Bishop's Castle & the Shropshire Hills - 10th June

Route Number 2    Due back: 20.15    £14.00


The history of Bishop's Castle begins in the eighth century when Offa, the powerful King of Mercia, who built the Dyke to defend his Kingdom, murdered Ethelburt, the young King of East Anglia. It is said that the head was separated from the body and the remains tossed into marshy ground by the river Lugg. From here they were later removed by Offa's Chamberlain and taken to a place called Fernley, which later became Hereford. Here the remains were properly buried, the tomb becoming a sanctuary and a place of miracles.
Although the original Mott & Bailey Castle and its replacement in Stone in the 10th Century have both long gone, the little town continued to thrive with its weekly markets when livestock was traded in the streets. This practice went on until the First World War when the council bought the paddock at the rear of the Kings Head for an auction yard. And at the May Fair, the farm hands would crowd into the town to sell their labour for the coming year, sealing the bargain with a silver shilling. The town's several public houses were filled to overflowing and the Boars Head was famous for its bare fist fights which took place on the corner of the Horse Fair, now Station Street. 
Which brings the town's story to 1865 and the establishment of the Bishop's Castle Railway, the line that went nowhere, endured against all odds for seventy years and was in the Receivers' hands for sixty nine of them. The railway ran from Bishop's Castle to Craven Arms, along the valley of the river Onny and through some of the most beautiful countryside in South West Shropshire. It brought cattle to the markets, goods to the shops, coke to the gas works and was thoroughly enjoyed by every member of the community. But it never made any money for its shareholders. It struggled on until 1935, when it finally closed, rolling stock, rails and sleepers being sold off to pay some of the accumulated debts.
Bishop’s Castle is now a small market town at the centre of magnificent, unspoilt hill country. The prominent 18th century Town Hall, which has undergone a major renovation, stands at the top of the main street, and is the centre for much activity in the town. There are two museums and a Heritage Resource Centre, two breweries, including the oldest licensed brewery in the country  Many pubs, restaurants and cafes and shops catering for almost every need line the main street.
Walking is very much encouraged in Shropshire and that is no surprise when you look at the magnificent countryside.
Please join us for this great day out. We look forward to seeing you all.