Category Archives: autumn

Things to do in Shropshire this Autumn

We’re heading into one of my favourite times of the year here at Hopton House Bed and Breakfast in Shropshire. The trees are beginning to change colour and the nights are drawing in. But there are still lots of things to do in Shropshire this autumn and winter.

Hopton House B&B is perfectly situated to explore Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys. Check availability and book securely online here.

It’s time to take long walks in the countryside, explore local market towns for unique Christmas gifts and then come back to a long bath and an evening in front of the fire at  a local country pub. Take a look at my suggestion for 5 walks in the Shropshire Countryside blog post for some ideas.

Leafless winter trees against a blue sky with wispy clouds

Or, if you prefer not to go out in the evening, you can order one of our platters to enjoy in your room. Then spend an evening curled up on one of the sofas in the room, reading, knitting or just watching some TV.

There was a time when the countryside shut down over the winter, but not anymore. There are many fairs and events to enjoy. In fact far too many for me to blog about here. I’ve added a few to my Hopton House B&B Facebook Page here.

Hergest Croft Gardens

Hergest Croft Gardens are a 35 minutes drive south of us at Kington in Herefordshire. Our favourite drive down there weaves along the welsh border, via Knighton, with beautiful views to the West. And now is the perfect time to visit with the spectacular autumn colour. They are open daily from 12 to 17.30 until Sunday 3rd November. Dogs are welcome on leads.
To quote their website

 “Hergest Croft Gardens extend over 28 ha (70 acres) with more than five thousand rare trees and shrubs.  Described as “one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the British Isles”, the Gardens hold the UK National Collections of Maples, Birches and Zelkovas. The six distinct areas are Hergest Croft, the Azalea Garden, the Maple Grove, the Kitchen Garden, the Park and Park Wood”

Colourful autumn leaves under a tree

Arley Arboretum

Another must for the autumn months is Arley arboretum, which sits on the banks of the River Severn at Upper Arley, and is one of the oldest and most spectacular arboreta in the country. It’s about 55 minutes drive from Hopton House and dogs are welcome on lead. You could combine it with a day out on the Severn Valley railway, which has a stop at Arley. It’s open 10-5, Wednesday to Sunday until 3rd November.

NT Croft Castle

Croft Castle is one of our favourite places to visit with Saffy the dog. It’s just 25 minutes south of us. There’s lots of lovely walking in the parkland and woods, including a walk up to the top of an Iron Age Hill Fort, with magnificent views. There’s a lot of deciduous trees there so the autumn colours will soon be very special there.

They also run lots of events during the autumn and winter, including an Ancient Tree Walk om 19th and 20th October. This is a guided autumnal walk through the parkland. From the 16th November, the house will be decorated for a 1940’s Christmas. And on 7th and 8th December they are running Christmas wreath making workshops. More details of all their events here

Powis Castle

Powis Castle is beautiful at any time of year, but the gardens take on a very special beauty in the autumn and winter months. 

Powis Castle

Dogs at Powis

Dogs aren’t allowed at Powis Castle in the summer months, but from October through to March they relax the rules. From October through to December, dogs are allowed in the gardens on Thursdays and Fridays, then every day from January through to March. So, this is an ideal time to visit if you like to come away with your four legged friend

Christmas at Powis

From 30th November you can step back in time and experience a 1940s Christmas. 

Illuminated Gardens

From 6th – 22nd December on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 17.00-21.00, “explore the Formal Garden, Terraces, Orangery and Courtyard which will all be spectacularly lit in a rainbow of colours and glittering with festive cheer.”

If you have any more ideas for things to do in Shropshire this autumn please let me know! Check availability and book soon if you want to enjoy autumn at Hopton House B&B Shropshire.

