After getting acclimated, we hit the road! We drove through the Peak District National Park, through Bakewell, and over to the West Midlands. (Don't confuse the West Midlands with the Midlands, we hear the locals don't think much of the Midlands) We decided to skip the pottery in Stoke-on-Trent and headed right to Shrewsbury in Shropshire. Of course there is tons of history and too much to see & do. Shrewsbury is Charles Darwin's hometown, but we didn't see anything related to him. We checked out the castle and had a great lunch along 'Butcher's Row' - Shrewsbury has some great street names. We wandered around town and saw lots of Tudor architecture - which they make a point of noting is 'Tudor.' Not 'Mock-Tudor' or 'Tudor-style' but houses that were built during the actual Tudor period (1484-1603). We did learn, eventually, that Shrewsbury is pronounced something like 'Shrowsbree'.
Driving in Shrewsbury is interesting; lots of one-way streets and the main city is an horseshoe bend in the River Severn, so we slowly made our way over to the Shrewsbury Abbey. Home of the fictional 'Brother Cadfael' of medieval murder mystery fame, it's well worth a visit. Like many of the monasteries, it was taken over by the friendly king, Henry the VIII, when he was worried about their power, but more interested in their wealth. Apparently just all the lead on the abbey roofs was worth a lot. This one was rebuilt, but still has some traces of the original abbey, including some arches from ~1085!
We stayed in Shropshire and headed to a very different site - Ironbridge Gorge, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its important role in the Industrial Revolution. If I remember correctly, at one point about 3/4 of the world's iron works were in this little valley. Tons of industrial museums and scenic hillsides. The actual Ironbridge was finished in 1781. I could have spent a full day here, but we were off to another site.
Wenlock Abbey was next, in the tiny little town of Much Wenlock. Not much is left of this one, but the ruins were very interesting. This was another Abbey brought down by Henry VIII. Both this and Shrewsbury have parts built around the time of the Norman Conquest, close to 1000 years ago. Lots of chances for good photos here. Walking around Much Wenlock (with lots more Tudor houses) killed the rest of the day. This area has lots of hiking along some sharp cliffs, or 'edges.' We tried to stop at a highly recommended inn/pub right on the edge, but it was closed and for sale. So dinner was back in Shewsbury, right across from the Abbey at a 'Modern British' restaurant, 'The Peach Tree.' This was our first encounter with the latest thing in food service - putting it on a plank. Plates are so passe.
A long drive got us back to Vanessa's flat about 11pm, too late for a trip to a pub for a pint. And I missed the brewery in Shrewbury. But it was still a good day.