While Shropshire is mainly known for its rolling landscapes and essential role in the Industrial Revolution, this western English county has some quaint villages within its borders as well. To discover the small gems tucked away between Shropshire’s bluff, it’s best to rent a car and do some serious village hopping.

    We've compiled a list of the most picturesque villages in Shropshire. Roll out your map, hop in the car, and start exploring the most picture-perfect hamlets in the county.

    1

    Ludlow, UK

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    Ludlow is a quaint market town in Shropshire, but it belies its small size thanks to the rich culinary offerings found in the restaurants and bistros that occupy historical, half-timber houses in the town square. This leafy corner of England is most definitely in farming country, and that shows in the fantastic produce available throughout the year. The best time for foodies to visit Ludlow is during the annual food festival in September.

    La Becasse is probably the stand-out restaurant in town owing to its years of Michelin-starred fame, but don’t overlook the simple yet stylish British cuisine served at Mortimers. For lunch, head to The Fish House and feast on a sharing platter that’s piled high with the best produce from Britain’s waters – crab, lobster, prawns and smoked fish – with freshly baked bread and a crisp, locally produced cider.

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    2

    Ironbridge

    Find the foundations of the Industrial Revolution

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    Ironbridge stood at the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, and the success of the mining industry helped the village to build the first iron bridge in the world in 1779. Apart from this iconic bridge, the village has heaps of historical brick homes, museums, and remnants of the Industrial Revolution.

    Visit the Bedlam Furnaces, a crucial industrial monument, or explore the compelling Museum of the Gorge, housed within an early 19th-century building. Ironbridge occupies a lush setting on the shores of the River Severn, and a fabulous way to see the village from a different perspective is on a canoeing trip.

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    3

    Hodnet

    Wander through a historical wonderland

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    Hodnet is a hamlet in Shropshire’s rustic countryside that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. Its centrepiece is the Hodnet Hall Gardens, a green oasis built around a 19th-century Victorian mansion. Different types of gardens are dotted with fragrant flower beds, ponds, and even a waterfall.

    Another eye-catcher in this picturesque village is Saint Luke’s Church, a stellar stone cathedral dating back to the 1100s. Around the church in Hodnet, you’ll find many half-timbered, white-plastered houses that are typical features of Shropshire.

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    4

    Oswestry

    A great place to learn about Shropshire’s past

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    Despite its modest size, Oswestry packs in a lot of exciting attractions. This town near the border between England and Wales has a historic centre with a handful of museums and craft shops hiding behind brick facades.

    As you wander around the village’s centre, make sure to stop by Oswestry Town Museum. Inside, you’ll learn more about the town’s past, from prehistoric times to its more recent development as a market town. Other landmarks include a lovely library and the Cambrian Railways Museum, which celebrates Oswestry’s importance as a railway hub and the invention of steam machines.

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    5

    Cleobury Mortimer

    Snap some photos and stop for a pint

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    Cleobury Mortimer is a modest town on the southeastern edge of Shropshire. An excellent destination for those who are looking for a rural travel setting, the settlement seems to be built around St. Mary’s Church, a magnificent cathedral with roots in the 12th century. 

    On the same street where the church is, you’ll find brickwork houses that host eateries, bars, and accommodation. If you’re craving a beverage after a stroll over the cobbled streets, Hobsons Brewery serves as a pitstop where you can have a refreshing pint or join a brewery tour.

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    photo by Philip Pankhurst (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    Church Stretton

    Discover the rolling hills of Shropshire

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    Church Stretton has a charming place, but nature is what truly makes this small town so attractive. Follow a walking path through the Rectory Wood reserve, a forest with ancient trees. An alternative place to stretch your legs is Carding Mill Valley, where history and nature meet.

    The clothes manufacturing industry was once in full bloom here, but now this spot is a paradise for hikers who aim for the rugged trails and views. Photogenic structures in and around Church Stretton include St. Laurence’s Church and the white-timbered All Saints Church, just 2 km south of the village.

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    7

    Craven Arms

    Admire some stunning architecture and museums

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    Craven Arms has some notable highlights that are unique in Shropshire. Within the parish’s borders, you’ll find the astonishing Stokesay Castle. This stronghold is one of the county’s most pristine pieces of medieval architecture, and it's certainly worth taking a tour here. The Land of the Lost Content is a curious museum that showcases items that represent popular British culture. Here, you'll find anything from royal memorabilia to pop music collectables.

    At the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, you’ll learn about the natural history of the region and the rural side of Craven Arms. The village is also a great base for exploring the many walking and cycling trails in the Shropshire Hills AONB.

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    8

    Whitchurch

    Combine rustic countryside with splendid old timber houses

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    Whitchurch is a scenic settlement in the northernmost part of Shropshire. High Street has white-plastered houses with beams, with coffee shops and vintage shops tucked behind their fronts. Visit the Whitchurch Heritage Centre to get an overview of Whitchurch’s historical timeline, or admire the St Alkmund’s Church, one of the oldest cathedrals in Shropshire.

    From the picturesque centre, it’s easy to escape to a quiet place in the countryside. Greenfields Local Nature Reserve and Whitchurch Waterways Country Park provide forest trails and walks along the scenic Llangollen Canal. 

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    photo by David Dixon (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Market Drayton

    Catch a glimpse of typical Shropshire timber dwellings

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    Market Drayton is known for its wonderfully preserved 17th-century homes, with some of the best examples found on Cheshire Street. The Tudor House and the stunning houses along Shropshire Street are further fine examples of the carefully curated timber houses so typical for the county. Another witness of Market Drayton’s long history is St Mary’s Church, a red sandstone structure that dominates the skyline of Market Drayton.

    With the River Severn and the Shropshire Union Canal in the backyard, Market Drayton is a first-rate spot for a walking or cycling trip. The canal, with its charming houseboats, can be explored by canoe or kayak.

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    10

    Much Wenlock

    Take a stroll through the birthplace of the modern Olympics

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    Much Wenlock is a hamlet established in the 600s. The Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850 caused a revival of the modern Olympic Games, making the town a remarkable and culturally significant place in Shropshire. One of its highlights is the Guildhall, a magnificent building that functions as the Much Wenlock Museum. It focuses on the Olympian Games and the fascinating geology of the area.

    Dive deeper into Much Wenlock's past at the Wenlock Priory, a ruined 12th-century monastery with a chapterhouse, cloister gardens, and photogenic medieval tiles on the walls.

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    11

    Bishop’s Castle

    Explore a charming medieval town

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    Bishop’s Castle lies on the edge of the Shropshire Hills AONB, combining nature reserves with urban charm. To look for the roots of Bishop’s Castle, head for the ruins of the actual castle at the Old Castle Lands and enjoy the lovely views over the enclosing hills.

    The village is characterised by vibrantly coloured and half-timbered houses, but the most striking structure is The House on Crutches Museum. Inside, artefacts and collectables tell the story of the industrial development of Bishop’s Castle. The town’s winding lanes are lined with cosy pubs, breweries, vintage stores and souvenir shops.

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    photo by Martin Richard Phelan (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Huub Lakerveld | Contributing Writer

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