Things to do in Shropshire this Autumn

5 Walks in the Shropshire Hills

5 Walks in the Shropshire Hills

We are lucky to enjoy the most amazing countryside here in the Shropshire Hills and the best way to get out and explore it is on a walk. As Shropshire is still relatively undiscovered, the countryside is perfect if you want to escape from the crowds. I’ve put together 5 walks in the Shropshire Hills that you can from Hopton House B&B.

A ewe and her lambs in the Shropshire hills on a glorious spring day
Near Rhos Fiddle Nature reserve listening to skylarks

There are walks of all types, from short circulars to long distance trails. The most exciting new walk is the Heart of Wales trail, with walks from one railway station to the next on the lovely Heart of Wales Line.

1. Heart of Wales Trail

Hopton House is a couple of minutes walk from the station at Hopton Heath. It’s a request stop, so you need to put your hand out to ask the driver to pick you up!

You’ve got a couple of options. You can walk to one of the next stations, then get the train back or get the train and walk back. You can either travel north to Broome or Craven Arms or south to Bucknell or Knighton.

It does need a bit of careful planning as there are only a few trains a day. The timetables are here.

The trail is described here. We do have ordnance survey maps and copies of the trail book that you can borrow.

We don’t normally offer one night stays at Hopton House, but if we have availability mid week and you’re walking the trail and just need 1 night, please drop me an email and I’ll see if we can fit you in.

There are no pubs or restaurants within walking distance, but we do offer platters to be enjoyed in your room. You can choose from a local cheese, ploughmans, smoked salmon, vegetarian or vegan platter all served with homemade granary bread. The cost is £30 for 2 people and needs to be booked in advance.

5 walks in the Shropshire Hills - A pair of boots from someone lying down in a Shropshire Meadow on a beautiful May Day bed and breakfast shropshire
Taking a break in a field looking across to Clunbury Hill

2. A short walk to Hopton Castle

We’re about 25 minutes from the castle at Hopton Castle. This is the walk a lot of guests enjoy when they arrive to stretch their legs  or in the morning to work up an appetite for breakfast. It’s mostly up a fairly quiet lane but part of it can be across fields. The castle is open to the public with no charge. It was featured on Time Team a few years ago. You can watch the episode on YouTube here.

Since that episode was filmed, a lot of work has been done to make the castle safe to visit, including installation of information boards and a car park.

Shropshire Castles - picture shows ruined castle on green mound, reflected in pond against blue sky - Bed and Breakfast Shropshire
Hopton Castle in early spring

3. Shropshire Lad Walk

The poet AE Housman wrote a small volume of poems called A Shropshire Lad. It was very popular and sold in it’s millions at the beginning of the 20th century. This walk is based on the section:

‘Clunton and Clunbury,
Clungunford and Clun
Are the quietest places
Under the sun.’

Christopher Sommerville wrote up the walk and described it here. He starts the walk in Clun but we’re very close to the mid section of the walk, so you can walk it from the house.

The pubs or tearooms in Clun are a good place to stop off for lunch or I can do a packed lunch if booked in advance.

Shropshire Castles - picture shows green mound with ruined Clun Castle on the left and blue skies with why clouds - Clun Shropshire
Clun Castle

4. A Walk to Purslow Wood

Purslow Wood is one of my favourites to take Saffy for a walk. It’s lovely at all times of the year, but particularly lovely in October and November when the red oaks are at their most magnificent.

I tend to drive up to the woods and park up at the entrance. It’s about a mile from us ( turn left out of our drive, past the first road to Hopton Castle, then turn left by the farmhouse and the entrance is just on your right up the hill )

However if you want to walk it, the Bucknell Walking Group have described it from Hopton Castle here. I wouldn’t recommend walking on the road I drive to it as there are no verges.

5 walks in the Shropshire Hills - Autumn woods. Red oak leaves completely covering a track through the woods
Purslow Woods at the end of October

5. The Long Mynd

Church Stretton is called Little Switzerland. It’s a beautiful part of the Shropshire Hills with loads of walking opportunities.  A few years ago it was featured on a stamp as one of the most parts of the UK. It’s 12 miles from us and is about a 30 minute drive.

