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Twelve of the Best: Walks of Legend and Folklore

Britain has a rich and colourful past. In a country with a long history of human activity, dramatic and varied landscapes and changeable climate, there is no wonder that this past includes so many fanciful tales of legend and folklore. Discover classic tales of knights, outlaws, dragons, wizards, giants, fairies, the devil and even a monstrous horse with these twelve iFootpath Walking Guides…

 

20150812 Legends of Stiperstones Ridge DragonSince prehistory, when humans began sharing stories and trying to explain the curious happenings around them, tales of legend, folklore and myth began to develop. There is no doubt that stories of good versus evil make compelling and strangely reassuring tales, ideal for building societal morals and a sense of right and wrong. Even with the age of science and rationality now shining light onto the reality of the previously unexplained, many of us still have a soft spot for this important part of Britain’s heritage.

The devil, poor chap, takes more than his fair share of the blame for the shape of our landscape. If you see a large depression in the ground, the devil is usually blamed for scooping out a handful of earth whilst in one of his regular rages, then hurling it to create a nearby hillside. If it wasn’t the devil himself at work, then it was often thought to be one of his army of demons, giants and beasts. On the other side of the coin are a huge number of heroic figures. Hundreds of saints and lords were kept busy in stopping the devil’s deeds at every turn, outwitting him with guile and cunning.

Some heroes have the sort of staying power that modern celebrities can only dream of. Robin Hood gained true legendary status, an outlaw that won the hearts of the people to become the figurehead for the triumph of good over evil. This lovable outlaw and his band of Merry Men were praised for robbing the rich to give to the poor, outwitting the evil Sheriff of Nottingham. King Arthur and his knights had their hands full with more magical adversaries. Wizards, warlocks and dragons are not enemies suited to the faint-hearted and have also left their mark on our countryside if these tales are to be believed.

Alongside these battles of good and evil, live a whole range of creatures that largely keep themselves to themselves, but spark huge speculation as to the probability of their existence. Sightings of the water-dwelling Loch Ness Monster and the panther-like Beast of Bodmin Moor continue to fuel such debates, whilst fairies, pixies and goblins are seldom glimpsed but have an important place in our history….

The Devil’s Dyke and Poynings, West Sussex

A 3 mile circular walk taking in Devil’s Dyke, the South Downs Way and the small village of Poynings. There are stunning panoramic views as you explore the longest, deepest and widest dry valley in the UK. Discover the battle between the Devil and St Cuthman that resulted in this geological spectacle. Read more…

The Legends of Stiperstones Ridge, Shropshire

A 3 mile circular walk taking in Stiperstones Ridge in Shropshire, a quartzite ridge formed around 500 million years ago. The walk is a must if you are in the area on a clear day, revealing spectacular geology, impressive panoramic views, wildlife-rich upper heathland and a wealth of myths and legends. Dragon fans will particularly love this walk. Read more…

kingarthurBodmin Moor and Cheesewring, Cornwall

A 3.5 mile fairly strenuous circular walk on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. The walk starts from Minions, the highest village in Cornwall, and heads out onto Bodmin Moor. The moor gives you the wild exposed landscape you might expect and the route takes you up and over the granite rocks to reach the famous rock formation of Cheesewring, before returning through the moor where you’ll see plenty of evidence of the copper mining that once thrived here. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for the famous Beast of Bodmin Moor and learn about the saint vs giant rock-throwing contest that took place here. Read more…

Tintagel and Barras Nose, Cornwall

A 3.5 mile circular walk along the coastline at Tintagel on the north Cornish coast. The cliff top route will give you spectacular views across this section of the Atlantic coast and of course you’ll also be able to enjoy the famous local myths and legends. The village and Tintagel Castle are associated with the legends surrounding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Read more…

Glenashdale Waterfall, Isle of Arran

A 3 mile circular walk from Whiting Bay on the Isle of Arran. The walk has a climb up to the Giants' Graves, two chambered cairns with fantastic views over Whiting Bay and Holy Island. The walk then continues to reach a viewing platform for the Glenashdale Falls (also known as Eas a’ Chrannaigand) then returns through an enchanted wooded glen. Read more…

Backford Hill and Mordiford, Herefordshire

A 4 mile circular walk around the northern part of the Wye Valley taking in Backbury Hill, the pretty Pentaloe Brook and the village of Mordiford. Mordiford is best known for the legend of its dragon which was said to drink from the confluence of the Rivers Lugg and Wye and you will see a dragon symbol on many of the waymarks along the way. Read more…

robin hoodNottingham’s Heroes and Legends plus Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

A 4 mile circular trail through the heart of Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of Robin Hood. The walk will give you chance to see the Major Oak, the forest’s most famous landmark, as well as many of the other ancient majestic oak trees which populate the area. Read more…

A 2 mile circular walk in Nottingham city centre discovering the heroes and legends associated with the city. Alongside Nottingham Castle you will have chance to meet Robin Hood and several of his Merry Men. Read more…

Vale of Pewsey and the Giant’s Grave, Wiltshire

A 5 mile circular walk from Pewsey Wharf in Wiltshire. This particularly rewarding walk begins with a peaceful stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal, before climbing gradually and then more steeply to reach Oare Hill within the Marlborough Downs. Here you will find the Giant’s Grave, an ancient burial long barrow with a charming local legend. Read more…

The Pheasant and Reigate Heath, Surrey

A 3 mile circular pub walk from the Pheasant at Buckland, near Reigate in Surrey. The Pheasant is a classic old coaching inn, providing relaxed comfortable surroundings for refreshments before or after your walk. The walking route explores the adjoining Reigate Heath, a wonderful section of mixed woodland and heath, taking in a windmill and a stream which is home to a monstrous creature of legend. Read more…

Steyning and Chanctonbury, West Sussex

An 8.5 mile ramble in the South Downs, starting from the charming town of Steyning and taking in a long stretch of the South Downs Way with amazing views all the way to the coast. Along the way there’s chance to explore the legends of Chanctonbury Ring as well as visit the local pub in Washington village. Read more…

fairy 2164638 640Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove, North Yorkshire

A 5 mile circular walk from the village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire. The route takes you through classic limestone scenery and visits three iconic sites – the waterfall of Janet’s Foss, the steep gorge of Gordale Scar and the beautiful limestone pavement and impressive natural cove of Malham Cove. One of the landmarks is home to the Queen of the Fairies whilst the other has connections with a famous wizard. Read more...

Spires and Steeples Part 3: Metheringham to Ruskington, Lincolnshire

An 8 mile linear walk from Metheringham to Ruskington, forming the third part of the Spires and Steeples Trail in Lincolnshire. The route leads you through a variety of villages, both large and small, with plenty of beautiful stone cottages, impressive churches, streams, old stone crosses, artworks and sculptures to enjoy. Discover how the Dorrington Demons shaped the layout of one of these pretty villages. Read more…

We hope you enjoy discovering this rich world of legends and folklore.

7 July 2018

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