Category Archives: staycation

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

 

 

The Art of Doing Nothing Much in the Shropshire Hills

Most B&B owners, myself included, will have a whole section on things to do on their website. But I was thinking the other day about my own favourite holidays and they seem to involve doing nothing much at all.  

My favourites have been; lying on our hotel bed in Rome watching hundreds of swifts flying round the Pantheon, sitting on a beach in Maine looking out to sea for hours on end, lying in a Swiss meadow looking up at the mountains, sitting by a Scottish loch.

Luckily, living in Shropshire, I’m able to indulge in my favourite hobby of not doing very much in nature on a regular basis. I present to you;

The Art of Doing Nothing Much in the Shropshire Hills

Last Monday was an unexpected glorious morning. I had a long to do list but abandoned it to do the short walk to the top of our nearest hill and lie in the grass and just breathe it all in.

A pair of wellies on top of a Shropshire Hill with hills in the background and beautiful blue skies
Lying down on top of a hill in April

And it’s not the first time I’ve done that. I have an app called Timehop on my phone. It shows me pictures that I’ve posted on social media in previous years. It would appear that for the last 5 years in this 2 weeks in April, I’ve been walking to the top of that hill and doing nothing!

The previous week we had another perfect day,  so my to do list was once again abandoned and I drove to Rhos Fiddle nature reserve. Here I sat in a lay by watching lambs and listening to skylarks.

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

In February, I rediscovered a favourite road from here to Clunton Coppice. It’s a tiny lane with amazing views. This time I sat and closed my eyes and meditated for a while. On opening my eyes there was a Goshawk sitting on the post by the car watching me.

Back in May, I’d driven along the same road in search of a field of bluebells and ended up lying in a field doing nothing for an hour. That photo of my boots got on the BBC weather!

A pair of boots from someone lying down in a Shropshire Meadow on a beautiful May Day

Even on a rainy day I’ll quite often drive out and park up a lay-by with a book, just so I can listen to the rain on my car roof, with a beautiful green backdrop. Though on a very rainy day I’ll often just head to the Granary Room and sit and read or knit and listen to the rain.

a tiny Shropshire Lane with bare trees on either side
A tiny Shropshire Lane on a grey day

I’ve yet to do it ( it involves leaving a Mitsi for too long ) but one day I’m planning to jump on the Heart of Wales line at Hopton Heath with some mindless knitting and enjoy the beautiful journey down to Swansea just so I can come back again.

If you’re planning a visit and the idea of  doing nothing much at all appeals, let me know and I’ll share my favourite “doing nothing” places.

And if your  Idea of doing nothing involves not going out to eat in the evening, remember you can always order a platter to be waiting for you in your room fridge!

Local Shropshire Cheese Platter - B&B Shropshire, Hopton House

 

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!

 

Butterflies in Shropshire

Painted Lady Butterfly in Shropshire

With the lovely weather in Shropshire over the last few weeks,  we’ve been seeing an increase in the number of butterflies in the wildflower meadow. The meadow is a bit more wild than flower at the moment. However, this means there are lots of nettles for the butterflies to lay eggs on and for the caterpillars so eat.

I’m always excited to see the first painted butterfly of the year. The painted lady is actually a long distance migrant to the UK. You can read a bit more about it here.

Last Minute B&B New Year Special Offers!

As it’s nearly Christmas I’ve got some last minute B&B New Year special offers.

Shropshire is a beautiful place to visit and a great place to recharge after Christmas or enjoy a quiet New Year.

Put on your scarf and mittens and head out for a long walk, explore one of or market towns, stopping off in a lovely café for hot chocolate and cake, or just linger over breakfast and watch the birds, then chill out in your room and enjoy the Hygge! The heating is on all day and there are plenty of books and games to borrow.

If you’d rather not go out in the evening we can supply a local cheese, smoked salmon or ploughman’s platter. There are wine glasses in the room and we can slip some champagne flutes in there too.

Local Shropshire Cheese Platter - B&B Shropshire, Hopton House

Last Minute B&B New Year Special Offers

The winter is always a very quiet time of year here at the B&B, so I’ve created some special offer codes for stays between now and the end of February 2016. Press Book Now on the website and put in your promo code below.

10% off a 2 night stay – use promo code TwoDay10

15% off a 3 night stay – use promo code ThreeDay15

20% off a stay of 4 nights or more – use promo code FourDay20

If you can’t manage to stay with us before the end of February, then I’ve got a special promo code to use. Book your 2016 stay of 2 nights or more and pay your deposit before the end of December 2015 and get 5% off your stay. Use promo code DecTreat

Please note that only 1 promotion code can be used at a time and the discount applies to bed and breakfast rate only, not to any additional items purchased such as platters.

Good News – If you’ve already booked with us for next year, I’ll apply the 5% discount to your stay but please remind me if I forget