Oswestry – ‘Where Shropshire meets Wales’

We returned for a second visit this weekend to Cranberry Moss Camping & Caravanning Club Site which is located just off the busy A5 between Oswestry (8 miles) and Shrewsbury (10 miles).  It’s a beautifully maintained site with an open layout, and we received a warm welcome from the warden who showed us around the site and allowed us to choose our own pitch.  We didn’t use the onsite facilities during our stay but they looked clean and what you’d expect from a club site.

As with our last visit here, our journey involved several hold-ups and general heavy Friday traffic.  We reached the site mid-afternoon and pitched up just before some heavy rain arrived.  It rained non-stop for the rest of the afternoon so we stuck the kettle on and had a relaxing few hours on Jolly before heading out for a meal in the evening.

We knew from our last visit that there’s a lovely pub a couple of miles away in Nesscliffe, called The Old Three Pigeons.  So, after realising the rain wasn’t for stopping, we got togged up and cycled through the downpours into Nesscliffe.  We were rewarded with a delicious meal there so it was well worth the effort!  By the time we returned to camp the rain had ceased and it was still light so it was quite a pleasant ride back.

Cheers to a good evening at the Old Three Pigeons

There’s a Country Park in Nesscliffe where you’ll find an iron age hill fort, quarries which supplied stone for some of Shropshire’s’ castles and churches, and a cave hewn into the sandstone, which it is claimed was the hideout of a medieval outlaw called Humphrey Kynaston – Shropshire’s answer to Robin Hood.  It’s claimed that the Old Three Pigeons is haunted by Humphrey.

A handy Arriva bus service runs past the site entrance and can take you to Shrewsbury (opposite side of road) or Oswestry (just outside site entrance).  The warden told us to avoid any bus with an ‘X’ by the number when returning to site as this was an express service which would not pass the site and would leave us a good 2 miles away.  On our last visit, we had visited Shrewsbury so this time we jumped on the number 70 bus to explore the market town of Oswestry.

The name ‘Oswestry’, is derived from King Oswald of Northumbria (died in AD641).  He was apparently nailed to a tree – hence the name “Oswald’s Tree“.    Probably the most famous person to have hailed from Oswestry is the First World War Poet, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918).  We visited the tourist information, which is housed in an old school building by St Oswald’s Church, to pick up a map of the Wilfred Owen Trail which takes you through the town and to places of note including his place of birth and early childhood home at ‘Plas Wilmot’.

We had a good walk around the town on the trail and later enjoyed an early evening pizza and prosecco at Prezzo before returning to camp.

Our journey back home the next morning was fortunately without any of the hold-ups we’d experienced on our way down.  The sun was shining too which made a difference.

Summer’s marching on.  Still plenty of Jolly adventures lined up though 🙂

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Overwater Marina, Audlem, Cheshire

We booked this two-nighter last year as we thought it looked a pretty one.  Our destination was the village of Audlem on the South Cheshire border with Shropshire.  The village is situated alongside the Shropshire Union Canal which starts in Wolverhampton in The Midlands, running northwards towards Cheshire, the River Mersey and Ellesmere Port.

The Audlem stretch of the canal is famous for its 15 locks, designed by Thomas Telford to raise the canal up to the Shropshire Plain from the lower Cheshire Plain.  These locks cover a distance of approx. a mile and a half.

We stayed at Overwater Marina just outside Audlem.

http://www.overwatermarina.co.uk/caravans/site-information.html

We had booked a pitch in the Caravan & Motorhome Club 5-pitch CL area (£15 per night with EHU).  They are attractively laid out, spacious, hard-standing pitches with a separate grassed area and picnic table.

On arrival we were informed that we had been allocated pitch number 3 but it was immediately clear that somebody else was already pitched there.   Staff expressed surprise that it was already occupied and then told us that somebody must have either overstayed their occupancy or pitched in the wrong place.  They didn’t really know and to be honest didn’t seem that bothered.  In fact, even when the pitch later became available nobody bothered to tell us.  So, a shambles is the best way to describe check-in to be honest!

Oh well, we found ourselves a pitch on the new section of 10 hard-standings.   Not as pretty but functional and serviced which was a positive.  Facilities were good.

