Church Stretton Friday 15th September to Friday 22nd September 2017.
Built as a Spa hotel, the HF house enjoys a commanding position on the hillside above the town, with an excellent view down the valley towards Craven Arms and Ludlow. 14 of us duly arrived on the Friday afternoon after circumventing rail disruption at Euston. We had a short introductory tour of the town before dinner, then an informal quiz evening with the other guests (about 60 in all, including visitors from Canada, USA, the Netherlands and France.)
|HF 'The Long Mynd Hotel'||Church Stretton High Street|
Our five days of guided walking followed the usual HF format with the choice of easy, medium, and hard levels allowing time to admire the views. The easier walks allows more time to enjoy the view, or to stride out on the harder walks. Conveniently this also resulted in manageable groups of between 6 and 15 walkers and we divided ourselves among them.
The first day’s walk took us to the hills on the opposite side of the valley, with a choice of climbing one, two, or three before we all returned via All Stretton. Quite an energetic start, particularly for the long walkers! The next three walks all started with a 30 to 45 minute coach ride, venturing into Wales and covering parts of the Long Mynd, the Stiperstones, and Stokesay Castle. All very scenic in the rolling Shropshire hills with teashop/pub opportunities for the easy and medium walkers. Our HF leaders proved capable and well informed, allowing us to relax and enjoy ourselves.
|Typical 'moorland' Landscape||Stokesay Castle|
Monday is a changeover day, when half of the other guests departed and another group arrived. As a ‘free’ day we all did our own bit of exploring, mostly visiting Ludlow with its castle, Shrewsbury, or pottering round the shops and antiques centre in Church Stretton itself.
Happily the weather was good for walking, with just a light, breezy, shower up on the Stiperstones. Until Thursday morning that is, when we all climbed up to the Long Mynd from the house in clouds and a light drizzle. Fortunately this cleared up when we reached the top and restored the views over this pleasant landscape.
|Medium Walkers at the Stiperstones||Setting off after a lunch stop|
Having booked early and benefiting from the group discount we got a really good bargain for this holiday, saving around £200 on the brochure price. As one of the largest houses there was a good choice of food and we enjoyed substantial three course evening meals, plus a special six course gala dinner on the last day. Evening entertainments included a story teller/singer, skittles, ‘Call My Bluff’, the inter-house quiz (our team came 2nd this time), and a very enjoyable concert given by the Craven Arms Male Voice singers. A milestone birthday was even celebrated on the Tuesday evening with champagne!
An excellent week: I would certainly recommend the venue to anyone else looking for a walking or walking and sightseeing holiday (industrial heritage sites like Ironbridge are not far away) and hope to return in the future.