It is particularly stunning in Autumn and Winter. Church Stretton has lots of restaurants and cafes and is a dog friendly town.

View from the top of the Long Mynd - South Shropshire Bed and Breakfast
Views from the top of the Long Mynd in Winter

You can get the train ( or a combination of bus and train ) from Hopton House to Church Stretton if you didn’t want to drive. Again it takes careful planning as there aren’t many buses or trains a day.

If you fancy trying any of these 5 walks in the Shropshire Hills, Google maps is a great way of planning your train and bus journeys from Hopton House.

Dog on path in woods covered in leaves

Autumn in Shropshire

We’ve been enjoying  a lovely autumn in Shropshire. I’ve been taking the opportunity to take lots of lovely dog walks in the woods.

Purslow Woods, which you can walk to from Hopton House, but I tend to cheat and drive the 2 minutes up there, is looking magnificent. It’s full of sessile oak which has the most amazing coloured leaves right now. A lot of them have fallen, but in a few weeks time, when all the leaves have fallen, there’s a thick carpet of them to kick through.

We have  lots of availability for the rest of the autumn. The autumn duvets are on the beds and each room has completely controllable heating, so you won’t go cold. Book now for a late autumn break!

Here are some of my favourite autumn photos

a collage of autumn photos including apple pancakes, chickens, a butterfly and lot s of leaves - bed and breakfast shropshire

 

9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn

9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Shropshire is an undiscovered county sitting on the edge of the West Midlands between Birmingham and Wales. Here at Hopton House we’re just 6 miles from the Welsh Border and only 1/2 mile from Herefordshire. I’ve written this blog with just a suggested 9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn. There are of course many more great places to visit!

It’s not on the main UK tourist trail but one thing is certain, when travelers accidentally come across Shropshire, normally driving through it to get somewhere else or visiting a food festival, they invariably fall in love and return many times.

I love Shropshire for its wonderful countryside; dramatic hills, valleys and woodlands but it’s more than just countryside. There are a few things about Shropshire you might find quite surprising and  many things to do and places to visit.

If you’re interested in exploring the countryside, I’ve written a blog post linking to 5 great walks here.

If you love your history and castles, I’ve written about 5 wonderful castles you can visit in South Shropshire here

1. Home to the first successful food festival in the UK

Ludlow, in the South of the county and 20 minutes from us, has become well known in recent years for its food festival. It’s held every year in the 2nd weekend of September and was the first successful food festival in the UK. It’s held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and in the surrounding town. If you want to avoid the crowds, go first thing on a Friday.

Image is black and white, showing a castle tower, with crowds of people in front, some sitting on plastic chairs eating- visit the Ludlow Food Festival

2. Home to royals

Long before Ludlow became known for food, it was the administrative capital of Wales. Arthur, Prince of Wales, and probably better known as older brother to Henry VIII, was living at Ludlow Castle with his wife, Katharine of Aragon, when he died in 1502.  His heart is buried in St Laurence Church. The castle is home to the annual Medieval Craft Fair during the last weekend in November.

3. The Oldest Brewery in the UK

If you like your beer then Shropshire is the place to visit. It is awash with breweries and Bishops Castle is the home to the Three Tuns brewery, the oldest licensed brewery in the UK. There are several beer festivals held through the year, The Clun Valley beer festival is held in October.

4. The world’s industrial revolution started here

Given  how rural it is, it may come as a bit of a surprise that  Ironbridge in Shropshire was home to the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Today there are many museums for you to explore Shropshire’s industrial past. Blist’s Hill is an open air recreated Victorian Town.

5. Amazing geology

The Long Mynd is well known for being one the most beautiful areas in the UK, but it also has some of the most fascinating geology. The most famous Silurian site in the world is Wenlock Edge. A 400 million year old coral reef is now exposed and lots of fossils have been found here.

