The historic town of Ludlow sits among the rolling countryside of the county of Shropshire, England - Welsh Border Country. Travelling from Chester in the North, Ludlow is reached via the A49 between Shrewsbury and Hereford, passing by the delightful Shropshire hills known as the Long Mynd. However, resist the temptation to leave the car and walk those "Blue remembered Hills” at least for a while.
Protected by both the rivers Teme and Corve, the town of Ludlow and Ludlow Castle stand on high ground, able to resist attack from would be invaders from over the Welsh Border. Being less than 10 miles from Wales the threat had to be taken seriously. However it was some 900 years ago when the sons of the Marcher Lord, Walter de Lacy, began to build their castle fortress. The stone for Ludlow Castle was readily available, being quarried from the castle's own site, and water was obtained from a deep well within the castle walls. All the walls are to no avail, however, as the Welsh and indeed many others "invade" this beautiful market town on a regular basis.
Ludlow has a lively market situated in the town square fronting the Castle. There are food fairs, sometimes held within the castle, speciality food shops and many restaurants and Inns. Ludlow has much to explore beside the castle, with the parish church of St Laurence and over 500 historically listed buildings, many of them black and white half-timbered houses - the town is a site to behold.
Nowadays, a traditional open-air market, managed by Ludlow Town Council, takes place in the town square (Castle Street) every Monday, Friday and Saturday throughout the year, with Wednesday markets from April to September. More than forty stalls sell a range of goods including fresh produce, cheeses, books and a selection of local crafts. There are also Christmas markets on Wednesdays in December. Further information can be obtained from the Markets Manager on 01562 822870.
John Betjeman, the former Poet Laureate said Ludlow was "the loveliest town in England" and it is well worth a visit whether on a short break or as part of a long distance walk such as the Shropshire Way. This long distance path covers the whole of Shropshire and passes through Ludlow.
St Laurence's Church: Ludlow parish church is the largest parish church in Shropshire and has an imposing 41m (135 feet) high tower that invites exploration when viewed above the rooftops. Although the tower can be seen from all corners of the town, you might have to persevere to find the church, what with the medieval streets and buildings seemingly designed to hide it from closer inspection. It is to be found however in a small square at the top of the hill north of King Street, west of Castle Square.
The church has a cruciform plan, with a nave and chancel of equal length. Between them are two transepts and a huge bell tower, rising from the crossing. The church stands at the heart of the medieval town, with a large churchyard (now closed) on the north side. The church has features of the Norman, Early English and Decorated periods, including the delightful hexagonal south porch. It protects a remarkable collection of artistic treasures, including good medieval and later glass, well carved fifteenth century misericords and bench-ends, a fine series of memorials and a superb Snetzler organ.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
The search for the parish church epitomises the best way to see Ludlow - by foot. The heart of the town is quite small, as with many medieval towns, and the use of the car is both unnecessary and indeed a hindrance. A round trip walking from Castle Square via High Street, the Buttermarket, and Broad Street to the River Teme, then west alongside the river toward the Castle Walls and beyond will deliver up many of Ludlow's secrets in just an hour's walk.
However, the county of Shropshire is famed for longer walks than the town walk. The Long Mynd, Stretton Hills and Wenlock Edge are just three of the long distance walks, which Edward Houseman must have had in mind when composing his famous lines - 'those blue remembered hills' about his early life as a Shropshire lad.
Long distance walkers will be spoilt for chance with both the Shropshire Way and the Mortimer Trail crossing tracks in the centre of Ludlow.
Another long distance path, Offa's Dyke Path, travels along the Anglo-Saxon earthwork running north-south along the English - Welsh border and passes through the town of Knighton, at which there is an Offa's Dyke Visitor Centre, and although some miles from Ludlow, is one of the most spectacular stretches of the Dyke and is within reach of the town.
Castles and Forts
Ludlow Castle: Ludlow's Castle was probably the strongest fortified building in the Welsh Marches and once the home of Kings. It dominated life in the town for centuries. It was some 900 years ago when the sons of the Marcher Lord, Walter de Lacy, began to build the castle fortress. The stone for Ludlow Castle was readily available, being quarried from the castle's own site, and water was obtained from a deep well within the castle walls. Today the castle acts as a venue for open-air theatre, food festivals and other important events in the life of the town.
Accommodation and Services
Feathers in Ludlow: Why not try a bit of luxury, spoil yourself, and stay at a world-renowned hotel. The Feathers in Ludlow has the most fantastic timbered façade, and is recognised for its beautiful Jacobean architecture and medieval heritage. Described by Nikolaus Pevsner in 'The Buildings of England' as 'that prodigy of timber framed houses' and, more recently, in the New York Times as 'the most handsome inn in the world'. I have stayed there myself, whilst it might be expensive, it has the advantage of having a central position, and although the parking was a tight squeeze, the rooms were not, with a nice sized bedroom and large en-suite bathroom, overlooking the town's main street.
Situated on the river Teme in the county of Shropshire, Ludlow is on the A49 between Shrewsbury and Hereford. It is linked to the M5/M6 by the A456 through Kidderminster. Ludlow has fast and direct trains from Cardiff, Crewe, Hereford, Liverpool, London (via Newport), Manchester, North Wales and Shrewsbury.