Ideas for Shropshire Please

Jul 19th, 2014, 10:18 AM
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Ideas for Shropshire Please

We have a week to get from the Manchester area to Porthleven in Cornwall and thought we would spend most of it in Shropshire since we've never lingered there before. Any suggestions for lovely vistas, great pubs, hidden detours, etc. would be greatly appreciated. We will be there from Sept. 20-27, 2014. We are a middle aged couple who have travelled throughout England but never explored this area. Thought Shrewsbury might be worth a day or two (I've enjoyed the Cadfael myteries). Seen great pictures of buildings in Ludlow. Have enjoyed Housman's poetry, would like to drive through scenery that inspired him. Could take a detour to Hay on Wye, I'm a book person, but would like to hear the opinion of someone who has been. We don't need to see the top ten tourist spots - whatever they are - unless others have been and found them worthwhile. We've benefitted from fodorite opinions in the past, so trust your wisdom. We are deliberately travelling in a diffferent way this time, without twenty five pages of itinerary, but definitely want to explore some well-found gems. Thanks for any help you can give.
rickmav is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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I'm no expert on the area, but I love Shropshire blue cheese. Oddly enough, it wasn't actually made in Shropshire until recently but Belton Farm, The Shropshire Cheese Company and Ludlow Food Centre carry a local version. Give it a try!
WeisserTee is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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Stokesay Castle is not far from Ludlow if that is of any interest. We liked the Unicorn Pub in Ludlow. I may be completely wrong about this but I think Charles Darwin was from Shrewsbury so maybe there is the family home or a museum to visit.
nini is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 02:34 PM
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Thanks weissertee for the cheese recommendation. We both adore cheese, of any sort, so that will be something to put on our shopping list. And thank you nini for Stokesay Castle and the Unicorn Pub. We love trying out pubs recommended by someone who has been there. I will follow up on Darwin. I think as an adult he lived in Kent or Sussex, I didn't know about the Shropshire connection.
rickmav is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 03:38 PM
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Ludlow is well known on the Foodie circuit, and the Long Mynd is also well worth exploring:

after that, I think that I would meander down the Wye Valley and you might also think about taking a bit of a detour to the Brecon Beacons.

over the border, there are Slimbridge [the Wetland centre - and/or Berkley Castle where Richard II was famously done to death. You could then head to Bristol which is well worth a couple of days of anyone's time] and a little further south you could head for Wells with its lovely cathedral and Bishop's palace, and then cross the motorway to Dunster [which if you watch any Poirot will look suspiciously familiar!]. be sure to see the castle if you decide to go there, and a few hours on Exmoor can be lovely.

From there, it's about 3 hours to Portleven though possibly longer if you choose to go across rather than round Dartmoor.

There's more than enough there to fill a week - probably more. How long are you staying in Porthleven?
annhig is online now  
Jul 19th, 2014, 11:12 PM
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Slimbridge is over several borders from Shropshire, and could be described as near it only by someone who thinks foreigners start the moment you cross the Tamar Bridge eastbound.

Shropshire's main literary connection is the poet AE Housman, who's worth mugging up on because his work - accessible to most of us - spun off a huge slug of (IMHO a great deal less accessible, going on downright unlistenable to) music by other arty chaps of his era.

Much of his work is about Shropshire's landscape, and Wenlock Edge (the place) is the centre of some terrific countryside. Shropshire's landcapes vary widely, and the nicest stuff is easy to miss: the main routes through the county are pretty humdrum Instant England, and it's a mistake to conclude the rest of the county is as dull. is good on driving round.

THE biggest tourist draw is the industrial archaeology mecca around Ironbridge: like much of the industrial remains of the early 19th century, astonishingly photogenic.

The county's major contribution to England's national story is Boscobel House, where the later to be Charles II evaded Roundhead capture by hiding in an oaktree. The tree's grandchild (or is it great grandchild?) is there today: its famous ancestor became a victim of the 18th and 19th centuries' aggressive souvenir hunting, which destroyed a surprising amount of our heritage. A large proportion of the Royal Oak pubs around England are on the route Charles took after his overnight there, escaping to the Continent via Shoreham. The house is undervisited these days, but interesting.
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:40 AM
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Some suggestions for places to visit in Shropshire and its surroundings.