9 things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit and walk on the beautiful Long Mynd

6. Walk in the steps of Keira Knightley

If history, food and geology aren’t your thing and you’re more of a film buff, then Stokesay Court was the country house used in the film, Atonement. It’s open for guided tours once a month.  A special thank you to Tim King for letting me use his photo of Stokesay Court.

7 unusual things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit Stokesay Court, where Atonement was filmed

7. Visit the place where the modern Olympic Games all start

If you watched the Olympic Games in London in 2012, you may have wondered why one of the mascots was called Wenlock.  Much Wenlock in Shropshire is home to the Wenlock Olympian Games., which were started by Dr. William Penny Brookes. These games are thought to have inspired the modern Olympic Games that began in 1896.

Much Wenlock is a lovely town to visit and you can follow the Olympic Games Trail.

8. Enjoy amazing autumn colours

Whilst New England in America is renowned for its autumn colours, we also have some amazing displays here in Shropshire on a smaller scale. Last year the colours lasted well into November, which is when I took this picture. The hills turns purple with heather – visit the Stiperstones or the Long Mynd to get the best displays.

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - enjoy beautiful autumn colours

9. Visit Stokesay Castle

Just 6 miles from Hopton House, visit  the finest and best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. Stokesay Castle was built in the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England.

Yellow and timbered gatehouse against blue sky with fluffy white cloud. Visit Stokesay Castle the finest fortified manor house in England

If this 9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn blog post has inspire you to discover Shropshire for yourself,  Hopton House is perfectly located to visit all of these places. Check availability and book online today!

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn | visit English Castles | enjoy amazing scenery and autumn colours | visit the home of the modern Olympic Games and the industrial revolution

Blackberry Pancakes

Blackberry pancakes with an apple, blackberry and cinnamon compote

We’ve enjoyed a very busy summer here at Hopton House B&B, so it was about time for me to have a couple of days off, to rest and recharge, ready for a business autumn

Unfortunately, despite planning a long lie in, Storm Aileen did her best to keep me awake last night, then I forgot to turn off my alarm – d-oh. This was closely followed by a craving for sausages and pancakes ( I blame lack of sleep and the fact that “Come on Eileen” was stuck in my head and wouldn’t be removed till I play it at full volume )

Pancakes and sausages are my 2 favourite breakfast ingredients and, as it’s autumn, there are lots of lovely ingredients in the garden to go with them.  So I headed into the orchard, where the apples are throwing themselves off the trees and the wildflower meadow, where we have lots of blackberries just now.

I’ll be putting these pancakes on the breakfast menu for a short while, but book soon if you want to try them, as the blackberries won’t last for long

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM!

Delicious, fluffy blackberry pancakes with an apple blackberry compote | a perfect autumn recipe for using up a glut of apples and blackberries #apples #autumn # recipes

This recipe will feed 2 people very generously with about 5 small pancakes each. You could halve it for more  a manageable breakfast.

Pancake Ingredients

  • 1 cup ( 150g ) Plain ( all purpose flour )
  • 2 tablespoons ( 30g ) white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda ( baking soda )
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup ( 225 ml ) buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon ( 25g ) melted butter
  • About 30 small blackberries

Compote ingredients

  • 1 large eating apple – granny smiths are good – cored, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 10 small blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons ( 25g ) melted butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon on brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Method

Put the apples, butter, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small frying pan and cook over a medium heat for about 6 or 7 minutes.  Stir it frequently and keep an eye on the apples. It may take less of more time depending on your apple type. You want them beginning to soften but not disintegrating.

When the compote is ready, take it off the heat and stir in the blackberries and maple syrup.

Mix the dry pancake ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Stir the wet mix into the dry mix, Don’t over stir – just stir enough so that all the flour is mixed in. You’re looking for it to resemble a thick mix like extra thick double cream.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Brush the pan with melted butter generously, then put about a couple of tablespoons into the pan for each pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pan as the mix will spread. Put 3 blackberries into the top of each pancake.

