With its series of other-worldly outcrops, the Stiperstones ridge has to be one of Shropshire’s most compellingly strange landscapes. The cragginess was wrought by the scything, crushing and cracking action of ice during the last glacial period. But natural forces alone don’t explain the sense of weirdness. It is also a place of old lead mines (going back to Roman times), and of older-still Bronze Age burial cairns.
And on the supernatural front, there are ghosts there, most notably of Saxon lord, Wild Edric, our local King Arthur, who rampaged against the Norman invaders and is said to have been imprisoned in an abandoned lead mine. When he rides again, it is said the natural good order of things will be restored to the land.
And last, but scarcely least, there are the sinister witchy happenings, especially when the mist falls and Old Nick himself is said to occupy the most mysterious of all the outcrops – otherwise known as the Devil’s Chair. (See Mary Webb’s novel Gone to Earth whose heroine Hazel Woodus is tragically enthralled by the landscape and legends of the Stiperstones.)
As a 6/7th Shropshire lass, I’m ashamed to say I have not yet got myself to the Devil’s Chair. On our last two expeditions we did not get further than Manstone Rock. This year’s ambition perhaps. On a mist-free day of course!