Shropshire Hills AONB

Stiperstones, Shropshire Hills AONB, West Midlands, England
Stiperstones, Shropshire Hills AONB ©

Shropshire Hills – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in Shropshire in the West Midlands. The Shropshire Hills were the first designated AONB back in 1959, the area covers just over 800 square kilometres covering 23% of the county of Shropshire. The area is well known for its hills, rivers, woodland, wildlife habitats and varied landscapes.

The local population of approx 19,000 live in local villages and towns located across the AONB such as Church Stretton and Clun . The area covered under the AONB designation covers an area starting from Pontesbury in the north to Ditton Priors in the east to Ludlow in the south and extends up to the border with Wales in the west. The area is of national importance for nature conservation and includes of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI), Scheduled Ancient Monuments and County Wildlife Sites.

The key features and special qualities of the Shropshire Hills AONB include having the greatest geological variety of any comparable area in the UK, river and river valleys , range of wildlife habitats, cultural heritage and historical sites and settlements including Clun Castle and Wilderhope Manor. The area is important for wildlife and habitats with a number of protected sites. The key features combined with the peace, tranquillity and natural beauty of the area offering panoramic views makes the area special.

The main industries in the AONB include farming, agriculture and tourism. The area is popular for visitors, for day trips, weekend breaks, longer stays and for a number of recreational activities. There are a number of scenic historic villages and towns located in the AONB, including Church Stretton, Clun and Ratlinghope. Main settlements located close by include Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Shrewsbury and Telford.

The area is popular for outdoor activities including gliding, paragliding, archery, canoeing, climbing, fishing, golf, geocaching, wildlife watching, horse riding, walking and cycling with a range of routes and trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy the tranquil environment, fine natural scenery with panoramic views in one of England's most scenic places.

Quick Facts

Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1959

Population: 19,000 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 802

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): 126

County Wildlife Sites: 214

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 166

Main Settlements close by: Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Telford & Ludlow.

Located in: Shropshire.


The Shropshire Hills AONB is located in the county of Shropshire in the West Midlands. The Shropshire Hills are located approx 15 miles south of Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire. The hills are located to the west of Birmingham and extend east up to the Welsh border, the tranquil area offers visitors a place of natural beauty and wonderful scenery away from the traffic and congestion of the cities and towns. There are plenty of things for visitors to discover in the area, with lots of things to see, do and experience.

The AONB includes a number of small settlements, tranquillity and peace where visitors can enjoy some of the finest landscapes and panoramic views in England. The AONB area itself is sparsely populated with no major towns or cities falling within the AONB boundary, local settlements Church Stretton and Clun. The Shropshire Hills are home to five distinctive upland areas, The Long Mynd and Stiperstones, the Clee Hills, Clun Forest, Stretton Hills and The Wrekin, each of which has its own landscape character.

The Shropshire Hills AONB has a rich history and includes hills, woodlands, rivers, river valleys and farmed landscape; the area is of national importance for its landscape, ecology and geology. Local towns located close to the AONB border include Bridgnorth, Ludlow and Bishop's Castle and the larger towns of Shrewsbury and Telford. The local towns provide convenient places from which visitors can tour the Shropshire Hills AONB and surrounding areas.

The protection given to the area via the AONB status means the commercial development in the AONB area has been limited in order to help protect and maintain the special qualities of the area ensuring visitors can continue to enjoy the outstanding natural beauty, panoramic views and scenic landscapes in the Shropshire Hills.

The location in the West Midlands in England means the AONB is easily assessable from across the East and West Midlands, East of England, North East and North West England, Southern England and Wales. From Newcastle, Durham and much of north east England the area is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 30 minutes by car, from Leeds it is 3 hours by car, from Birmingham and much of the Midlands it is 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes. From Liverpool and Manchester it is approx 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes.

From Cardiff and southern Wales it is 2 hours 30 minutes by car and from Mid Wales it is 30 minutes to 1 hour. From London and much of southern England it is 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes away.

Tourist Information Centres and information points are located at various locations in and close by to the Shropshire Hills AONB. Inside the AONB there is a tourist information centre at Church Stretton, there are also ones located at Bishop's Castle, Craven Arms, Ironbridge and Much Wenlock close to the AONB. The tourist information centres can provide visitors with useful information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas.

Each of the tourist information centres has knowledgeable staff offering useful local knowledge with information on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres provides a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area. At the centres visitors can find out about local events, public transport options and accommodation facilities.

Local Accommodation includes a range of hotels including historic and contemporary, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, holiday homes and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Church Stretton, Clun, Newcastle and Bucknell. Towns located in the area Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Shrewsbury and Telford, provide good access to local facilities and accommodation from which to explore the AONB and the surrounding local areas in the West Midlands.