When bubbles start to appear  on the top of the pancakes then flip and cook until browned on both sides – just pick up the edge of the pancake with your spatula to check how brown it’s getting. One of the tricks to getting perfect pancakes and is getting the temperature right. This will depend on the weight of your frying pan and the temperature of your cooker.

Serve with the compote and extra maple syrup if required. Oh yes  and I recommend a couple of sausages too, with or without Dexy’s Midnight Runners playing in the background.

5 autumn knitting patterns

5 Autumn Knitting Patterns

AUGUST 2019 UPDATE

Hi, I’m Karen and thank you for checking out my 5 Autumn Knitting Patterns blog post.  I’ve recently updated it with some of my latest knitting projects, so it’s now 6 patterns!

I run a small contemporary B&B in beautiful South Shropshire, England ( the view below is the one I wake up to every morning ). Shropshire isn’t on the tourist map – it’s just next to Wales – but once people visit they fall in love. Over 70% of my B&B guests are repeat visitors. Click here to find out more about Shropshire and why my guests keep coming back  here.

I taught myself to knit again 4 years ago and have become a bit addicted to beautiful patterns and lovely yarns. I also love to cook, spend time with my husband and rescue dog, Saffy,  take photographs, enjoy wildlife and just love the countryside.

Enjoy a long weekend in the country in Shropshire this autumn. Wrap up warm and enjoy a long walk kicking up leaves

If you’re on Instagram please do follow me for more of beautiful Shropshire

Back to the original blog, which does contain some affiliate links for wool – I have a yarn habit to maintain but I only link to yarns I love.

Whilst I don’t want to wish summer away too soon, I do look forward to autumn.  It’s my very favourite time to go away. We usually head to the English countryside, spending the day taking long walks,  kicking leaves and enjoying the countryside. I like to finish the day with a long soak in the bath with a good book. Then an evening curled up knitting in front of the TV.

When I start packing for my holidays these days, the thing I get most panicky about ( I have my capsule wardrobe sorted thanks to Pinterest ) is what knitting I’m going to take with me. To save you the same panic,  if you’re packing for a relaxing break away in the country,  I thought I’d share my very favourite top 5 autumn knitting patterns for you to enjoy. A couple  of the patterns are particularly suited to travel knitting.

If you want to enjoy a few days relaxing in the Shropshire countryside this autumn,  check availability, book a few nights at Hopton House and pack your knitting needles today!

1. Decorate your house with knitted pumpkins

5 autumn knitting patterns | knitted pumkin

I normally buy a few mini pumpkins to decorate the house in autumn, but last year I discovered this pumpkin knitting pattern. I’ve become a bit addicted to knitting these, which is good because everyone loves them and wants to take them away.

You can use any weight wool you have handy. Your pumpkin will be smaller or larger depending on the wool you use.

I knitted a beautiful little green pumpkin using one of my favourite yarns, Rowan felted tweed DK, I love it in avocado. You can buy it online from LoveKnitting here

Green knitted pumpkin - pumpkin knitting patter. 5 knitting projects to bring on your autumn trip to Hopton House B&B here in Shropshire

2. Wrap up in a beautiful Guernsey Wrap

5 autumn knitting patterns | wrap yourself in a Guernsey wrap

I’ve made 4 of these Guernsey wraps now. It’s my go to wrap for when I get a bit chilly. In fact I’m wrapped in it now as I update this blog. The wrap also works really well as a chunky scarf.

I made the first wrap with the recommended wool, but the second 2 with DROPS Nepal, which is a lovely springy alpaca / wool blend and is also very cheap!

My very favourite orange Guernsey wrap was made in this lovely West Yorkshire Yarns Spinners Croft. The leftovers also proved useful for a few pumpkins too!

