Coast’s Choice: Shropshire

The Coast’s Choice journey continues along the west side of the country with a visit to Shropshire this week. This county is rich with both natural beauty and industrial heritage, with landscape features including Clee Hills, the Severn – Britain’s longest river – the Shropshire Union Canal and wetlands of national importance.

Here are the Coast team’s favourite places to visit when they’re in the Shropshire area:

Acton Scott Historic Working Farm

For a taste of hard grafting in the agricultural era, take a trip to the working farm in Acton Scott near Church Stretton. A team of workers demonstrate how shire horses worked the land with hay ricks and vintage farm machines, maids hand milk the cows and create butter while the farmer’s wife tends to the daily chores. Children are invited to take a close look at the farm’s resident cows, sheep, pigs and poultry, while there are regular visits from traditional craftsmen.

The museum has two marked walks, the Waggoners Wonder and the Acton Scott Amble, for those interested in exploring the Shropshire hills. Visitors seeking a more sedate experience can taste farm-made produce by enjoying a famous Acton Scott cheese and pickle sandwich in the Old School House Cafe.

Acton Scott Historic Working Farm is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10.30am-4pm. The farm is closed to the public from December through to March. Entry costs £7.00 for adults and £4.50 for children – visit the website to find out more.

Nearest caravan site: 1 mile

Hawkstone Historic Park & Follies

Created in the 18th century by Sir Rowland Hill, Hawkstone is one of Europe’s greatest historic parklands, covering more than 100 acres. Visitors are invited to explore its ravines, pathways, arches and cliffs, marvel at its monkey puzzle trees, peep inside its grottoes and even say hello to a holographic hermit living in a thatched cottage. Other highlights include a red brick tower, monument to Sir Rowland Hill and rhododendron plantations.
Hawkstone Historic Park was used during the BBC filming of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in the late 1908s to represent parts of Narnia. A walking tour of the parkland takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. It is open from 10am – 5pm from April through to October, with last admissions at 3pm. Entry costs £7.00 for adults and £4.50 for children. More information is available here.

Nearest caravan site: 3.1 miles

Ironbridge Gorge Museums

As the first place to mass produce cast iron, Ironbridge is widely regarded as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Its products were shipped across the world, while the area itself features the first ever cast iron bridge, constructed in 1779.

The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a collection of ten museums (both indoor and outdoor) pay tribute to its illustrious history and international significance.

Among the attractions are Blists Hill Victorian Town, a chance to experience life in Victorian England, a Tar Tunnel discovered in 1787 and museums dedicated to china and ceramic tile production. The latest addition to the collection is Enginuity, an interactive design & technology centre paying tribute to the greatest mechanics of the 21st century.

All ten museums are open Monday – Sunday during the Summer, with most of them also opening during the winter. An annual Ironbridge pass costs £23.25 for adults and £15.25 for children – visit the Ironbridge website for more information.

Nearest caravan site: 1.8 miles

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shropshire’s county town boasts an impressive Norman Abbey, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. In addition to the eleventh century architecture, Shrewsbury Abbey features a spectacular stained glass window in the west tower with a statue of Edward II mounted above it.

Many literary fans flock to Shrewsbury as the revered poet Wilfred Owen is among the names engraved on the First World War memorial below the Abbey’s tower, while Ellis Peters set her mystery novels, the Chronicles of Broth Cadfael – made famous by Sir Derek Jacobi’s television drama – in the town.

There is no charge for visiting Shrewsbury Abbey, although some exhibitions and concerts may require paid entry. The Abbey is open all year round from 10am-4pm in summer and 10.30am-3pm in winter. Click here for further details.

Nearest caravan site: 5.3 miles

The Wrekin

This legendary hill is perhaps Shropshire’s most famous landmark, offering incredible views across fifteen counties. There are many folklore stories surrounding its origins: one such tale is that a welsh giant set off with a fistful of earth to block the River Severn destroy the town of Shrewsbury. En route he met a cobbler who advised him the town was very far away, so he dumped the mound of earth, creating the Wrekin.

The Wrekin, which looks like a mountain from one side and a low hill from the other, was also a great source of inspiration for Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkein, who reportedly used it as the setting for Middle Earth.

Click here to find out more about the Wrekin, which is free to visit.

Nearest caravan site: 6.3 miles