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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
After a very busy summer and September we’re now into October. We’ve been enjoying some glorious weather, with beautiful morning mists and golden sunsets, and are loving seeing the colours gradually changing in the garden.
We were fairly full for October at the B&B but we’ve had a few last minute cancellations so we now have good availability, including our dog friendly downstairs Barn Room which is normally fairly well booked out throughout. Click on the Book Now! button for more details.
Remember if you’d rather not go out in the evening we can leave a platter in your room; choose from cheese, ploughmans or smoked salmon. This for just £25 for 2 people.
There’s a jar of homemade shortbread waiting for every set of guests in their room on arrival and it’s refilled daily.
This recipe is great for Christmas guests and would also make a great last minute present in an airtight tin.
I have Mary Berry to thank for the original shortbread recipe – thank you Mary
I’ve specified cornflour here. This makes a very soft, melt in the mouth ( or melt in your tea if you’re a dunker like me ) biscuit. If you like something a bit crunchier use ground rice, semolina or polenta.
You can add different flavours to vary your shortbread; powdered & crystallised ginger, chocolate chips, lavender flowers etc etc
Preheat oven to 140 degrees C ( this is for a fan oven, a conventional oven will need to be about 160 )
Line a 12×9 inch roasting tin ( if you own an AGA this is the small pan ) with foil or silicon lining.
Beat all the ingredients together to form a dough, then press into the pan and spread out so the top is even. Prick all over with a fork, then put into the oven.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.
Take out of the oven and leave in the tin till they are completely cool. If you take out too soon they may be too crumbly. Then take out of the pan and cut into fingers ( as thick or as thin as you like ).
Keeps for a few days in an airtight tin ( assuming you don’t live with my husband or have lots of B&B guests )
As we move into the Winter months, things always quieten down a bit here at the B&B. However we mostly stay open throughout the Winter months, so I thought I’d suggest some ideas of things to do if you’re planning a visit.
1. Linger over Breakfast
It’s not difficult to linger over breakfast in the Winter. Our view is amazing whatever the time of year. We have the log fire on at breakfast time in the guest dining room in the Winter months and keep the bird feeders in front of the dining room filled, so you can enjoy the wild birds as well as the chickens.
2. Do some Christmas Shopping
Ludlow and the surrounding market towns in South Shropshire have lots of independent shops, providing an opportunity to buy some unique gifts.
Of course all of our lovely local restaurants are open in the run up to Christmas. Always advisable to ring and book at any time of the year, but especially so around Christmas. I’ve compiled a list of restaurants here with phone numbers and postcodes.
Of course if you don’t want to go out you can always bring a bottle of wine and order a platter to be waiting in your room fridge.
4. Visit some Art Galleries
Each of our market towns has a collection of art & craft galleries. In Ludlow you’ll find the wonderful Silk Hat Gallery with regular exhibitions.
5. Explore a few National Trust Properties
The National Trust properties no longer shut over the winter but Winter hours may be reduced so check their websites before you go and visit.
Our local favourites are Croft Castle, Berrington Hall, Powis Castle and Attingham. They all have some Christmas events on – here on the ones at Powis Castle. The illuminated gardens sound magical.
6. Partake of the Local Beer
We are lucky to have more than our fair share of breweries in South Shropshire.
There are many varieties for sale at the Ludlow Food Centre or you can take a tour of the brewery at the Ludlow Brewing Company.
I’m more of a wine fan than a beer drinker but I will make an exception for a Shropshire Lass from Woods Brewery.
7. Walk the Beautiful Countryside
Those of you who have visited us before will know there are a multitude of walks to choose from locally. Take the drive to Clun and do a circular walk, then finish back at the village and enjoy a pint of local beer or visit the tea rooms. Or you can take the train up to the Long Mynd. The area called little Switzerland by the Victorians with good reason.
I’ve been a bit quiet online recently. Mr B&B brought back a rather nasty cold virus from one of his trips down to the South East and it’s taken me 2 weeks to recover. Luckily the B&B has been quite quiet so I’ve been able to rest once the breakfasts have been served and the rooms tidied.
I’m actually very good at and enjoy taking things easy. Unlike Mr B&B who can’t sit down for 5 minutes. Even when he’s watching a rugby match, he’ll pause it and pop outside for 30 minutes to cut up some logs or scythe a bit of the meadow. I think I was probably a dormouse in a former life.
4 Things I Love About Winter
1. Snuggling Down on the Sofa
I do like it, when the weather turns wet and windy and when all my chores are done, when I can just settle down on the sofa snuggled up in a throw, preferably accompanied by a dog or 2. Either just watching the weather or indulging in…..
2. Reading a Good Book
My favourite authors all seem to publish their latest books at this time of year. I’ve just finished reading Philippa Gregory’s book on Katherine Parr ( the 3rd book on Katherine Parr I’ve read this year ), I’m currently reading Bernard Cornwell’s latest and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Phil Rickman’s next Merrily novel.
Phil Rickman is a local author who has written a whole series of books about an exorcist vicar based in Herefordshire. You may have seen it televised as Midwinter of the Spirit on ITV recently.
I love Mr Rickman’s books and have read them all 3 times now. Despite the rather bizarre sounding subject matter, I do find them to be my favourite winter comfort read.
They’re also mostly based in Herefordshire and Wales and sometimes Shropshire. Mr B&B and I have done several tours of places he’s mentioned.
We’ve got a big library of books for guests to borrow.
3. A Long Cold Walk
I think autumn and winter are my favourite time for walking. I love the colours we have here in Autumn, but I also love Winter when the trees have lost their leaves. There are those amazing cold frosty days with clear blue skies. Just don a scarf,, hat coat and gloves and you’re ready to go. But I also love to walk when it’s dark and misty and drizzly ( odd I know ). Ludlow is an amazing place to walk on a dark mizzly day. Walking by the river and round the castle is so atmospheric and is perfect topped up with the most amazing carrot cake and hot chocolate at the Green Café.
4. Taking a Long Hot Bath
If you’ve stayed at Hopton House, you’ve probably worked out I love my baths. All our rooms have big double ended baths and bubble bath.
I do love to sink into a bath on a cold wet day, especially after that cold wet dog walk, for a couple of hours with one of my books.
If you live in the Midlands area and watch Midlands Today, the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed one of my photos of our wildflowers appearing on the weather forecast a couple of weeks ago.
The wildflower meadow has been looking particularly amazing this year. We’ve had masses of the white ox eye daisies and now the beautiful purple knapweed is taking over. Needless to say we aren’t short of bees!
It’s getting to the time of year when we have to start thinking about scything the meadow and cutting back the wildflowers. Cutting it back encourages more flower growth but also means we have fewer flowerheads for the birds. I’ve spotted bullfinches feeding there already this year.
Our solution is to cut back a couple of quarters of the meadow and leave the other half of the wildflowers till later in the year.
Bed and Breakfast Shropshire, B&B near Ludlow and Hopton Castle