Tag Archives: shropshire

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

Ralph

4 weeks ago we welcomed Ralph to our little family here at Hopton House. He’s another rescue dog, a 9 month old golden retriever crossed with a border collie ( probably ). If you’re on Instagram, you can follow the adventures of Saffy and Ralph here.

Like Saffy ( read more about Saffy’s arrival here ), he loves meeting new people. So he’s always available for a cuddle. But we know not everyone likes dogs, so guests only get to meet the dogs on request. Our garden is split into 2 and our dogs stay on their side. And the dogs can’t go near the guest rooms, which are both outside in a separate annex.

Saffy, our German Shepherd / Rough Collie cross is beside herself and loves having someone to play with. So our main problem, apart from pulling on the lead, is trying to stop her from constantly nagging him to play! For a 9 month old puppy, Ralph is actually very calm.

Ralph our new rescue dog. Black long haired dog with fluffy ears sitting on slate flooring. Dog friendly Shropshire B&B
Ralph

Unfortunately, because he still pulls quite a bit on the lead, I have to walk Saffy and Ralph separately. This means I’m getting lots of exercise, walking up our lovely lane and enjoying the autumn colours. Luckily Ralph is very keen to please, and also very fond of roast chicken, so he’s learning quickly.

If you want to bring your own dogs to Hopton House, we have one ground floor dog friendly room, the Barn Room.

If you like to walk your dogs in the woods. We have both Hopton Woods ( about a 6 minute drive to the car park ) or Purslow Woods ( less than 5 minutes drive ) from us. For on lead walking ( or very well behaved dogs ) our daily walk is along the lane to Hopton Castle.

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

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

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

 

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

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

Shropshire Yarn Shops

We’ve just come back from our Summer Break on the North West Coast of America. We had a great time visiting Vancouver BC, Seattle, Portland and Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.

We did a lot of sightseeing, walking, wildlife spotting and lots and lots of eating. I also discovered a new holiday passion and that was finding local yarn shops. It’s the first time we’ve been back to America since I discovered the knitting bug and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed visiting lots of lovely woolly shops!

For those of you that don’t knit or crochet you’re probably a bit perplexed by now, but those of you that are yarn addicted will understand.

So we’re back from holiday, a little jet lagged; it’s an 8 hour time difference. I’ve set 4 alarms to make sure I’ve been up in time for breakfasts this week, Luckily I have lovely repeat guests in who wouldn’t be too cross if I was snoozing whilst on duty.

I spent far too much on yarn whilst I was on holiday. I’ve just finished a shawl using the beautiful green alpaca yarn that I bought in Portland, Oregon.

Green knitted shawl with greenfinch mug - shropshire yarn shops

It got me thinking about the lovely yarn shops we have here in Shropshire, so I thought I’d share my favourites with you, so you can do your own yarn shop crawl when you come to visit

1) Ewe and Ply, Shrewsbury

Ewe and Ply is a fabulous little shop on the gallery level of Shrewsbury Market Hall. On Instagram they describe themselves as “Purveyors of fine yarns, quality notions and sundry items. Unreformed yarn geeks”

Shrewsbury Market Hall is a wonderful place to visit with lots of wonderful shops as well as some great restaurants and cafes.

2) Sheepish, Bishops Castle

Sheepish is in the market town of Bishops Castle, about 12 miles from us. They are passionate about promoting British and fairtrade yarns. They’re very friendly and happy for you to sit and peruse patterns.

Bishops Castle has a couple of galleries, cafes, good pubs and a few microbreweries. It’s home to the oldest brewery in England. All ideal if you’re with a reluctant yarn shopping partner.

3) Ippikin, Much Wenlock

Ippikin is another small, but perfectly formed, local yarn shop in the market town of Much Wenlock. It is a well established wool shop stocking fabulous yarns; both local and independent specialists as well as all the brand names. And also very friendly too.

Much Wenlock is a wonderful market town, with interesting shops, a fabulous priory and great pubs and cafes. It’s also very close to Ironbridge.

Local Shropshire History

If you were to ask me to name the thing that interests me the most , I’d probably have to see the local wildlife, but I’ve been taking a bit more of a interest in our local Shropshire history just recently.

Man has been living round here for thousands of years and has made his mark on the landscape. We have old drovers roads over a thousand years old. These roads connected village to village and some still exist these days.

We have many iron age hill forts in Shropshire. The Iron Age period covers the 900 years or so from 800BC.

Probably a couple of the  most famous historical periods that Shropshire is know for are the times of the War of the Roses and Tudor times when Ludlow Castle was an important stronghold.

In the War of the Roses the battle of Mortimers Cross was fought about 10 miles south of here.

Of course we have Hopton Castle within a 20 minute walk of the house. We actually had time team here a few years ago investigating its very bloody history. You watch the programme of youtube here.

But there are also lesser known mounds and earthworks that give a hint to what went on round here. I was driving back from Ludlow the other day when I noticed a mound covered with trees in a local field. It’s one of those parts of the landscape that you can’t see once the hedgerows are fully clothed in leaves.

A bit of internet investigation tells me that it is Broadward Hall motte and it’s the remains of a motte castle that controlled a crossing point on the River Clun.  I can’t get a definitive answer for how old it is but Motte Castles were introduced into England after the Normal conquest in 1066 and superseded by other designs in the 13th Century.

There’s a public footpath from the road that takes you along the river and past the motte if you wanted to take a closer look.

A bit more investigation also tells me that Warfield bank, the smaller hill you can see from Hopton House ( an the one that the dogs I are looking at in the photo above ) was also a motte, with speculation locally that it was built on a much earlier iron age fort.

If you’re interested in local history then I recommend a visit to the Ludlow museum.

Hopton Motte - Remains of Motte Castle near Hopton House near Ludlow

 

Win a 2 night stay at Hopton House B&B Shropshire

It’s always nice to get January out of the way so that we can start looking forward to Spring. Though I had a very nice January as it was my 50th birthday and I enjoyed some nice quiet celebrations with family.

This year the signs of Spring have arrived much earlier than usual. I was very surprised to find cowslips and blackthorn blossom in the wildflower meadow last week.

The snowdrops are also early this early and we’ve got some amazing displays locally. The photo above is from my favourite field about a mile from us here at Hopton House.

Spring also sees the launch of the Bradt Slow Travel book on Shropshire. It promises to be a fabulous book with lots of ideas of things to do to enjoy this beautiful county.

We’re very pleased to be included in the book. You’ve got the opportunity to win a 2 night stay at Hopton House B&B with Bradt – full details here

But please don’t put off booking your stay just in case you win. We’re getting lots of booking through already for 2016, 75% of those bookings from repeat guests so book soon if you’re after a specific date. If you’ve already booked and you win, I’ll apply the prize value to your booking.

Early signs of spring at our Shropshire B&B