13 fabulous things to do in Shropshire Bishop’s Castle
An English market town along the border with Wales, Bishop’s Castle sits at a crossroads that man and beast have traveled since prehistoric times.
Located in South West Shropshire among the Shropshire Hills (a Designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), Bishop’s Castle is ideal for your home port when exploring this part of England. You are surrounded by the Long Mynd, farmland and villages. Bishop’s Castle is a place of great natural beauty, England’s best food, walking holidays, hospitality, gliding, Real Ale, history, myths and castles.
I visited Bishop’s Castle on a hotel research trip in the West of England. I explored and gathered information while staying at Bank House B&B.
1. Have your tea in an English herb garden
While staying at Bishops Castle, the Bank House B&B was my host for accommodation. Whether you are a lone walker or a family vacationing in the hills. In the center of town, the Bank House is a historic building that has undergone many faces from the bank to the B&B.
A lovely garden awaits you to have tea, read or just listen to the buzz of the bees. The award-winning Georgian building features an intriguing layout. A colossal split staircase leading to either side of the second floor is breathtaking and recalls a time when the house was divided.
All the comforts are provided, including a teapot by your bedside and a hot water bottle for your bed. The cooked-to-order breakfast each morning offers everything you could possibly want. This quiet and comfortable accommodation is a model of unforgettable hospitality and Georgian renovation.
2. Walk the Shropshire Path
This isn’t your usual 11 day, 297 mile hike; it’s a walk. So all you need is a day bag.
The Shropshire Way is no foolish walk. Instead, the trail reveals the best of this often overlooked area, Shropshire Hills, Shropshire, England.
As you hike the long distance trail, you’ll climb stiles, pass through kissing gates, and through hills covered in sheep. Stroll through medieval towns, climb to the top of secluded rocky boulders, cross iron bridges, explore the ruins of forts and castles, then camp in guesthouses and pubs.
You are expected to walk a bit, linger for a bit, take in the sights, immerse yourself in village life and take in the Shropshire hills.
3. Restore in the bog
The Bog Visitor Center is unlike any you will visit. The center of the Shropshire Way and the Shropshire Hills was once the Valley School. Today, the bog is home to volunteers who create a warm, dry place where walkers and hikers can have a cup of tea, eat mouthwatering cakes and pies, or enjoy a picnic. Maps, guides and books for the trail and regional history are exceptional. Many are not available anywhere else.
4. Glide The Long Mynd
I could have said that connecting an airplane without an engine or propeller to a bungee cord and then pulling it off the side of a hill is reckless; that is until I tried it. I loved the 3,000 foot view of the moor, heather, hills, farms and woods surrounding Bishop’s Castle.
The Long Mynd is a plateau in the hills of Shropshire. The main inhabitants are sheep, wild horses, grass, heather and reeds. The table is world famous for gliding, hang gliding and parasailing. It is perfectly trained to slide or jump off the side of a hill.
The Midland Gliding Club is the region’s only glider port. The club welcomes everyone. Pilots and passengers are between 12 and 90 years old. Flights, lessons, rental gliders, accommodation, food, drink and shows are offered. You can park a motorhome or pitch a tent. There’s no better way to hike the Shropshire Hills and get a glimpse of the hike from the air.
5. Cycling in the countryside
Cycling in Shropshire has been elevated to art by Wheely Wonderful Cycling. Based in Ludlow, Wheely will organize bike tours of the Bishop’s Castle countryside.
You can take a day trip or spend 2-3 days visiting country roads, villages, farmlands and river banks. You stay in pubs and guesthouses along the way. Your luggage is moved for you from stop to stop. Organized tours are offered for natural beauty, rivers, history, food, drink and castles. What a way to ride a bike.
6. Drink real Bishop’s Castle ale
In 1642, the Brasserie des Trois Tuns was founded. Bishop’s Castle is home to England’s oldest brewery, Three Tuns. Three Bells is the oldest continuously operating pub and a small brewery that makes real ale.
Located on the border with Wales, Shropshire is known for its forts and castles built to stop Welsh invaders. Yet ironically, Welsh Shepherds bringing sheep to the market were welcomed into public houses, each serving their own homemade beer.
