By Shropshire Star, 01 January 2019, 16:13PM
A gorgeous place to live and work, it also has so much to offer in terms of days out for visitors and locals alike.
Easy to reach from almost anywhere, like all the best places, it is still far enough away to have stayed comparatively unchanged over the years. Unspoilt, unrushed and tranquil, the county's landscape reflects the fact that it is geologically unique and creates the special habitats that ensures that Shropshire wildlife is so diverse.
All this adds up to making Shropshire great walking country.
And the list goes on . . . with craft centres, galleries, shops and markets, and some of the most beautiful remains of abbeys/priories, teamed with stately homes and churches. Within these timeless landscapes there are charming market towns, each having its own distinctive character, be it Ellesmere, Market Drayton, Oswestry, Bishop’s Castle, Ludlow, Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth. Among enticing streets and alleyways, you will find antique and craft shops, inns and teashops rubbing shoulders with traditional grocers, butchers and bakers.
So whether you’re seeking horticultural sanctuary or historical stimulation, amusement or distraction, Shropshire has something for everyone, and we mustn’t forget our National Trust and English Heritage properties of course.
In the very heart of Shropshire lies the county town of Shrewsbury, one of the finest medieval towns in England, and to the east – in the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge – the 10 museums of the Ironbridge Gorge celebrate the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
For those much needed breaks, many of us holiday along the coast and in the countryside of beautiful Mid Wales. You can see dolphins off Cardigan Bay, cycle down country lanes or stroll through one of Mid Wales’s market towns to discover their delightful independent shops and great places to eat and drink. Fabulous festivals and big annual events also attract visitors in their thousands.Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are guaranteed a great day out!
Telford Town Park
Telford Town Park is always a great place to take the family to for an enjoyable day out - and it’s free! It has five play areas including a trim trail, spider's web climbing frame, rocket slide and toddlers sand pit area. There is also an play area with wheelchair access, an aerial ropes course, a mini golf adventure course, seasonal water play, fishing pools, learning zones, nature and heritage trails, a sensory garden, a local nature reserve, Telford Cycle Centre, the superb Wonderland, a visitor centre with a snack bar, floral gardens and a packed events programme!
The strikingly picturesque and romantic ruins of Whittington Castle, near Oswestry, are steeped in much history, tales of bitter border warfare, romance and legend. It hosts events and has a tea room and bookshop.
A small village community acquired a 99 year lease to manage the Castle that sits in the village centre. The Trust is delighted to announce that a £1.5m project to repair and restore Whittington Castle has been completed with the assistance of a £950k grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Picturesque Bridgnorth is split into Low Town, on the edge of the River Severn and High Town, being conveniently connected by the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway. On the very peak of High Town are the remains of the Bridgnorth Castle, next to St Mary Magdalene Church, and in the centre of the High Street is the seventeenth century Bridgnorth Town Hall. Also located in the High Street is the Northgate Museum, while on branching streets visitors will find many other historic buildings such as Bishop Percy’s House.
With over 700 years of history, Chirk Castle is the last castle from this period still lived in today, with its many occupants leaving behind lavish interiors and a beautiful and eclectic collection. The state rooms include a 17th-century Long Gallery, grand 18th-century saloon with rich tapestries, servants’ hall, and the restored East Range, containing the library and 1920s style Bow Room showing off Chirk Castle’s connections to high society. The award-winning gardens cover 5.5 acres.
Built for the first Lord Berwick in 1785, Attingham Hall and its beautiful parkland were owned by one family for more than 160 years. As their fortunes rose and fell they proved themselves to be spenders, savers and saviours - providing a fascinating story of love and neglect whose mark still stands in Attingham’s rooms today. Enjoy seeing everything from the flashy but flawed Picture Gallery roof that contributed to the bankruptcy of the second Lord Berwick, to the prized paintings of the cattle that the fifth Lord loved.
The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Church Stretton features hills, rolling farmland, woods and river valleys in a varied and special landscape which is rich in geology and wildlife and ingrained with heritage. Off the beaten track and tranquil, this is a living, working place, loved by locals and visitors alike for its quality of environment, for walking and activities of all levels, and for relaxation and inspiration.
