We recently had the opportunity to stay at Arden House in Church Stretton which gave us a great opportunity to renew our acquaintance with Shropshire. We travelled in mid-August and were blessed with wonderful weather, sun all the way! We travelled down early on the Monday morning and unusually had no problems on the M6. Once we came off the motorway we stopped off at a farm tearoom, Hungersheath, en route to Market Drayton. We rather wished we had waited however as although the setting was lovely the food was disappointing – tepid filled oatcakes and it was one of those places that asked what you thought of the meal then seemed pretty disinterested when you reported a problem! We had a nice walk around Market Drayton and I bought a vintage umbrella at an antique/ junk shop there – well I only have four already! We moved onto Shrewsbury and spent some time exploring this lovely town, full of history, castle, cathedral, museums and delightful independent and quirky shops. I would also recommend a stop at the lovely gardens at Hodnet Hall or Woollerton Old Hall, especially for lovers of cottage garden style planting, if you are in this area but sadly we did not have time on this trip.
We arrived around 5pm at the apartment and the pretty Church Stretton area with fantastic views of Long Mynd and the Cardingmill Valley and following advice from Ian and Julie at Arden House we headed down to Housmans in Church Stretton, a pleasant but not strenuous walk. The menu here was quite kind to vegetarians and my other half had an adventurous tapas mix including interesting salads and hummus and I had a variation on arancini using potato instead of rice in the mix. Desserts sounded lovely too but we had no room!
The next day we rose early and got the chance to have a walk in the fabulous Cardingmill Valley (National Trust) before all the tourists arrived. I have never been here before and I was very impressed – the scenery is stunning and there were lots of lovely walks, benches to rest on, a NT tearoom (doesn’t open until 10am so too late for us!) and for adventurous types you can walk up the reservoir and swim there. We had a potter around the shops in Church Stretton and the excellent Antique Centre (yes, of course I bought a few things) before moving onto lovely Ludlow, only a short drive away via the A49. This is another very pretty town with masses of history, well known for being a foodie’s paradise and for hosting performances at the castle. Although we had a very inexpensive lunch here at a church cafe we emerged after just a few hours nearly bankrupt as the range of charity/vintage/antique and independent clothes shops were just altogether too tempting. We drove back on smaller roads, passing through Herefordshire and Powys borders and stopped off for afternoon tea at the clock tower tea room in pretty Knighton – not for the faint hearted as it is really hilly. This is a lovely tearoom with nice food and ever nicer staff, set in an old fashioned chandlers style store, something for everyone. The drive back was so scenic in the sunshine and the houses in the areas we drove though, stone, half timbered, thatched, all looked as if they had come directly from the pages of a fairy tale book and reinforced my opinion that Shropshire is England’s’ secret treasure of a county. Later we walked back down into town for a drink at a local historical Marston’s pub where we were able to sit outside and enjoy the fine weather, we also had time for a lovely walk around town accompanied by a carillon of bells from the local church which seemed to be practising its repertoire – a perfect end to a perfect trip.