Shropshire is England's largest inland county, covering an area of 1,347 square miles. To the west it borders Wales and to the south rural Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In the north is Cheshire and, to the east, Staffordshire and the West Midlands conurbation.
Towns and villages
- Shrewsbury - Shropshire's county town (population: 70,000) and the birthplace of Charles Darwin
- Bishop's Castle - a traditional and very small old English town near the Welsh border
- Bridgnorth - a town divided into low and high towns, described by Charles I as providing 'the finest view'
- Church Stretton - Shropshire's "Little Switzerland"
- Cleobury Mortimer - a small town in southeast Shropshire, between the Clee Hills and Wyre Forest
- Clun - a tiny town in the southwest corner of the county, described by A.E. Housman as "the quietest place under the sun"
- Ellesmere - in the heart of Shropshire's "meres and mosses" and home to 9 glacial meres (small lakes)
- Ludlow - has an impressive castle and church, now the 'gastronomic capital' of the Midlands
- Market Drayton - a market town on the Shropshire Union Canal and the home of gingerbread
- Much Wenlock - birthplace of the modern Olympics
- Newport - one of Shropshire's market towns
- Oswestry - a market town near the Shropshire/Wales border
- Shifnal - a town to the east of Telford, once an important staging post on the London to Holyhead road
- Telford - the largest town (population: 130,000) and named after the engineer Thomas Telford
- Wem - a small market town and home to the modern sweet pea
- Whitchurch - market town on the Llangollen Canal
- Whittington - a pretty little village near Oswestry and home to the impressive Whittington Castle situated in the heart of the village
Must see's in Shropshire include:
- The Ironbridge Gorge Valley, home to the World's first Iron Bridge and home to the 10 Ironbridge Gorge Museums
- The Shropshire Hills with magnificent views of Shropshire and its neighbouring counties
- Stokesay Castle, near Craven Arms and the oldest and best preserved manor house in England
- Ludlow, Shropshire's gastronomic town; specialist food and drink shops and markets can all be found here.
- Shrewsbury, Shropshire's county town and home to over 660 listed buildings including magnificent black and white examples.
- Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, home of the National Cold War Exhibition.
Since 1998, Shropshire has been administratively divided into two areas; Telford & Wrekin (described as a borough) covers about a sixth of the county (in the east) and the remainder is administered by Shropshire Council. However for most purposes it is still one county with the same media, press, emergency services, records service, etc.
The Shropshire Dialect of English is still spoken by many residents and dictionaries can be bought from some gift shops in the area.
Some parts of western Shropshire have a Welsh influence in their place names, and there are some Welsh speakers left in the county (particularly around Oswestry), though the vast majority of people living in Shropshire speak only English.
Shropshire is relatively easy to get to by road and rail.
The A49 (which runs from Lancashire to Herefordshire) runs through Shropshire from north to south, while the M54 and A5 run east to west and link in from the M6. The A5 and A49 converge at Shrewsbury.
Railways run into the country from six directions, all converging on Shrewsbury's railway station.
- The main line from the south (with trains running from Cardiff) has stops at Ludlow and Church Stretton.
- The main line from the east (with trains running from Birmingham and Wolverhampton) stops at Telford and Wellington.
- The main line from the northwest (with trains running from Holyhead and Chester) calls at Gobowen, the nearest station to Oswestry.
- The main line from the north (with trains running from Crewe and Manchester) calls at Whitchurch and Wem.
- The line from the west links the county with mid-Wales and the Cambrian coast; trains run to/from Welshpool and Aberystwyth.
- The line from the southwest is a minor route with infrequent trains to Swansea via a very rural part of Wales.
Shropshire is a predominantly rural area and sparsely populated. Car transport remains essential for travellers wanting to take full advantage of the county, despite recent efforts to increase public transport usage.
It is possible to see most of the major sites by public transport. However, trains and buses can be infrequent or seasonal.
Most towns in Shropshire have their own public transport and taxi service.
Seasonal shuttle buses give access to areas of Shropshire including the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (see Church Stretton).
With Shropshire home to over 32 castles, there is plenty of history and heritage to be found in Shropshire.
If gardens are more your thing, then you won't be disappointed. Shropshire is home to some 20 national collections including English Roses, Clematis and Tulips. Choose from the award winning Wollerton Old Hall Garden near Market Drayton, the Dorothy Clive Garden near Market Drayton and Hawkstone Park and Follies near Shrewsbury to name a few.
With over 90 attractions to visit, here is a taster of just some of the attractions that you can explore and discover:
- Stokesay Castle. A very romantic 13th Century fortified manor house.
- The Ironbridge Gorge Museums. The world's first iron bridge (oddly beautiful) spanning the River Severn. Birthplace of the industrial revolution, Ironbridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ironbridge Gorge Museums are nine award winning museums and sites that tell this momentous story.
- The Severn Valley Railway. Britains premier steam railway, 16 miles of glorious countryside and restored stations. Shropshire has many other steam train attractions besides.
- Wroxeter Roman City (Viroconium). The fourth largest Roman city in Britain. Wroxeter was also the city of Camelot from the ledgend of King Arthur. Much to see and learn. You can follow the trail of the Real King Arthur.
- The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford (Shifnal, Shropshire TF11 8UP). Aviation history brought to life, the largest collection of missiles in the country. Exciting displays of civil and military planes. Car parking available (charges apply).
- Weston Park. Ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford. Lots of events, concerts and the occasional world summit too.
- Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies. Wooded land of Grottoes, caves, cliffs and follies. Setting for the TV Chronicles of Narnia. Awesome.
- Wroxeter Roman Vineyard. One of the worlds most northerly vineyards producing red, white and sparkling wines.
Shropshire is an excellent place to find locally grown produce, farmer's markets and delis. The county is home to the National winner of the retail cheese awards and a national finalist in the Taste of England awards.
Shropshire specialties include Shrewsbury biscuits, Gingerbread, Whimberry Pie and Fidget Pie.
Traditional pubs and inns, tearooms and fine dining restaurants can all be found in Shropshire.
Shropshire is renowned for its real ale and leads the way in the local real ales revival. Here you'll find traditional pubs and inns and micro-breweries. The south Shropshire town of Bishop's Castle has one brewery that has been continuously brewing since 1642 and is home to another brewery too. Other notable breweries are Hobsons of Cleobury Mortimer and Salopian of Shrewsbury.
You can even try Shropshire wine at Wroxeter Roman Vineyard, an historic site near Shrewsbury. Choose from a whole host of wines including Shropshire Gold, Wrekin Reserve and Wroxeter Medium. The vineyard also offers tours and tastings.