The Battlefield Falconry Centre in Shrewsbury has a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy.
There are over 30 different birds of prey to see including some wonderful species of owls, falcons and hawks. All of the birds are provided with the highest accommodation and they are cared for in a beautiful environment with spectacular surroundings. The centre is aiming to make it the number one attraction in Shropshire for a falconry centre of its kind.
Telford Ski Slope is next to the Madeley Court Sports Centre on the outskirts of Madeley, Telford. There are two dry slopes: an 85-metre main slope with draglift and a nursery slope. Open practice is available for all those who can turn, stop, and use the lift. A range of lessons are available: “Tinies” is for children aged 3-5; “White Tigers” is a fun coaching session for ages 6-15; the adult ski school is suitable for beginners to advanced; daytime ski schools are for the over 50s; snowboard lessons for ages 8+; and family lessons and race training.
If ice skating is more your kind of thing, there are hours of fun to be had at Telford Ice Rink at Quentin Gate. You can practice your skills on the rink that have been used by Dancing on Ice stars Beth Tweddle and Lukasz Rozycki, not to mention the all-conquering Telford Tigers ice hockey team.
Hoo Farm is a family-run countryside attraction nestling in 32 acres of woodland and paddocks in the heart of rural Shropshire. The small zoo offers a fun day out for all the family with a strong message about conservation.
The farm at Preston on the Weald Moors, near Telford, is possibly 200 years old, and, over the years has been a dairy farm, Christmas tree nursery an award winning farm attraction.
However, most of all it has been a happy home to the Dorrell family since 1988.
The Bog Visitor Centre in the shadow of the Stiperstones, is a gas-lit Victorian former school which is one of the few remaining buildings of a lost lead and barytes mining village.
The Bog mine once had 200 buildings and featured an amazing aerial ropeway. It is set in a legendary geological landscape and noted in folklore for the exploits of Wild Edric. The centre is staffed by local helpers who are always happy to share their knowledge of the area with nearly 20,000 visitors each year. It reopens in March.
Britain’s foremost collection of pop culture ephemera, obscure and ordinary objects from the pre-digital era, The Land of Lost Content in Craven Arms is an independent museum containing Britain’s foremost collection of pop culture ephemera, obscure objects and ordinary things from the pre digital era. Belonging to eccentric artist and compulsive obsessive collector Stella Mitchell and collectors of design history, the Hemingway family, the Land of Lost Content is used as Hemingway Design’s personal design archive.
Always a hit with the kids, the Severn Valley Railway is a full-size standard-gauge railway line, running regular, mainly steam-hauled, passenger trains between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth in Shropshire, a distance of approximately sixteen miles.
A remarkable feature of the railway is that it is very largely run by unpaid volunteers, with a paid staff of around 70 people responsible for administration and commercial activities, plus regular track and rolling stock maintenance.
Lakeside Plant and Garden Centre - often called the “Best Kept Secret in Telford” is also home to a dedicated Exotic Zoo, which is home to a range of unusual animals who would otherwise have been homeless. It is very popular with schools and families who visit to feed the animals which included wallabies, mara, kuni kuni pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, pygmy goats, chickens and ducks.
Hawkstone Park Follies
The Hawkstone Park Follies is an historic woodland fantasy with cliffs, crags, caves, deep woods and a series of extraordinary monuments built over 200 years ago. After years of neglect the magical landscape was lovingly restored and reopened in 1993. Parts of the park and the main walking routes contains several flights of steps, some natural ones carved into rock and some man made wooden ones. The venue, which also has cafe, is set to reopen in February.
Shrewsbury has its own 29-acre parkland known as The Quarry. Throughout the year you’ll find a host events taking place at The Quarry Park, including The Carnival, Shrewsbury Regatta and Dragon Boat Racing to name just a few.
At its centre lies The Dingle, a formal floral masterpiece created by world renowned gardener Percy Thrower of Blue Peter fame - during his 28 years as its parks superintendent.
With a world-class collection and display of aircraft, integrated with special exhibitions, films, interactive displays, artwork, engines, missiles, photographs, medals and uniforms and research and education facilities, RAF Museum Cosford takes an innovative approach to telling the stories of the history of the RAF, while keeping with tradition. Free to enter, it tells the story of the people who moulded the world of aviation from the daredevil early aviators to wartime heroes and the thousands of ordinary Service men and women who serve today.
