Sorry to disappear last week – it’s what happens when your youngest comes in and drops the comment that she’s got her holiday dates wrong and instead of going away this week after the Easter break, we had to rush off immediately for a few days squeezed between commitments.
But luckily for us the weather was good and so we took the tents over to Shropshire, for what turned out to be a really lovely few days, with bucket loads of heritage-hunting!
I’ll sit down and share the stories of some of the places we visited soon, including the fabulous medieval Stokesay Castle (above), but if you’re looking for an area to visit that takes you away from the hoards and shows you history throughout the ages, there are few better counties than Shropshire and the Welsh Marches.
We were there for five days and in that time toured six castles (Stokesay, Powis, Ludlow, Hopton, Montgomery and Clun), two abbeys (Much Wenlock Priory and Buildwas Abbey), two hill-forts (on the hillside above the campsite) and a bronze age stone circle (Mitchell’s Fold) and for much of the time we were the only people at the sites, so much lovelier I think than having to push through crowds. I’m a massive fan of these hidden gems.
And besides the abundant heritage, there’s the simply wonderful scenery to enjoy too. I’ve always loved walking up hills and as we don’t have that many in Bedfordshire I was very happy to trot up as many as we could manage (alright, maybe not exactly trot, but I make it up with a liberal smattering of ‘awe and wonder’ stops). We made it up the Long Mynd, the Stiperstones, Corndon Hill, and along a section of Offa’s Dyke from Knighton. My leg muscles are definitely feeling it now.
We camped on the edge of the Long Mynd (it was extreme camping but in a wonderful location – if you’re slightly mad and want the details, leave me a comment or send me a tweet).
After all that sight-seeing and exercise, I was very glad to roll into a pub each evening for a pint of Three Tuns beer. I think a visit to the Three Tuns in Bishop’s Castle might be a legal requirement of visiting Shropshire – we certainly always pay homage there, but in fact it turned out that the pub closest to our campsite (The Bridges Pub, Ratlinghope) was also owned by the brewery and I have to say kept their beer extremely well. The food was fabulous there too, so I’d be more than happy to go again. (I’ve put a link to their website here in case anyone is interested, because they offer a variety of accommodation too, which seems like an ideal arrangement should camping without any mod cons not be to your liking – ahem).
The other great find of the holiday was a new-to-us bookshop at historic Brampton Bryan – Aardvark Books. It’s the sort of place where you could happily spend hours and hours browsing through the books (new and second-hand), drinking tea from proper china cups and wandering around their art exhibition. We’ll go back I’m sure, but in the meantime you can follow Ethel Aardvark on Twitter – and why wouldn’t you…
So, it’s back into the swing of things again now just as soon as I get through the mountain of post-holiday laundry. Just before we set off for our break I started two new stitchy pieces which are calling to me now to get on with, but that will have to wait for a day or two – I’ll show you them soon.
Have a lovely week.
11 thoughts on “Hidden away…”
It sounds like a lovely week. I’ve not been to Stokesay since I was 12 – must go back, now you’ve reminded me!
It’s still the same – very beautiful! (Although they are building tea-rooms in the cottage in the carpark – I can sort of understand why, but it won’t be the same as drinking tea in the inner courtyard).
What a great few days. I’m so glad the weather was good for you! We encountered two couples with six children between them who were walking Offa’s Dyke (a section at a time) and they were throughly enjoying themselves. It’s lovely countryside and I’m surprised more people don’t visit.
Looking forward to your posts about the castles x
We were very lucky. My OH and I are hoping to walk the Dyke later in the year or maybe next year (but it’s never a good idea to make plans in this house!). We did a short section when we were first married and have always talked about going back and now with the girls grown up it’s finally feasible again.
What a lovely break – I have fond memories of Shropshire as my husband spent the second half of his childhood there and his mum and dad lived there until they passed away. So every couple of months we would visit. I loved Stokesay and Powis Castle – we have some great pictures from that time. My mum and dad in law used to walk the Long Mynd quite often but we never got the chance. Ludlow is one of my favourite Market towns and the Olive Tree ? a good place for vegetarian meals.
Ooh, I’ll have to look out for that another time, but I was really impressed with Ludlow, -a few years ago we were there and I remember thinking it had gone a bit shabby, but this time it was really thriving (or seemed to be), lots of interesting businesses, and everything felt much more positive and buoyant.
I think that is true of a few places – we tend to think they carry on the same between visits but towns and villages are for ever changing – sometimes thriving and sometimes run down – it is very true of places in Derbyshire – I have been visiting there all my life and I have the same observations as you quite often. at the moment it is Buxton that is on the turn but not sure if that is on the up or on the down – we will just have to wait and see – at present they are ‘doing up, the old Crescent Hotel – quite a landmark and beautiful old building I hope they renovate sensitively.
Oh I do hope they make a good job of the hotel in Buxton – we’ve camped at Pomeroy, just south on the road from Ashbourne,for about thirteen years every Whitsun and I know exactly what you mean. They seem to have had scaffolding around there for an age. It would be lovely to see it flourishing again.
Ashbourne is one of my favourite places – we go every year at the end of November – first for lunch and a walk around Tissington – we all pile into the tiny old fashioned sweet shop and then the gift shop – then onto Ashbourne and a walk around the town and the department store Bennetts looking at christmassy things followed by a mug of steaming hot chocolate and a homemade scone in one of the cafes – perfect!
Another post bringing back memories of a long time ago holiday. In the early 1990s I spent a week walking parts of the Shropshire Way. I seemed to the only person on the route. Beautiful county. My first night was in Ludlow, then the train to Craven Arms, where I started the walk to Clun. I saw Stokesay Castle from the train, but had no time to visit. However I did manage a lovely drink in the Three Tuns. Ended up in Shrewsbury for the train back to Scotland. Great week with warm sunny weather.
Ah you see, it is essential to visit the Three Tuns, I thought so! You’ll laugh, but when I was first married, we spent a couple of nights at Clun and did some cycle rides – my OH is a very keen cyclist – on the first day he cycled and I pushed my bike up the hill outside Clun and then he waited for me at them bottom while I pushed my bike down again – it was took steep for me even on the way down! I don’t think you’d think much had changed since your visit – it’s still lovely.