We spent the first afternoon and evening around Jolly just having an end of week wind-down and chill out before an early night in preparation for the next day exploring the area.  We woke to blazing sunshine and had again struck lucky with the weather.  That’s 3 breaks in a row of sunshine.  Hope this run of luck lasts 🙏😎

We began the day with a breakfast at the on site ‘Cafe at Bridge 80’.  The food was good and set us up for the day.  We then rode our bikes along the canal towpath into Audlem.  It would be about a 20-25 minute walk or there’s the option of taking the ‘Audlem Lass’, a canal boat taxi, which runs between the marina and the village.

http://www.audlemlass.co.uk/

It’s a really beautiful walk/cycle/boat ride, whichever you choose.  Very scenic and part of what is considered to be one of the prettiest walks in lowland England.

On arrival in Audlem, we stopped for a swiftie 🍻 at the Shroppie Fly pub, situated by a lock on the canal.

http://www.shroppiefly.com/home-5863.html

While sitting in the sunshine we decided to change our original plan which had been to visit Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker (not so secret, there are signs everywhere!) in Nantwich, a further 3 miles down the towpath.  It was just too nice a day to be spent in an underground bunker.  We got chatting to a local who said the bunker is definitely worth a visit at some point though and is quite an eerie experience.  It gives us a good reason to re-visit this beautiful area another time.

Hack Green (not so) Secret Nuclear Bunker

http://www.hackgreen.co.uk/

Audlem has an interesting history and a lot to offer for a village.

http://www.audlem.org/features/tourism-heritage.html

There is also a busy calendar of events happening in and around the area throughout the year worth bearing in mind if planning a visit.  A local particularly recommended the Music & Arts Festival and Beer Festival for a great atmosphere.  There’s a list of events here:-

http://www.audlem.org/whatson/village-events-2016.html

Free parking in the village and some lovely shops including the ‘Lllovely Chocolate Shop’.  No shortage of good eating and drinking establishments including three pubs – The Shroppie Fly, Bridge Inn just around the corner from the Shroppie, and further along the main road from there is the Lord Combermere at the centre of the village.

At the end of our day’s wanderings we ate back at the Shroppie Fly where we got talking to a lovely & interesting coupe who owned a narrow boat ‘Layla’ and loved to travel –

Hello, if you’re reading this Ann & ? sorry we didn’t manage to call in for a nightcap but we had probably had enough by then and at least we didn’t interrupt your football match viewing! 😉   

The food at the Shroppie was great and so was the atmosphere.

With full bellies we cycled the towpath back to camp at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable day.  Definitely a visit we’d recommend and repeat.  A big thumbs up!

This year has been a great one so far both weather-wise and destination-wise, and we’re still only in Spring.  Loving it!  Bring on the next adventure.

ONWARD!>>>> 🚐

Suzie & Bri

Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Our most recent stay was at the Cranberry Moss Camping & Caravanning Club Site last week.  The site’s situated approx. 8 miles from Oswestry and 10 miles from Shrewsbury in the opposition direction.  Conveniently, there is a regular bus service (hourly to Oswestry and 2 hourly to Shrewsbury) with a bus stop right outside the site entrance.

http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/shropshire/oswestry/oswestry

As it was half-term week we were expecting the site to be full but on arrival we were pleasantly surprised to find a good choice of empty pitches.  The site staff were very welcoming and keen for us to find the right pitch for us, so much so that as we were only staying 2 nights, they offered us an area sectioned off for some planned work later in the week.  As a result, we had a beautiful, private, quiet top corner pitch area all to ourselves.  That’s certainly going the extra mile. Big thumbs up to that!

Excellent pitch! A private corner all to ourselves.

Excellent pitch! A private corner all to ourselves.