A big draw to families, The Telford Steam Railway is a heritage railway located at Horsehay, Telford in Shropshire, England, formed in 1976. The railway is operated by volunteers on Sundays and Bank Holidays from Easter to the end of September, and at Christmas.
The Old Oswestry Hill Fort was built and occupied during the Iron Age (800BC to AD43) and is one of the best-preserved hillforts in Britain. During this period Britain was divided into numerous tribal territories, and the hillfort was probably a stronghold and principal settlement for one of these. A fine example of a ‘multi-vallate’ or multiple rampart hillfort, it is one of a dense band of hillforts in eastern Wales and the Marches. It remained in use for almost 1,000 years.
Popular with walkers of all ages and abilities, The Wrekin rises south of Wellington as a well-known landmark. It has fantastic views, a challenging but manageable climb and beautiful natural surroundings close to town, and is understandably popular.
Car parking is available at the Forest Glen.
The Wrekin can also be reached by a longer walk from Wellington through the Ercall woods, or from Little Wenlock or Ironbridge.
Founded in about 1148, Lilleshall Abbey is an Augustinian abbey that became a private residence after the Reformation, and was severely damanged during the Civil War during a Parliamentarian siege. Despite that, much of the church survives, and is viewable from gallery level. There is also a lavishly sculpted processional door and other cloister buildings. You can enjoy a picnic in this peaceful spot while admiring the elaborate stone carving.
Situated in the estate’s 18th century Home Farm buildings, Acton Scott’s Historic Working Farm near Church Stretton is a wonderful visitor attraction for all the family to enjoy. Conceived by Thomas Acton more than a generation ago to keep alive the 19th century farming practices he grew up with, the farm was the first of its kind and has been much copied since. Tom’s foresight has helped to preserve many traditions that might otherwise have been lost to modern day farming techniques.
Covering as much as 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of heather-covered hills with stunning views of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Welsh hills, Carding Mill Valley is an important place for wildlife, geology and archaeology. There are paths for walking, cycling and horse riding, you can even drive to the top of the hill to take in the views. In Carding Mill Valley there are excellent visitor facilities including a tea-room, shop and car parking.
Reopened at the old Music Hall in April 2014, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery tells the stories that make Shropshire unique through its amazing galleries: Roman Gallery, Shropshire Gallery, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart Galleries and the Special Exhibition Gallery. You can explore millions of years of history through over one thousand remarkable objects in the extraordinary set of buildings that house the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
Stokesay Castle is the finest and best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. On a visit you can discover the great hall, unchanged for over 700 years, Spot characters carved in the timbers of the 17th-century gatehouse and climb to the top of a fairy-tale tower for breathtaking views of the Shropshire Hills.
Stokesay Castle was constructed at the end of the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England.
A must for the green-fingered, Dorothy Clive Gardens, near Market Drayton, are informal and inspiring. Located in the woodland quarter close to the Shropshire and the Cheshire borders, this lovely garden has delights and surprises whatever the season. There are many areas of diverse interest within this 12-acre, hillside garden. These include a new winter garden, an edible woodland, a woodland quarry with waterfall, an alpine scree and pool, rose walk and amazing seasonal borders.
Dudmaston Hall, near Bridgnorth, has an enchanting wooded parkland, sweeping gardens and a beautiful house. A much-loved home for over 875 years, you will find the family rooms scattered with photos. The galleries create a total contrast, with their formal, crisp lines. The gardens provide amazing vistas and tranquillity while the orchard is the perfect place to relax and for the children to let off steam. From the Big Pool and Dingle Woods you can enjoy stunning views.
In Ellesmere you can enjoy a gentle stroll overlooking The Mere, watch the many water birds that flock there and relax over tea and cake in the historic Boathouse. The Mere at Ellesmere is an award winning park with a beautiful lake with gardens, woodland walks and historic parkland on the edge of the medieval market town of Ellesmere. It is the largest of nine meres and mosses that can be found in the unique Shropshire landscape.
