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Short Breaks from Shrewsbury

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Ever needed to just get away, but you can't go for too long? Please tell us about your short breaks away (e.g. day trips, road trips or weekend breaks), whether it be for ultimate relaxation, or to be active and practice hobbies you may have (fishing,

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      15.09.2005 23:20
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      History abounds in and around Shrewsbury

      Shrewsbury is bounded by the river Severn, it's home to 72,000 people and attracts visitors from all over the world.


      It's a great place to visit for all the attractions it offers for itself or you can do what my friend and I did, we used it as a base and travelled out to the many interesting attractions, on drives out into the Shropshire and nearby environs.

      We stayed at the YHA hostel, at the time in an old ex stately home which had obviously been the residence of a well to do iron factory owner. I believe it was having permit problems and may not be there now.

      On our district explorations we visited Lilleshal Abbey ruins, Boscobel House, Wroxeter Roman City ruins and the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site, Ironbridge Valley of Invention, which has 8 museums; we visited one, Blists Hill Victorian Life.


      Lilleshal Abbey is a huge ruin, it's beautiful in springtime with really stunning daffodils blooming in and around this abbey which was first settled in 1143 by a group of canons. There are some parts which are well preserved, like the Walls Chapter House and the processional doorway at the South East corner of the nave, leading into the cloisters. My friend climbed up one of the turrets and said the view of the surrounding countryside was truly fabulous.

      We visited there because a colleague at my newspaper in New Zealand had traced her forebears to being resident there at some stage. I took heaps of photos and took them back to New Zealand and she was so enthralled with what she saw and vowed to visit herself when in the United Kingdom.


      Then off to Boscobel House. This is interesting because it is a lovely black and white construction and worthy of a visit in its own right. But, you have to see the descendant of the Royal Oak trees which Charles II hid in while the enemy soldiers hunted for him after he'd lost the Battle of Worcester with Cromwell. He'd been helped by the 17th century farmhouse owners and that night they took him inside and fed him before he set off on a six week journey to escape to France.

      There is an excellent tour of the house; we were lucky to have an enthusiastic guide who included the children in the ''play'' on history throughout the house. On the top floor you see a special trapdoor to ahole below the floor, where the priests would be hidden if the soldiers came - as religious services were not allowed.


      Wroxeter Roman city ruins is very well set up with a really clear tour of how the city operated and especially interesting is the bath house. This city was a fortress for Legio XIV and then Legio XX and eventually it served as the tribal capital (Viroconium cornoviorum) of the Cornovii and was the fourth largest Roman town at the time.

      The wall into the bathouse is one of the largest pieces of freestanding masonry left in Roman Britain and it really is thick. This Roman fortress was erected in AD58 to serve as a base while they conquered Wales. You get a head-set to choose numbers when you see them at each section of the site, so you can learn at your own pace.

      On our last day in Shrewsbury we went to Blists Hill Victorian Life museum, this is one of 8 museums in the Ironbridge Valley of Invention.

      The one thing you have to see on this day trip is the Ironbridge itself, it is most impressive and you cannot help but wonder the designers intellect/expertise and construction expertise which went into its erection all those years ago.

      Blists Hill is visited by hundreds of visitors each day and it is well worth it. The buildings represent daily life, work and experiences of Victorian working England. Shopkeepers dress up and there are actions throughout the day which draw you back in time. I particularly liked the music hall type music coming from the public house. We went in and had a bit of a knees up, super memories.

      My friend's surname is Hunt and she was hugely amused at the chemist shop's name of Hunt - even more so with it's cure for bottom boils: it was something like standing over a hot steaming water bowl with potions added to ''draw'' the offending problem out... my memory cannot give the exact recipe or procedure but it made her laugh, lots.

      The school room is set up with slate boards, helpful old fashioned reading aids and a teacher actually includes you for lessons, I did not get the strap while there which mirrors my actual school history - never once did the chocolate box come out and the leather hit my tender hands!

      There are bits and pieces of industrial relics on rails and lying around in informal displays and shops include a lolly shop, haberdashery/draper, doctors rooms with the housekeeper cooking bread, grocer and a gypsy-style fair ground.

      The old church is small, stark and cold, it's beside a workers cottage and you go in to see real people dressed in Victoriana costumes, the fire is going in an old, little stove and they are having a meal....wonderful memories.

      Set in 50 acres of woodland, on a hill, this is truly a fantastic day out, for all the family.

      During our stay, even though I've concentrated on the day out attractions, away from Shrewsbury we did pop in to Shrewsbury Abbey. It was a must for my girlfriend as she is a huge Cadfael fan and she'd heard there was a stainglass window commemorating the mysteries written by Ellis Peters, set in this abbey. She loved being there, in front of the window in the St Peters and St Pauls Abbey, founded around 1000 years ago by Roger de Montgomery.

      It has relics of St Winefride, as this pilgrimage in 1147 is an important historic fact for Shrewsbury Abbeyandnowadays you can join the Friends of St Winefride to concentrate of prayer.


      Shrewsbury Abbey is right in town where you can locate it easily and park over the road to walk just a few hundred yards.

      A lasting memory of Shrewsbury was an Australia/New Zealand challenge of a more hospitable sort. We met three young Aussies in the hostel and we were both old enough to be their mums.... they decided to take us out to a typical English pub and to see if they could drink us under the table. Their plan was set in motion with a pint of cider; I enjoyed the first one and the second and all the way home they were checking to see if I was deteriorating. I didn't. Neither did I have any side effects next morning - they were surprised and a little piqued that the two old kiwis were of strong constitution... Oh, the cider at Shrewsbury is definitely to be recommended.

      We so looked forward to visiting Shrewsbury, for our short break, and had so much planned to do from there. We did it all and much more. Next time I go, I will be looking out for the Shropshire Regimental Museum, Quarry Park, and Haughmond Abbey - I like to have something to come back for... I sure will.

      You can stay in hotels and guest houses and of course if you need to stay in a hostel it would pay to find out if the YHA is still operating. I looked on the internet and couldn't find it, so some other hostels may be open now.

      Shrewsbury is steeped in history, it is a wonderful destination to see and be part of history, I do recommend you go for a few days and experience this lovely part of England.

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      • More +
        22.06.2001 02:54
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        EM Forster likened the south Shropshire hills to the alps - he called it Little Switzerland - and although this is a huge exaggeration, if you are in Shrewsbury, or even near the West Midlands, you should make your way into the area. If you are going from Shrewsbury it makes sense to make your way south first, on the road to Ludlow, and the first stop is Church Stretton, a beautiful small town which the Victorians must have adored and which still pulls in the crowds. Walk up Carding Mill Valley and get some fresh air (foot and mouth permitting). Then on to Ludlow, a lovely town with great pubs, the highest concentration of michelin stars in the UK, a castle and an arts festival in July. If you cut towards the Welsh border at this point you'll head into AE Housman land ("Clun, Clungunford ..."), you can walk along Offa's Dyke and then return to Shrewsbury for nightfall.

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