Category Archives: countryside

Shropshire Castles

Shropshire Castles

It’s quite difficult to explore the Welsh Marches without bumping into a castle.

The Welsh Marches is a beautiful area with green hills, hidden valleys and woodlands. It covers the borderlines between England and Wales. If you stay away from the touristy parts ( and to be honest we don’t have too many of those ) it’s possible to walk all day without seeing another person. But today’s peace and quiet belies a violent and bloody past.

We’re in the border lands here between England and Wales. Some of the bloodiest battles of the English Civil War were fought here. Castles were built all along the border to help in the defense of the lands.

One of the most well known battles of the War of the Roses took place at Mortimer’s Cross. It’s here, in 1446,  that the army of Edward ( crowned Edward IV later that year ) saw a parhelion, which looked like 3 suns were rising at once. They took this as a sign from God that they would be successful. Philippa Gregory fans will have read about this time period in her White Queen Series.

Just north of Mortimer’s Cross is Wigmore castle ( 7 miles South of Hopton House ), which was the castle of the powerful Mortimer clan.

Just a mile from us, a lovely 20 minute walk, is Hopton Castle. It’s known for the bloody massacre that followed a 5 week siege by a group of parliamentarians in 1644. They surrendered, expecting to be taken prisoner, but all but one of them( about 30 men ) were massacred and their bodies left in a pit.

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

The Channel 4 series, Time Team, investigated the site in 2010 ( the whole programme is available on Youtube ). They didn’t find any bodies but decided against searching in the place they were most likely to be buried.

If you believe in these things, Hopton Castle is meant to be the most haunted castle in the Welsh Marches. I wouldn’t go there at night ….but I’ve never had any problems during the day ;-)

Six miles to the west of us lie the ruins of Clun castle. It was besieged by King John in 1216. Clun is a lovely little village with local pubs, tea rooms, the river Clun running through it and a starting point for some beautiful circular walks.

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

If you travel 6 miles to the east of Hopton House, you’ll be able to visit Stokesay Castle. Built by Laurence of Ludlow in the 1200’s, it remains one of the best preserved fortified manor houses in England.

Shropshire Castles - picture shows yellow and black beamed building behind grave stones - B&B Shropshire

Finally, I nearly forgot Ludlow Castle ( 11 miles from Hopton House ) Founded in the 11th century, Ludlow has been a very important castle throughout the ages. Probably most famous ( depending on your favourite historical era ) for being the place where Henry VIII’s brother, King Arthur, died whilst he was living there with Catherine of Aragon. Prince Arthur’s heart is buried in St. Laurence’s Church in the town.

shropshire castles - pic shows ludlow castke with trees in front and blue skies and hill behind - english castles

Shropshire Events 2019

Shropshire Events 2019

Many of our guests visit just to walk or drive around, exploring our beautiful countryside and market towns. But there are also lots of events on throughout the year. If you fancy Shropshire for a staycation and want to stay with us for any of these events make sure you book soon! 

Getting Around

For those events in Ludlow, especially those involving some of our lovely local beers, you can get a bus from Hopton Heath on Monday-Saturday. It’s the 740 and doesn’t run terribly regularly so you’ll need to plan your journey. Here’s a link to the timetable.

If you’re heading up to Craven Arms, Church Stretton or Shrewsbury you can get the train from the Heart of Wales request stop at Hopton Heath. Again we’re not talking a huge number of trains, but perfectly doable with some planning. Here’s a link to their timetable

There can’t be many rural B&Bs where you can around using a bus and a train a few minutes walk from the door!

Most Popular Shropshire Events 2019

I’ve listed a few of this year’s main events here:

Ludlow Spring Festival 11th and 12th May 2019

Enjoy great local food, beer and the Marches Transport Festival at the Ludlow Spring Festival.There’s a pudding trail and a pie trail, lots of different talks and, if beers not your thing, a gin and jazz bar. Their website is here

Here’s a picture of Mr B&B at last year’s festival looking at a car ( don’t ask me what type ;-))

Shropshire Events - Ludlow Spring Festival. Photo shows man in blue shirt looking at old green open top vintage car - bed and breakfast shropshire

 

Shrewsbury Food Festival 29th and 30th June

A newer festival but growing each year, the Shrewsbury Food Festival has over 200 food, drink and craft exhibitors, as well as talks, demonstrations and entertainment. Website is here

Ludlow Dog Day 21st July

If you’re a dog lover, the Ludlow dog day on 21st July is a must. There are lots of activities to watch or get involved in with your pooch. It’s held at Stokesay Court, where the film Atonement was filmed. There are tours of the house on the day too. Website is here

This is our own Saffy enjoying here visit there last year.

Shropshire Events - German shepherd type dog at Ludlow Dog Day  looking away from the camera - dog friendly bed and breakfast shropshire

Ludlow Food Festival 13th,14th and 15th September

The famous Ludlow Food Festival is on the 13th,14th and 15th September. Website is here

Shropshire events - Ludlow Food Festival - Black and white photo of Ludlow Castle with a big crowd of people and marquees at the food festival - bed and breakfast shropshire

Ludlow Medieval Craft Fayre 23rd and 24th November

The very popular Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre is on the 23rd and 24th  November. It’s a great atmosphere with all the stallholders dressed up in medieval costume. It’s a great place to eat, drink and buy unusual Christmas gifts. Website is here

Those are just some of the main Shropshire events 2019. There are many, many more events, attractions and place to visit over the year. Take a look at the Shropshire Events Guide or if you’re on facebook, then Let’s Go Ludlow share as many events at these can. Give them a follow!

Spring is nearly here!

Whilst it’s still officially Winter, there are signs that Spring is nearly here! And the first day of spring is less than 4 weeks away.

We had some snow last week and yesterday we drove to the top of a hill and enjoyed a walk in quite deep snow with Saffy. But today has been glorious.

stream flowing through green fields, with blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a few bare winter trees - bed and breakfast shropshire

Throughout the winter, I’ve been out everyday walking Saffy, no matter what the weather. It’s rather wonderful when an unseasonal warm day comes along. Today I took my coat off and sat down next to a stream, enjoying the sound of the water and the birds serenading me. The sun was warm on my face and there was just a light breeze.

The snowdrops are just about at their best right now. They’re out up the lane to Hopton Castle and there’s a rather wonderful field filled with them on the drive to Clungunford.

Spring at Hopton House B&B - a drift of snowdrops blowing in the breeze

If you’re planning a break to Hopton House, April is getting quite booked up but we have still got good availability in February, March and May.

If you’re a fan of food festivals ( and beer and vintage cars ) we still have availability for the Ludlow Spring Festival on 11th and 12th May.

 

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.

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.  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