An easy drive up the A5 from Shrewsbury, you come to the new by-pass developed to make Nesscliffe a quieter place. At the first roundabout, take the old road signed for Nesscliffe.
After entering the village; you will see The Old Three Pigeons Inn on the left and a lane directly across the road on the right. If you by chance had a thirst or needed a bite to eat The Old Three Pigeons is an interesting stop. It has been dated back to the 1400’s and been reputed to be a watering hole of the highwayman Kynaston.
Almost immediately after making the turn is a gate and your first approach to the park by way of a deep walking track, but there is no parking at this point, so it is advisable to go approximately ½ mile up the narrow lane and use the first of 2 car parks for the site. You will find the car park on your right and a map of the area is located by the gate to the woods.. From this spot you can walk to the famous caves of Kynaston and his loyal horse Beelzebub or walk to the ancient hill fort.
In the springtime and early summer as soon as you set foot on the path you are hit by bluebells and then with the amazing wild purple of the natural rhododendron clinging and climbing wildly up the sandstone outcrop.
The park consists mainly of sandstone and was extensively quarried and supplied stone for many of the area buildings and churches.
The word Ness means ridge in Old English. Wild Humphrey Kynaston lived from 1474-1534 and started his life at Myddle Castle and was considered gentry, but he soon got himself into troubles which lead to him being ostracized and so he began his life as an outlaw. It is said that Humphrey was “wild” before he became an outlaw and it was his outrageous behaviour which got him into frequent troubles. His outlaw status started in 1491 by Henry VII declaring such, after he was found guilty of a murder.
Leaving Myddle Castle, he sought refuge on Nesscliffe Rock with his trusty steed Beelzebub. During his adventures, he and his horse managed to outmanoeuvre his assailants and always came back to the caves which they shared. At one point at Montford Bridge his potential captors tried removing the wooden slats of the bridge with to prevent him from to crossing the River Severn. However Beelzebub was a courageous horse and succeeded in jumping the road block and once again saving his master!
Today the caves can be seen by walking these footpaths. The old sandstone steps can still be seen, but they are not advisable to climb due to the wear and tear of the years. Wooden steps have now been constructed for ease of access. Please note it is not possible at the current time to enter the caves.
Humphrey’s reign of stealing from the rich to give to the poor lasted from 1491-1518.
In 1518 Henry VIII pardoned Kynaston and he lived the remainder of his life quite sedately until his death in 1534.
Also in this section of the hill you can find a footpath to the ancient hill fort. Walking these paths, you can imagine how easily you could hide in the conifers and ferns and walk silently on the paths of pine needles and red sand. This part of the country park, although interesting has limitations for those with unsteady walking or small children as the paths can be challenging, especially in bad weather. The easiest path is to keep to that which runs parallel to the road.
The signboard in the car park states the lengths of the paths and directions by various colours. The green trail is the shortest and takes about 1 ½ hours, is a woodland walk and takes in Kynaston’s Cave, the hill fort(approximately 2000+ years old) and a spectacular viewpoint towards Wales.
The red route is for cyclists, horses and walkers.
The orange trail takes about 3-4 hours and includes woods, fields, cliffs and quarries and heath land.
Some routes are designated solely for walkers, others for cyclists and horses. From the first car park it would be difficult to use a push chair, a walking stick/ walker due to the many protruding tree trunks and roots and in bad weather is can get quite muddy, sturdy supportive footwear is advised.
The footpath routes can lead to the villages Great Ness, Little Ness, and Ruyton.
The country park has three distinct areas-Nesscliffe Hill (on Nesscliffe Hill is a common called Shruggs Common which is approximately ¼ acre and is reputed to be the smallest common in Shropshire and possibly England), Hopton Hill, and The Cliffe.