Category Archives: Shropshire

Hopton House B&B is Open

We’re delighted to say Hopton House B&B is open for business following the recent lockdown. And we’re looking forward to welcoming back all of our repeat guests and meeting some new ones!

As many of you know, we were planning to shut the B&B for good at the end of September. But we’ve extended that to the middle of December to give our guests the opportunity for one last stay ( or more than one stay in quite a few cases )

You can rest assured that we’re taking all reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of anyone catching COVID-19 here at Hopton House. We have a dedicated page explaining what we’re doing here.

We are doing our very best to make sure your stay at Hopton House is as relaxing ( and familiar for our repeat guests ) as possible. There will be lemon drizzle, shortbread and delicious breakfasts.

Eggs Benedict breakfast at our Shropshire Bed and Breakfast. Poached eggs on bacon on a toasted muffin

Probably the biggest change, is that we won’t do interim room tidies whilst you’re staying with us. This is to protect your bubble and to protect ourselves. We will provide you with a box to put any dirty crockery, towels etc and to ask for replacements.

I’ve been spending much of Lockdown working hard on my B&B training Courses. You can find out more here . I’ve also been filling up Instagram with pictures of our amazing countryside. If you’re not already following us, pop over and join us.

Hopton Castle in South Shropshire, Castle ruins against blue sky with feathery clouds, surrounded by trees in leaf. Shoprshire bed and breakfast

Hopton House Closed

I would love to be writing a lovely blog post about newborn lambs, daffodils and the warm spring weather. And I promise I will get onto that soon! But my immediate priority needs to be letting you know what we’re doing here during this crisis.

I am very sad to say that we have the made the decision to close Hopton House B&B until the end of June.

As you’ll be aware, the government are advising against non essential travel and asking us all to social distance. An increasing number of local NHS doctors are also asking tourists to keep away to avoid over burdening local NHS services. For this reason, we believe that closing is the right thing to do.

We were planning to close Hopton House for good at the end of September. But we have decided to keep it open till the end of the year to allow our guests who want to move their bookings more flexibility.

If you have an existing booking with us in April, May or June

If you’ve paid a deposit or a non refundable, it would be really helpful to us if you could move your booking to a later date. The online booking system is up to date with all our current availability until Christmas 2020.

If you’d like your deposit refunded, please let us know and we will aim to do that as soon as possible. Please email at karenjthorne@yahoo.co.uk rather than phoning if at all possible

If we haven’t heard from you 2 weeks prior to your booking, we will get in touch with you to discuss what you would like to do.

I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe, and hope we will be welcoming you to Hopton House before the end of the year.

Karen

Heart of Wales Line Trail

Heart of Wales Line Trail Accommodation

The Heart of Wales Line Trail is a new long distance walk that weaves its way along the beautiful Heart of Wales railway Line. This 150 year old rural railway, mostly single track, starts in the the Shropshire Hills. It then passes through green valleys, past wooded hillsides, over viaducts and finally ends on the South Welsh coast.

The new trail starts at Craven Arms and ends at Swansea. At 141 miles long, it would take you about 10 days to do the whole walk. Or you could use the train to access sections of the walk. If you don’t want to do the whole trail, read more about other walks from Hopton House here

Heart of Wales Line Trail - looking over a wooden stile to a grassy field and clear deep blue skies
Stile above Hopton Castle looking towards Clunbury Hill

Why Hopton House B&B is the perfect place to start your journey

  • We’re just a few minutes walk from Hopton Heath Railway Station
  • Pre order a supper platter to eat in your room after a days walking (£30 for 2 people – can be made vegetarian/vegan/pescetarian on request)
  • Packed lunches provided on request ( £6.50 each )
  • Water bottles refilled from our filter tap
  • Homemade lemon drizzle cake and shortbread biscuits waiting in your room
  • Fully controllable heating in both rooms
  • Large baths and separate powerful showers
  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soap provided
  • Forget me not box of essential items you may have forgotten
  • Comfortable 6 foot wide beds and sofas and chairs to chill out
  • Heart of Wales Line Trail guide book and local maps to borrow
  • We can wash and dry clothes on request
  • Boot trays and outside hose
  • One ground floor dog friendly room

Find out why one Guardian journalist fell in love with the Heart of Wales Line here.

For a full description of the route and links to the timetables on the Heart of Wales Line, visit their website here

Need Help Planning Your Trip? Click here to drop Karen an email today!
4 images showing the B&B bedrooms and bathrooms at Hopton House B&B

If you’re planning to do the whole walk, then Hopton House B&B is perfectly situated to start your journey. Being just a few minutes walk from Hopton Heath Station, you can easily get the train to Craven Arms. Stay here as an overnight stop between Craven Arms and Bucknell or you could stay a couple of nights. Take the train up to Craven Arms on your first morning and walk back , then walk onto Bucknell the next day.

For those of you who just want to do sections of the walk, we’re obviously in the perfect location to do that. With maps and and copies of the Heart of Wales Line Trail guidebook to borrow, you can plan your trip.

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

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. 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

Great Shropshire Books

Three great Shropshire books to plan your visit

Shropshire is still something of an undiscovered county. This is great if you’re visiting. There are far fewer people here than in more popular British tourist destinations.

Of course,once people have visited once, they can’t understand why it isn’t more popular! Many first time visitors go on to become repeat guests at the B&B, having fallen in love with the county.

If you’re planning a visit but aren’t sure what to do when you come here, I thought I’d recommend some books for you to get a taste of the county.

Of course, if you want to wait for your stay, we have all these books available for guests to read here at Hopton House. They also make great gifts to take away or remind you of your trip to Shropshire.

Another idea would be to package up one of these books with a gift voucher for a stay at Hopton House – what a great Christmas or birthday present!

Click on the picture of each book to buy direct from Amazon.

Slow Travel Shropshire


Marie Kreft is a local author who has long been in love with Shropshire. She has written this wonderful guide on Shropshire for Bradt Travel Guides.

She moves around the county describing things to do in the countryside and towns, places to eat and stay. The emphasis of the book is on Slow Travel, taking time to enjoy local food, characterful places and leaving the car behind where you can.

A Year in Shropshire


Just released is this lovely book from the Hayward Family, filled with photographs of Shropshire throughout the year. John and his father, Mike Hayward, fill my social media streams with the most wonderful images and have now produced this great book.

It would make a great gift for any fan of Shropshire.

A Shropshire Lad


For the poetry lover in your life, this beautiful book combines A.E. Housman’s famous A Shropshire Lad poem with some glorious images of the local countryside.

If you look North out of both the Granary and Barn room you’ll see Clunbury Hill, immortalised in Housman’s poem:

“Clunton and Clunbury
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the Quietest places
Under the sun”
Great Shropshire Books - 3 books to help plan your visit to Shropshire England. They would also make great Christmas or Birthday gifts. #shropshire #travel #christmas #gifts
 
Please note that this blog post contains affiliate links. For each book you buy via Amazon I receive a small commission. I only ever recommend products I use and like myself. All funds received go to the dogs’ vet 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!