Shropshire is England’s forgotten county, but it is well worth making the effort to get there. It is only three hours by train from London and there is plenty to see and do. It is primarily a rural county steeped in history bordering as it does mid Wales, from Oswestry in the northwest to Ludlow and the Hereford border in the south.
Consider staying in Shrewsbury, the capital of the county. Shrewsbury is a growing mediaeval town with a large mixture of places to stay and lots of things to see. It straddles the mighty River Severn, one of Britain’s longest rivers. The river twists and turns and revisits the town in several places. It can and still does flood some of the town occasionally and the effects of global warming have persuaded the town council to beef up the flood defences. On a mild balmy day with the river low and sleepy it seems hard to imagine that the river could ever offer a threat, but when it is angry and running, it does.
Visit the castle set beside the Victorian railway station. Shrewsbury is the home of Charles Darwin and there are reminders of their famous son throughout the town. Consider too the half timbered and ancient Rowley’s museum. To the north of the town is an area called Battle, named after the battle in the War of the Roses fought there in 1403 when thousands of men were slaughtered on both sides, the majority brought down by the English longbow. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/history/2003/02/battle_of_shrewsbury/battle_smil. shtml. Do visit the old church just north of the battlefield site where a permanent memorial is on display.
But Shropshire has much more to offer than simply the county town. In the south of the county Ludlow is a fascinating small ancient town. Katherine of Aragon was imprisoned there in the castle after Henry the eighth turned his attentions elsewhere. The castle is still in surprisingly good condition and is open most days. Countless narrow streets with many half-timbered buildings always have something to offer. Check out the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow for olde England history and charm.
Bridgnorth is a town split in two. The lower level beside the River Severn and the high town set on the escarpment that commands views along the river. Take the old steam powered Severn Valley Railway, scene of countless films and TV series, from there south towards Kidderminster and over the border into Worcestershire.
In the north of the county Ellesmere in the Shropshire Lakeland is a small town well worth a visit. Check out the canal where Thomas Telford’s masterpiece, built in 1760 runs through the town before wending its way over the border and into Wales and on to Llangollen. Oswestry in the northwest is a bustling market town and on market day you are as likely to hear Welsh being spoken as often as English. Another small town worth a visit is Much Wenlock, located on Wenlock edge, a cliff face that runs diagonally across the county. There is an ancient monastery there and quaint buildings aplenty.
For the more energetic, walking holidays across the moorland of the Long Mynd offers a surprising taste of wilderness. Stay in Church Stretton, a mecca for hill walkers. Lastly, if you still have time, try and visit Telford at Ironbridge where Thomas Telford’s bridge still stands, the first metal bridge built anywhere heralding the dawn of the industrial revolution
Shropshire is still relatively undiscovered, especially by international travellers, but it has much to commend it. The people are gentle and friendly and it is well worth the effort to get there. You can access thousands of holiday villas and cottages worldwide on my website www.pebblebeachmedia.co.uk. Enjoy your travelling!
David Carter has writen and published hundreds of articles over more years than he cares to remember. His latest work is the property management book SPLAM! Successful Property Letting And Management, a 244 page book full of insights into letting property without hassles. He currently runs three websites, SPLAM!, Homemax full of ideas for homeworkers, and Pebble Beach Media where you can access thousands of holiday cottages, villas and apartments worldwide. He has recently completed a new novel “White Flags" which should be available in the new year.