1.The Ironbridge Gorge Musuem. This was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and the area had the lucky combination of iron, coal and clay. Spread over a wide area, the museum covers the resulting industries and includes the iron bridge itself, the first such structure in the world.

2.The Shropshire Hills. South of Shrewsbury stretching down to Ludlow, and centred on Church Stretton, the most visited area is the Long Mynd, but you should not miss the Stiperstones and Wenlock Edge, or the Clun area, more mid-Wales than English midlands.

3. Telford's aquaduct at Pontycysyllte, just over the Welsh border near Chirk.

4. Ancient building and stately homes, especially Much Wenlock, Erddig and Berrington Hall.

Despite what Flanner writes, Housman's connection with Shropshire is tenuous, and many think he just strung together some Shropshire place names, and had a romantic idea of the place - "blue remembered hills". The most famous literary son of Shropshire is probably Wilfred Owen, born near Oswestry, while the author who probably knew Shropshire best, and wrote about it in a sub-Hardy way, is Mary Webb, who lived near Shrewsbury.

The most famous of those born in Shropshire are probably Robert Clive and Charles Darwin, and you will find places and buildings associated with them.

Finally, towns like Oswestry, Whitchurch, Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth and Ludlow are all very distinctive and attractive.
chartley is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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Slimbridge is over several borders from Shropshire, and could be described as near it only by someone who thinks foreigners start the moment you cross the Tamar Bridge eastbound.>>

Flanner - the OP will at some point have to leave Shropshire as she and her DH are going to be on their way to Cornwall. My suggestion of Slimbridge was posited on the fact that they might be interested in seeing one of the most spectacular wild-fowl centres in the country if not in Europe en route. It would be a particularly good place to visit in October when migrations are starting. OTOH they may find it difficult to drag themselves away from the myriad delights of Shropshire!
annhig is online now  
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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Wow. Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I think annhig you and I discussed Berkeley another time - I believe it was Edward II who was done in but I could be wrong. Also, thank you for the route to Cornwall. We will be in Porthleven for a week. My mom and I stayed there years ago and I've kept talking about it over the years so my husband decided we better go there together. Thank you flannerk for the driving info. in Shropshire. Do you like Housman's poetry? A dear friend of mine thinks his work is incredible, I don't get that but am hoping that being in Shropshire will give me something to add to the reading of his work. Ironbridge and Boscobel will both go on our list. Thank you chartley for planning our week itinerary! That's why I love Fodor's. I had read that Housman wrote all of his poetry while working and living in London - he sounds like an interesting man. I did not know that Wilfred Owen was associated with the area, nor have I ever heard of Mary Webb. I'm beginning to think that a week will not be enough time. Thank you all again.
rickmav is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 02:03 PM
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rickmav - you're right. I got my medieval kings mixed up.

do come back to me if you want any more ideas on what to do between Shropshire and Cornwall or in Cornwall itself.
annhig is online now  
Jul 20th, 2014, 02:13 PM
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Bishop's Castle is a lovely old fashioned market town. The Castle Inn is a great place to stay. It has good food and real ale. The Six Bells has its own brewery and brews exceedingly good beers.

Not far away is Clun - smaller but no less attractive. The White Horse is recommended for food and beer and also does B&B.

If you want some real cider, we can recommend Dunkerton's Cider, near Leominster, another nice town.

There are several NT places worth visiting - Benthall Hall is a delightful Tudor manor House. Attingham Park is larger and splendid. Berrington Hall and Croft Castle are both worth visiting too.

