Shropshire, for many an undiscovered gem, is a county with a rich history, good walking, great scenery and numerous castles.
A Shropshire Lad by A E Housman is a book of poems evoking another age, celebrating life and exploring the impact of death. When publishing houses were not taken with his work, the entrepreneurial Housman self-published A Shropshire Lad in 1896. Housman’s lines Clunton and Clunbury, Clungunford and Clun are the quietest places under the sun sum up part of the magical appeal of a county steeped in myth and history.
Castles. Being on the Welsh borders defence of the realm has been an important part of Shropshire’s history. Castles abound, some of the best examples being Clun, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Stokesay and Whittington.
Dick Whittington. Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London, was born in north Shropshire, close to the village and castle that bear his name.
Ironbridge. Shropshire, courtesy of Abraham Darby, contributed a cheap method for making iron to the industrial revolution. The lasting result – the first cast iron bridge in the world; Ironbridge Gorge is now a World Heritage site and major tourist attraction.
Location. Shropshire is one of four English counties to straddle the Welsh border. Herefordshire snuggles below Shropshire, and further south Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean marches towards Wales; above Shropshire Cheshire climbs towards Wales’ northern border.
Malcolm Saville. Saville’s Lone Pine children’s books use the wild territories of Shropshire – including the Long Mynd and the Stiperstones - as a backdrop for mystery stories. A great way to get a feel for the area.
Oswestry. The market town of Oswestry is named after the seventh century King Oswald. Many, many centuries later the first world war poet Wilfred Owen was born in the town.
Shrewsbury. The county town of Shropshire has origins in Saxon times. It is a delightful place to explore – hidden alleyways, cobbled streets, river walks, historic architecture including castle, abbey and black and white timber framed buildings... Charles Darwin, a scientist fascinated by the land and animals around him, was born in Shrewsbury.
The Wrekin, a large Shropshire hill, is worth climbing – the top yields magnificent views. The hill is said to have been created when a giant put down a spadeful of soil in the Shropshire landscape. The hill is also said to have inspired Tolkien’s landscape in The Lord Of The Rings.
Walking. Shropshire is excellent walking country, whether you fancy a short day walk or the tougher challenge of a long distance path such as Offa’s Dyke or the Shropshire Way. The Severn Way – a route traversing the Severn Valley from Wales to Bristol – passes through Shrewsbury and Ironbridge.
Wroxeter. Once a thriving Roman city, Wroxeter, now incredibly rural, is an English Heritage site. Highlights include a recreation of a Roman villa which has been constructed using traditional building techniques.