North Shropshire – a guide for visiting this area in 2023


Often regarded as the quieter part of Shropshire, the North of the county definitely feels like a step down in intensity compared to the rest of the area, but we mean that in the best way possible. Here you'll find picturesque landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and charming market towns. As you meander through the untouched countryside, a network of tranquil canals gracefully connects Market Drayton and Whitchurch in the east to Oswestry in the west. Bordering the enchanting realm of North Wales, this area beckons visitors with its five distinct market towns and charming villages, all of which exude a genuine sense of warmth and hospitality.

We wanted to highlight this area of the county for anyone planning to visit in 2023, let's get into it:

Where is North Shropshire?

North Shropshire is situated in the western part of England, within the county of Shropshire. It lies near the border with Wales, and a town in the area such as Market Drayton is only 40 minutes by car from Shrewsbury (read our guide about Shrewsbury here).

What is there to see and do in North Shropshire?

As we mentioned in our introduction, despite the laidback feel of the area, you've still got plenty to see and do in and around North Shropshire. Here are some of the highlights broken down by market town:


Ellesmere is a quintessential market town, boasting medieval streets adorned with Georgian houses and charming half-timbered buildings. Diverse shops offer an array of treasures, from antiques and gifts to exotic delicacies. The town's weekly market, established in 1221 by Henry III's first market charter, remains a lively tradition. St. Mary's Church, overlooking the Mere, stands as a testament to the Knights of St. John who erected it in 1225. Adorned with the emblems of the lords of the manor and the Ellesmere Castle, the 15th-century chapel enchants visitors. You'll find an excellent array of restaurants, bistros, and cafes in town, from quick bites to leisurely dining. Indulge in local delights such as Ellesmere Lamb and Leek Pie, Shropshire Ham and Eggs, Shrewsbury Pie, artisan cheeses, smoked meats, and, of course, the quintessential cream tea. The Boathouse is a magnificent coffee shop and tea garden crafted by Lord Brownlow in the 1930s. Embrace the culinary heritage of Shropshire as you dine amidst the enchanting surroundings.

Market Drayton

Thomas Telford's indelible mark on Shropshire is unmistakable. The Shropshire Union canal, masterfully crafted by Telford, meanders just a stone's throw away from the centre of Market Drayton. It offers boaters a chance to moor, explore the town, and replenish supplies. For landlubbers, an unforgettable towpath walk awaits, including the awe-inspiring 40-step aqueduct. Truly breathtaking! If you're a "gongoozler" (a canal enthusiast), the town centre provides a splendid vantage point for observing the canal's activity. Market Drayton, known as the spiritual home of gingerbread, has safeguarded its traditional recipe for over two centuries. Rumored to be an ingredient, locals even indulge in dipping it in port before savoring each bite. The town's abundance of damson trees gives rise to delectable treats like damson jam, damson cheese (a savory relish), lamb and damson pie, and, of course, damson gin. Market Drayton is also synonymous with cows, as the bustling population of 15,000 bovines tirelessly contribute to the production of yogurts and quiches for Muller Dairy and Palethorpes. The town's renowned native, Robert Clive (Clive of India), even bestowed the French with a culinary revelation. His "little pies," precursors to mince pies, were crowned the Guinness Best Pub Food Award. The people of Pezenas, France, devour a staggering 150,000 of these delicacies each year. As a young boy, Clive exhibited his entrepreneurial spirit by running a protection racket among local shops and scaling the church tower. These early endeavors seemingly prepared him for his historic defeat of the French and the conquest of a significant portion of India, which brought him immense wealth and secured the British Empire's spice routes. It is through this intriguing connection that ginger became an accessible commodity in Britain. Amidst this tapestry of culinary delights, Market Drayton showcases splendid architecture, with its town centre adorned by half-timbered and red brick buildings. The stunning 14th-century church, constructed from local sandstone, graces the skyline and serves as the resting place of Thomas and Elizabeth Bulkeley, distant relatives of three United States presidents: Calvin Coolidge, George Bush, and George W. Bush.


