The best weekend to explore the medieval market town of Ludlow is during its September Food Festival (8-9 September). Not only do the town’s 500 listed buildings and Norman castle provide eye-candy, but the Sausage Trail and the Real Ale Trail mean your senses are assaulted around every corner.
Festival-goers score the sausages and real ales out of 10. The winning sausage receives the People’s Choice Award, while the ale with the highest score is crowned the People’s Choice Festival Ale of the Year.
A Tastebud tickets
Tickets and scorecards for both trails (Sausage Trail is Saturday only, 9.30am-2pm, £3.50; Ale Trail is Saturday and Sunday during pub opening hours, finishing 4pm Sunday, £6.50) can be purchased from the festival box office, outside the main entrance to Ludlow Castle, in Castle Square.
From the castle entrance, let your nostrils drag you across the square to the corner of Market Street and Raven Lane, where butcher Andrew Francis will be serving up this year’s tempting sausage flavour. In previous years, Ludlow’s butchers have devised flavour combinations as salivating as pork with cracked black pepper; pork with hedgerow berries; and even pork with smoked pancetta and rocket.
B On the trail of food and ale
Return to Castle Square, then turn right into the High Street, where you’ll soon sniff out DW Wall & Sons on the right. As you savour Wall’s sausage, mulling over what score to award, follow the High Street, passing Buttercross, into King Street, to reach the Bull Ring. On your left, the sizzling sound of frying sausages from AH Griffiths can be heard, opposite Ludlow’s famous black-and-white timber-framed Feathers Hotel.
Ale Trail followers should divert into The Feathers Hotel. Drop down Corve Street to find The Unicorn. Head back by the railway station to discover the hoppy-aroma-filled Railway Shed premises of the Ludlow Brewing Company.
C Return your score cards
From here, Stagger up Station Drive, turning right in Upper Galdeford, passing The Queens on your left. The pedestrianised Tower Street returns you to the Bull Ring. Turning left, down Old Street, passing the Horse and Jockey, takes you along the banks of the River Teme (look out for otters) where you’ll spy the Charlton Arms, perfectly perched above the waters.
Take Lower Broad Street, passing through Ludlow’s last remaining gatehouse to reach the Buttercross, behind which hides The Church Inn, then delve into the castle grounds to seek out The Ludlow Food Centre’s sausage, and Hobson’s Brewery stall, whose Best Bitter, with its lingering malty flavours, won the Real Ale Trail Award back in 2007.
Return your scorecards to claim your free sausage in a bun, or bottle of ale, and soak up the remaining flavours, aromas and textures of Ludlow’s Food Festival.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ludlow is bypassed by the A49, Shrewsbury to Hereford road and lies on the Cardiff to Manchester railway line.
FIND OUT MORE
Ludlow Food festival
Trail participants are subject to change, so check before you set off.
66 Corve Street, Ludlow SY8 1DU
Ludlow’s cosiest pub, with a hearty pub food menu.
The Feathers Hotel
Bull Ring, Ludlow SY8 1AA
Described by the New York Times as “the most handsome inn in the world”.
Ludlow Food Centre
Bromfield, Ludlow SY8 2JR
Much of the centre’s produce comes from farms in Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys.