Shrophire's Ironbridge Gorge is close to Telford – but everything else about it is good.
Approached by a series of twisting roads, it’s a cleft that was created after the last Ice Age, when a huge lake cut a chasm through layers of coal, iron ore, clay and limestone.
It is a fitting setting for one of the UK’s most wondrous industrial landmarks – the small, handsome 1779 ‘iron bridge’ that gives the village its name. The first structure ever to be built using cast iron, it’s a Unesco World Heritage site and the focal point of no fewer than ten museums dedicated to the West Midlands’ industrial grandeur.
Not far from Ironbridge are the homes of Josiah Wedgwood and The Potteries, the Mini and the Morgan car. Then, for cerebral succour, Shropshire lays claim to Shakespeare, Josiah’s grandson Charles Darwin, AE Housman and William Penny Brookes, inventor of the modern Olympics. The world just beyond Brum really is worth a weekend’s exploring.
Where to stay
This is a converted granary in the depths of rural Shropshire. Rooms are tastefully decorated, the breakfast and home-baked cakes are delicious, and you’re close to Offa’s Dyke and the Long Mynd for walks.