As you head towards Oswestry in the northwest of the county, you start to feel like you're in Wales rather than England. Part of this is because the beautiful mountains of Wales provide the backdrop to this market town. As you explore the town you'll find a blending of cultures that's created a unique Anglo-Welsh atmosphere. Oswestry is a pretty town which was named after King Oswald of Northumbria. King Oswald met a sticky end when he was nailed to a tree, hence the name "Oswald's Tree". A local legend suggests that an eagle took a limb and flew off. The eagle later dropped it and where it landed a spring burst forth which became known as St Oswald's Well. An ancient hill fort - said to be the birthplace of Queen Guinevere - overlooks the town, and the Offa's Dyke path which can be accessed from the town marks the border between Wales and England. Oswestry is a great place to start from if you're planning to explore parts of Wales such as Lake Vyrnwy and castles such as Powis, Chirk, and Whittington, as well as the impressive Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall. Wilfred Owen was born in the town in 1893, one of the most famous English poets to have ever lived. Llanymynech Heritage Site is a spectacular place to visit,  where lead, copper, and zinc have been mined since Roman times. It's now a haven for wildlife and a very special place to visit. So too is Nescliffe Country Park, as well as the Oswestry Transport Museum. But it's the amazing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct that people often remember most about their visit to this area - at 126 feet above the River Dee it is one of Thomas Telford's masterpieces.


Nestled in the heart of North Shropshire, Wem serves as an ideal hub for exploration in all directions. The town is adorned with picturesque Georgian buildings and delightful traditional shops like The Fruitful Deli and Kings, a hardware haven brimming with unimaginable treasures. Don't miss the annual Sweet Pea Show, a vibrant spectacle of colours and fragrances that will captivate your senses. Lowe Hall, once the country residence of Judge George Jeffreys (the infamous Lord Chief Justice of England), adds another layer of history to Wem. Known for his harsh judgments during the trials of Duke of Monmouth's supporters, Jeffreys was bestowed the title of "Baron Jeffreys of Wem" in 1683, forever linking his name to the town.


Whitchurch brims with vibrant energy as a bustling market town, and is a very interesting place to visit. In Roman times, it was known as Mediolanum, and the Roman architectural influence can still be seen in the streets of the town today. St Alkmund's at the top of the high street is splendid, and is well worth a look. For food enthusiasts, a visit to Whitchurch Farmers Market is a must. Here, you'll discover stalls brimming with the freshest local produce, perfect for savoring the flavors of North Shropshire or taking home with you as a delightful memento. Head to Jubilee Park, a starting point for various long-distance walking routes, including the excellent Shropshire Way, leading you to the enchanting Llangollen Canal and the impressive Grindley Brook staircase locks just a mile away.

Other noteworthy places to visit

Visiting the 5 market towns we've outlined will give you a great flavour of what North Shropshire has to offer, but if you have the time then you should also try to visit these locations in and around the North of the county:

Dorothy Clive Garden

We think this hidden gem will delight visitors with its enchanting beauty and serene atmosphere. Here you'll find a stunning collection of plants, vibrant floral displays, and charming pathways, and the garden is a great place to espace the hustle and bustle of the towns for a while. The garden's unique features, including its hillside views and captivating water features, make it a truly captivating destination for nature lovers and garden enthusiasts. Learn more here -
Dorothy Clive Garden

Cholmondeley Castle

Cholmondeley Castle, nestled in the heart of Cheshire, is a captivating destination that exudes history and charm, and it's only a stone's throw from North Shropshire. The castle itself is majestic, but it's the stunning gardens and tranquil lake which people often really remember about a visit here. Learn more here -

The Meres and Mosses

With its enchanting landscape of lakes and wetlands, teeming with diverse wildlife, The Meres and Mosses area offers a unique and serene experience for nature enthusiasts. The region's tranquil atmosphere, coupled with its abundant flora and fauna, make it a must-visit location for those seeking natural beauty and peaceful rejuvenation. Learn more here -
Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant area of Shropshire. If you're interested in visiting other locations in Shropshire, we have guides about Ironbridge and Much Wenlock.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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