The Tom Pickering benchwalks seek to build on Little Wenlock’s strong sense of ‘place’, providing opportunities for all to sit and savour the wonderful surroundings of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Inspired by and dedicated to a true country boy from Dawley, they have been made possible by the hard work of many of his friends and the generous support of the Shropshire Hills AONB and E.ON UK.
The benches are made from oak and chestnut from the sustainably-managed Harris’ coppice on the ancient route from Buildwas by an experienced local craftsman using traditional techniques. They are each dedicated to the memory of a local loved one.
Taking full advantage of the spur of Darrow Hill on which the village sits, they reveal the Blue Remembered landscape in the best east-west panorama of the AONB and its setting you can get, as well as many of its more local gems of past and present.
From the urban Black Country horizon in the east, a southern sweep of your eye reveals distant Dudley, Kinver Edge near Stourbridge and, on a clear day, the Malvern Hills. Moving on to the west, the mast-topped Clee Hills rise high above the distinctive limestone spine of Wenlock Edge stretching away to the Welsh borders.
Then Ragleth and Hope Bowdler Hills stand back, craggy Caradoc and Lawley stand out, and the backdrop of the Long Myndd gives way to the Stiperstones, Pontesbury Hill, the Long Mountain and finally the massive Breiddens, before the ever-present Wrekin demands your attention.
The thoroughly agrarian heritage of the south and west contrasts with northern and eastern aspects betraying a firmly industrial past, though largely hidden now in the reclaiming bosom of mother nature.
Beneath her veil of greenery and water lie old lime works, quarries, trackways, charcoal platforms and everywhere the all-pervading whiff of more than seven centuries of coal-mining to fuel medieval homes, the industrial revolution and, more recently, mains electricity.
Linger and enjoy everything Little Wenlock’s outlook on the AONB offers your every sense; discover more about the individual benchwalk places, and do please add your own views and knowledge by e-mail to the editor .