A market town 10 miles to the east at a junction of the busy A49 Shrewsbury to Ludlow road, Craven Arms has the nearest railway station to Bishop’s Castle and the nearby Stokesay Castle is the best example of the fortified manor house in the ountry. Nearby is the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre and in the town Land of Lost Content, the national museum of popular culture.
Church Stretton is an historic Market Town situated in the heart of the South Shropshire hills on the English/Welsh border known as The Marches. It is the only town in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the first Walkers are Welcome town in the Midlands and a Fairtrade town. The area is renowned worldwide for its geology, with some of the oldest rock formations in existence. Church Stretton and its picturesque surrounding villages forms an excellent base for the country lover and sportsman alike at all times of the year whether hikers, horse riders, mountain bikers, or naturalists . The Long Mynd rising above the west of the town is renowned for gliding, hang gliding and paragliding, and boasts the second highest golf course in England. The beautiful countryside, with its wild uplands and breathtaking views, features prominently in the books of Mary Webb, A E Housman, and Malcolm Saville.
The seat of Lord Herbert of Chirbury, now the Earl of Powis, is a small, border village where many of the houses are timber framed with red brick facades. It is two miles from Offa’s Dyke on the Montgomery road and within easy reach of Mitchells’s Fold Stone Circle above PriestWeston (see Beauty Spots). The School House is a typical black and white timber framed building with a Victorian wing. It was founded by local vicar Edward Lewis in 1675 and is still in use. There was once an ancient priory and the church, which has two rows of leaning pillars inside, retains many of its building materials. The Herbert Arms serves food and there is a local Post Office, shop and tourist information point which stocks a local leaflet.
Open Mon – Fri 7.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. Sat 7.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.and Sun 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 noon.
The county town of Montgomeryshire – now part of Powys. It is now a small country town with a very impressive ruined castle and a range of shops and services. It is not far from the Shropshire Way. www.montgomery-powys.co.uk
Ludlow, which lies 20 miles to the south east, became a major trading centre in the 13th century and prospered through wool, cloth and manufacturing. The original grid pattern of the medieval streets still remains a feature today and is encircled by the remains of a fine town wall. The current of the Teme was tamed by the construction of four impressive weirs to give water power to drive the mills. Much restoration work has been done and there is no a riverside walk.
The Norman castle, owned since 1811 by the Earls of Powis, overlooks the town and
its shopping centre. The town is particularly well known for its food and in recent years its 18th century reputation as a fashionable social centre has been restored. There are many independent shops, frequent markets and a succession of festivals. www.theludlowguide.co.uk www.ludlow.gov.uk
The county town, 22 miles to the north, is almost surrounded by the River Severn and boasts both quaint shops and alleyways as well as modern shopping malls. It has a castle and museums, several fine churches and an 11th century Abbey. The ruins of the Roman city of Viriconium lie 5 miles away. www.visitshrewsbury.com
On the other side of the border, the old Welsh market towns of Welshpool and Newtown are just 16 miles away. The ancient Kerry Ridgeway provides the scenic route from Bishop’s Castle to Newtown, in the valley of the river Severn. It is the birthplace of the 19th century socialist reformer Robert Owen and, this century, has been considerably developed. It is also on the main route to the coast from the Bishop’s Castle area.Welshpool, on the Montgomery Canal, was an important centre for the wool trade and now has the biggest livestock market in mid-Wales and it is also the home of the Welshpool to Llanfair Light Railway and the Montgomery canal Museum. Powis Castle, a major National Trust property, with magnificent gardens, is near the town centre. Edinburgh Woollen Mills has taken over the Old Station.