In a Nutshell
Managed by the National Trust, a stunning valley location that gives you the option to take on both short and longer, more challenging walks, or simply soak up the scenery and play with pup in the shallow streams. Take a picnic amongst the sheep and ponies, or refuel in the cafe.
Parking and Pooping
Cardin Mill Valley nestles in the Shropshire hills behind the town of Church Stretton. You get a sense of the dramatic and beautiful scenery as you approach along the A49, either from Shrewsbury to the north, or Ludlow to the south. The valley has a magical feel, turning in from the back roads in Church Stretton passed the local houses, the road suddenly opens up to reveal the valley in front of you and the shallow river meandering down through the parking area.
Be warned, this is a popular place especially on weekends, with many people just parking up to sit by the river, so the car park gets full quickly (£5.50 charge all day, free for NT members). The other options are to park in Church Stretton about 15 mins walk away, or if you intend a longer walk anyway, choose one of the alternative car parks nearer the top of the valley and walk down from there. The main car park does however give you the easiest access to the flatter parts of the valley and the toilet and café amenities.
From the car park, you walk up the wide road passed the café and toilets on good tarmac. This gives way to gravel tracks and eventually mud and rock paths as you make your way up the valley. There are a number of routes you can take, some steeper and narrower than others. Use the bridges if you want to keep your paws dry, but other routes will require you to ford the shallow streams so good waterproof footwear is recommended. We recommend checking the local map signs and perhaps talking to one of the NT volunteers to plan out your route to suit you.
We find that whilst crowded around the café area, the numbers soon thin out as you walk up the valley as many just choose to sit by the river close to the car park. One of the unique features of the valley is the number of sheep and ponies who graze quite happily amongst the crowds. keep this in mind when considering whether pup needs to be on a lead or not.
If you are planning a longer walk, then please do prepare properly with correct footwear, clothing and maps. The weather can change quickly in the hills and you don't want to be caught out.
Keeping the Humans Amused
This is a well known and visited beauty spot, and you tend to get two types of visitors - those out for a good stiff walk in the hills, and those looking for a picturesque picnic spot that's easily accessible. Do check the National Trust website for events being held throughout the year as these can make for very busy visits. (Rubber) duck racing was on when we visited last!
The National Trust café here is quite spacious and has the usual selection of cakes and light bites. Ice cream sales are popular in the summer and a separate counter is set up to deal with the demand to avoid the main counter getting bogged down. There is also a roof top veranda to sit out on and take in the views on a sunny day.
Tried & Tested
National Trust Tearoom - selection of cakes and light bites at reasonable prices, dog friendly inside
The Holly Bush Cafe, Church Stretton - nice breakfast and hot food options, dog friendly inside
Last Visit: Mar 2023