So wrote the English poet, A.E. Houseman, in the opening lines
to one of his famous A Shropshire Lad poems, and it
sums up Shropshire fairly well. Shropshire is quiet. Actually, it
is very quiet, and it's very beautiful too, and these are two good
reasons why we are basing this tour in Shropshire. And there are
many other good reasons too...
Truth be told, Shropshire is a bit of a hidden gem and is one
of England's most rural and sparsely populated counties; it is
also landlocked and is England's largest inland county. The River
Severn, Britain's longest river, runs through Shropshire, and
Ironbridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the
world's first iron bridge sits in the Severn Gorge, to the east of
The Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
covers about a quarter of the county, mainly in the south, and the
remainder of the county, predominently rolling green pasture, is
largely taken up with dairy farming. There are no large
cities, but there are many traditional market towns, including
Ludlow, which has made its name as a gourmet town, and Shrewsbury,
the county town.
Unspoilt, unrushed and tranquil; a bit like our tours!
The Marches is an imprecisely defined area along the border
between England and Wales, and the precise meaning of the term has
varied at different periods. Historically, the English term
Welsh March was originally used to denote the marches between
England and the Principality of Wales, in which Marcher Earls had
specific rights, exercised to some extent independently of the King
of England. In modern usage, the Marches is often used to
describe those English counties which lie along the border with
Wales, particularly Shropshire and Herefordshire, and sometimes
adjoining areas of Wales.
Roses and the gardens
We don't wish to be accused of misrepresentation, so we better
explain that we call this the rose tour, because this is the peak
season for roses in England and, although not every garden we visit
is, in its purest sense, a 'rose' garden, the overall emphasis of
the tour is on roses and most, if not all, the gardens will have
roses - some of them spectacularly so.
This tour visits a dozen gardens during the week, a mixture of
gardens open regularly to the public and private gardens, open only
by appointment or only occasionally, and a mixture, too, of large
gardens surrounding grand houses, and smaller gardens, surrounding
more modestly sized family homes.
Sleeping & Eating
We are staying for the whole week at the wonderful Goldstone Hall Hotel, a hotel
we 'discovered' a little while ago and stayed at, for the first
time, on our 2017 Chatsworth Flower Show tour, and it didn't
disappoint. Owned and run by the Cushing family, everything - from
the excellent food, the charming staff and the comfortable rooms to
the peaceful countryside location and its own gorgeous garden -
makes Goldstone Hall the perfect place to stay.
We will dine-in, at Goldstone Hall, on four evenings and dine-out
on two, at The Pheasant Inn, in
Burwardsley, Cheshire, and down the road, at The Fox, in Chetwynd
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