We’ve already touched upon the fact that, despite being in the heart of the country, Mereside Farm is surrounded by a surprisingly large amount of water. Opposite, there’s the largest and most spectacular of the nine glacial meres that make up the nation’s ‘other’ lake district, whilst, further round, the farm’s southerly edge meets the towpath of the 41-mile Llangollen Canal, which heads east to Cheshire and west into Wales. So there’s a host of activities right on your doorstep, but there’s plenty to do further afield too.
The Welsh border is less than 3 miles from the farm and Llangollen, a small but vibrant town famous for its Eisteddfod, is an excellent destination. There, its restored steam railway, which for most of its route follows the fast-flowing River Dee, now extends 10-miles to Corwen. Alternatively, take a horse-drawn boat ride to the Horseshoe Falls or a longer, motorised, trip across Thomas Telford’s magnificent Pontcysyllte aqueduct. The latter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, putting it in the same league as the likes of the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids!
Being so close to Wales, naturally there are several castles nearby – most of them on the English side of the border. Chirk (make a day of it whilst exploring the pretty Ceiriog Valley) and Shrewsbury are both impressively preserved, whilst the eerie (and very photogenic) Moreton Corbet is very much a ruin! The closest, though, is Whittington, just 6-miles up the road. Complete with ducks on the moat, it’s the country’s only community-run castle. Those who prefer their historic buildings to be a little more palatial would enjoy the National Trust’s Attingham Park, near Shrewsbury, and Erddig, near Wrexham.
The beautiful county town of Shrewsbury is less than 20-miles away. Famous for its Medieval buildings, being the birthplace of Charles Darwin and for its Flower Show held in the splendid 29-acre Quarry park next to the River Severn – one of many annual festivals held in the town.
Just over 30-miles away is Ironbridge, another UNESCO site, birthplace of the industrial revolution and, of course, home to the iconic bridge spanning the Severn gorge. It’s a museum-lover’s paradise with no less than 10 attractions in the local area.
Shropshire and the Welsh borders has rightly gained a reputation for great food – you will find food festivals in Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Llangollen, Oswestry, Whitchurch and right here in Ellesmere!