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My Favourite Run: the Long Mynd Loop

Running on the Mynd
(Image credit: Craig Taylor)

The Long Mynd Run

In this edition of our My Favourite Run series, Advnture contributor Craig Taylor takes us on a loop over one of the prettiest parts of the Shropshire Hills: The Long Mynd. Comprising stunning trails, epic views and a couple of tricky climbs, it packs a ton into 12 kilometres – and is the perfect way to see this beautiful part of the country.

“Up here in Shropshire, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to trail running!” says Craig. “And even though I can be in Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons or the Peaks in well under two hours, I always get most excited for a day out in the Shropshire Hills. In my opinion, the views are comparable to the national parks, and there’s a ton to discover up on the Long Mynd.”

Climbing out of the valley

Climbing up and out of the Carding Mill Valley (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

The route

  • Start/finish: Carding Mill Valley car park
  • Distance: 7.7 miles / 12.5 km
  • Elevation gain: 1,080 ft / 330 m
  • Difficulty: Easy to intermediate
  • Duration: ~1.5 hours

Taking you up over the Long Mynd – the Shropshire Hills’ most renowned Marilyn (a hill with a prominence of 150m) – this 12-kilometre loop follows well-maintained trails into valleys, up over moorland, through working farms and alongside a number of rivers and streams. A fairly short yet demanding run, the views over the Stiperstones, Caer Caradoc and even Snowdonia (on clear days) serve as a suitable reward for your efforts as you skip across the undulating terrain of the Long Mynd.

The Long Mynd Loop: why I love it

The Long Mynd is simply epic. A true playground for anyone who loves spending time outdoors, it’s a great place to go trail running, hiking, road cycling, gravel riding or mountain biking. Nestled just off the Welsh border, it feels like the Cambrian Mountains’ last great ‘hurrah’ before rolling into the flatlands of the West Midlands. And this route takes you to some of the most impressive corners of it!

The starting point of the run is the Carding Mill Valley car park. Run by the National Trust, it’s easy to get to and offers ample parking – just be sure to arrive early if you’re visiting on a sunny bank holiday. From here, the run follows the stream out of the car park and deeper into the Carding Mill Valley. You’ll pass a great little cafe and some public toilets as you go, which are the last signs of civilisation for the next 90 minutes.

Carding Mill Valley

The Carding Mill Valley (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

On a hot summer’s day, the gorge and the surrounding hills stay cool thanks to their canopy of trees. When it’s raining cats and dogs, the gorge can feel utterly wild, with the Hazel Brook rushing past and loads of muddy puddles to embrace. Spring is when the trails are at their colourful best, with wild garlic, bluebells and rhododendrons creating a real cornucopia.

The downhill sections, particularly from Castle Hill into the gorge are superbly involving, requiring laser focus when it comes to your footing. The section alongside the brook is like an assault course, with fallen trees and rough terrain keeping you on your toes, as you duck and dive between obstacles.

Welsh ponies

Look out for some of the locals at the top (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

As you run deeper into the valley, you’ll cross the stream multiple times before you end up at a fork in the road. From here, you take a right turn and start the steepest and longest ascent of the day –  the long slog up to the top of the Long Mynd. Just be sure to look behind you as you drive yourself up the hill! The views behind you grow more impressive with every passing step, delivering the perfect backdrop for any rests you decide to make en route.

Once you top out, the landscape becomes a lot flatter (and much windier), and you may even spot a couple of wild Welsh mountain ponies. The trail then takes you south over the Long Mynd’s undulating spine and up to Pole Bank, the highest point of the day. This is roughly the route’s halfway point, and it rewards you with stunning 360-degree views over miles and miles of rolling hills, forests and valleys, including the beautiful Stiperstones to the west and the impressive Caer Caradoc to the east.

Descending into the valley

The trail down off the Long Mynd (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

From here, it’s a straight shot downhill and onto some grassy meadows – the perfect terrain to give your ligaments a rest after a rocky start to the day. The trail winds its way down off the mountain, passing the summits of Round Hill, the Grindle and Callow Hill as you go, and brings you almost into the village of Little Stretton. And you’re on to the final sprint!

This last section is a fairly easy one, although there are a couple more climbs left to go! You’ll pass the Small Batch campsite to your left, skip over a short wooden footbridge, and then climb up into the forest. The trail then winds its way through some sheep fields before spitting you out onto the main road –  a solid reminder that you’re almost back. If you’re tired of trails, you can choose to follow this road back into Church Stretton and back to the car park. If you’d rather stay off-road, however, then this final section will lead into one last wooded glade, through a field and along a babbling brook – all the way to the intersection of the Burway, the Long Mynd’s main road (and one of the country’s great climbs if you’re a cyclist!). From here, it’s a short sprint back down into the valley and back to your car.

Highlight: Pole Bank

The view from the top of Pole Bank

From Pole Bank, the Long Mynd’s highest point, you can gaze out at almost the entirety of the Shropshire Hills (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

My personal highlight along this run is Pole Bank, the highest point on the route. A nice spot to stop and have a short rest, it affords amazing views out over to the Stiperstones and across the rolling Shropshire Hills. On a clear day, you can even see so far as the karst summits of Snowdonia; the helpful compass on the trig will let you know where to look!

The view from Pole Bank

The views from Pole Bank are spectacular on a clear day – just be prepared for the wind! (Image credit: Craig Taylor)

My Favourite Run Collection

To view the other runs in the My Favourite Run series on komoot, click on the Collection below...

You can also check out our My Favourite Hike series.

Growing up just south of the glorious Brecon Beacons National Park, Craig spent his childhood walking uphill. As he got older, the hills got bigger, and his passion for spending quality time in the great outdoors only grew - falling in love with wild camping, long-distance hiking, bikepacking and fastpacking. Having recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in Germany, he now focuses on regular micro-adventures in nearby Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, as well as frequent trips to the Alps and beyond. You can follow his adventures over on komoot (opens in new tab), or visit www.craigtaylor.co (opens in new tab) for more info.