Tepanyaki outside the caravan and fired up just as the heavens decide to drop their contents on our site. The lunchtime skies went quickly black and it looked like it was here for a while. Lunch re thought quickly, tepanyaki abandoned and hastily brought inside. Halogen oven fired up and sausages chucked inside. Forget the eggs, mushrooms, beans and bacon. Sausage and brown sauce butties is plan B. Plan B, until we get the bread out of the cupboard and it’s starting to show the first signs of penicillin growth. Flipping ‘eck the world and the elements are against us. Plan C, sausage and brown sauce wraps. Delicious.
Happily fed and watered, hats, gloves and brolly grabbed before the Volvo points its mucky nose towards Bridgnorth. Bridgnorth is one of those town names that I don’t like. Some towns (that I won’t name so as not to offend) have names that are very fitting to their run down, tired appearance. I am anticipating Bridgnorth to be the same, tired, neglected and run down. I have no knowledge of the town prior to arrival but The Boss wants to go, so off we trot.
Winding country roads, wet and filthy from the recent rainfall, throw their mud up the side of the Volvo, adding to the week’s worth of muck already spot welded to the paintwork. Hey ho, looking forward to seeing the colour of the caravan when we tow down these roads in a few days.
Bridgnorth appears and I’m pleasantly surprised. A town split into High Town and Low Town by the River Severn with a shed load of steps between the two areas. A good architectural mix of old and new buildings, Bridgnorth is very pleasing on the eye. No litter or graffiti, the only thing spoiling the High Street is cars, parked cars. Another big bug bear of mine. A beautiful street with great photographic opportunities spoiled by parked cars, a blot on the landscape. I feel the need to start a campaign for double yellow lines painted down beautiful high streets. Bridgnorth needs to be High Street parking free. Aesthetically, parked cars spoil it’s ambience.
The High Street in the top of town boasts a mix of smaller high street names, local shops, tea shops, cafes, brasseries and charity shops. Charity shops can signal the demise of a high street in my opinion, two is acceptable, any more and you’re on the slippery slope. Bridgnorth is still acceptable and their charity shops do appear to be of a higher class of stock than the usual, if the window displays are anything to go by.
Bridgnorth Castle teeters on the edge of the centre of High Town and when I say teeters, I mean it. What is stopping it falling over I have no idea. It really is hanging on by the skin of its teeth.
Set in beautifully tended flower gardens watched over by a lone soldier reminding us of lost troops. With it being late November, poppies and wreaths are still bright and standing proud at his feet with a spectacular array of knitted poppies adorning the metal fence in front of him. The hours poured into every stitch as a memory to every lost soul.
Flower beds sit beside ship, tank and aeroplane topiary shaped hedges, hibernating under horse manure. Roses love horse manure, I always remember my grandma running out into the road after the rag and bone man with a shovel and a bucket. Here the roses languish for the winter enjoying the nutrients carefully bestowed upon them.
Wandering on a little further we are blessed with a clear view down towards the Steam Line of the Severn Valley Railway before rounding the bend to look across the Low Town and further, a lovely clear but cold day.
Then we stumble across the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway. An unexpected gem.
Linking the High Town to the Low Town without the need to use the steps. Always a plus, my little legs are good going down steps but not so good on the way back up. The railway is the oldest and steepest inland funicular railway in the country.
The journey, albeit quite short, 40 seconds for a one way trip, is worth every penny of the £1.60 for a return trip.
Opened in 1892, the railway has connected the two parts of the town, separated by 111ft of sandstone cliffs and steps. Two carriages run on parallel lines connected together by steel cables. Counterbalanced, one carriage is at the top when the other is at the bottom.
Whilst it isn’t wheelchair accessible, help can be given to parents with pushchairs. The ticket offices are very in keeping with days gone by and on the day we travelled with them were manned by two lovely, friendly very knowledgeable gentlemen. One of whom informed us that he liked Bridgnorth that much he came for a day’s fishing thirty years ago and never went back to Yorkshire. We understood completely, but we are from Lancashire.
A quick walk across the bridge and a short way along the river and we realise as the Christmas lights start to twinkle that our return journey to the High Town is needed as time on our car park ticket is running out.
Bridgnorth has been lovely. I really enjoy it when my preconceptions of a town are completely wrong. This is a town I would love to return to and see in the summer, when the flowerbeds are full of flowers and not horse manure and the Severn has sunshine, not Christmas lights reflecting on it.
Bridgnorth, we will be back!