Just outside of Ludlow lies Downton Castle and the Downton Gorge nature reserve, now privately owned. Downton Castle was built in the 17th century and is well known for being in a particularly good state of repair. Although most of the nature reserve is on private land, this walk takes you along a public access route where you can see some beautiful sights including: a weir, Downton Castle itself, the river Teme and possibly, catch a glimpse of deer.
The walk I took is about 4.8 miles, and took 2 1/2 hours at a leisurely pace. Wellies or walking boots are a definite must, especially in winter as the fields and paths become quite muddy. I drove to a layby to begin this walk. From Ludlow head north on the A49 towards Shrewsbury and take the A4113 towards Leintwardine, just opposite the Ludlow Farmshop — a perfect place to have a warming coffee or hot bap before or after your walk — follow this road and take the first left turn signposted Downton Estates/Downton Lodge.
Just a couple of minutes along the road, there is a passing place with a footpath to the left and another to your right. You can park here but do it sensibly and leave enough space for other vehicles to pass. Take the footpath to your left, walk straight across the field, once over the brow of the hill there is a house in the far left corner of the field, head for it.
There is a stile, climb over and follow the path down the side of the house, which will bring you to a road. Turn left and walk down the road until you reach the bridge in front of you. On the Bridge look over and take in the stunning sights of the weir, you might even get lucky and see some salmon leaping.
Just before the bridge, take the footpath to your right as you walk. Stay on this path, the river Teme will be on your left. Just before you reach the gate, look to your right and spot the small waterfall. Go through the gate and continue up the path. Bear left at the house (do not forget to marvel at the quirky sculptures), go through the gate, then immediately through to another gate on your right. Follow the path straight ahead towards castle, keep a look out on the ground for mushrooms.
Once on the stoney track, follow the path left, taking in the sights of the castle. At the end of the track you will come to another stile, climb over and have a look at the information board, which tells you all about Downton Gorge.
Just ahead, if you look closely, you should be able to spot some caves. Turn left after the stile, up ahead to your right, there are a few abandoned buildings, past those walk along the bridge with it’s fabulous cobbled path. Over the bridge, you might be able to spot some otters (the reserve is a particularly good place to see them).
Carry on following the path through the woodland (keep an eye out for deer), you will eventually come to a signpost to your right, carry on across the field. You should see a tree in the field with a ladder up it. When you reach the end of the field, bear right until you reach the road, turn right and walk until you see a footpath sign to your left. This is where I finished my walk, looping back, following the same route.
On your return, you should get a good view of the castle through the trees, and the church on your left. If you are looking for a relatively easy hike at a good distance, this is one for you. I wish you a good adventure!
More views from Downton Castle walk
Please note: it is best to know before you go! It is recommended that you plot your route carefully and ensure you stick to paths that are accessible to the public.