Shropshire is a bit out of reach but it’s just as impressive as the more popular Lake District or Yorkshire Dales and less crowded for a pleasant stay
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“Where exactly is Shropshire?” is the general response I get when I tell people about stay. Their response surprised me, though I must admit that I know very little about the county beyond its vague geography.
With Wales to the west and Birmingham about an hour’s drive to the east, Shropshire doesn’t look like it’s in the middle of nowhere.
It doesn’t have a name in the light like the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales, but as I see it, that doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive.
Driving through the undulating hills of the Shropshire countryside, I marveled at how stunning the landscape was. Why don’t more people talk about this place, I wonder.
But the secret is I’m glad it’s a bit out of reach. It means we don’t fight through crowds like in some of the more popular tourist areas.
In one walk – the 6.8-mile walk to Linley Bearies – we didn’t see a single person. Just a few cows and sheep for friends. That rambling brought us to a mile-long row of old oak trees in Linley Hill, which stood as striking as a line of soldiers. These are some of the county’s most iconic treescapes.
Shropshire is a walker’s paradise so we went – me, Ben, my husband and our six-month-old Asa all swam with him.
Next, we tackle the Caer Caradoc hill. One word of advice – don’t let the word “hill” fool you. It’s like a mountain in places to us.
The Caer Caradoc overlooks the market town of Church Stretton, home to numerous cafes, antique shops and independent traders. If walking up the hill isn’t your thing, you can feel free to pound the sidewalk here instead.
As soon as you step into Berry’s – an award-winning cafe located on the ground floor of the Queen Anne townhouse – you’re met with a delicious-looking pastry stand. But I ordered scrambled eggs and smoked salmon to fuel those hills.
The area is a great base for tourists, especially hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and nature lovers.
Our getaway for the week was The Dovecote, built on an 18th-century driver’s house, and set through Sykes Cottages, just down the road in the village of Wistanstow.
Surrounded by the fields of Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it provides the perfect setting for a romantic break for two (plus babies).
Alamy Stock Photo)
After increasing our step count, the dainty cottage also provided the perfect antidote – a hot tub.
Inside is an open-plan living space. With high ceilings and a magnificent acoustic fireplace with wood-burning stove, this is the perfect space to relax.
Modern furniture perfectly complements the character and charm of the property’s original beams and raw brick. Affectionately restored, all the ironwork in the cottage is either original or handcrafted by the local blacksmith.
On the first floor is the deluxe master bedroom with a king-size bed and a rollaway bathtub with handheld shower and en suite shower room.
Outside, a lovely garden surrounds the hot tub, which is where we spend each night with a glass of wine after putting the kids to bed.
Owners Julie and Wayne go the extra mile with the attentive care they give to their guests. We arrived to find a tempting box of donuts waiting for us – just what we needed after a long drive – as well as a jug of milk.
They also put a travel cot at the end of the bed for our little one.
As we proudly got out of the hot tub, we explored more of the surrounding countryside, including the National Trust’s Long Mynd, with its beautiful heather-covered plateau.
We also visited nearby Ludlow for the day. Just 15 minutes by train or drive south, this thriving medieval town features beautiful architecture, Michelin-starred restaurants and its very own castle.
We enjoyed Sunday lunch at Ye Olde Bull Ring Tavern, an outstanding 14th-century tavern.
The town of Craven Arms was a two-mile walk from our house and had a well-stocked country supermarket.
And within stumbling distance of our holiday home was the Plow Inn, just a five-minute walk across the street.
But there’s a lot to keep us busy at The Dovecote, with Smart TVs with Freeview and access to Amazon and Netflix, as well as wi-fi and a Sonos music system.
A starter pack for the wood-burning stove was provided and a pizza oven available upon request.
So now that I’ve told you all about the fun of secret Shropshire, let’s pass it on. But maybe not for too many people…
Book a vacation
Sykes Holiday Cottages offers seven-night self-catering stays at The Dovecote near Wistanstow, Shropshire, from £953. Find out more at sykescottages.co.uk.
You can also get more information at Visitthropshire.co.uk
https://www.mirror.co.uk/travel/uk-ireland/scenic-shropshire-uks-staycation-surprise-26478725 Shropshire is an unexpected place to stay with lovely promenades, great cafes and signature pubs