I think both Stu and Frank started to appreciate the entire length of the hike and effort involved as the pace slowed and moods darkened slightly as did the clouds a hint of rain being experienced at this time although it didn’t come to much.
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

 

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

The Garmin was still keeping us exactly on track as we strode along country lanes and paths towards checkpoint 6 (Roman Bank Road Junction) at about 21 miles where we refilled our water bottles/hydration packs before continuing on towards Checkpoint 7 (Abdon T Junction) at 28 miles although my Garmin had read 26 miles, so we had taken a more direct route to some of the summits or benefited from some short cut somewhere which we weren’t complaining about.
Stu was suffering from blisters at this point and had come to the realisation that his pack was too large and heavy for they day but he was in good spirits as he kept us entertained with his musings for the next half an hour as we headed towards Brown Clee Summit which was number 5.
We again took a pretty direct route up to the Checkpoint at the Summit as the weather cooled at this point, avoided some small horses eye-balling us and checked in. We were at the 30 mile point now so there was only around 6 miles to go.
We paused here briefly and I recall they had some Satsuma’s which tasted lovely at this point before setting off again along Brown Clee Summit in an easterly direction to the final checkpoint before the finish at Three Horseshoes Junction. At our present rate, we were within the cut-off times by about 45 mins to an hour which I thought was fairly tight for a hiking event. Our groups pace was sluggish on the ascents but we managed a reasonable 3mph outside of that although we were towards the back end of the group. I didn’t think our pace was slow and felt perhaps that more casual/steady walkers may have been put off by the cut-off times.
The Garmin had been doing a fine job until we arrived pretty close to the next Checkpoint, the Garmin line showed a straight on and we mistakenly took the first bridle path we saw to our right when we should have gone left for a few yards and then went straight on. Unfortunately, this navigational error caused us to do another mile as we wandered into a field and realised we were off route as there was no clear path to follow. We consulted our maps, got our bearings and looped back towards the Checkpoint where the marshal confirmed our navigational error as we had arrived at the checkpoint from the opposite direction.
This extra time meant we were only 30 minutes within the cut-off so we didn’t stay long and I headed out quite quickly to encourage Stu and Frank to follow my lead which they did.
Stu had taken some pain-killers and could not feel the effects of this blisters but Frank had started to slow and took some pain-killers at this point. Stu and I were a little concerned about timings and missing the final cut off and I offered to take Franks pack to reduce his weight load but he refused, wanting to finish the event without assistance.
We made steady progress towards the final Titterstone Clee Summit which we could view from 2-3 miles away and followed the path to a T-Junction, took a right hand path which led all the way there. As we entered the field before the hill we could see several small dots of people making their way up the hill. It hadn’t looked that big from afar but was a more imposing presence, as you got closer to it. We started to walk up the gradual slope which became steeper and steeper as we tried to pick out the easiest path to the top
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike

Stu and I had spotted a couple of paths as Frank made slow but steady progress behind us. I made a final offer to carry his pack (more to ensure we didn’t fail any cut-offs times as a team if progress was slow) but Frank had completed 95%+ of the route now and was not going to take any assistance now which I quickly realised.

As we could see the summit and knew the finish was not far away, I couldn’t be bothered to wind my way up the summit and took the shortest, steepest path to the top as Stu and Frank continued behind me. It took several minutes but I clambered to the top to see the Summit point was further to the right than I thought, so I headed there expecting to see something there to clip my tally, as this was an unmanned point. I searched around but couldn’t see any clip and took a photograph of the summit point on my phone as evidence.
As I looked over the other side of the hill, I could see the quarry car park and decided I may aswell carry on and wait for Frank and Stu at the finish as it was clearly in sight. Again, perhaps it was a thought about time pressure but I took a steep path down towards the quarry car park which involved sliding down part of the hill as dust, rocks and stones were kicked up around me and checked in at the finish.
I took a cup of tea and asked the marshals about the cut off as there were still about 5-6 people left behind Frank and Stu. However, they were pretty relaxed about the cut-offs in the end and would be unlikely to stop people finishing the last leg if they arrived just after the cut-off point at the last Checkpoint and looked in a reasonable state to continue. So my fretting about cut-off times wasn’t really warranted it appeared but I guess it kept our pace up a bit.
I had a cup of tea expecting to see Frank and Stu come over the crest of the hill but after waiting 10 minutes couldn’t see them so I decided to head back up the last summit to find them. As I did so, I met the last group of walkers but saw no sign of Stu or Frank.
I thought they may have circled the hill and took a more gradual path back to the finish and decided to head back to the finish, as I did so I could see them appearing from the opposite direction to me.
As I arrived back at the finish, Stu and Frank had checked in and had some refreshments. By this time all the walkers were back and accounted for and the marshals started packing up.
We had completed the Hike and had enjoyed the day, the Six Summits and length of the day (12-13 hours) was a good challenge in preparation for the Longmynd Hike in October and the scenery and views were fantastic. It’s a slight shame that the event was not more popular as there could have been a greater atmosphere amongst walkers if more people were involved. For a cost of £11 which includes some basic suppliers and coach transport to the start, the event is good value for money and recommended for long distance walkers/hikers.
The event would be a good challenge for Ultra/Fell Runners if they wanted to increase the popularity of the event but they would have to provide a lot more food and drink supplies and this would probably necessitate a cost increase to cover this additional expense.
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
2011 Shropshire Six Summits Hike
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