One of England’s largest and least populated counties, Shropshire stretches from its long and winding border with Wales to the very edge of the urban Black Country. The Industrial Revolution made a huge stride forward here, with the spanning of the River Severn by the very first iron bridge and, although the assorted industries that subsequently squeezed into the Ironbridge Gorge are long gone, a series of museums celebrates their craftsmanship – from tiles through to iron. The River Severn also flows through the county town of Shrewsbury, whose antique centre holds dozens of old half-timbered buildings, though Ludlow, further south, has the edge when it comes to handsome Tudor and Jacobean architecture. In between the two lie some of the most beautiful parts of Shropshire, primarily the Long Mynd, a prime hiking area that is readily explored from the attractive little town of Church Stretton.

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