Day Four of our West Midland road trip saw us heading south west from Shifnal for the short drive to Ironbridge. Somewhere that we had always wanted to visit ever since Sam, our middle son, went on a school trip and came back raving about it. In fact it was one of the reasons that we decided to tour this area in the first place (Bridgenorth, Shifnal, and RAF Cosford).
Ironbridge is a town on the River Severn in Shropshire that was named after the world famous Iron Bridge built there in 1781 by Abraham Darby the third. It’s claimed to be the ‘Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution‘ but that may be a bit of an exaggeration as it didn’t start in any one place. It’s now a World Heritage site and the town is full of fabulous coffee shops, quirky shops, and great restaurants. The centrepiece of the town is the Iron Bridge though, the first structure in the world constructed from iron.
After an initial wander over the bridge and a read of all of the information plaques available we headed out of the town to climb to the Rotunda for ‘amazing views of the bridge‘. A long hard climb up hundreds and hundreds of steps got us to the viewing area at the top of the hill where we found absolutely no view, no rotunda, and a lot of ivy! Disappointing indeed.
Although the views were disappointing the walk did result in us seeing something amazing. On the way down we passed a line of small terraced houses and noticed a blue plaque. This was one that got my attention too!
Billy Wright! You know? Billy Wright of Wolverhampton Wanderers and England! The first England footballer to reach 100 caps and one of the most most famous players ever! Don’t tell me that you’ve never heard of him …….
Back down to town explore the much more impressive shops on the river front. Being early it was fairly quiet and as the sun broke through we sauntered slowly up the street enjoying every single thing we saw. The bridge looked incredible and the whole town looked like a Victorian film set. Stunning.
Now anyone that really knows me will be aware that I have a certain fondness for pork pies. In fact, in my youth (many, many years ago …) they were almost a daily occurrence. Now I’m older and a tiny bit wiser and realise that the health aspects of a pork pie are not what they seem, I try to limit my intake. Special occasions only.
Walking through Ironbridge produced one of those occasions. The fabulous pork pie shop was like a magnet drawing me in. What was I supposed to do in the wake of such attraction? I was powerless to resist.
Eleys of Ironbridge – World Famous Pork Pies. Was it worth falling off the wagon? Well Yes it was. It may have been partly due to the location, or to my devoted JWalking companion, but it was one of the best I’d had. Small but full of oomph!
Gorging and Walking
Not really gorging, just liked the sound of the title, but walking through Ironbridge Gorge. We love a circular walk so seeing that there was one back across the bridge was something we just couldn’t ignore. A long walk along the gorge followed by a picnic overlooking the bridge in the glorious September sunshine. What could be better?
From Ironbridge we headed south again towards our next overnight stay in Shrewsbury. First though we decided on a quick visit to the fantastically named town of Much Wenlock. Sounding like the name of a character in Much Ado about Nothing or the Merry Wives of Windsor it’s actually just a little market town in Shropshire with heaps of character.
A slow sunny walk around the impressive tudor buildings of the town brought us up through the park to the windmill before taking us back to a quintessentially English scene. Between the oak trees in the shade of the local school we stumbled upon a wonderful cricket match. Now we both love cricket of any level and the fact that there were 3 or 4 huge oak trees spread around the pitch just made it more special.
Crazy Old Mitch and the Bear
As we returned to the town square an old chap stumbled out of a shop in front of us leading a huge unkempt dog, or rather as we immediately discovered, being led by the huge unkempt dog. Bag of sausage rolls in hand he stumbled away around the corner behind his bear of a pet.
Five minutes later as we crossed the square we turned to see the Bear walking briskly with his owner, the now-named Crazy Old Mitch, being dragged behind him. Mitch was virtually running and twisted and turned as The Bear navigated bins and curbs on the way across. The sausage rolls looked intact. Trying not to laugh we continued on.
Fifteen minutes later as we were heading out of town towards the Priory, who should come careering around the corner in the middle of the road towards us but Crazy Old Mitch again. This time breathing heavily and begging The Bear to stop! He crashed past us desperately gripping his cold snacks.
Finally as we were about to leave we heard a kerfuffle behind us and turned to see Mitch and The Bear blasting through pedestrians! Grasping a mess of a sausage roll bag he disappeared up another sidestreet quietly begging The Bear to slow down.
We loved this guy ………