England’s largest inland county is famed for its beautiful landscape and unspoiled market towns. Here is a selection of the numerous places to visit which are set in this glorious countryside and are within easy reach of Garden Cottage, Bridgnorth, as are also the charming towns of Ludlow and Shrewsbury.
Severn Valley Railway This steam railway operates all year round and travels down the river valley to Kidderminster with stations enabling you to visit the villages, country parks, and attractive walks en route. We can particularly recommend the lovely village of Arley with its magnificent arboretum and the Railway Museum at Highley (including the original mail train of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame) www.svr.co.uk
Dudmaston Hall – 3 miles Enchanting parkland and gardens and Hall, mainly seventeenth-century but with important modern and contemporary art. ** in Simon Jenkins’ 1000 Best Houses. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dudmaston-estate
Upton Cressett – 5 miles Picturesque Elizabethan house and gatehouse in a charming setting accessible only by one road and away from everything except the richly decorated little Norman church of St Michael. www.uptoncressetthall.co.uk
Benthall Hall – 6 miles *** in 1000 Best Houses. Fine sixteenth-century stone house, plantsman’s garden, Restoration church www.nationaltrust.org.uk/benthall-hall
Ironbridge Gorge and Museums – 8 miles World Heritage Site with ten museums spread along the valley beside the river Severn which tell the story of the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Blists Hill Victorian Village recreates a mining community at the end of the nineteenth century. Talk to craftsmen and view costumed demonstrations. www.ironbridge.org.uk
Much Wenlock – 8 miles Beautiful and quintessentially English town with traditional small shops and personal service. Dramatic priory ruins. Played a key part in the origin of the modern Olympic Games and still has its own Olympian Society. www.muchwenlockguide.info
David Austin Rose Garden – 11 miles More than 700 varieties of English roses are planted at the David Austin garden at Albrighton, which holds the National Collection of Roses. A large plant centre adjoins the garden. www.davidaustinroses.com
RAF Cosford – 12 miles Over 70 aircraft of international importance housed in three Wartime Hangars and the National Cold War Exhibition. See the world’s oldest Spitfire and a Lincoln Bomber, just two of the highlights in the warplanes collection. The Transport Collection includes the Comet 1A and Gnat T1, previously used by the Red Arrows. www.rafmuseum.org.uk/cosford
Wightwick Manor – 12 miles ****in 1000 Best Houses: ‘A Pre-Raphaelite banquet … there is nothing comparable in London…. Here are the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement immaculately displayed.’ www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wightwickmanor
Acton Scott Working Farm – 18 miles A historic working farm offering a fascinating insight into rural life at the turn of the nineteenth century, as farm life unfolds daily and the land around is worked by heavy horses; with demonstrations of period skills and visits from the Wheelwright, Farrier and Blacksmith. Life as it might have been on a Victorian country estate. www.actonscott.com/historic.php
Wroxeter Roman City – 18 miles Wroxeter (or ‘Viroconium’) was the fourth largest city in Roman Britain. It began as a legionary fortress and later developed into a thriving civilian city. Though much still remains below ground, today the most impressive features are the second-century municipal baths, and the remains of the huge wall dividing them from the exercise hall in the heart of the city. The site museum and audio tour reveal how Wroxeter worked in its heyday, and the health and beauty practices of its 5,000 citizens. www.english-heritage.org/daysout/properties/wroxeter-roman-city
Attingham Park – 18 miles A year-round place to visit with family activities and trails, seasonal events, deer park and open air theatre. *** in 1000 Best Houses and perhaps the grandest late eighteenth- century house in the county. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attingham-park
Couple from Nottingham, May 2013: Outstanding! Beautifully appointed cottage, excellent area, good food. Particularly enjoyed the Black Country museums.