Shropshire legend Reverend Edmund Donald Carr's famous route celebrated
He is infamous in local legend for getting lost in a snow storm more like something from the Antarctic than the Shropshire Hills.
More than a century and a half ago this week, the Long Mynd was covered in snow so thick the Reverend Edmund Donald Carr almost lost his life in it.
But as walkers took to the top of the hill near Church Stretton to trace the steps of the hapless vicar yesterday, there was not a snowflake to be seen in the unseasonably mild weather.
Chris Stratton, learning officer at the National Trust's base in Carding Mill Valley near the Long Mynd, dressed up as the Victorian-era local clergyman to take walkers and history buffs along the route once more, in what may now be a yearly event.
It is 151 years since Rev Carr almost lost his life to the elements in 1865, and thanks to the account he wrote the same year his ordeal has entered into local legend.
The story goes that the vicar, of Woolstaston, had to trek about five miles on foot to Ratlinghope to do an afternoon sermon, but disappeared as a fierce snowstorm hit the south Shropshire hill.
The following morning he was still missing – but was found freezing but alive in the snow, temporarily blind and having lost his shoes and gloves, by children from Carding Mill Valley who were out playing nearby.
Mr Stratton said the story was quite well known in the area, and the walk following his route over the hill had proved popular.
"Last year we did this for the 150th anniversary, and when we ventured out it was thick with snow – we only just made it to Woolstaston by minibus and then we stomped our way along his route, so it was quite fitting.
"This time it was a bit misty on top but the weather has been mild so it's been a good crossing."
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While this week's weather may be unusually mild, however, Rev Carr himself noted in his account that the thick snow he tried to walk through was also strange, with nothing like it seen since the winter of 1814, 51 years before.
The story not only gained Rev Carr a good anecdote, but also had other unforeseen benefits, Mr Stratton said.
"When he released his little booklet, A Night in The Snow, it raised enough money to pay for a new altar rails and a pulpit in his church," he said. The book was republished in 2014 for the 150th anniversary.
Rev Carr, who was born in 1831 and graduated at Cambridge, says in his introduction that he first told the tale as a lecture for the Society for the Promotion of Religious and Useful Knowledge at Bridgnorth, after which he was repeatedly asked to write his account down.
He says: "My preservation through the night of January 29 last was doubtless most wonderful, and my experience perhaps almost without precedent, in this country at least; for, though many people have at different times been lost in the snow, scarcely any one has passed through the ordeal of such a day and night as that undergone by myself, and lived to tell the tale."
Victorian artifacts, including Rev Carr's rediscovered boots lost on the night in question, are on display at Carding Mill Valley.
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