Some of the local pubs and breweries have survived for almost 400 years. More than 16 microbreweries populate the region, bringing traditional beers and modern beers to thirsty consumers. This is the place to find real ale and some of the best food in England.
7. Explore the Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Stroll through the cemetery before entering the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church. This medieval church was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The cemetery has many graves. I found the stones and the vaults fascinating.
The architecture ranges from Gothic to modern with pretty stained glass and stained glass windows. I was told that the church has a beautiful choir and that everyone is welcome to attend services to enjoy the music.
8. Walk past a house on crutches
The House on Crutches Museum houses artefacts from the daily life of Bishop’s Castle in the 19th and 20th centuries. You’ll get a taste of farm and rural life on the Wales-Shropshire border. Numerous artefacts from the railroad to Bishop’s Castle show how important trains were to this remote region.
Docents are always available to share a story and explain the artifacts. Crutches in the name of the museum are poles that support an overhanging addition on the second floor.
9. Stokesay Castle
Stokesay Castle was built in the 13th century. Exploring the castle is mysterious, romantic and enlightening. The great room is really great. I could easily imagine medieval lords and ladies feasting and socializing in the vast hall.
Climbing the narrow spiral stone stairs to a tower will provide you with your daily workout, but the view is worth every breath. Some rooms have been completely restored and contain period furniture, rugs and tapestries.
It’s easy to spend a day here exploring the castle, gatehouse, church, and park. An events program features activities for all ages, with a focus on kids and history.
A souvenir shop and tea room will complete your visit to this beautifully preserved property.
10. Visit the Tomb of the Last Sin Eater
Richard Munslow was a sin eater. In fact, he was the last sin eater in England. He died in 1906 and is buried in a cemetery at St. Margaret’s Church in Ratlinghope, about 10 miles from Bishop’s Castle.
A sin eater is a person who eats a special meal to spiritually assume the sins of a deceased person. The ritual of eating bread and beer usually took place at the grave. The sin eater was paid to bear the sins of the deceased on his mortal soul in order to give the deceased eternal peace.
England’s last sin eater is buried in his community at St. Margaret’s Church. This idyllic stone church and its park-like cemetery are worth a visit. The interior and exterior architecture is a mixture of several eras.
The church has medieval origins. It was rebuilt in the 17th century, then restored in the 19th and 20th centuries. Close inspection will reveal details from many periods. Inside the church is a small library. It is steeped in local history.
11. Ludlow gastronomic experience
Ludlow is the food hub of England. On market mornings, trucks and vans park around Ludlow Market Square. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, poultry, beef, lamb and pork are proudly displayed and sold. The milk of cows, sheep and goats produces magnificent English cheeses.
The banners name the farm and the farmer. Most show gold ribbons; many of them are leading champions or national champions.
Ludlow, a black and white half-timbered market town, has been a food hub for hundreds of years. This is a great place to consider a progressive lunch or dinner. Go from coffee to pub for each dish as you stroll the square.
Ludlow is approximately 30 minutes from Bishop’s Castle.
12. Have peas
The Castle Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Bishop’s Castle. It is a charming hotel with 12 rooms, a bar and a restaurant. You can dine at the bar, on the terrace or in the restaurant.
No matter where you choose to eat at the Castle Hotel, order the fish and chips. It is served with the traditional mashed peas, a dish that I love. The Castle Hotel has the freshest and best I have ever tasted, seasoned with mint and thyme – delicious despite the name.
13. Sit in the devil’s chair
The Stiperstones are a rocky quartzite hill rising from the gently rolling hills of Shropshire surrounding Bishop’s Castle. The devil’s chair is one of the six named twists (outcrops).
The Stiperstones are a national nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Wildlife is abundant. Bring your camera, binoculars and sturdy boots. Climbing the Stiperstones is a challenge, but it’s worth sitting in the devil’s chair.
Getting There : Bishop’s Castle is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from London. It’s 4 hours by train and 6 hours by bus. If you are coming from London I suggest you take the train and collect your rental car from Bishop’s Castle. You can relax and admire the scenery, have a meal, have a drink or take a nap on the train.
Come to Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire to get away from it all and eat. Life is a little slower. But nature is protected, history is honored, the people are friendly, the food is unforgettable, and the beer is the best in England.
If you are planning to visit the UK, keep in mind that there are many lovely towns to visit: