Growing up along the banks of the River Severn since early medieval times, Shrewsbury has gone on to become the county town of the beautiful border county of Shropshire, welcoming hundreds of thousands of tourists every year looking to explore the town that gave birth to Charles Darwin and the worlds first iron-framed building.
If you happen to be staying in Shrewsbury or the wider area and need some inspiration for things to do or places to see, I have compiled just a few of my favourite places to go and see when I have some free time.
Free Days Out
Within walking distance of Shrewsbury town centre
The Quarry & Dingle
Nestled between the town centre and the River Severn lies The Quarry, a 29-acre piece of parkland that has been used as the main place for recreation in Shrewsbury since the 16th Century. The centrepiece of which is The Dingle, a former stone quarry that was turned into a landscaped sunken garden back in 1879 and is maintained by the Shropshire Horticultural Society.
The Quarry and Dingle play host to a multitude of different events throughout the year including the Shrewsbury Flower Show and the Shropshire Kids Festival, but even if you visit when there isn’t anything on it’s still the perfect place to stroll around, escape the hustle and bustle of the town or enjoy a picnic.
The River Severn
Since medieval times the River Severn has played an important part in the lives of Shrewsbury residents as it flows in a giant loop through the county town before making its way towards the Bristol Channel.
These days most of the buildings that made up the towns inland port have been redeveloped into trendy shops, bars and restaurants, while the boats that pass through as now more of tourist variety, with river cruises and boat tours running from March through to October. A lovely way to see the town in a new light.
Just a short drive
Acton Burnell Castle
Hidden away in the sleepy Shropshire countryside lies Acton Burnell Castle, the now ruinous remains of the 13th-century residence of Bishop Robert Burnell. Now looked after by English Heritage, the impressive castle is free to look around during daylight hours and includes free parking, the perfect place for a picnic or to sit and read surrounded by history.
Moreton Corbett Castle
Moreton Corbet Castle much like Acton Burnell is sadly nothing more than a ruin, but this 500-year-old building is none the less still filled with plenty of charm. With parts of the property dating back to roughly 1200, the castle was expanded and remodelled right up until the Civil war when sadly it was destroyed.
These days the property is also looked after by English Heritage and free to explore during the sunlight hours if you do decide to visit don’t forget your camera.
Going further afield
Just a quick drive along the M54 towards Telford sits the Ironbridge George a World Heritage site made famous by being home to the worlds first iron bridge and being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. These days the factories and furnaces that produced goods to be sent all over the world have long since closed, being turned into museums, visitor attractions and the Blists Hill Victorian Town.
Ironbridge now attracts thousands of visitors every year from all over the world, enjoying the beautiful scenery, quaint little shops and pubs that line the River Severn as it makes its way through the town.
The Long Mynd
Making up just a small part of the Shropshire Hills, the Long Mynd a piece of moorland 7 miles long and 3 miles wide that is cared for by the National Trust.
These days the Long Mynd is a popular destination for families and hikers to escape into the countryside, with the ideal starting off location being the beautiful Carding Mill Valley, which is located near to the small market town of Church Stretton and affectionately called Little Switzerland.
RAF Museum Cosford
Near to the border with Staffordshire sits the RAF Museum Cosford, which is dedicated to the history of flight and aviation, mainly focused on the Royal Air Force. Opened in 1979, the museum has grown over the decades to house hundreds of different planes, helicopters and various other vehicles all of which are free to enjoy all year round.
Within walking distance
Dating back to 1793, HMP Shrewsbury is a now decommissioned category B/C prison that has housed the worst that Shropshire had to offer right up until the mid-’00s, these days however it welcomes visitors from all over wanting to get a glimpse into the lives and deaths of criminals throughout the ages.
For more information on the prison check out my post from when I took the tour last year (Link)
The Theatre Severn
Selling its one-millionth ticket in 2015, the Theatre Severn has gone from strength to strength since it was built on the banks of the River Severn back in 2009.
The Theatre is the largest in the county and regularly plays host to a wide range of music, theatre and comedy shows, garnetting that no matter when you visit the town there will be something for everyone to enjoy at the venue.
Just a short drive
Sitting not far from the outskirts of Shrewsbury since the 18th Century is the grandiose Attingham Park stately home & gardens.
These days the house and gardens makeup part of the National Trust and are free to entre for anyone with a membership, with over 4000 acres to explore including walled gardens, woodland and parkland alike, Attingham is also home to a large herd of over 200 fallow deer, Attingham should have something for everyone to enjoy.
Hawkstone Park Follies
Back in the early 18th Century, Hawkstone Park & Follies became one the first theme parks, though it’s unlike any that you would expect today. Rising up above high Shropshire landscape, Hawkstone park covers over 100 acres of countryside that has either been transformed or added to by various owners to produce beautiful vistas and interesting experiences.
These days the money raised by visitors to the park is used to return the follies to their original state and rebuild some the ones that have been lost to time, giving you a better glimpse of what passed for entertainment all those years ago and also the perfect place to go to get that step counts up.
For more detail on Hawkstone Park check out my post detailing my visit not long back (Link)
Heading further afield
Just over the border into Wales lies Powys Castle, a 700-year-old fortification and former school that along with its beautiful gardens now part of the National Trust. For more information on the castle and gardens, check out my recent trip there for Mothers Day
Situated not far from the southern Shropshire market town of Ludlow, Stokesay Castle is one of the best-preserved examples of a fortified 13th Century manor house though parts of the property date back even further.
These days the castle is in the hands of English Heritage, who have carefully restored it to its previous grandeur and have opened it to the public, putting on a host of interesting events throughout the year for everyone to enjoy.
Not far over the Welsh border roughly halfway between Oswestry and Wrexham, you will find the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which happens to be both highest canal in the world and the longest aqueduct in Great Britain.
Built-in 1805 to carry the Llangollen Canal over the River Dee, the Pontcysyllte has been a World Heritage Site since 2009 and has gone on to become a major visitor attraction, with people to cross either on foot or on one of the many boat trips that sale across the canal daily.