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The West Midlands & the Marches

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© Lonely Planet Publications
527

The West Midlands &
the Marches
The West Midlands has more than its fair share of bleak urban landscapes here – this is,
after all, the area that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. Lucky, then, that it’s also home
to gentle countryside, stately homes, leisurely canals and two of the country’s best-known
attractions: Warwick Castle, one of the finest medieval buildings in England, and Stratfordupon-Avon, a pilgrimage site for Shakespeare-lovers from around the world. What’s more, the
once derided city of Birmingham has reinvented itself as a dynamic, cultured city, bubbling
over with influences from many different nations.
Hugging the Welsh borders to the west of Birmingham, the country pleasures of the
Marches are a world away from big-city action and overrun tourist towns. The main joy here is
in wandering around rippling hills and farmland and exploring sleepy, time-warp villages.

HIGHLIGHTS
„ Losing yourself amongst the second-hand

bookshelves at Hay-on-Wye (p565)
„ Wandering through fairy-tale villages on

Hereford’s Black-and-white-village Trail
(p565)
„ Enjoying first-rate shopping then taking in a

Pakistani balti in the vibrant city of Birmingham (p530)
„ Eating up a storm at the foodie mecca that

is Ludlow (p582)
„ Watching Shakespeare’s stories come to life

Birmingham
Kenilworth
Castle

Ludlow
Black-and-white-village Trail
Hay-on-Wye

Stratford-upon-Avon

at Stratford-upon-Avon (p546)
„ Wandering the haunting terracotta ruins of

Kenilworth Castle (p545)
„ POPULATION:

5.57 MILLION

„ AREA: 4560

SQ MILES

„ GALLONS OF CIDER PRODUCED YEARLY IN

HEREFORDSHIRE: 63 MILLION

THE WEST MIDLANDS &
THE MARCHES

Beautiful Shropshire is home to an incredible World Heritage site at Ironbridge Gorge,
an epicurean enclave at historic Ludlow, beguiling Tudor capital Shrewsbury and the sublime Shropshire hills. To the south, the canoe-friendly River Wye meanders through laidback Herefordshire’s lovely landscape, dotted with fairy-tale black-and-white villages, while
Worcestershire is home to a historic capital, handsome Victorian hill resorts and the dramatic
Malvern peaks.

528 T H E W E S T M I D L A N D S & T H E MA R C H E S • • H i s t o r y

THE WEST MIDLANDS &
THE MARCHES

History
This region has seen its share of action over
the centuries. In the Marches, territorial scuffles and all-out battles took place between
feuding kingdoms along what is today the
border separating England and Wales. In the
8th century...
THE WEST MIDLANDS &
THE MARCHES
The West Midlands has more than its fair share of bleak urban landscapes here – this is,
after all, the area that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution. Lucky, then, that it’s also home
to gentle countryside, stately homes, leisurely canals and two of the country’s best-known
attractions: Warwick Castle, one of the finest medieval buildings in England, and Stratford-
upon-Avon, a pilgrimage site for Shakespeare-lovers from around the world. What’s more, the
once derided city of Birmingham has reinvented itself as a dynamic, cultured city, bubbling
over with influences from many different nations.
Hugging the Welsh borders to the west of Birmingham, the country pleasures of the
Marches are a world away from big-city action and overrun tourist towns. The main joy here is
in wandering around rippling hills and farmland and exploring sleepy, time-warp villages.
Beautiful Shropshire is home to an incredible World Heritage site at Ironbridge Gorge,
an epicurean enclave at historic Ludlow, beguiling Tudor capital Shrewsbury and the sub-
lime Shropshire hills. To the south, the canoe-friendly River Wye meanders through laid-
back Herefordshire’s lovely landscape, dotted with fairy-tale black-and-white villages, while
Worcestershire is home to a historic capital, handsome Victorian hill resorts and the dramatic
Malvern peaks.
The West Midlands &
the Marches
© Lonely Planet Publications
POPULATION:
5.57 MILLION
AREA: 4560
SQ MILES
GALLONS OF CIDER PRODUCED YEARLY IN
HEREFORDSHIRE: 63 MILLION
HIGHLIGHTS
Losing yourself amongst the second-hand
bookshelves at Hay-on-Wye ( p565 )
Wandering through fairy-tale villages on
Hereford’s Black-and-white-village Trail
( p565 )
Enjoying first-rate shopping then taking in a
Pakistani balti in the vibrant city of Birming-
ham ( p530 )
Eating up a storm at the foodie mecca that
is Ludlow ( p582 )
Watching Shakespeare’s stories come to life
at Stratford-upon-Avon ( p546 )
Wandering the haunting terracotta ruins of
Kenilworth Castle ( p545 )
Stratford-upon-Avon
Kenilworth
Castle
Ludlow
Birmingham
Hay-on-Wye
Black-and-white-village Trail
527
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