One of England’s least densely populated counties, Shropshire still maintains its rural character. This seems remarkable, given its proximity to Birmingham and the Black Country, but there are several geographical reasons for its isolation – particularly the river Severn, which runs from the north-west to the south-east of the county, and is crossed by relatively few bridges.
Shropshire’s many ranges of hills and sweeping landscapes, a defining feature of the county, are another factor. The hills to the west merge with the Welsh uplands; to the south are Wenlock Edge, the Long Mynd and the Clee Hills. Fortifications and defence works, the best known of which is Offa’s Dyke, are scattered over the western hills, a reminder of Shropshire’s border position and turbulent history.
Road communications to Birmingham, London and the rest of Britain are good; the M54 links northern Shropshire to the motorway network, and the M6 runs along the eastern side of the county. The new town of Telford has also brought inward investment; however, the county also has many historic towns, such as picturesque Ludlow and Bridgnorth to the south.
Large estates are still a feature of the Shropshire countryside, often owned by the same family for generations.
In some areas, there are relatively few medium-sized houses, and villages tend to be small. Prices are still favourable in comparison with the South-East, although lack of supply can push them up. The most favoured areas are south of Shrewsbury, towards Bridgnorth, which combine accessibility with attractive countryside.
Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Whitchurch, Ellesmere, Market Drayton, Telford, Ludlow, Bridgnorth.
Train: Euston to Shrewsbury 3hr 10min (change at Crewe); Euston to Ludlow, 3hr 40min (change at Crewe)
Car: Shrewsbury is 162 miles from London via the M54, M6 and M1; Ludlow, 135 miles via the A44 and M5 (or 150 miles via the M40, M42, A442 and A456); Whitchurch, 182 miles, via the A41, M6, M1.
Ellesmere College (01691 622321). Co-educational, age range 10-18, day and boarding. www.ellesmere.com/
Moreton Hall, Oswestry (01691 773671). Girls only, age range 11-18, day and boarding. www.moretonhall.org/
Oswestry School (01691 655711). Co-educational, age range 13-18, day and boarding. Associated preparatory school. www.oswestryschool.org.uk/
Adcote School, Little Ness, Shrewsbury (01939 260202). Girls only, age range 7-18, day and boarding. www.adcoteschool.co.uk/
Shrewsbury High School (01743 362872). Girls only, age range 4-18, day. http://www.gdst.net/shrewsburyhigh
Headington School, Oxford (01865 741968). Girls only, age range 3-18 (boys, 3-7), day and boarding. www.headington.org.uk/
Wrekin College, Wellington (01952 240131). Co-educational, age range 11-18, day and boarding. www.wrekincollege.ac.uk/
Golfcourses: Hawkstone Park, Weston-under-Redcastle (01939 200611); Oswestry (01691 610221); Church Stretton (01694 722281); Bridgnorth (01746 763315).
Hunts: Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s (United); the South Shropshire, the North Shropshire, the Albrighton, the Wheatland and the Ludlow.