Last year I had the pleasure of being introduced to the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury courtesy of a trip organised by Original Shrewsbury, the local tourist organisation. We squeezed in a huge amount of touristy activities in our 36 hours, including a museum, boat trip, food, and even went and hiked the Long Mynd. Shrewsbury really surprised me, it’s a beautiful little place and just that short break was not enough to do it justice.
The River Severn, English Bridge and the United Reform Church.
Following my trip my friend Sarah from The Urban Wanderer, who loves a town centre mooch, decided she also needed to investigate the home of Darwin too, and she headed there for a day on my recommendation. She also found the little alleyways and quirky antiques shops a pleasure to wander around.
And it turns out that Shrewsbury is about half way between where Sarah and I live, so when we decided we were overdue a meetup, we decided we should return to the town – together this time – and see what we missed. While Sarah adores pounding the pavements to find the hidden nooks and crannies of the urban world, I’m always keen to find a bit of green or a nice view when I head out exploring, but we were both confident we’d find just what we needed.
A very famous grave stone.
After wandering around the town streets, including the cutest alleyways, stone steps, the large Quarry public park and The Dingle sunken garden (a beautiful spot, don’t miss it), we decided to do a bit of grave hunting… yes, that’s right. Shrewsbury was used as the location for the 1984 version of Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. The prop gravestone for Ebenezer Scrooge was left behind as a permanent reminder of the film, and you can see it in St Chad’s churchyard (the big church you can see from The Quarry). I missed it on my first visit because the churchyard was closed off courtesy of some large padlocks, but the gates were open on this occasion. Apparently it’s the only grave to a fictional character in the UK – quirky!
Signs of the countryside.
Not content with walking along what must be every street in the main part of Shrewsbury (some of them twice…), and after lunching in The Good Life, a vegetarian café in one of the passages in the Wyle Cop area, we ended up on the opposite side of the River Severn to the main town centre, heading up the hill towards Shrewsbury School (a rather posh looking private boarding school). We came across beautifully tree lined footpaths, walked down to the river path, through the grounds of some lovely looking boat houses, and around the cricket field where there was a game going on. We kept to the Shropshire Way, which was also called the Darwin Walk here, and ended up in a beautiful meadow. It was like we were in the middle of the countryside; the river rushing by, lovely looking houses with terraced gardens on the opposite banks, and we were wandering along a path with tall grass and poppies to our left. Gorgeous.
The views from that house…!
We headed up the steps to the Doctor’s House – lots and lots (and lots) of steps in the heatwave – before a touch more urban wandering before we ended up back where we started close to the Quarry and in a pub for a couple of large lime and sodas to cool of and relax.
Showing the green spaces in Shrewsbury – a free layer on OS Maps.
If you ever find yourself in a town and just need to find a touch of green in amongst the grey, check out the Greenspace layer on OS Maps online. It’s a free layer so it’s available to everyone even if you don’t have a OS Maps subscription, and it’s really handy for finding parks and meadows and other green spaces in town centres. Worth a look.
Oh, and while I’m here, if you’ve not discovered Refill yet, you need to catch up… Refill is an organisation looking to encourage cafes, shops and other places to provide free tap water to those wanting to fill up their water bottles – they want to provide a water refill station on every street. There’s an app for your phone showing you the locations, and you’ll find these stickers in the window of participating stores. Very handy when you are spending all day exploring the urban and green spaces in any town.
Shrewsbury really is a beautiful town for both urban and parkland wandering – it might be small but there is plenty to keep you busy for a day visit (or two). I can see why people love it here. Read my 36 hours in Shrewsbury for more information.