Whilst its always exciting to take a long trip in the campervan, or to venture across the channel, there is something utterly charming and infinitely relaxing about tootling through our fine English countryside in the camper.
In 2012, we had planned a week in the Derbyshire dales, an area well known to us. But when we then realised that we needed to be in Birmingham in the middle of the week, we decided to explore the Shropshire Hills, an area new to us. From here we could easily get to Birmingham for the day without massively interrupting our holiday. We were delighted with what we found and have returned on several occasions since.
The area is relatively quiet and unspoilt. There are not many tourists in comparison to other beautiful rural locations such as the Cotswolds, or the Yorkshire Dales. Yet the countryside is stunning with the beautiful Long Mynd and Stiperstones ridges which offer walks with stupendous views, and charming sleepy towns such as Clun, Bishop’s Castle and Much Wenlock.
We had many of the campsites largely to ourselves, although it has to be said, it had been a particularly wet July, and some pitches were pretty waterlogged.
Our week- long tour took in:
Bridgnorth which claims to have the world’s oldest and steepest inland cliff railway.
The Wrekin – a hill near Telford which we have passed on many occasions on our journey to mid Wales, topped with the visible remains of an prehistoric hillfort.
Bury Ditches – this was one of those unexpected finds which we came across as we were driving having never heard of the place before. Bury Ditches is a hill fort dating from about 500BC and is said to be one of the best-preserved hillforts in the country. There is no entrance fee, just information boards around the site, and, on the day we were there, no other visitors. The area is home to a beautiful variety of wild flowers and grasses, with butterflies and bees in abundance.
Snailbeach lead mine, – the remains of the lead mine and its narrow gauge railway were fascinating to explore and again we had the place to ourselves although the rain may have played a part.
We did spectacular walks on the Long Mynd and Stiperstones as well as a fascinating walk on Clee Hill which has some interesting industrial quarrying remains, with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. On the day we were there, the quarry was being used as a backdrop for a glamour model phot shoot: Tracey was obviously more suitably dressed for the terrain.
We especially liked the town of Bishop’s Castle, not least because of its two breweries, the Six Bells and the Three Tuns which is the oldest working brewery in Britain.
Ludlow is an equally charming town with a castle, market place interesting quirky shops and a reputation for good food and drink. It too has a brewery where we have done a very interesting and tasty brewery tour on a subsequent visit.
The campsite we found at Little Stretton was perfect in many ways, situated close to the village which has a couple of pubs (which was handy as our visit coincided with the Wimbledon final in which Andy Murray was playing) and with paths leading straight up to the Long Mynd.
We found a site within walking distance of Ludlow town which gave us a nice opportunity to eat out and sample the fine local ales.
Our night at Foxholes camping with footpath access into the town, was disappointing on this occasion due to persistent rain. However, we could see what a great site it was and returned with a large group in 2013 to celebrate Andy’s 50th and with family in to stay in one of the eco-cabins on the site.
So, it’s thanks to our daughter Emma that we discovered this beautiful place, to which we have returned on several occasions. Had she not given us pretty short notice of her graduation from Birmingham University in the middle of our booked week off , we may have stuck with our original plan to go to Derbyshire and be none the wiser of this somewhat hidden gem. Thanks Emma.