Lotti Brown Designs

-- Art to Give us Joy, Love, and Energy Through our Connection with Nature and our Pets -- Pet Art & Custom Pet Portraits - Wildlife & Bird Art - Floral Art --

Awesome Places to Connect with Nature (...and you can bring your dog!) Part 1 - Shropshire Hills

behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

Connecting with nature is so important to our well-being - taking time to connect with the green of the natural world, space away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, and an opportunity to reconnect with our true inner self, our thoughts and emotions, and with those we love...

For me, it's important to get to this inner place so that I can make my art - but it's also essential for my own (and all of our!) health and well-being, too...

With this series of blog posts, I hope to inspire you to explore some of the wilder natural places - places where you can really feel the energy of nature reviving you...

This is a really special natural place to connect with nature - out in the Shropshire hills up close to nature and close to the sky...

 Connecting with nature at the Stiperstones

Connecting with nature at the Stiperstones

On holiday recently, we stayed in the beautiful Shropshire hills and walked up into the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve and visited the Devil's Chair stone...

We felt really connected to nature on this walk - out in the hills away from the hustle and bustle of the towns and villages - just birds overhead and lots of sky - a time to reflect and connect...

 Stiperstones view

Stiperstones view

 Gorse and Shropshire hills

Gorse and Shropshire hills

We walked up quiet, stony lanes with primroses, forget-me-nots, bluebells, and purple honesty flowers in the hedge verges along with the occasional daffodil. Beautiful flowers and so much colour and life - lovely to see!

 Forget-me-nots growing wild in Shropshire

Forget-me-nots growing wild in Shropshire

As we gradually climb, the flowery banks get taller and start to give way to hedgerows of tall hawthorns, not yet in flower, sheltering wild bilberries, called 'whinberries' locally.

 Lovely meandering Shropshire lanes

Lovely meandering Shropshire lanes

 Whinberries growing wild in the Shropshire hills

Whinberries growing wild in the Shropshire hills

As we climb further, the shady lane opens up into moorland filled with yellow-flowering gorse.

 Leaving the farmland behind and entering moorland

Leaving the farmland behind and entering moorland

There's no shelter from the sun and the air is filled with the coconut scent of the gorse flowers - actually, this is one of my favourite smells and always takes me back to special places like West Wales as a child, or more recent holidays in Skye and Islay - it reminds me of being out, quiet, in nature and it smells like summer!

 Out in nature with the sun, sky and brilliant colours is so re-energising!

Out in nature with the sun, sky and brilliant colours is so re-energising!

The colours look fantastic and they help us to feel really energised - great for that climb as there's still a way to go!

 Surrounded by vibrant yellow gorse on the moorland

Surrounded by vibrant yellow gorse on the moorland

We pass a blackened, gnarled gorse bush which still has the aroma of smoke around it - a moorland fire, luckily extinguished swiftly by some watchful soul.

Still we climb and the air cools and the gorse is gone. The path lies deep within banks of whinberry and heather - bright green with berries still red, the heather not yet in flower, still dry and brown.

 Looking back at our path up through a moorland of whinberry and heather

Looking back at our path up through a moorland of whinberry and heather

There's no shelter here and we're exposed to the elements as we continue to ascend, the rocky path beneath our feet and warm sunshine fighting with cool winds against our faces.

A tiny flutter of green across our path turns out to be a Green Hairstreak butterfly, cunningly disguised as it perches almost invisible amongst the whinberry leaves... Exciting to see - it's a butterfly I've never seen before!

 Can you spot the Green Hairstreak butterfly here? (There is one - honest!)

Can you spot the Green Hairstreak butterfly here? (There is one - honest!)

We seem to pass beneath the Devil's Chair rock and stop at a waymarker where the path goes four ways...

 Looking up to the Stiperstones

Looking up to the Stiperstones

Up here on the hills, we feel close to the sky, alone amongst nature, free and alive.

 Noah appreciates a rest at the top of the hill - he's much more a sit-and-watch sort of dog than a long-walk sort of a dog!

Noah appreciates a rest at the top of the hill - he's much more a sit-and-watch sort of dog than a long-walk sort of a dog!

 Looking across at the Shepherd's Rock (Scattered Rock)

Looking across at the Shepherd's Rock (Scattered Rock)

We sit for a while, quietly, resting and refuelling. We can see for miles all around us. We are nearly 1750ft above sea level - just us, rocks, sky and heather...

