The best Shropshire day trips – 6 places you need to visit

Ironbridge town high street in shropshire

The best Shropshire day trips - Everything you need to know

Are you planning a Shropshire day trip or staycation? Despite being, in my opinion, one of the most underrated counties in the UK, Shropshire has so much to offer when it comes to planning day trips. In fact Shropshire is one of the UK’s largest inland counties and at the same time, one of it’s most sparsely populated, which means plenty of green space, open air and countryside! Throw in some historic towns, waterfalls, stately homes and beautiful landscapes and you’ll have more than enough to do in a long weekend here.

Where is Shropshire?

Shropshire is an inland county situated in the central western part of England. It borders Wales, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire and the most well recognised towns you’ll find there are Shrewsbury and Telford, where I actually lived for quite a while.

You’ll also find the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty here, which actually covers around a quarter of the county and is well worth a visit to enjoy some fantastic views!

Ironbridge town high street in shropshire

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The best Shropshire day trips to historic towns and pretty villages
The best day trips in Shropshire for walking, hiking and enjoying nature
Planning your Shropshire day trips

Why Shropshire is perfect for a staycation

Whether you’re into historic towns, pretty villages or active hiking adventures, I promise you can find it all in Shropshire. Having lived in the county myself for about 6 years before moving up North, I’ve spent plenty of time exploring the local area finding the very best spots to recommend to you. Although I haven’t lived there my whole life, Shropshire really does feel like home to me!

Shropshire is also a county you can explore at whatever pace suits you. Whilst it isn’t densely packed with tourist attractions like some of the UK’s better known destinations, such as London and Manchester, you could easily spend a day in Shrewsbury shopping, exploring the markets and visiting the museums and galleries. Alternatively if you wanted to spend a day walking around Church Stretton at a leisurely pace followed by afternoon tea, that’s absolutely possible too!

Shropshire day trips - what's the best way to get around Shropshire?

The best way to get around Shropshire, without a doubt, is driving. Being a very rural area, most of the towns and villages in the county are quite spread out. Whilst there is public transport in the form of local buses, I always found the timetables to be fairly infrequent unless you were travelling within the Telford or Shrewsbury areas.

If your thinking of doing some Shropshire day trips by train, there are some good rail links to Telford and Shrewsbury from elsewhere in the country. You can find direct connections to Birmingham, Chester, Wolverhampton and even a couple of daily direct services to London Euston. For ease of travelling within the county though a car is definitely the best option, especially for some of the more ‘off the beaten track’ places.

Looking for cheap train tickets for your Shropshire day trip? Find them through this link.

Driving around Shropshire is usually really easy, most of the roads are fairly new, with wide lanes which mean traffic usually doesn’t tend to be an issue. In fact, the quiet roads are something I took for granted and really miss about living in the area. If you wanted to splash out on your visit you could always hire a classic car for a couple of days and enjoy the nice scenic roads.

The best Shropshire day trips to historic towns and pretty villages

If you’re a fan of rural charm, quaint villages and country estates, you won’t be disappointed with a trip to Shropshire. In fact the county is steeped in history, from agriculture to industry, to inspiring Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, there is so much to dip into.

These are my favourite towns and villages to visit for day trips in Shropshire, each beautiful to wander around and with their own story to tell.

1. Ironbridge

Ironbridge gorge in shropshire

Beautiful and steeped in history, Ironbridge Gorge attracts tourists from all over the world each year making it one of the most popular Shropshire day trips. Considered the birthplace of the industrial revolution, until not too long ago, Ironbridge’s skyline was dominated by two large cooling towers that served as a reminder of the town’s industrial past.

Ironbridge town by the river shropshire

Nowadays you won’t find billowing chimneys or the sights, sounds and smells of the factories that made Ironbridge famous, but you can learn all about the town’s history in the Ironbridge Gorge museums. You can step back in time at the Blists Hill Victorian Town, which is an open air museum made to replicate an authentic Victorian village. You can visit shops and traditional workplaces and find out from the very convincing actors about what life would have been like during the industrial revolution in Shropshire, and even try some food from the Victorian era.

Of course, we can’t talk about Ironbridge without talking about the main attraction – the iron bridge! The impressive structure which crosses over the River Severn in Ironbridge, giving the town it’s name, dates back to 1779. The bridge marked an important moment in British engineering, being the very first cast iron bridge ever built. The structure’s success and impressive strength paved the way for cast iron becoming widely used in other bridges and constructions, giving Ironbridge the status of World Heritage Site.

Fun things to do in Ironbridge

Ironbridge view of the town from the iron bridge
Ironbridge view over the river severn

A visit to Ironbridge isn’t complete without trying out some of the famous local food. Eley’s of Ironbridge have been making their world famous pork pies since the 60s, in fact they are so iconic that you can order personalised and even wedding pork pies!

