Shropshire

Shropshire or Salop, is a border county between England and Wales easily accessible from London and Birmingham by road and rail.

The River Severn runs through Shropshire and into the Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and a UNESCO world heritage site, The Severn Valley offers spectacular scenery, walking and cycling opportunities. The Ironbridge area is part of Shropshire’s industrial heritage which remains important today as part of the county’s tourism industry with various museums and industrial attractions.

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Shropshire Overview

Welcome to Shropshire

The county of Shropshire, also known as Salop, sits on the border of England Wales, neighbouring Cheshire, Staffordshire and Hereford & Worcestershire and is home to a population of nearly 500,000 people. Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, with other significant towns at Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth.

The county contains both a UNSECO World Heritage Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty against a backdrop of market towns, historic castles and spectacular scenery.

The Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, cover about a quarter of Shropshire mainly situated in the south of the county. South Shropshire is more rural than the north punctuated with river valleys, woods and a rolling hill landscape. Bridgnorth and Ludlow, where the sky line is dominated by the church and castle, are the major towns. In the south of the county you will also find “Little Switzerland” – Church Stretton, so called because of its character and valley geology.

The north of the county is home to most of the largest towns including Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Telford and Market Drayton. To the west you can join the best preserved section of Offa’s Dyke walk.

Shropshire’s border status means it is home to a number of castles, including those at Clun, Chirk and Stokesay.

The Wrekin is a well-known landmark hill rising over 400m above the Shropshire Plain, visible from a number of neighbouring counties and offering panoramic views to those willing to make the climb to the summit where you will find an Iron Age fort.


History

Shropshire was part of the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia after King Offa had constructed both Watt’s Dyke and Offa’s Dyke to defend the kingdom against Welsh invasion. Shropshire was established in the 10th century upon the division of the Saxon Mercia.

Post the Norman Conquest, Shropshire saw a lot of development with extensive castle building and became a key part of the English defences on the Welsh Marches.

Shropshire, and particularly Coalbrookedale, is often claimed as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution due to the early 18th century developments of coke smelting and iron founding techniques.

Ironbridge is the site where the world’s first iron bridge was constructed and then in the late 18th century precision engineering started to emerge in the form of steam engine cylinders at Broseley. The area become an industrial centre with tiles, china and clay pipes being produced and distributed across the British Empire.


Places to Visit in Shropshire

Shropshire has a number of attractions to visit and enjoy.

Shropshire’s early industrial heritage is a key feature and tourist destination. The Ironbridge Gorge holds 10 award winning museums where you can explore the history of the Industrial Revolution including the Tar Tunnel, Darby Houses and Broseley Pipeworks. The world’s first iron bridge spans The River Severn, which was a key transport route for moving the manufactured goods in the 18th and 19th century which were then exported all over the world. You can visit both the bridge and the tollhouse. The whole area is a world away from today’s electronic gadgetry and a great educational experience for all the family.

The wider Severn Valley offers spectacular countryside and is great for getting out in the fresh air for walking and cycling. The Severn Valley railway is probably Shropshire’s premier steam engine attraction covering 16 miles of track and restored stations through glorious scenery.

Shropshire’s history and border position means the area has seen a number of invasions over the years. The county is famous for its defences and along with Watt’s Dyke and Offa’s Dyke, there are a significant number of castles; of nearly 200 castles in the UK over 30 of them are in Shropshire including those at Clun, Chirk and Stokesay a 13th century fortified manor house, so those seeking history won’t be disappointed.

The country town of Shrewsbury is home to over 660 listed buildings, including many famous black and white timbered examples. You can stroll the medieval streets and take in the history as you make your way around Shrewsbury – visit the Quarry park or take a stroll by the river. Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury and you can visit the statue and take in the Charles Darwin trail around the town.

Food and drink abound in Shropshire, with Ludlow fast becoming a gastronomic centre with numerous specialist food and drink shops. Shropshire local specialities include Shrewsbury cakes, Fidget Pie and Whimberry Pie. Elsewhere there you can visit Wroxeter Roman vineyard, producing a range of wines, whilst the town of Bishops Castle has been brewing ale since the mid 1600s.

Wroxeter Roman village was the fourth largest Roman town in Britain and may have been home to Camelot. You can explore the King Arthur trail and discover the secrets of the legend.

Those with a fondness for military history will enjoy a trip to the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford, home to over 70 aeroplanes from around the world, housed in 3 hangars. Special sights include the world’s oldest Spitfire and a Lincoln Bomber. The National Cold War Exhibition tells the story of the Cold War in an educational and informative way and is the only place in Britain you can see all the V bombers – the Vulcan, the Victor and the Valiant.

Rising to over 400m above the Shropshire Plain, The Wrekin is a famous Shropshire landmark visible from neighbouring counties and rewarding those trekking to the Iron Age fort summit with breath taking panoramic views. The Long Mynd is a 7 mile long heath and moorland plateau largely managed by the National Trust and is an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Shropshire is a beautiful county for exploring with nearly 3,500 miles of public rights of way and miles of cycle paths through some fantastic scenery through valleys, along rivers and picturesque villages . For the adventurous, the Shropshire Cycleway covers 185miles around the perimeter of the county, whilst the Shropshire Way walk cover some 297 miles – but luckily it can be broken down into 27 more manageable routes!


Getting There

On the border of North Wales Shropshire is accessible from a wide area; just 40 minutes from Birmingham, about an hour from Manchester and around 3 hours from London.

The road network provides access to the county via the M6 and M54 with the A49, A5, A53 and A458 all helping to make Shropshire accessible by road, whilst the rail network connects the mainline into Shrewsbury from London Euston.

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Stokesay Castle

Stokesay, Craven Arms, Shropshire, SY7 9AH

Travelodge Shrewsbury Bayston Hill

Travelodge Shrewsbury, Bayston Hill Services, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY3 0DA