I used to live in the English county of Shropshire on the border with Wales. The county’s principal town is Shrewsbury and it is built next to the River Severn. The land around Shrewsbury is very flat and the river often floods the area leaving all the fields under water. But there are two hills in the middle of the flat area, near the town of Wellington: one larger one, and a smaller one very close by. The large hill is called the Wrekin.
There is a story about how the Wrekin was formed.
A giant* with a grudge against the people of Shrewsbury decided to flood the town and kill all its inhabitants. He collected a huge shovel full of earth and set off towards the town. When he was on the outskirts of Wellington the giant met a cobbler returning home from Shrewsbury market. The cobbler was carrying a large sack full of shoes for mending. The giant asked the cobbler for directions to Shrewsbury, adding that he was going to empty his shovel full of earth in the River Severn to flood the town.
"It's a very long way to Shrewsbury," replied the quick-witted cobbler. "Look at all these shoes I've worn out walking back from there!"
The giant decided to abandon his idea and he dumped the earth on the ground beside him where it became the Wrekin. He also scraped the mud off his boots, and this smaller pile became Ercall Hill nearby.
Because people travelling across the flat area have to go around the Wrekin to get to their destination, the saying “all around the Wrekin” has developed to mean taking the long way around.
*The giant was called Gwendol Wrekin ap Shenkin ap Mynyddmawr. This is a name in the Welsh language that means Gwendol Wrekin, son of Shenkin, grandson of Big Mountain.
used to - shows that something happened in the past but is no longer true.
county - a division of the area in the country. Counties are the largest units of local government in the UK. Every county usually consists of several towns and some rural area.
border - the boundary between two areas or countries. The border between Chile and Argentina is very long.
Wales - the country in the UK to the West of England
floods - fills with water.
giant - a very tall person (much taller than normal people) that appears in stories.
grudge - a strong feeling of anger or dislike.
inhabitants - people or animals living in a particular place.
shovel - a tool used to move large amounts of loose materials such as sand, snow, earth or gravel by hand.
earth - the brown, heavy loose substance that the surface of the ground is covered with and plants grow in. Also known as soil.
outskirts - edge (of a town, city or other geographical area).
cobbler - a person who repairs shoes.
sack - a large bag made of cloth.
mending - repairing / fixing.
directions - instructions about how to find a particular place.
empty - to remove everything from something.
quick-witted - able to think and answer quickly.
worn out - damaged by lots of use. My shoes are worn out from playing football.
abandon - to stop doing something before you have finished it.
dumped - put down or drop suddenly or without care.
scraped - removed a layer of something (usually with another object). I’ll have to scrape the snow off the car before I can drive it.
pile - heap / a group of objects on top of each other: a pile of books, a pile of sand etc
destination - the place where they are going
developed - came into existence / was invented