Another British classic to enjoy in Ironbridge is fish and chips by the river. The Ironbrigde Fish & Chips is perfectly situated just a few metres up from the bridge and they chips are really tasty. Get a bag to take away and park yourself on one of the riverside benches for lunch with a view.

Once you’ve finished your chips you can take a walk along the river and across the bridge where you’ll find some lovely bridle paths to walk down. The paths can be a little muddy so make sure you’re in decent walking shoes.

During the summer months you can hire a canoe and take a nice scenic trip down the River Severn too.

2. Bridgnorth

Bridgnorth cliffside railway

Bridgnorth is another picture perfect town that makes for a perfect Shropshire day trip. The town is bisected by the River Severn and is technically split into two separate towns – High Town (the bit on the hill) and Low Town (you guessed it – the bit on lower ground by the river).

From High Town there are some fantastic views over the town below, the river, the Shropshire Hills and beyond. I should warn you that in order to enjoy these views you’ll need to climb a significant amount of steps, but it’s totally worth it and you’ll be walking through some of Bridgnorth’s most historic streets.

In fact the Cartway steps are the route that old carts used to take to haul goods up to the market, which is where the steps rather aptly get their name from. Altogether there are seven sets of steps up to the top of High Town, but there is also another way up if you’d rather avoid the walk!

The Bridgnorth Cliff Railway has been transporting joining High Town and Low Town since 1892, and remains England’s oldest and steepest funicular railway! Not only is the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway a functional link between Bridgnorth’s two towns, it’s also a fantastically popular tourist attraction on account of it’s traditional Victorian appearance. Be sure to check ahead here for current opening hours and restrictions due to the pandemic.

 

When to visit Bridgnorth

There isn’t a bad time of year to visit Bridgnorth for a day trip, but this pretty Shropshire town really shines in springtime. Along the river pretty cherry blossom trees come out in full bloom and floral displays also paint the rest of the town with colour!

Bonfire night is also another great time to visit Bridgnorth. Every year (well, maybe not 2020!) there is a huge bonfire and firework display at the Bridgnorth rugby grounds. The fireworks are usually really impressive and light up the whole valley. You can usually enjoy a hog roast there too if you want some hearty food to keep you warm.

Finally, you should absolutely visit around Christmas time. The town is lit up with gorgeous Christmas lights and decorations and there are plenty of cute independent shops and markets where you can pick up some really unique gifts for loved ones.

Bridgnorth River Severn in spring

3. Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury town centre

Shrewsbury is Shropshire’s largest town, it’s beautiful, it’s historic, it has great food and drink and plenty of places to shop. If you’re putting together an itinerary of Shropshire day trips for your next staycation, you should be sure to include this town!

The town centre of Shrewsbury dates back to the Tudor times. Walking past the timber framed buildings really does feel like you are stepping back in time. If you’ve ever visited York or Chester and fell in love with the architecture, Shrewsbury is a must visit! The town is the perfect size to explore on foot and there is plenty to discover. In fact, I’d thoroughly recommend you take some headphones and do one of these free audio guided walks to hear about the history of Shrewsbury while you walk.

Nestled within a loop in the River Severn, Shrewsbury is the perfect place to visit for relaxing river cruises, afternoon tea and café culture. Cobbled streets and the smell of freshly baked bread are sure to draw you in for a cosy afternoon of coffee and cakes.

Whilst shops are currently closed due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, you can still support the fantastic independent businesses in Shrewsbury by shopping with them online here.

The best day trips in Shropshire for walking, hiking and enjoying nature

If you’re looking to get away from the towns and get closer to nature, there are some fantastic Shropshire day trips for walking and hiking. As I mentioned further up, Shropshire has LOADS of green space, including the Shropshire Hills which are perfect for an active day out. Additionally there are some beautiful National Trust sites that make great day trips in Shropshire too.

4. Attingham Park

Deer at Attingham Park Shropshire
Attingham Park house
Bluebells at Attingham Park grounds

Like walking into the setting of a romantic novel, Attingham Park is a truly fantastic place to visit. The National Trust site boasts 200 acres of beautiful grounds, complete with an 18th century manor that you can take a tour of and learn all about the history of the estate and what it was like to live or work there.

Visiting the estate is currently only possible by pre-booking your entry, so be sure to plan in advance if you are going to visit and book your ticket here.

Walks around Attingham Park

The enormous grounds at Attingham Park make it the perfect place for a long walk in the fresh air. In fact you can often see Deer grazing on the estates manicured lawns, with over 200 deer calling the grounds of Attingham Park home. You can find out more about Attingham’s deer heard in the brilliantly named Deer Diary.

The surrounding woodlands of the manor are also brilliant to walk around throughout the year. During the Spring the forest floor in Attingham Park turns blue with a carpet of bluebells, and in the autumn the leaves turn fiery shades of red and orange. Be sure to bring a camera!

