Shrewsbury to Bewdley
Journey across the beautiful Shropshire Hills
Follow the route - Shrewsbury to Bewdley
> From Shrewsbury take the A458 to the ring road where unclassified roads lead to Cantlop Bridge and Acton Burnell, 8 miles (13km).
Visiting Acton Burnell
On the edge of this picturesque village, with its timber-framed black-and-white cottages and grey-green stone buildings, is a cast-iron bridge, built in 1810 to a design by Thomas Telford. Acton Burnell Castle is a red sandstone ruin, which dates from the 13th century; it is said the first English Parliament met here in 1283.
The Church of St Mary is almost entirely 13th-century, apart from its Victorian tower, and contains memorials to the Burnell family who held the manor in 1183. It also houses memorials to the Lees family, who owned the village in the 17th century and who were ancestors of General Robert E Lee, chief commander of the Southern forces in the American Civil War.
Places to stay near Acton Burnell
> Follow unclassified roads via Frodesley then the A49 to Church Stretton, 9 miles (14.5km).
Visiting Church Stretton
Church Stretton is in fact three settlements. All Stretton lies to the north of the main town, and Little Stretton stands 1.5 miles (2.5km) south. The town’s medieval remains are in the High Street, along with its 18th- and 19th-century buildings. The Church of St Laurence is partly 12th-century Norman with a 14th-century roof. In the south transept is a memorial to Sarah Smith, the Victorian novelist who wrote under the name of Hesba Stretton. The town was popular with Victorians, who came to sample its natural spring water.
Places to stay in Church Stretton
> Continue south and pick up the B4370 then A489 before joining the A49 again to Craven Arms.
Visiting Craven Arms
This small village was originally the hamlet of Newton, but in the 19th century it developed and was named after a coaching inn. Today it is a centre for livestock auctions, at the foot of Wenlock Edge, a steep outcrop of limestone. Stokesay Castle, half a mile (1km) along the road, is the best preserved and the oldest example of a fortified manor house in England.
Places to stay near Craven Arms
> Keep on with the A49 a further 7 miles (11km) to Ludlow.
Ludlow is a pearl in a sea of riches and has been described as ‘the perfect historic town’, with nearly 500 listed buildings. Two buildings worthy of a visit are Ludlow Castle, which dates from Norman times, and the magnificent sandstone Church of St Laurence. Mainly 15th-century, it is the largest in the county and the ashes of the poet A E Housman lie in its churchyard. Nearby are the 17th-century Feathers Hotel and the beautiful black-and-white Reader’s House. Ludlow Museum, in Buttercross, tells the story of the town from Norman times, and a major arts festival takes place here in late June and early July.
Places to stay in Ludlow
> Take the A4117 going east for 6 miles (10km) to Cleehill and then Cleobury Mortimer.
Visiting Cleehill and Cleobury Mortimer
East of Cleehill, on the A4117, is an AA Viewpoint which offers amazing views over Tenbury and the Teme Valley, towards the hills in the distance. The strange ‘golf ball’ on 1,750-foot (533m) Titterstone Clee Hill, north of the village, is part of a satellite tracking station. Further along the A4117, running east, is Cleobury Mortimer, with its remarkable twisted wooden church tower. Hugh de Mortimer built a fortress here in 1160 and its earthworks can still be seen near the church.
Places to stay near Cleobury Mortimer
> Follow the B4363 turning right on to the B4194 through Wyre Forest to Bewdley.
This elegant Georgian town was a major port of England in the 17th and 18th centuries. For many years boats were man-handled up the River Severn by a hardy breed of boatmen called ‘bow hauliers’. There are pleasant walks in the Wyre Forest, and the Severn Valley Railway runs to Bridgnorth through fields and woods. Nearby is West Midland Safari and Leisure Park, with animal reserves and amusements.