Burnt orange knitted Guernsey wrap on kitchen table

3. A beautiful simple shawl in 2 colours

This is Passegiata by Woolenberry. It’s a really simple, but so effective,  knit.  The pattern uses a fingering wool but I use Malabrigo Rastita, which is DK, as I had some to use up from another project.

Teal and light green shawl, wrapped round a tailor's dummy

4. Get ready for winter with a knitted hot water bottle cover

5 autumn knitting patterns | hot water bottle cover

This is a fabulous free pattern for a knitted hot water bottle cover. It’s quite clever as you can adapt it to any size of hot water bottle. You can make it plain or add your own coloured design or cables.

5. A Quick Shawl fit for a bride

This beautiful shawl is made out of 1 100g skein of sock type yarn. It’s rosewater by Woolenberry and took me just a week to knit. I bought the yarn in Seattle on a holiday to the West Coast to the states. It’s Madeline Tosh Merino Light. Unfortunately the colourway, Cove, is discontinued but they have lots of other beautiful colours.

Grey blue lace rosewater shawl hanging on white wall

6. Groovy DK Portland Shawl

I feel in love with this yarn on our West Coast trip.  We were in Portland and I found a very posh yarn shop. My poor husband was stuck in the local Starbucks for a while. I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of the yarn but it’s 100% alpaca and came in 300g skein, which they kindly wound for me. The pattern is Groovy DK 

It is a really simple knit with just rows of knit and purl. It’s a great travel knit and I got through quite a lot of it on the long plane journey back to Heathrow.

Green groovy shawl on table with Emma Bridgewater greenfinch mug

5 autumn knitting patterns | some great knitting patterns to knit when the weather turns cooler | great Christmas presents

Please note that this blog post contains some affiliate links. I only ever link to products I use myself and recommend 100%! I don’t make a lot from this but it all helps with my rather large monthly vet’s bills

Pumpkin tomato soup

Pumpkin tomato soup

It’s approaching that time of year when soup becomes a staple lunch item on my B&B courses. Debbie, who provides the lunch, always brings along a soup made with fresh ingredients from her garden.

Here at Hopton House, I also make soups for mine and Rob’s lunch, using whatever produce someone has donated to me. Sadly, I seem to have run out of time to grow my own again this year.

I’m not a huge fan of courgettes, pumpkins etc in their natural state but I do like them when they’re combined with tomatoes in a soup. Tomato soup can be a bit thin and acidic when it’s just made with tomatoes, but by adding a pumpkin or courgette it mellows and thickens the soup.

This is probably the easiest soup in the world. And it’s very low calorie. I calculated about 70 calories per bowl, assuming you’ve got 4 bowls out of this recipe.

I make it with tinned tomatoes but you could use fresh if you have a glut.

If I have a large pumpkin, I’ll chop all the flesh up and portion it into 200g bags and just pop them in the freezer. You can then make more soup later on with the pumpkin straight from the freezer.

This also works well with courgettes and marrows.

Add 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat!

Pumpkin tomato soup ingredients

  • 200g roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves if you like
  • 1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock ( I use Marigold bouillon but I’ve also just used water with salt added when I’ve run our of stock )
  • black pepper to taste

Method

Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Bring to the bowl, then simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes. Puree with a stick blender. Check seasoning.

If you like you can serve with creme fraiche or soured cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Serves 4

An easy and delicious pumpkin and tomato soup recipe | very quick and easy to make | only 70 calories per bowl | can also be made with courgettes or marrows | try it today!

 

 

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Shropshire is an undiscovered county sitting on the edge of the West Midlands between Birmingham and Wales. Here at Hopton House we’re just 6 miles from the Welsh Border and only 1/2 mile from Herefordshire.

It’s not on the main UK tourist trail but one thing is certain; when travellers accidentally come across Shropshire, normally driving through it to get somewhere else or visiting a food festival, they invariably fall in love and return many times.