You can also take a walk around the walled gardens near the manor, which have beautifully curated flowers, fruits, vegetable and herbs growing throughout the year. Some areas of the garden are currently restricted due to the pandemic so again, be sure to book in advance.

5. Carding Mill Valley

Another one of my absolute favourite places to visit in Shropshire is Carding Mill Valley. Carding Mill Valley is another National Trust site near Church Stretton in the Shropshire Hills, which has plenty to explore including waterfalls, streams, heathland and amazing views. Bear in mind that this one is more suited to hikers, so remember to wear suitable clothing and sturdy walking shoes!

Carding Mill Valley, or the Long Mynd as it is also known is also a great place to visit if you enjoy nature and landscape photography. You can make the most of the mixture of wildlife, natural beauty and also opportunities to get some great photos of the night sky if you’re there late enough.

Horses at Carding Mill Valley National Trust
Carding Mill Valley waterfall

The best walks around Carding Mill Valley

The song might say not to go chasing waterfalls, but I have to disagree with that sentiment! There are a lot of beautiful trails to follow around Carding Mill Valley, but my favourite is definitely the Lightspout Waterfall trail.

The trail takes you from the main car park by the National Trust café, through the valley, past rocky streams and smaller waterfalls until you eventually reach the main attraction – the Lightspout Waterfall. The trail gets very rocky and requires some careful footing, so again, come dressed for hiking, but the whole walk is really pretty and an absolute dream if you like doing long exposure photography.

In terms of length though, the walk is only about 1.5 miles each way, meaning you can complete it in a morning or afternoon with plenty of time for a cup of tea and a sandwich afterwards! 

6. The Wrekin

The Wrekin is a bit of a local challenge for people in Telford. The hill is pretty much the only notable peak for a few miles around and while it may not be a huge mountain by any measure, boy is it a steep walk!

If you’re up for the challenge though, you’ll be greatly rewarded with unbeatable views over Shropshire and beyond. From the top of the Wrekin you’ll see miles of countryside as well as being able to see local towns such as Ironbridge from above.

The walk itself is challenging, but manageable for most – in fact, you can actually run up if you have the stamina to take on a 407m elevation. It’s not just about the views either, the trail has a rich geological history.

Even more interesting is the folklore legend of how the hill came to be made. The legend goes that a giant with a grudge against the town of Shrewsbury was carrying a shovel full of dirt towards the town with the intention of dumping it in the River Severn and flooding the town. On his way he passed a shoemaker carrying a sack full of shoes and asked him how far away Shrewsbury was. The quick thinking shoemaker told the giant that Shrewsbury was a very log way away, pointing at his big bag of shoes and explaining how many pairs he’d worn through on his journey from the town. The giant decided to give up and dropped his shovel full of dirt, which came to be known as the Wrekin.

View from the top of the Wrekin

Planning your Shropshire day trips - Where to stay in Shropshire

Budget stays – Premier Inn Telford

Telford’s Premier Inn is ideally located in Telford town centre, close to The International Centre and with easy transport links to the M54 and Telford Central train station. The hotel was built just a few years ago and offers comfort as standard at an affordable price.

Boutique Bliss – The Hundred House Hotel

The Hundred House is a beautiful little boutique hotel, which also boasts a 2 AA rosette restaurant. The hotel is ideally situated between Ironbridge and Bridgnorth and the rooms are decorated in a quirky and opulent style. Along with some beautiful gardens and a refurbished barn on site, it’s not hard to see why so many also choose to get married here too!

Something extra special – Hawkestone Hall

For country manor staycation style, you can’t go wrong with Hawkstone Hall. The beautiful estate near Shrewsbury has acres of land to explore along with luxurious rooms and spa facilities.

Find the perfect place to stay for your Shropshire staycation

Planning your Shropshire day trips - The best places to eat and drink in Shropshire

These are a few of my personal favourite places to eat and drink in Shropshire, be sure to fit some of these into your staycation if you are planning a visit!

Jenko’s Mongolian Barbeque

As fresh as fresh gets – at this great indie restaurant you pick your bowl of ingredients – meat, veg, spices, rice/noodles/pasta – and hand it to the chef who cooks it in front of you on the impressive Mongolian BBQ. There are so many combinations to try you’ll want to keep going back for more!

Novello Lounge

The best place for an informal meal. At Novello you just walk in, find a table then order at the bar. The food is great value and great quality too, with everything from avocado on toast for brunch to tapas in the evening.

The Mytton and Mermaid

The most picturesque spot to stop for a drink. This pub/hotel is located along the River Severn, so you can sit in the beer garden and watch the canoes go by as you drink.

Smokestop BBQ

Another great authentic local restaurant. Smokestop does real all-American style BBQ meat, cooked low and slow for maximum flavour. I guarantee you will not leave this place hungry – the portions are generous and really delicious. I’d recommend their burgers and shakes any day – the fried pickles are a must too!

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