Catch one of this funicular railway’s 1950s carriages up or down the sandstone cliffs that separate High Town from Low Town in Bridgnorth. Now powered by an electric engine that powers the two counter-balancing cars, the railway was originally driven by a water balance system. Each carriage can take up to 18 passengers, and the 111ft line is open until 8pm in summer and 6.30pm in winter.
Hire a bike for a half- or full day and head out on a two-wheeled adventure across the Shropshire hills. Or take a stroll on four equine legs with a range of horse trails and treks. Or why not take on the Severn in a kayak, test your own balance and strength with a climbing session – the list goes on. The Old Vicarage Adventure Centre is a hostel that has grown over the years to include stables, nature reserve and campsite, and now offers a huge range of activities in beautiful surroundings. Perfect for getting active outdoors.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the supposed home of the modern Olympic Games is actually a small town in Shropshire. Victorian doctor William Penny Brookes encouraged the residents to compete in his revival of the ancient show of strength and athleticism. These days the town has a mile-long Olympic trail that celebrates the doctor’s good work, passing sites associated with him and finishing at the Much Wenlock Museum, which houses an interesting collection of Olympian artefacts.
A beautiful lake on the edge of the town it shares its name with, Ellesmere is just one of a collection that make up the ‘Shropshire Lake District’. Attracting wildlife-lovers, walkers and fishing and boating fans, Ellesmere has a visitor centre with plenty of information on routes around the lake and town, and from March to May, a heron nest camera.
Known locally as ‘mini-Switzerland’, these hills have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its easy to see why. The woodland and meadow of the Rectory Wood and Field was once private land, but luckily it’s now available for everyone to enjoy. A 30-45 minute circular walk passes through a range of natural habitats and takes in sweeping, dramatic views.
The beautiful sandstone Cholmondeley Castle was built in 1801, and the gardens were laid out with just as much care. The castle itself is a private residence but you can take in the meticulously cared for herbaceous borders, shrubberies, ponds and lakes all year round. There’s also a nature trail, visitor centre, tearoom and children’s play area.
Delightfully quirky National Museum of British Popular Culture run by a husband and wife team who have been collecting for forty years. A hoarder’s paradise, the fascinating floor-to-ceiling collection includes toys, food packaging and fashion – many iconic of periods of the 20th Century. An ideal nostalgic indulgence on a rainy afternoon, perfectly completed by a slice of cake at the café upstairs.
A thick treacle-like liquid oozes between the bricks of this tunnel – it’s a natural phenomenon worth taking a close look at. The natural bitumen (a byproduct of ancient decomposed organic matter – a bit like tar) that pools here was collected and boiled up in great vats and used for medicinal purposes in the 18th and 19th Centuries. But these days it’s worth exploring the 100 yards of available tunnel just to satisfy your geological curiosity – just don’t forget your hard hat.
This magnificent castle is nestled in the centre of Ludlow and only a stone’s throw from the surrounding countryside. Established as a Norman fortress and became a royal castle before eventually falling to ruin, before being purchased and opened to the public by Lord Powis in 1811. These days, you can take a guided tour of the chapel, halls and keep, along with events, re-enactments and theatrical performances in summer.
TOWNS AND VILLAGES
10 museums, a gorge and the world’s first cast-iron bridge – this town is certainly full of interesting things to do. Built by Abraham Darby III in 1779, the bridge has somewhat become a symbol of the industrial revolution. An exhibition in the original tollhouse tells how the bridge was built. Also worth a visit in the town are Jackfield Tile Musuem, Coalfield China Museum, a Museum of iron and Blists Hill Victorian Town – a lifesize recreation of cottages and shops that give us a glimpse into how Shropshire would have looked 150 years ago.
Cobbled streets and timber-framed buildings transport you through the years to Medieval heart of Shrewsbury. A castle, abbey and churches are sure to give you a history fix, but the possible jewel in the crown is the Roman city of Wroxeter – apparently the tallest freestanding structural remains in Britain. Once home to 5,000 citizens, this site now has a reconstructed Roman town house built for a TV programme. Beautiful parks, independent shops and great cafés – along with boat trips along the Severn – mean there is something to tickle everyone’s fancy.
A historic market, chartered in 1190, still meets in Oswestry every week, and is now the largest in the Welsh borders. Local arts and crafts are prominent here, and there are also livestock auctions where you can buy great, fresh local and home-made produce. Only three miles from Offa’s Dyke footpath, the town is a good stopping point for walkers and nature-lovers.
A selection of dining tables from Dunelm Mill, a home furniture and accessories retailer.
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