We contiuned our geological tour of Shropshire as we headed over to the Stiperstones ridge, south of Minsterley. Our guide was again Liz Etheridge, Geology Officer with Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
In an area probably most famous for its myths and legends, the Stiperstones' ability to inspire writers and artists owes much to its geology. Mary Webb and DH Lawrence are among those who have felt a special connection with the landscape.
The remarkable ridge of the Stiperstones is made of quartzite, an extremely hard, crystalline rock which sparkles in the sun.
This rock was formed around 510 million years ago, when this would have been a white sandy beach or shallow sea.
Bronze Age monument, Stiperstones
However, the character of this landscape also owes much to the Ice Age. The freezing process shattered the rock, building up layers of scree and creating the jagged outcrops that we now associate with the area.
The erosion of other rock surrounding the harder quartzite has simply exaggerated the features of the Stiperstones.
Legends leap from every crag - from those attached to the Devil's Chair to ones of Wild Edric.
It was also a very important location for Shropshire's prehistoric residents. Circular Bronze Age monuments (2400 BC - 700 BC) still lie near near the Devil's Chair.
Access to the Stiperstones is reasonably straight forward. Signposted roads lead up from the A488 south of Minsterley (south-west of Shrewsbury).
There's a choice of car parks, with English Nature's National Nature Reserve car park at the very top, adjacent to the all-access path and the route leading up towards the ridge.
All-access path at the Stiperstones
The Long Mynd & Stiperstones Shuttle also operates on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays between April and October.
The walk up to the ridge of the Stiperstones involves a decent climb and sometimes awkward terrain. However, it's worth it to get up close to the tors and for the amazing view. For those who can't manage the climb, the all-access path is wide, level and wheelchair-friendly.
Back to Purple
The Back to Purple campaign hopes to leave quite an impression on the Stiperstones.
View from the Stiperstones
Non native conifers are being removed, while heather and whinberries (a local type of bilberry) are being planted and encouraged across the heathland. The Stiperstones could soon be a blaze of purple in summer.
The Stipertones lies within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is also part of the Hollies Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
last updated: 01/10/2008 at 15:13
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