Autumnal Escapes

A weekend of countryside bliss at Woodlanders

I’m lucky enough to live by the sea, but the call of the countryside is a constant draw, so when the opportunity to visit the incredible Woodlanders, our cabin tucked away in the Shropshire Hills, came up, I jumped at the chance.

Friday saw us eagerly heading up country, and as we travelled, the transition from motorway to quieter roads to finally a hedgerow-strewn single lane left us feeling calmer at every moment. As we approached Woodlanders, we gazed in awe at the rolling hills of this AONB to our left and the impressive woodland to our left, which we later found out was Clunton Coppice.

Pulling up into the drive, we were delighted to find our wood-clad home tucked under the canopy of huge oak trees, a dappled shady escape from the heat of the day – something we were pleased about knowing of the heatwave to come.

Keen to explore, we let ourselves in and found a charming home, where the muted, calming tones of soft greys and whites allow the beauty of the views from the large shine through. 

With an impressively equipped bijou kitchen, breakfast bar and sitting area in the main space, fronted by two huge windows overlooking the countryside, this is a great space to spend time together.

Towards the back of Woodlanders lies the surprisingly large bathroom, complete with slipper bath at one end and huge walk-in shower at the other.

Climbing the stairs, we found the bedroom tucked amongst the eaves. With a super-comfy king-sized bed, there’s a large Velux window above – to lie back and look at the canopy of the trees above is a lovely way to wake up. Additionally, there’s another large window with an elevated view of the fields and hills opposite.

To the back of the room is a door that leads over a bridge and up to the wood-fired hot tub. Knowing it takes a while to heat up, we decided to leave lighting it until tomorrow and headed back downstairs.

Once unpacked, we were delighted to find a gorgeous welcome hamper for us, with local prosecco and lots of other local goodies. There was also a lovely vase of flowers and a welcome message – the perfect introduction to our stay at Woodlanders.

Having driven a long way, we poured ourselves a drink and sat in the two loungers in the garden, watching the sun turn a deep golden and the shadows of the hedgerows stretch longer over the fields, a tractor collecting hay in a far away field and the birds flitting here and there – we were also excited to hear the call of a red kite and see several buzzards flying high in the sky as we sipped our drinks. 

Feeling hungry, we lit the easy-to-use gas barbeque and cooked our dinner, choosing to eat outside as twilight descended. Set on a no through road, Woodlanders is an exceptionally peaceful spot, and we heard nothing but the sounds of nature – just bliss!

Finally, we made our way inside, sitting on the sofa and reading until our heads began to nod, before climbing up to bed and falling into a deep sleep.

The next morning, we awoke to a bright, sunny day and sat in bed with our morning mug of tea, gazing out of the window. We decided to visit Ludlow just a few miles away, known as a hot foodie spot and with a castle too.

On arrival, we made for the lookout by Ludlow Castle car park, to take in the epic scenery of the ‘Welsh Marches’, an area that borders Wales and covers mainly Shropshire and Herefordshire. We strolled into town and decided first to visit the castle that lies high above the River Teme.

Dating back to 1085, the castle, now mainly ruined, was of great historical importance, being the headquarters of the Council of the Marches. It has also witnessed many events imperative to England’s progression, such as the overthrowing of King Edward II, whilst in 1473 the Prince of Wales and his brother were kept here before their mysterious deaths in the Tower of London. In 1502, Prince Arthur heir to the throne, died here, leaving his brother to become king – the astonishing Henry VIII. 

Today, the castle is fascinating to explore, whilst a climb up the ramparts is well worth it for the views. The castle is also host to some incredible festivals, such as the Spring Festival, the Food and Drink Festival (the oldest running in England) and the fabulous Medieval Christmas Fayre.

After the castle, we pottered around the fantastic market and the town with its excellent independent shops. With stunning architecture spanning from medieval times to today, Ludlow is a characterful place to visit, and oh-so-picturesque. We stopped for some lunch in a deli on the square and headed back to Woodlanders.

The afternoon had set in very warm, so we decided to heat up the wood-fired hot tub. Lit and managed in the same way as you would a wood burner, it was novel to tend it between reading in the garden and gazing at the view, the scent of woodsmoke drifting through the trees. Eventually it was ready, and we climbed in, enjoying the soft, heated water.

After a good soak, we dried off, made dinner, and sat outside well into the evening until the owls called in the trees above and the views disappeared into the inky night. We moved to the sofa and watched a favourite film on the Smart TV, cleverly hidden away in a cabinet. To view it, a push of a button raises it up for easy watching – perfect!

The next day dawned equally beautiful, and even hotter. We had wake-me-up showers and a light breakfast, before packing a rucksack with plenty of water. We had decided to leave quite early to walk through the woods to Clun, approximately 4.5 miles away, before the heat of the day struck. 

Turning left from the house, we walked up the lane in the shadows of the trees before eventually entering Clunton Coppice, a steep climb up. Managed by the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, a rare pine marten was captured on camera here in 2015 (the first confirmed sighting in a century) so steps have been taken to ensure the population thrives. The beautiful, untouched woods are also home to wood warblers, pied flycatchers, and redstarts as well as ferns, mosses and rare fungi.

As we walked, we enjoyed the woodland to ourselves, catching glimpses of the elevated views through the trees. Eventually, we emerged from the trees and followed the edge of a large pine forest, before finally crossing some fields and arriving at Clun. 

Clun is a small, pretty town, edged by the River Clun and with a ruined Norman castle and a collection of shops and eateries, plus an ancient bridge dating back to 1450. We stopped by The Maltings Café for a much-needed drink and an excellent lunch, before having a stroll around and walking home again.

Tired from our walk, we stoked the fire back to life in the hot tub and wallowed for a good while, easing our aching limbs, before enjoying our last evening at Woodlanders with drinks and another barbeque, being too hot to cook inside.

The next day, we sadly packed our belongs in the car and said a fond farewell to Woodlanders, pleased to have been able to experience this hidden away gem, deep in the Shropshire countryside. We’ll be back!

Feeling inspired? Woodlanders sleeps two and is one of our pet-free properties. Set in the south Shropshire Hills, its easily accessible from the M5 or M40, and makes for a brilliant break away, whether for a week or a short break.

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