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Shropshire named on Abta 10 global holiday destinations list

by Staff
  • By Caroline Gall
  • BBC News, West Midlands

Image source, Visit Shropshire

Image caption,

Up to 25% of Shropshire is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Shropshire has been named by travel experts as one of 10 destinations to watch for holidaymakers this year – the only UK location to be featured.

The “rural gem” appears on travel trade organisation Abta’s list alongside the Spanish region of Extremadura, Saxony in Germany; Vietnam and Zambia.

Abta said its list aimed to inspire travellers and the county has beautiful landscapes, towns and villages.

Figures for 2022 revealed almost 1.5 million people spent a night or more in the county, Visit Shropshire said.

“Honeypot” destinations in the county include the Ironbridge Gorge, famed for being one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, as well as Ellesmere and its surrounding meres.

Mark Hooper, project lead at Visit Shropshire, said the county’s inclusion re-enforced the growth in visitor numbers as well as inward investment.

“It’s fantastic news – we are a growing destination,” he said.

“If you go back 10 or 15 years, we were perhaps where people went for a day on the way to north Wales or to the south and we aimed to get people to stay for longer and now they do for two, three or four nights.”

‘Inward investment’

The county’s 19 railway stations provide a sustainable way to travel around its 11 towns, visitor attractions and rolling countryside, he said.

West Midlands Railway and Transport for Wales had both reported an 18% rise in passenger numbers coming to Shropshire in 2023, he said.

“That’s pretty good going especially when you factor in strikes we had last year. It’s been pretty turbulent,” Mr Hooper said.

“There’s also been inward investment within retail and hotels. They do their research and they know the demand is there.”

Abta director of communications Graeme Buck said its list offered “varied and memorable experiences around the globe”.

“Some are a little unexpected, and all are well worth a visit,” he said.

“The destinations showcase the amazing range of experiences that our world offers to holidaymakers.”

Top tourist destinations in Shropshire

Ironbridge

The world’s first iron bridge was built over the River Severn in Shropshire in 1779. The pioneering structure marked a turning point in English design and engineering.

After that, cast iron came to be widely used in the construction of bridges, aqueducts and buildings.

Image source, Visit Shropshire

Abraham Darby pioneered the smelting of iron using coke in the nearby village of Coalbrookdale, and the process was a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution.

Abraham Darby III cast the ironwork for the bridge that still stands today, using the same techniques developed by his grandfather.

The bridge was so successful it gave its name to the spectacular wooded valley which surrounds it, now recognised as the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

Church Stretton

The small, historic market town in the heart of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sits below the heather-clad upland plateau of the Long Mynd, in a picturesque valley.

Image source, Visit Shropshire

Its two nature reserves cover about 200 acres, one on the valley floor with an abundance of wetland species and the other, a wooded area, once described as “the most tranquil place in Britain”.

The main shopping streets in the town were developed in the Edwardian era.

There are no chain stores. Instead it has many independent, locally owned businesses which helps the area stand out.

Ludlow

“Ludlow is probably the loveliest town in England with its hill of Georgian houses ascending from the River Teme” said poet John Betjeman in 1943.

Image source, Visit Shropshire

Nestled on the edge of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty, Ludlow is a market town renowned as a food and cultural gem, hosting events and festivals throughout the year.

It has almost 500 listed buildings and its cobbled streets are lined with a mix of independent shops, eateries, and an award-winning outdoor market.

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury’s Wyle Cop has the longest uninterrupted run of independent shops anywhere in the country.

Image source, Visit Shropshire

The town has independent shops, galleries and a well-known indoor market.

Shrewsbury Market Hall, packed with quirky businesses and food stalls, has been voted Britain’s Favourite Market.

Shrewsbury is home to 660 listed buildings and is famous for being the birthplace of naturalist Charles Darwin. His statue sits outside the town’s library, the building that was once his school.

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