I love Shropshire for its wonderful countryside; dramatic hills, valleys and woodlands but it’s more than just countryside. There are a few things about Shropshire you might find quite surprising and  many things to do and places to visit. Here are a few of my favourites.

1. Home to the first successful food festival in the UK

Ludlow, in the South of the county and 20 minutes from us, has become well known in recent years for its food festival. It’s held every year in the 2nd weekend of September and was the first successful food festival in the UK. It’s held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and in the surrounding town. If you want to avoid the crowds, go first thing on a Friday.

7 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - visit the Ludlow Food Festival

2. Home to royals

Long before Ludlow became known for food, it was the administrative capital of Wales. Arthur, Prince of Wales, and probably better known as older brother to Henry VIII, was living at Ludlow Castle with his wife, Katharine of Aragon, when he died in 1502.  His heart is buried in St Laurence Church. The castle is home to the annual Medieval Craft Fair during the last weekend in November.

3. The Oldest Brewery in the UK

If you like your beer then Shropshire is the place to visit. It is awash with breweries and Bishops Castle is the home to the Three Tuns brewery, the oldest licensed brewery in the UK. There are several beer festivals held through the year, The Clun Valley beer festival is held in October.

4. The world’s industrial revolution started here

Given  how rural it is, it may come as a bit of a surprise that  Ironbridge in Shropshire was home to the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Today there are many museums for you to explore Shropshire’s industrial past. Blist’s Hill is an open air recreated Victorian Town.

5. Amazing geology

The Long Mynd is well known for being one the most beautiful areas in the UK, but it also has some of the most fascinating geology. The most famous Silurian site in the world is Wenlock Edge. A 400 million year old coral reef is now exposed and lots of fossils have been found here.

9 things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit and walk on the beautiful Long Mynd

6. Walk in the steps of Keira Knightley

If history, food and geology aren’t your thing and you’re more of a film buff, then Stokesay Court was the country house used in the film, Atonement. It’s open for guided tours once a month. On the 3rd September this year there’s a special open afternoon to celebrate 10 years since the film was made there. A special thank you to Tim King for letting me use his photo of Stokesay Court.

7 unusual things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit Stokesay Court, where Atonement was filmed

7. Visit the place where the modern Olympic Games all start

If you watched the Olympic Games in London in 2012, you may have wondered why one of the mascots was called Wenlock.  Much Wenlock in Shropshire is home to the Wenlock Olympian Games., which were started by Dr. William Penny Brookes. These games are thought to have inspired the modern Olympic Games that began in 1896.

Much Wenlock is a lovely town to visit and you can follow the Olympic Games Trail.

8. Enjoy amazing autumn colours

Whilst New England in America is renowned for its autumn colours, we also have some amazing displays here in Shropshire on a smaller scale. Last year the colours lasted well into November, which is when I took this picture. The hills turns purple with heather – visit the Stiperstones or the Long Mynd to get the best displays.

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - enjoy beautiful autumn colours

9. Visit Stokesay Castle

Just 6 miles from Hopton House, visit  the finest and best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. Stokesay Castle was built in the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England.

9 Things to do in Shropshire - visit Stokesay Castle the finest fortified manor house in England

Discover Shropshire for yourself. Hopton House is perfectly located to visit all of these places. Check availability and book online today!

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn | visit English Castles | enjoy amazing scenery and autumn colours | visit the home of the modern Olympic Games and the industrial revolution

 

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Recipe

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Recipe

We’re big fans of cinnamon here at Hopton House. My husband is particularly keen.  Normally I can’t tempt Jess & Rob with a fresh baked sweet bread in the morning, but they both make an exception for this.

OK it’s got a lot of sugar in it, but I’m a firm believer in enjoying everything in moderation. If you’re trying to cut down on refined sugar than leave out the cinnamon swirl mix and make it with honey instead of sugar.

