LUDLOW, perched on a hill in a loop of the River Teme nearly thirty miles south of Shrewsbury, is one of the most picturesque towns in the West Midlands, if not in England – a gaggle of beautifully preserved black-and-white half-timbered buildings packed around a craggy stone castle, with rural Shropshire forming a drowsy backdrop.

These are strong recommendations in themselves, but Ludlow scores even more by being something of a gastronomic hidey-hole with a clutch of outstanding restaurants, whose chefs and sous-chefs gather at the much-vaunted Ludlow Food Festival, held over three days every September. The other leading event is the Ludlow Festival, two weeks of musical and theatrical fun running from the end of June to early July.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow’s large and imposing castle dates mostly from Norman times, its rambling remains incorporating towers and turrets, gatehouses and concentric walls as well as the remains of the 110ft Norman keep and an unusual Round Chapel built in 1120. With its spectacular setting high above the river, the castle also makes a fine open-air auditorium during the Ludlow Festival.