On the border between Shropshire and Herefordshire lies Croft Castle*, built in the 11th century and home to 1,500 acres of woodland, in which can be found the fabulous Pokehouse Wood walk.
According to the National Trust, the Pokehouse Wood walk is so named, as the word “Poke” came from the name “Puck” the naughty imp from English folklore. Pokehouse Wood was known for travellers getting lost as they made their way home to Aymestrey. The National Trust sets out a great 5.5 mile walking trail, which I adore.
Detour to Riverside Inn
It Is mostly easy terrain and takes roughly 3 hours to complete and it’s dog friendly. In nice weather, and when lockdown lifts, I recommend calling by the Riverside Inn at Aymestrey. You can sit outside, indulge in a pint or perhaps an aperol spritz while your four-legged friend plays in the river. The Riverside also serves some truly scrumptious food ranging from cheese souffles to beef sandwiches.
I began the walk at the visitor centre and followed the red trail markers. The route is very well sign posted throughout. The bluebells are rampant in the spring, but at this time of the year, I enjoy gazing at some of the magnificent old trees — like chestnut, ash and beech trees, some over 100 years old — in the parkland.
Bring a flask or better yet a picnic
Shortly after you begin your walk you will reach the top of the bank and the views of Leominster, Kington and the Welsh hills are truly amazing on a bright day. There are also plenty of benches and tree trunks to sit down and have a rest while you take in the views or even have a picnic for the truly hardcore. Just wrap up warm and bring a flask of hot soup or tea and nibbles. If you don’t fancy making your own picnic pick up grazing boxes or afternoon tea. (Castle Lodge Buttery in Ludlow and Leahs bespoke cakes based in Tenbury Wells both do excellent takeaway afternoon teas).
Some parts of the walk are steep especially going down into the valley; these paths can get muddy and slippery in colder months so wellies or hiking boots are a must. At the bottom of the valley is the River Lugg, and there are steps leading to it perfect for having a paddle in on a warmer day. You can also take a short detour to the Riverside at Aymestrey from this point.
If you are looking for a moderate, feel-good walk that covers a decent distance, this is it.
*Booking is required to visit Croft Castle.
Laura Bradley is a Shropshire-based blogger. Find her on Instagram.