Lovely, gentle walks can be enjoyed for free in Apley Woods in Telford. The original Apley Castle still stands today adjacent to the west side of the woods. Built around 1270, It has undergone numerous alterations during its history and was even surrounded by its own moat. This Grade 2* listed castle was renovated in 1996 and is now eight privately owned properties. There are four information panels around the woods. Eachis designed to help you find your way around, giving points of historic interest and suggested routes.
Severn Valley Country Park
The Green Flag award-winning Severn Valley Country Park at Alveley has 126 acres of beautiful accessible countryside.
It has regular team-led activities for kids, and safe, fun play ground for the kids to let off steam. You can explore the park on one of the self-led walks and cycle paths, or enjoy a horse ride on the surfaced paths and public bridleways. To top off your visit you can enjoy a drink and a snack in the Severn Valley Country Park cafe.
The award-winning Discovery Centre at Craven Arms is where you can get up close and personal to Shropshire’s larger than life mammoth and step back into the Iron Age. You can take a stroll in the meadows, relax in the cafe and learn about the wonders of the Shropshire Hills landscape and history, plus a panoramic film, flying over the Shropshire Hills - You can see all the best bits and get the finest views without leaving the ground or climbing a single hill!
Just outside, there’s its 30-cre Onny Meadows, well signposted for gentle strolls along riverside paths.
The tranquil ruins of Wenlock Priory stand in a picturesque setting on the fringe of beautiful Much Wenlock. An Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded here in about 680 by King Merewalh of Mercia, whose abbess daughter Milburge was hailed as a saint. Her relics were miraculously re-discovered at the Priory in 1101, attracting both pilgrims and prosperity to the priory. If you become a member of English Heritage, included is free entry for up to six children accompanied by an adult member.
Fordhall Organic Farm in Market Drayton is England’s first community-owned farm and has been organic for over 65 years – offering a warm welcome to all.
Its tenant farmer, Ben, rears grass-fed beef, lamb and Gloucester Old Spot pork. Owned by a charitable community-benefit society, the farm is open to the public as an enjoyable and educational resource year round.
At the great Powis Castle they care for one of the world's greatest collections of art and historical items. On a visit you can discover exceptional statues, furniture and textiles from Europe, India and the Orient. In the grounds you can wander the Italianate terraces blasted from the solid rock and marvel at the spectacular yew hedges, dancing statues and lavish herbaceous borders. The gardens never fail to impress and there’s something interesting to see all year round.
Park Hall Countryside Experience
At Park Hall Countryside Experience near Oswestry you can combine animal activities with an exciting mix of play. You can also step back in time to the classroom of the Victorian era and dress up and experience life in the Victorian school with a one-hour lesson in the three R’s (costumes provided). You can also get an insight into life in Iron Age times with a visit to the Roundhouse and enjoy the beautiful countryside around the farm.
Coalbrookdale changed the world forever. At the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron you can discover how at the all new Museum of Iron. New trails, galleries and interactives bring to life the world that iron made. Find out how iron, and particularly Coalbrookdale iron, changed the course of the world. See stunning exhibits, exquisite art castings and functional cookware all made from iron and displayed in the former Coalbrookdale Great Warehouse.
At Wroxeter Roman City you can discover urban-living 2,000 years ago at Viriconium (Wroxeter) - once the fourth largest city in Roman Britain. You can wander the remains of the bathhouse and explore a reconstructed town house from a city which was almost as large as Pompeii. Discover the daily lives of the people who lived there with the audio tour and through their objects - found there and on display in the museum.
Much Wenlock is a unique and special place, being a quintessentially English town, off the beaten track. A stunningly beautiful Medieval town, it played a major part in the 19th century revival of the Olympic Games, as it is the home town of Dr William Penny Brookes. Strolling around the town and it feels like you have stepped back 50 years. It has a great range of shops and pubs to visit and enjoy, as well as the Guildhall which is open to the public during the summer.
You can step into the 1870s at the award-winning Judge's Lodging in Presteigne. Once called ‘the most commodious and elegant apartments for a judge in all England and Wales', decay beckoned Radnorshire's disused Shire Hall into obscurity. Now, aided by an interior hardly touched by time and original furnishings discarded in attics, extensive research and restoration has re-awakened this ‘Victorian fossil'.
