The largest inland county in England and one of the least populated, Shropshire offers spectacular, unspoilt countryside with a wealth of opportunities for both the first time and regular visitor.
In north Shropshire, Bon Accueil provides an excellent base for cycling, walking, fishing, visiting Ironbridge World Heritage Site, shopping visits to nearby Chester and Shrewsbury or exploring the Welsh Marches or Shropshire Lakes - all around half an hour's drive away. Positioned on a Roman route to Chester and on a border that was fought over for many centuries, there are many sites of historical interest in the area. Nearby Hawkstone Park is popular with both young and old, although it is admittedly for the fitter amongst us. It is made up of intricate pathways, ravines, arches and bridges and King Arthur addressing his troops in the awesome caves. Bon Accueil is also on the doorstep of both the Shropshire Way and the Llangollen Canal.
In nearby Wem we also have our very own 'Museum of Myth and Fable', Mythstories, where Shropshire's legends are brought to life. There are so many castles, gardens and Roman artifacts within easy travel distance in Shropshire, Wales and Cheshire and, for golfers, Whitchurch boasts two 18 hole courses with others at Hawkstone Park and Carden Park. If that isn't enough, then how about horse riding, hovercrafting, canoeing, flying, ballooning - all within a comfortable drive's distance.
Cheshire Candle Workshops (15 miles)
Try your hand at candle dipping, clay modelling and badge making or visit the craft shop for unusual and interesting gifts. There are also many craftspeople displaying their skills, along with a children's play area and a restaurant. Great fun - all the more so on a wet day! Admission free and free parking.
Cheshire Workshops, Barracks Lane, Higher Burwardsley, Tattenhall, Chester, CH3 9PF
Telephone 01829 770401 www.cheshireworkshops.co.uk
Cheshire Ice Cream Farm (14 miles)
Once you have tasted some of the 30 different flavours of ice cream and sorbets nothing will ever taste as good. The ice cream is made with the milk from the herd of over 300 cows present on the farm, you can even watch them being milked. There is an adjoining tea room and the farm also has a free under 6's play barn, outdoor adventure play area, gift shop, viewing gallery to watch the milking, birds of prey and animal corner. Free admission.
Tattenhall Dairy Products Ltd, Drumlan Hall Farm, Newton Lane, Tattenhall, Nr Chester, CH3 9NE
Telephone 01829 770446 www.cheshirefarmicecream.co.uk
Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall (35 miles)
At 240 ft tall, it is the highest waterfall in Wales and England.
Find the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant and go through the centre and drive up the road signposted "To the Waterfall". It is a fair drive up a single track road with passing places. You eventually see the waterfall and then come to two free car parks. Park there or go on to the pay and display car park by the cafe and toilets. Then you can either visit the bottom of the falls or take the 30 minute walk to the top.
Telephone 01691 780392 www.pistyllrhaeadr.co.uk
Pontcysllte Aqueduct (24 miles)
The Pontcysllte Aqueduct is one of the main local tourist attractions. It can be accessed from either end - at Trefor (signed off the A539) or at Froncysyllte (signed off the A5(T)). It is an amazing experience to walk across the Aqueduct as it towers 37 meters above the River Dee and to take in the panoramic views of the whole area. Canal boat trips across the Aqueduct.
Station Road, Trevor Basin, Wrexham, LL20 7TG
Telephone 01978 292015 www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk
or www.canaltrip.co.uk - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Old Wharf, Trevor, Llangollen - Sat Nav - follow signs from LL14 3SG
Shrewsbury Theatre (21 miles)
Shrewsbury has a wonderful theatre and is an excellent venue offering a huge variety of shows and exhibitions. It also has a very popular restaurant.
Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, SY3 8HQ
Telephone 01743 281281 www.theatresevern.co.uk
Ironbridge World Heritage Site (31 miles)
At Ironbridge, along the most spectacular stretch of the River Severn, are 6 square miles that changed the world. Although nature has now softened the landscape and reclaimed her riverbanks, it still seems faintly shocking that so beautiful - so quiet - a county should have given birth to all things industrial in the world. But it was here, within the dramatic gorge of the River Severn, that the great Ironmaster, Abraham Darby, perfected the secret of smelting iron with cheap and plentiful coke, instead of expensive and less efficient charcoal. Britain and the world would never be the same again. This is one of the UKs World Heritage Sites and not to be missed. Free parking.
Telephone 01952 433424 www.ironbridge.org.uk
Castles to Explore
Chirk Castle and gardens (21 miles)
Chirk Castle is an awe-inspiring, magnificent 700 year-old fortress with commanding views.
Powis Castle and gardens (37 miles)
Powis Castle and gardens were originally built around 1200 and house a beautiful collection of textiles, bronzes, ivory and jade from India.
Shrewsbury Castle (20 miles)
Shrewsbury Castle, as it can be seen today, is a Norman red sandstone construction built by Roger de Montgomery in 1070. Plus you can simply wander the streets of this medieval town where there are surprises around every corner.
Stokesay Castle (44 miles)
Stokesay Castle, near Craven Arms, nestles in peaceful south Shropshire countryside near the Welsh Borders.
Gardens and houses to delight in:
We would suggest Attingham Park (NT) (24 miles) near Shrewsbury combined with a visit to the nearby Wroxeter Roman Town and then the Wroxeter Roman Vineyard for a full day out. Wroxeter Roman Vineyard also provides several tasting sessions and guided tours.
Near Market Drayton you can gaze at the waterfall and views from the Dorothy Clive Gardens (15 miles), intimate and informal with a superb woodland water garden, alpine scree and succulent borders. Onto the 18th century, Grade 1 listed landscape of Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies (10 miles) - a spectacular man-made folly of caves, cliffs and grottos. This was Britain's first ever "theme park", opened in 1748 and was, more recently, the setting for the television adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia. A great walk with fantastic views and a good tea shop after your exertions.
Weston Park (47 miles), the ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford on the borders of Shropshire and Staffordshire, was built in 1671 in glorious parkland with formal gardens and woodland walks. With an adventure playground, miniature railway, stables bar and restaurant, auditorium, gift shops and much, much more, the variety and diversity of Weston Park provides an abundance of delights for everyone. More recently famous as home to the V Festival.
There's still more to tempt you in Shropshire's National Trust Gardens at Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury (24 miles), Erddig, near Wrexham (18 miles) and Chirk Castle (21 miles) and the world famous gardens of Powis Castle (37 miles).
Just over the border, by Nantwich in Cheshire, you'll find one of the country's best garden centres - Bridgemere Garden World (14 miles). But if you prefer more natural surroundings, don't miss the glacial mere and mosses around Ellesmere (13 miles), the centre of the Shropshire Lake District.