 It's a great view from up here!

It's a great view from up here!

...oh, and a couple of pleasant walkers who pass us, greeting us warmly, bedecked in cool summer shirts and sun hats... 

We call back to them and gaze wonderingly, as we feel the chill winds whip around us, and pull our jackets tighter.

As we progress along the ridge, the way becomes very rocky. It's easy to stumble here so we need to concentrate on where we're going and not looking around at what's around us.

 Walking the rocky Stiperstones ridge to the Devil's Chair

Walking the rocky Stiperstones ridge to the Devil's Chair

The clouds darken as we reach the Devil's Chair and I worry about lightning strikes. Is that thunder I hear or just the rumble of a passing plane?

The clouds feel close to us and quite heavy. There are warnings everywhere about lightning strikes and the legend of the Devil's Chair speaks of bolts of lightning should one have the audacity to actually sit in the Devil's Chair! Scary!

 The Devil's Chair

The Devil's Chair

We finally reach the rocks of the Devil's Chair - tall, hard, and grey.

Red Kites whirl past and a raven tumbles and folds itself elegantly into the rock.

We clamber ever up and eventually peer downwards between the shards...

 Admiring the view from the top of the Stiperstones

Admiring the view from the top of the Stiperstones

We look down past moorland and fields and follow the lines of pathways - it looks impossibly far down and I start to feel a little dizzy at the height.

Ian continues to explore a further crag - a rocky fortress on high, while I stay back a little with the dog, feeling a little in awe at this majestic natural place - a spire of the earth reaching up into the sky.

 View to Manstone Rock

View to Manstone Rock

Our walk down is much easier on the legs! We spot the grass-covered ruins of an old miner's cottage - humps and dips in the hillside surrounded by fruit trees and hawthorns which mark the boundaries of what was once a cherished home and garden high in the hills. 

 Signs of a life lived up on high - out in the wildest and most elemental parts of nature

Signs of a life lived up on high - out in the wildest and most elemental parts of nature

What it must be to live a life atop a hill!

So far from the hustle and bustle down below and more connected with nature and the elements out here where one could live free and unencumbered by the expectations of society...

 Path past the ruins - a beautiful natural place

Path past the ruins - a beautiful natural place

We feel revitalised and inspired after our walk out in the wilds of nature - this truly awesome natural place - in connecting with nature in this way, we feel more connected with our own selves, and each other - these are the moments that my art is all about and what I hope it will inspire for you too..!

Dog Walk Notes

  • This was a nice easy walk for the dog - a bit of a pull for him uphill, but wide paths and one stile with a gate that we could open to get him through. The ridge was a little rocky for him - he seemed quite sure-footed but we did worry a little about him injuring himself clambering over the rocks.
  • Dogs need to be kept on a lead at all times to protect the wildlife in this National Nature Reserve.
  • We did the walk from Pennerley Flats (just up to Devil's Chair rock and back again) but you can also easily access the Stiperstones from Stiperstones Village, Tankerville, and The Bog Visitor Centre (recommended) which has a large car park, toilets, information and refreshments (check opening times/dates).
  • Dress appropriately for your walk, take a good map, and be aware that weather conditions can change suddenly up on the hills.
 Feeling on top of the world connecting with nature

Feeling on top of the world connecting with nature

More Cool Places Nearby

Close nearby to explore is Tankerville old lead mine

 Ruins at the Tankerville lead mine

Ruins at the Tankerville lead mine

And the more extensive old Snailbeach Mine, which also does regular open days.

 Snailbeach Mine

Snailbeach Mine

A little further afield, we also enjoyed visiting Haughmond Hill woods with the dog - bluebells, woodland walks, toilets and a cafe...

 A great place for dogs to enjoy nature - Haughmond Hill

A great place for dogs to enjoy nature - Haughmond Hill

 Bluebells in the woods at Haughmond Hill

Bluebells in the woods at Haughmond Hill

 Woodland walk at Haughmond Hill

Woodland walk at Haughmond Hill

And the nearby beautiful ruins of Haughmond Abbey - a peaceful place to while away an hour or so - run by English Heritage.

 Noah admiring the view at Haughmond Abbey

Noah admiring the view at Haughmond Abbey

 Haughmond Abbey

Haughmond Abbey