Friendly pheasant snapped to the rear of our pitch

Male pheasant wandering by the rear of our pitch

We were blessed again with only light rain during our stay, nothing that prevented us from getting out on the bikes and also exploring the nearby town of Shrewsbury.  We didn’t have time to visit Oswestry too, so will save that for a future visit.

http://www.oswestry-welshborders.org.uk/

So, we arrived on site mid-afternoon following a longer journey than planned due to several traffic hold ups.  We had our customary relaxation time on site before taking the bikes off and cycling (approx. 10 mins) to the nearby village of Nesscliffe.  Had we not had traffic hold ups and got there earlier we would have cycled around Nesscliffe Country Park where there is an iron age hill fort, quarries which supplied stone for some of Shropshire’s’ castles and churches, and a cave hewn into the sandstone, which it is claimed was the hideout of a medieval outlaw called Humphrey Kynaston, Shropshire’s answer to Robin Hood.  However, as the nights are drawing in earlier now this wasn’t really practical during this visit, but we will fit this in when we return to this lovely site and visit the town of Oswestry.

http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/outdoor-recreation/parks-and-countryside-sites/nesscliffe-and-the-cliffe-countryside-site/

We cycled for tea at The Old Three Pigeons in Nesscliffe, spending a relaxed evening sitting in a quiet corner playing cards and chatting with a fellow camper from the site before enjoying a good meal.  The Old Three Pigeons is an early 15th Century public house and it is claimed that it is haunted by Humphrey Kynaston …

http://www.3pigeons.co.uk/

The Old Three Pigeons, Nesscliffe

The Old Three Pigeons, Nesscliffe

A chilled out game of cards (Suzie won … again! 😉)

Good wine list and an extensive food menu

Good wine list and an extensive food menu

We spent the next full day visiting the local town of Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin, catching the bus from site. On arrival into town you pass the striking ‘Quantum Leap’ sculpture which was unveiled in 2009 to mark Darwin’s bicentenary and in representation of his pioneering ideas and influence on science.

http://www.discoverdarwin.co.uk/quantum-leap/

There are lots of higgledy piggledy old streets and alleyways to explore in this interesting town around which the River Severn flows.  In better weather, a Sabrina boat trip along the river would be an enjoyable way of seeing some of the landmarks and hearing about the town’s history.

http://www.sabrinaboat.co.uk/

We were happy to meander around town, dodging raindrops as the showers came and went.  It’s advisable to pick up a map of the centre from the Tourist Information Centre, based inside the Music Hall within The Square. Or print one from this link –

http://visitshrewsburymap.co.uk/

Town centre

Town centre

Most of the town can be covered quite easily and at a leisurely pace without having to walk your socks off.  We stopped for lunch at The Quirky Coffee & Gift Shop at the top of Grope Lane (ooh err!).  We had a light bite which was fine and the coffee served there was excellent.  The young man serving was extremely chatty and full of enthusiasm re. the town’s history on which he seemed quite clued up.

Looking up from the bottom of Grope Lane, named either because people had to grope to find their way up or because it used to be a red light area. Our guess is probably the latter!

Looking up from the bottom of Grope Lane, apparently named either because people had to grope to find their way up in the dark or because it used to be a red light area. Our guess is … probably the latter!

Bear Steps, viewed from the window seat of the Quirky Coffee & Gift Shoo

Bear Steps, viewed from the window seat of the Quirky Coffee & Gift Shop

One of many old narrow passageways throughout the town

One of many old narrow passageways throughout the town

The autumnal colours added to the beauty of this historic town

The autumnal colours in the grounds of St Alkmund’s church added to the beauty of this historic town

The old buildings along Fish Street

The old buildings and St Julian’s church along Fish Street

Henry Tudor House. Built in the early 1400s, it was originally a collection of shops, houres and a brewing inn. Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII) sought refuge here on his way to the Battle of Bosworth,

Henry Tudor House. Built in the early 1400s, it was originally a collection of shops, houses and a brewing inn.  Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII) sought refuge here on his way to the Battle of Bosworth

Pictures of pop/rock stars in Tudor dress adorn the walls

Pictures of pop/rock stars in Tudor dress adorn the walls

St Chad’s Church, not far from the town centre, is worth visiting to see the grave of Ebenezer Scrooge which was placed there during an 80s filming of A Christmas Carol in the town.  When filming was finished the grave was just left there.

Ebenezer Scrooge's grave at St Chad's Church

Ebenezer Scrooge’s fictitious grave at St Chad’s Church

There really is plenty to occupy anyone in this town and we had a great time here, managing to catch the last bus back to site early evening.

This is a campsite and area of the country we fully intend to return to in the near future.

Until then, our next Jolly adventure will involve a dressed up day at the races with slap up meal and champagne.  Hopefully also a few lucky wins too! 🏇🏇🍴🍸.  Can’t wait.

ONWARD,>>>>

Suzie & Bri