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We chose the wrong day to walk the Long Mynd to Leebotwood – as #4 testifies. 


We had read that The Pound Inn (SO 476987) at Leebotwood (#1) was “founded as a drovers’ hostelry in 1457” and is the oldest house in the village, the ‘pound’ meanng the overnight cattle enclosure.


Could well be; but the left half of the house opposite the pub wasn’t far behind: it has a medieval cruck frame in the walls and an old yew in the garden to welcome guests (#2).  Moreover, Mac (who lives there) told us that the original cattle stance was on his side of the main road.  The old 25” map shows Mac’s house in Field 197 (#3) and north of it, across Station Road – that came later! – lies a small enclosure, next to the “434” on the map1.


So we started wondering whether Mac’s house had been the original “Pound Inn”…Probably not, but it may have been a drovers' doss-house.


As for the walk, we went up the Carding Mill Valley from Church Stretton at 453937, turned right at the top on to the track – there are hundreds of them (#4), all green and all possible candidates – then down across Bullocks Moor2 to Womerton (456974) and The Pound.  No idea whether we were on the right track - until we found a map on the VCH website which labels the Womerton route as "Drift3 Road".  The only bit we got wrong was near Leebotwood Church (L+ at the top right of #5), which we passed to the west rather than the east.

(According to the VCH4, when Bishop Swinfield followed the portway across the Long Mynd in 1290, he employed a guide - for "to lose the way in bad weather in the wild wastes of the LM is to risk death", as E D Carr said in the 1850's.) 


The Welsh were aiming for Shrewsbury with their cattle because of the railway: S. got its station in 1848 but it was 15 years before Aberystwyth or Machynlleth got theirs – and even then the beasts would have had to change trains.  So Welsh drovers were prepared to walk the hills for up to 80 miles to get to the Shrewsbury railhead.


Happy New Year!


1 The ‘Cattle Pen’ at the far end of the field is instructive.  Most of early train-travel was for beasts, so cattle pens were more important than ticket offices.
2 It's sheep country up there.  The bullocks were just passing through!
3 Drift = drove
4 Victoria County History

Leebotwood image 1
The Pound Inn, Leebotwood
Leebotwood image 2
Drovers' Doss-House?
Leebotwood image 3
1903 OS 25" map
Leebotwood image 4
On the Top
Leebotwood image 5
VCH Map showing DR