The Shropshire Hills AONB provides a place for visitors to explore a place of wilderness and natural beauty where it is possible to get away from it all and the stresses and strains of daily life. There are a number of small dispersed settlements in the AONB, he area is known for brick, timbered and stone buildings along with historical industrial relics relating to charcoal burning, lead mining and quarrying. Many of the villages in the AONB have preserved their history, traditions and heritage showcasing local history and culture. Visitors will find a number of local attractions and places of interest for visitors to explore further.

Local Towns and Villages include Church Stretton located 15 miles north of Ludlow in the AONB area. The historic market town is renowned for its geology home to some of the oldest rock formations in existence. The town again popularity during the Victorian era and as a health resort was referred to as 'little Switzerland' referring to its hills and valleys. The spa town includes natural springs that provide water for the Stretton Hills bottled water. The local facilities, accommodation and amenities make Church Stretton a popular base for visitors when exploring the surrounding areas.

Local attractions include St Lawrence's Church, the town's parish church that is a Grade I listed building dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The church is known for its Norman and Gothic architecture. The town hosts a number of events each year including the May Fayre, the Church Stretton Walking Festival in June and the Church Stretton Arts Festival in July and August.

Stokesay Castle located close by, it is a fortified manor house dating back to the 13th century. Known for being among the best preserved medieval manor houses in England, the house is located in picturesque surroundings close to the Welsh border in Shropshire. Highlights include the impressive great hall that has been unaltered since it was built back in 1291. There are a number of unique carvings on the gatehouse and above the fireplace in the solar room for visitors to see. There is a complimentary audio tour available or visitors to learn more about the house and its fascinating history. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll in scenic surroundings at the castle.

Clun is located approx 18 miles to the west of Ludlow in the AONB area. The compact town is renowned for being one of the most tranquil and quietest places in England. Located on the River Clun, the charming town includes a number of shops including small independent stores with antique and collectables shops and local amenities. There are tea rooms and a number of pubs offering a choice of food and drinks.

Local attractions include a number of festivals that are held in the town, in May the Clun Green Man Festival is held, in August it is the Clun Carnival and in October it is the Clun Valley Beer Festival, the festivals offer a great spectacle and are well worth seeing. Other attractions include the museum in the town hall and the historic Clun Bridge that dates back to the 15th century. Clun Castle is a historic castle that is now in ruins dating back to the late 11th century, the castle is looked after by English Heritage and is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Monument. Set in a dramatic riverside location with extensive earthworks and surrounded by scenic countryside.

Ludlow is located at the southern edge of the Shropshire Hills AONB, 30 miles south of Shrewsbury in Shropshire. The market town has been referred to as 'the loveliest town in England' and the 'Gastronomic capital of Shropshire'. The town is known for its 500 plus listed buildings including a number of half-timbered and Georgian buildings noted for their impressive historic architecture.

The town still holds markets on most days and there is a regular flea market that takes place here on Sundays. There are a number of interesting local shops many of which are independent with a number of craft and antique shops.

Local attractions include a number of festivals that are held in the town; these include the Ludlow Festival that is held in June and July that attracts performers from the UK and internationally. The Ludlow Marches Food & Drink Festival is held in September and in November it is the Medieval Christmas Fair; the festivals provide something for visitors at most times of the year.

Other local attractions include Ludlow Museum that showcases the history and heritage of the town; the historic St Lawrence's Church is a parish church, it dates back to Norman times and is noted for its set of misericords in the choir stalls and is seen as a prime example of stained glass windows. The church is noted for its architecture, visitors can enjoy one f the free guided tours to learn more about the fascinating church an its rich history.

Ludlow Castle is a historic partially ruined castle that dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Located overlooking the River Theme the castle had great strategic importance for the control of the Welsh borders. The castle is both a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the castle is set in scenic Shropshire countryside overlooking the bustling market town of Ludlow. Visitors can walk through the castle grounds and see close up the castle in all its glory.

There is a Tea Room on site serving a variety of home made foods and a variety of drinks; whilst the castle shop includes a choice of gifts, souvenirs and mementos for visitors to remember their trip here. The castle is a venue that hosts a number of events and festivals including open air theatre.

Bishop's Castle is located 20 miles north west of Ludlow on the edge of the AONB area. The small town is renowned for its architecture and is located in a unspoilt area that is next to the Welsh border. The area is popular among walkers with a quiet landscape, woods, hill tops and valleys. The town includes a number of historical buildings including the town hall and is home to the House on Crutches, a museum of country life and the Rail and Transport Museum that showcases the railway and local history.

