Malcolm Saville's Shropshire

Our recent trip to Shropshire was an excellent opportunity to visit a few literary haunts including exploring Malcolm Saville's Shropshire and visiting more of the Mary Webb trail, which we started last Autumn.

Malcolm Saville wrote many series of books but probably his most famous series is the Lone Pine series. The Lone Pine books commence in Shropshire, although later novels take the reader to Sussex, Devon, Yorkshire and London. I loved all of these books as a child and they are still amongst my favourite "comfort reading" today.

The opening chapter of Mystery at Witchend, the first Lone Pine book, sees the family, without Mr Morton who has been called up, arriving at Shrewsbury. It's 1942 and the Morton family is evacuating from London to Shropshire and an isolated house in the hills.

The hills in the books are the Long Mynd and Stiperstones and the Morton's first glimpse of Shropshire is aided with a description from a fellow traveller. "We've got everything (in Shropshire) mountains, moors, streams and rivers and waterfalls, and on the Long Mynd, where you are going, there are hidden valleys with wild ponies in the bracken and heather and little dark brooks..... The Long Mynd is smooth and rolling. It's wild and lonesome but the Stiperstones, way over the other side, are rugged and cruel...."
Wild water lillies at a pool on the Long Mynd
We drove from Much Wenlock over the Long Mynd, stopping to stroll and enjoy the pools, ponies and heather. We picnicked next to a pool with wild water lilies - bliss - and imagined all the Lone Piners - David, Peter, Dickie and Mary, Tom and Jenny - exploring and having adventures. Well, at least I did and Chris played along!
The rolling hills of the Lond Mynd

After lunch we continued on to Church Stretton (Onnybrook in the novels). Passing Carding Mill which is Hatchholt Reservoir and home to Petronella (Peter) of the books.
The reservoir

Malcolm Savile carried on to complete 20 Lone Pine novels, the majority of them set in Shropshire although a couple of my absolute favourites are set in Saville's native Sussex. In the Shropshire books there are adventures on the Stipersones and the Devil's Chair - Lone Pine Five; Clun Castle in the Secret of Grey Walls and Downton Gorge and Leintwardine in the Secret of the Gorge.

After a couple of days following in Saville's footsteps I'm looking forward to an extended Lone Pine re-reading session.