'The nearest earthly place to paradise' P. G. Woodehouse
Tucked away in the , Acton Scott is located just south of the Edwardian Spa Town of , or ‘Little Switzerland’ as it became known in the 19th century. This is one of England’s finest natural landscapes, the South Shropshire Hills, bordering the . With a landscape that rises and falls to take in dramatic hills and moorland, its unique geology is perhaps best seen in the spectacular escarpment of , which provides a stunning vista from Acton Scott.
With the sound of redstarts and skylarks hanging in the air and the beauty of nearby , , to enjoy, this is a rural idyll described in the poems of ‘’. Scenes from the estate of Acton Scott feature in a new photographic edition of this famous work, published by , based in Ludlow, Shropshire.
Some of the prettiest towns and villages in the county can be found nearby, including Bishop’s Castle, Cleobury Mortimer, Clun, Ludlow and Much Wenlock. The River Severn, Britain’s longest river, also winds its way across the border, from Wales, through the county’s towns of Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth.
The market town of Ludlow lies a few miles to the south, with its wealth of Georgian architecture and a Royal Medieval Castle. Ludlow hosts the annual Marches Food and Drinks Festival and famous Shakespeare Festival. A gastronomic centre, one or more of its many restaurants may be found to boast a Michelin star at any time, whilst a weekly town square farmer’s market and traditional local shops combine with Ludlow’s Food Centre to offer exceptional regional produce for sale.
Shrewsbury, 12 miles to the north, is a fine county town with Castle and Abbey, situated on the banks of the River Severn, its many Tudor and Queen Anne buildings very much in evidence. In addition to good shopping, theatres, cinemas and a large choice of bars and restaurants, Shrewsbury hosts many seasonal events including its annual Flower Show and regular Concerts in the Quarry Gardens. Theatre Severn has recently opened and offers a full programme of plays, concerts and entertainment.
Shropshire's rural tranquillity masks a turbulent past as it was once frontier territory, with Wales to the west. The county's numerous earth works, hill forts and battle fields, including the site of the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 and the fascinating Castles of Clun, Ludlow, Powis and Stokesay bear testimony to this - and all are open to the public.
Shropshire boasts a number of other historic ruins and picturesque country houses in the care of the National Trust, English Heritage and others, including Attingham Park, Berrington Hall, Wenlock Abbey, Weston Park and Wroxeter Roman City, whilst the National Garden Scheme is well supported, including by the owners of many of Shropshire’s finest private residences.
Shropshire was also home to the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge, which is now a World Heritage Site with many award winning museums. Whilst the Severn Valley Railway, Bridgnorth Cliff Railway - England’s oldest funicular railway - and the RAF Museum at Cosford, offer rail and air enthusiasts plenty more to enjoy.
For those who are happy to travel further afield and would like to visit the seaside, the Welsh coast can be reached in less than one and a half hours’ drive from South Shropshire, with the train offering a viable alternative. And it is quite possible to catch the waves on a day trip to Cardigan Bay.