The town includes a number of shops, stores and local amenities with a choice of shops including bookshops, art galleries, handmade furniture and a choice of other independent specialist retailers. There are a choice of cafes, restaurants and accommodation available in the town. Local attractions include festivals that take place year round including the Midsummer Rejoicing Festival, The Carnival, Beer Festival, Michelmas Fair and the Christmas Lights Festival.

Stiperstones National Nature Reserve is located 30 miles to the north of Ludlow in the north of the Shropshire Hills and in addition to being a National Nature Reserve (NNR), it is also a Site pf Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Located on the second highest hill in Shropshire, the Stiperstones are known for their geology with Bronze Age monuments and includes a mix of both animals and plants. Wildlife in the area includes include Red Grouse, Peregrine Falcon and Ring Ouzel. The area is a favourite among walkers with great views across the Shropshire countryside.

Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre is located in Craven Arms, 9 miles north west of Ludlow in Shropshire. The discovery centre offers an action packed and fun filled day out for the whole family, there is a visitor information centre conveniently here where visitors can find up to date information on local accommodation, events, activities and attractions. Visitors can see the Secret Hills Exhibition and see the skeleton of a mammoth and learn more about Shropshire during the Iron Age.

Other attractions include the 30 acres Onny Meadows Country Park located next to the centre, the riverside water meadows are an important wildlife habitat and include a number of paths for visitors to discover in scenic surroundings with woodland and wild flowers. The discovery centre includes a gallery with a number of works from local artists and crafts specialists, along with the permanent exhibits there are temporary exhibits. The gift shop offers a choice of maps, gifts and souvenirs. The Cafe serves a choice of hot and cold drinks and a range of tempting home cooked meals.

Walking offers visitors the most cost effective and environmentally friendly ways to discover the AONB and the surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Shropshire Hills AONB includes a choice of landscapes and terrain, with a number of footpaths, meadows, pastures, ancient woodlands and hilltops offering both shorter and longer walks for walkers of all abilities.

Walks include The Shropshire Way, a 136 mile long distance route going through some of the most scenic sections of the Shropshire Hills. Easy routes via managed countryside include the Onny Meadows. Local hills such as The Stiperstones and The Long Mynd include a variety of walking routes.

Cycling provides both a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to explore the Shropshire Hills AONB. There are a number of quiet country lanes, hilltops, valleys, cross country routes and more challenging terrain making the area suitable for cycling. There are a number of cycle routes in the area these include; The Lady Halton Loop, a 7 mile circular ride, whilst The Six Castles Cycleway is a 58 mile route that goes from Shrewsbury to Leominster and is Route 44 in the National Cycle Network, the route passes through some of the finest sections of the Shropshire Hills.

Visitors to the Shropshire Hills AONB in the West Midlands, England will find a quiet and scenic area full of character and historic charm known for its woodland, hills, rivers, varied landscapes and historic attractions. Visitors can explore a number of historic villages and towns in and around the AONB. A visit to the Shropshire Hills with its historic charm, character and open spaces offers peace and tranquillity where visitors can get closer to nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

How to Get There

Shropshire Hills AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The market town of Ludlow is located next to the southern edge of the AONB area and provides a convenient located from which to explore the area with a choice of accommodation, facilities and local amenities. Located approx 155 miles from central London. From London take the A40 then the M40 and merge on to the M42, then merge on to the M5. From the M5 exit on to the A38, then take the A4133, then take the A443 and A456. From the A456 at the junction with the A49 take the right turning for the A49. Continue along the A49 until the left hand turning for Skeet Road and continue along Skeet Road that goes in to Ludlow. The approx journey time is 3 hours to 3 hour 30 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

From London Euston station there are regular services to Crewe station and from Crewe there are trains to Ludlow. The journey time is approx 3 hours, depending on service, connections and time of day. From London Paddington station there are services to Newport in Wales and from Newport there are services to Ludlow, the approx journey time is 3 hours to 3 hours 20 minutes. The Arriva Trains Wales service from Manchester to Cardiff calls at Church Stretton, Craven Arms and Ludlow. The Heart of Wales service from Shrewsbury to Swansea calls at Church Stretton, Craven Arms, Broome, Bucknell and others. The

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular coaches available from London Victoria Coach station to Shrewsbury. The approx journey time is 4 hours 30 minutes depending on time of day and traffic. From Shrewsbury, visitors can use train services to Church Stretton and Ludlow, with an approx journey time of 15 minutes and 30 minutes respectively. Coach services to Shrewsbury are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Shropshire Hills AONB
The Old Post Office
Shrewsbury Road
Craven Arms

Telephone: +44 (0)1588 674080

Website: Shropshire Hills AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Shropshire Hills (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Shropshire Hills AONB in Shropshire ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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