Head to Shropshire for coffee shops, quirky boutiques & cobbled streets

AS I pedal along the winding River Severn, Shrewsbury’s grand medieval buildings blur into the distance and we’re soon enveloped by scraggy trees and ancient woodland.

Making my way deeper into the Shropshire greenery, I whizz along the riverbank and loop back round until rows of timbered houses reveal themselves again.


I’m in the pretty Tudor town of Shrewsbury in central Shropshire, touring the sights by electric bike.“It’s like having super-muscly legs,” our tour guide tells us as we spin along the cycle path. And he’s right. With each pedal, the bike propels me forward and I power effortlessly through the trees.

The town is the usual mix of old and new, with old-fashioned buildings, a mighty castle and cobbled streets which are now lined with countless coffee shops and quirky boutiques selling artisan food and clothes.

Many of the ancient buildings still stand though, including the striking abbey, which sits to the east of the town centre.

On top of scenic cycle routes and historic buildings, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good food. Shrewsbury stands out for its vast number of independent shops and cafes, unlike so many of the identical high streets that litter the UK, and there’s quality restaurants on every street.

The family-run Greenhouse Café that serves vegetarian and vegan grub was our favourite spot for lunch. Here the owner Joel Cheadle rustles up hearty dishes such as warming butter bean and mushroom stroganoff.

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If you’re after something a little fancier though, head to The Walrus on Roushill, which has a brilliant tasting menu for £60pp that includes indulgent treats such as lobster thermador and venison with truffle butter.

As we roam the streets with our knowledgeable guide – a retired teacher from Wales who made the short hop across the border for work and never left – we pass a renovated market hall which is now an independent cinema.

In the 16th century the two-storey building housed a bustling trading joint selling corn, cloth and wool. Now locals come here to watch the latest flicks and arty films.

You can also grab a traditional afternoon tea at the cinema’s cafe and tuck into home-made scones and freshly baked cakes while you admire the grand building.

Inside, the place has retained much of its character, with tall ceilings, vast stone archways and intimate cinema rooms with beamed ceilings.

Also worth visiting are the ruins of Wenlock Priory, founded by the Normans and now an English Heritage site. It is a beautiful autumnal morning when we visit, and first sight of the ruins prompts involuntary gasps, before the tranquillity of the setting renders us silent.

In fact, there is beauty to be marvelled at everywhere. Take our base for this trip, the Riverside Inn in nearby Cound, where our superior room looks directly on to the Severn.

This delightful, grade II-listed building only reopened on August 16 following a substantial upgrade by brewing giant Greene King during lockdown.

Inside, the vibe is modern country chic and the restaurant has been packed every night as word spreads of its excellent food and stunning views.

We choose the pan-fried duck breast special at £14.99 and it is perfectly cooked and very filling. The crispy salt-and-pepper squid starter is also a winner at £6.45.

The inn was once a station on the now-defunct Severn Valley Railway line, called the Cound Halt, and that heritage has been brought to life with an outdoor bar in one of the old coach house buildings.

It was the perfect place for a pint… or Severn.

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