Shropshire (in our humble opinion) is one of England’s finest counties. Old market towns and pretty villages nestle in its lush, rolling countryside and there are so many fascinating places to visit. If you’re planning a holiday in Shropshire, let us make a few recommendations. Here are a few of our favourite places, all within easy reach of Lion Quays.
Let’s start with our local town, Oswestry. Today’s town is a lively mix of old markets and new independent shops – but our historic home dates back over 3,000 years, and you can visit the well-preserved Iron Age hill fort of Old Oswestry. Parking is about a quarter mile away, then it’s a steep walk up to the top of the fort. Reward your efforts with a trip to one of Oswestry’s thirty hostelries.
Offa’s Dyke, the famous Anglo Saxon earthwork, runs along the border between England and Wales, accompanied these days by a National Trail path. We’re not suggesting that you attempt the full 177 miles during your holiday; however, you can try the 4.5 mile circular walk from Oswestry Old Racecourse, which takes in fields and woodland as well as Offa’s Dyke itself.
Once the heart of the Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge Gorge is now a World Heritage Site with an award-winning collection of museums. Find out how people used to live and work, and cross the Severn on the world’s first cast iron bridge. Explore Enginuity, the hands-on engineering centre that is fab for kids, or stroll through the recreated Victorian town of Blists Hill (we recommend the traditional chippy!). Pick and mix from the menu of attractions – allow at least a day if you want to visit them all.
And now for our engineering heritage in action. It really wouldn’t be a trip to Shropshire without a trip on the Severn Valley Railway. Ride through some of the county’s most beautiful scenery in nostalgic comfort – it’s also a pretty handy way of exploring Shropshire without having to drive! For a special treat, book dinner in the dining car or spend a decadent evening on the Gin Train (and we’re talking artisan cocktails served in the First Class carriage here, not tinned Mojitos).
Stokesay Castle is a beautifully preserved fortified medieval house now cared for by English Heritage. It’s a short drive from Ludlow, set in a postcard-perfect countryside. It has a really good audio guide. Also, check out their events programme before you visit as you may catch one of their historical walking tours. Most importantly, there’s a cracking little café.
Don’t put that English Heritage pass away yet: delve further into Shropshire’s past with a trip to Wroxeter Roman City near Shrewsbury. Named Viriconium by its Roman occupants, Wroxter was the fourth largest Roman city in Britain. Visitors can explore the remains of the city’s bathhouse and visit a reconstructed town house to find out what life was like in Roman Britain. There’s also a fascinating museum.
Ludlow is another of Shropshire’s much-loved old market towns. It’s home to an astonishing 500 plus listed buildings, including the famous half-timbered Feathers Hotel. The eleventh-century castle is a must-see while you’re in Ludlow. Otherwise, the nicest thing to do is simply explore its lovely old streets, admiring the architecture and searching out food and drink (Ludlow definitely deserves its reputation as a foodie’s town).
Time for the kids to let off some steam? Try Park Hall Countryside Experience which is in Whittington, near Oswestry. There’s a wide range of activities here, including indoor and outdoor play and friendly farm animals to meet. There are also four museums, tractor rides, and various driving activities for kids. We like the animals the best - ever watched pig racing before? Now’s your chance…
Shropshire’s county town is a lovely place to spend time meandering through its old streets or walking along the river. Shrewsbury has plenty of places to shop, eat and drink, and explore - the museum and gallery and the military museum in the castle are great places to visit! For a laid-back afternoon, take a boat trip down the Severn followed by a picnic in The Quarry Riverside Park.
The Royal Airforce Museum Cosford tells the story of the RAF – as you’d imagine, the exhibits are on an impressive scale! Entry is free, although you may have to pay for some of their special events. Have a look at their programme; it ranges from “open cockpit” weekends to live theatre.
Have we reached ten already? We could easily go on! If you’d like to know more about Shropshire, please get in touch with us at Lion Quays. We’re always happy to chat about our lovely county, and recommend days out and events.