Don't miss the Long Myndd and the Stipperstones - both good for walking.
ESW is offline  
Jul 20th, 2014, 02:39 PM
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Regarding literary associations for Shropshire, the most prolific, and almost certainly the most read author is probably Edith Pargeter, who also wrote as Ellis Peters.
chartley is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Chartley - really enjoy the Cadfael mysteries. I know Peters/Pargeter wrote other books, read a few of the George Felse mysteries but nothing else. Think she also did some historical trilogies. If we get to Hay on Wye perhaps I can load up on reading material, including something by Mary Webb.

I have another question for everyone, don't know if I should post separately. If we detour to Hay on Wye overnight should we follow river Wye to Hereford, Ross on Wye, Forest of Dean, Tintern, etc. - we've never been in this area before, or simply go back to M5 and go south from Tewkesbury towards Cornwall. I may be complicating things, perhaps we should spend our week in Shropshire proper, instead of wandering into Wales. But pictures of area look so beautiful.

Annhig - I do have questions about Cornwall. Do you want me to post here or I can give you my email?
rickmav is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 02:50 PM
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rickmav - the area around the Brecons is indeed beautiful, and you could certainly benefit from an overnight stay perhaps in Ross on Wye or nearby.

then you would be in an ideal position to head south for Cornwall. If you happened to be going past at lunchtime, I would strongly recommend a small detour [only a couple of miles] onto Dartmoor to the Tors Inn at Belstone :

It doesn't look that much but the food is excellent, and the beer very good [and the cider even better!] there is also a view to die for out the front and if you walk down the valley a little way, you come to s delightful stream crossed by a bridge. highly recommended.

By all means send me an e-mail and/or you could start another thread - there may be a few people interested on my thoughts on Cornwall!
annhig is online now  
Jul 24th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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If you go to Hay, the best bit is the spectacular road over the hills to Abergavenny. Almost deserted, wonderful views, goes through Capel Y Ffin and past Llanthony Abbey. There are a few nice pubs to stop in and you come down into Abergavenny, and the Brecon Beacons National Park.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 05:33 PM
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I loved Ludlow. I wanted to see the castle, as I am really interested in Wars of the Roses history and its link to the Princes in the Tower (Edward V, who stayed there until the death of his father Edward IV and before he was taken into custody by his uncle Richard III on his way from Ludlow to London and disappeared into history...) anyway, it was a nice town. It was very touristy - lots of shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a pub that was open late - many things around the square by the castle stayed open but the rest of the town seemed sleepy after dark. We had just missed the Ludlow Food Festival. I could have used another day or 2 in the Shropshire region. Just beautiful. We stayed at a place called DeGrey's which was attached to a café and was quite nice.
itspat is offline  
Jul 25th, 2014, 02:22 AM
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what gertie said. If you're lucky, you'll see red kites wheeling overhead.
annhig is online now  
Jul 25th, 2014, 04:48 AM
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Since you are interested in literary connections, you might consider the charming town of MUCH WENLOCK. Both the novelist HENRY JAMES and the historian HENRY ADAMS enjoyed the hospitality of Charles Milnes Gaskell there and wrote glowingly about their experiences.

Found this website which describes their visits. Includes old pics of the town too. Shropshire is lovely.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Jul 26th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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Thanks everyone for all your help. I do love the literary connections (latedaytraveler) wherever we go in England. I not only get to see what inspired my favourite writers but always add half a dozen authors to my "check out" reading list. And if I'm really lucky discover a new favourite English writer. Thanks gertie3751 for the drive suggestions from Hay - this is exactly what we are after. I'm getting to the age where I'm ready to abandon myself to the beauty of nature instead of rushing past it on my way to somewhere else. And it's most helpful when someone has been there - thank you itspat for the Ludlow recommendation. I think it is a must see for this visit.
rickmav is offline  
Jul 26th, 2014, 02:11 PM
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rickmav - I assume that you are familiar with Daphne Du Maurier and her connections with Cornwall? quite a lot of her books are set here: Jamaica Inn of course, plus Frenchman's Creek, Rebecca [Mandalay is actually Menabilly near Fowey, which sadly is not open to the public]. Plenty to be going on with.
annhig is online now  

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