It also tastes very good as a gluten free cake. Make with gluten free self raising flour and gluten free baking powder. Add an extra tablespoon of buttermilk as gluten free flour absorbs more liquid.

You  make it in a 1lb loaf tin  & it needs to be completely cool before cutting.  If you don’t have time to bake it for 45 minutes and cool it before cutting, you can make it as 6 muffins, cooking for about 20 minutes at 20 degrees higher oven temp and no cutting required.

This is  incredibly easy to make as it’s one of those cinnamon swirl banana bread mixes where you just bung everything into the mixer. It also lasts quite well so can be cooked the day before. Or you can double the mix and make 2 loaves and put one in the freezer.

Makes 1 lb loaf

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Ingredients

  • 50g coconut oil ( use sunflower oil or softened butter if you prefer )
  • 90g soft brown sugar ( caster sugar or honey – if using honey only use 60g )
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk ( you can happily substitute 1 tbsp milk or 1 natural yoghurt as who wants to open a whole buttermilk carton for 1 tbsp but it does create a fluffier result )

Cinnamon Swirl Mix

  • 4 tbsp of white sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C ( or 150 degrees for a fan oven ). Put all of the banana bread ingredients ( not the cinnamon swirl mix ingredients these are added separately ) into a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high for 2 minutes. Combine the white sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Line a 1lb loaf tin with a loaf liner. Put half of the mix into the lined tin. Take a 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon swirl mix then sprinkle over the wet  mix. You’re looking to have the mix completely covered with sugar & cinnamon. Then add the remaining wet banana bread mix to the tin and finish off with the rest of the sugar cinnamon mix.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes till they’re firm to touch. Just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t brown too much.

If you have any remaining sugar & cinnamon mix you can store it in a airtight jar for next time ( or sprinkle some on your porridge in the morning )

 

An easy cinnamon swirl banana bread recipe. It's moist and delicious and easy to adapt to make it gluten free or with no refined sugar Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread (3)

Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe

The best easy lemon drizzle cake receipe | based on a recipe by Mary Berry but made even lighter with buttermik | All my B&B guests love it | click through for the recipe and bake it this weekend!

Every guest who arrives at Hopton House Bed and Breakfast  has a whole cake waiting for them in their room to enjoy during their stay. Usually, unless I’ve had a special request, this will be a lemon drizzle cake.

This lemon drizzle cake recipe is based on one of Mary Berry’s, though I’ve adapted it to fit into 3 1lb loaf tins rather than making it up as tray bake. I’ve also upped the temperature which gives a nice cracked top to the cake which I like.

Replacing Mary’s recommended milk with buttermilk makes this lemon drizzle cake recipe even lighter and fluffier

Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe

You need 3 1 lb loaf tins – I line mine with ready made paper liners.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees ( for fan oven )

Ingredients

For the Cake

285 g (10 oz) self raising flour
225 g (8oz)  caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
225g (8oz) softened butter ( I normally just use a whole pack of butter which is slightly over 8 oz)
5 Hopton House eggs ( which is about 4 large eggs )
4 tablespoons buttermilk
grated rind of 2 large lemons

For the Drizzle

175g (6oz) granulated sugar
juice of 2 large lemons

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2 minutes.

Divide the mixture between the 3 loaf tins.

Put in the oven for 30 minutes – check after 30 minutes to see if the cake is firm on top. You will probably need longer but only allow 5 minutes at a time. You want just cooked.

Take out of the oven and leave for 5 minutes. Prick all over with a skewer ( I use my meat lifting forks – creates 4 holes at  a time – how lazy is that? )

Mix the sugar & lemon for the drizzle and pour over the cakes. After another 10 minutes take out of the tins & place on a wire tray – this is where is really helps having the ready made paper liners because it keeps any of the drizzle that has fallen down the sides in place.

This will keep for several days as it’s so moist and they also freeze well.

If you’ve enjoyed making this recipe, have a look at my recipe blog for more recipes from Hopton House B&B