Ludlow Castle is an outdoor ruin that is a wonderful place to take all the family to. The grounds and towers are great to explore, while a shop and tearoom caters for visitors. Dogs on a lead are also welcome in the castle and the tea room’s courtyard. The castle hosts the Ludlow Spring Marches Transport Festival on May 12 and 13, the Ludlow Food Festival on September 7 to 9 and the Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre on November 24 and 25.
Weston Park is a must visit to enjoy both the house and its grounds. The house has a team of volunteer guides are happy to enlighten you with information on the treasures of the rooms, as well as offer anecdotes from times gone by.
There is also plenty for children to explore in the house through a selection of trails.
It operates on a free-flow basis on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays and is by guided tour every 45 minutes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The extensive remains of Haughmond Abbey, an Augustinian abbey, include its abbots’ quarters, refectory and cloister. The substantially surviving chapter house has a frontage richly bedecked with 12th and 14th century carving and statuary, and a fine timber roof of around 1500.
Pictorial interpretation boards guide the visitor, and an introductory exhibition displays archaeological finds. There is a picnic area and light refreshments available.
Jackfield was once at the very heart of British tile production and at Jackfield Tile Museum, you can see why. You get to walk amongst the very best examples in-situ at a recreated pub, tube station, church and more. See stunning friezes, epic story-telling panels and a world-class gallery dedicated to British tiles. You can have a look in at the working ceramic factory and see tile decorating techniques, join in school holiday workshops to decorate your own tile, or enjoy a Wednesday morning factory tour.
Enginuity is one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums. You can enjoy a fun-filled family day out at this science and technology centre packed with hands-on activities and interactive exhibits. You can test your reactions against the speed of a robot, generate power from water or pull a locomotive by hand. You can look at familiar objects with new eyes using the giant X-ray machine or build an earthquake proof tower!
Blists Hill Victorian Museum
Rocket yourself back to the age of steam and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Victorian age at Blists Hill Victorian Town. You can discover more about Victorian life as you meet the ‘Victorian’ townsfolk.
You’ll experience what life was like when Britain ruled the world. Meet some (almost) real Victorians in their authentic shops and cottages, buy curious goods from a bygone era and watch tradespeople in action in their atmospheric workshops and factories.
Buildwas Abbey is the impressive ruins of a Cistercian abbey, including its unusually unaltered 12th century church and beautiful vaulted chapter house with a tiled-floored and decorative stonework.
It is situated in a wooded Severn-side setting, not far from the Iron Bridge and Wenlock Priory. Surrounded by countryside, this is charming ruin to explore, in a quiet position.
Lake Vyrnwy was built in the 1880s to supply Liverpool with fresh water. It flooded the head of the Vyrnwy valley and submerged the village of Llanwddyn. The Lake Vyrnwy Nature Reserve and Estate that surrounds the lake is jointly managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Severn Trent Water. It is a popular destination for ornithologists, cyclists and hikers.
At The Dana Prison in Shrewsbury you can walk in the footsteps of prisoners who have been residents of the wings during the last 200 years, during an interactive two hour prison tour. You can eExperience the hidden world of capital punishment and see first hand one of the last working execution rooms in the country.
They are guided by ex-prison officers who once managed those very wings.
St Laurence’s Church in Ludlow is one of Englands’ finest churches in the country. It is famous for its organ, a Snetzler, and has been described as “the Cathredal of the Marches”. 2018 is the Ludlow Palmers’ Year of Pilgrimage. Palmers (a mediaeval term for pilgrims). This starts with a series of lectures focusing on modern pilgrims and pilgrimage as seen through art, music, well-being, and sacred spaces and sacred places. In May 2018, St Laurence will host an original art exhibition featuring local and regional places of pilgrimage.
The British Ironwork Centre
The British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, is a perfect destination for a family day out, and its free! The centre is the birthplace of the famous ‘Spoon Gorilla’ and Knife Angel- the UK’s national monument against knife crime. You can see a stunning and varied collection of metal work and there is an indoor emporium to enjoy shopping in while the grounds have architectural structures and sculptures in abundance.