Phil Revell

Blists Hill Circuit
A traffic free route to Blists Hill Open Air Museum, taking in the Tile Museum, Coalport China Museum, Inclined Plane and other sights.
NB The direct route to Blists Hill is on busy roads all the way and involves a two hundred metre section with no footway (up Legges Way), meaning that walkers must use the roadway. This is a narrow road with poor driver visibility and I strongly recommend that walkers do not take the road route.
Route Information
5.2 miles, 8.3 km return (2.9/4.6 to Blists Hill only)
Easy walk on good paths to the Open Air Museum. On the return there are some steep downhill steps. Can be muddy in places.
At a moderate pace this should take approximately one hour 45 mins.
Either pay the fee and park in the main Ironbridge car park south of the bridge, or use the free overflow car parks near Blists Hill and Coalport, which are on this walk route. There is also limited free parking near to the Boat Inn at Jackfield and next to the
Shakespeare Inn in Coalport.
Public toilets – Ironbridge, Jackfield, Coalport, Blists Hill.

Walk instructions start on the Ironbridge, but this is a circular walk, so you could begin at any point.

With your back to the church, walk off the Ironbridge and turn left through the car park. Take the clear bridleway out of the far end of the car park, following the route of the old Severn valley railway line. Follow this track under a road bridge and past the Black Swan pub, crossing the road at the old railway sidings.
Keep straight ahead, Turning left into Jackfield at the road junction. The obviously renovated house on your right is the old school. The next building is the Tile museum (well worth a visit). Do not take the broad road ahead, but slip left down Church Road past the community hall and Jackfield church. At the end of this cul-de-sac take the steep footpath down towards the river.

In the 1950s a geological slip caused many houses in Jackfield to collapse into the river. The switchback nature of the footpath at this point testifies to the constant ground movement.
After 100 metres you exit onto a roadway. Take a left turn towards the river then walk through the car park car park of the Half Moon Inn. You may park here if you intend to use the inn as a customer.

Walk between the gap behind the Inn and then past cottages. Note the house numbers, at one time there were hundreds of houses in Jackfield. Exit by another old building. This is another tile works, now used as a craft centre. There are toilets here.

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Walk ahead, keeping the old tile works on your right until you walk onto Ferry Road. A ‘free’ bridge replaced the river ferry after the First World War. The pub here is regularly inundated by floodwater, see the high water marks on a panel to the right of the pub’s main door (picture (right) taken in the floods of 2001, credit: Shropshire Pubs).

Cross the footbridge. The Hay inclined plane is ahead of you, as is the Tar Tunnel. Boats from the Shropshire canal above were lowered down this plane and the goods transferred into river ‘trows’ for the journey downstream. The Tar Tunnel is an old ‘adit’, a horizontal mine entrance.

Turn right alongside a short section of disused canal. Cross the small iron footbridge. The Coalport China museum (also worth a visit) is to your right, along with the Youth Hostel and a café. There is free parking next to the Shakespeare Inn, a hundred yards to your left.

From the small footbridge walk up to the road and cross, taking a tiny footpath between bushes, then turn right towards a gated car park used as a free overspill car park in summer. A clear footpath to your right (may be hidden if there are lots of cars) leads up out of the car park towards the Silkin Way.

Turn left onto the Silkin Way (another old railway line), go under the inclined plane and follow the track up the hill. At one point you go through an old tunnel.
Keep on the track, which now runs alongside Legges Way. There is another free overflow car park at this point (across Legges Way to your left).
A hundred metres ahead is the Blists Hill museum site.

You can return by the same route, or try this alternative (with some steep sections and steps).

Return Route
Retrace your steps until you are about 25metres away from the old railway tunnel.
Take a clear left up some steps to the Blists Hill staff car park and suppliers’ entrance.
Leave the car park, crossing the road with care, over to the houses to your left. Thread your way between the houses to the right, and up a waymarked path alongside one property’s garden fence.
After 50 metres there is a junction of paths. Ignore left and right alternatives and take the path ahead, which immediately descends steeply down a series of wooden steps.

At the bottom, turn right onto a broad track for approximately one hundred yards. At the next division of paths go right on a track which climbs gently into the woods. Stay on this path as it winds through the woods until you descend steeply towards the road.
Cross the road with care and turn right alongside the river bank with a great view of the new bridge.
Cross the main road by the bridge, keeping the river to your left. Continue alongside the river for about 75 metres until you have passed both pubs.
Cross the road and walk across a small grassed area to take a clear footpath that climbs to the top of Bedlam Furnaces. At the top you keep on the path, there is a children’s park to your right, then exit next to new houses back onto the road.
Cross again and after a few yards (opposite the car park entrance) take some steps down to the river (not possible if the river is in flood, in which case follow the road pavement into Ironbridge).
Follow the riverside footpath under the Ironbridge, turning right to walk up onto the bridge and back to your starting point.

Timing:
Allow a full day if you intend to visit the museums en route.
The walk takes 1hr45 mins

Museums:
For each museum allow:
Jackfield Tile Museum. 1hr
Coalport China Museum. 1hr. 30mins
Blists Hill Open Air Museum. 2-4 hrs.
These times are approximate. You could easily spend more time in each of these museums.

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