Whatever the time of the year, it’s always the right time for adventures, I reckon. Just get up and go, if you can afford it. That’s my mantra. Even more so when days are short, nights are long and life is looking bumpy.
Main thing is, once you’ve made up your mind, all you need to do, is decide where to go and what to do when you get there. All of which is why, for our latest trip, and mate and I decided to jump on our trusty motorbikes and go in search of magic and mystery, with a healthy dose of peaceful contentment thrown in for good measure. Knew exactly where to find it all too. In Shropshire.
Between Shrewsbury and Oswestry
To get there, you simply head up the M5, before heading off cross country in search of the A5, stopping somewhere around Shrewsbury. You will then find yourself in a paradise where the countryside oozes charm and intrigue at every turn. Ever since I discovered the delights of this cute county, I have been drawn back to explore it’s picture perfect pockets of superb scenery.
Far as I can make out, there’s a bit of everything for all tastes. Rolling hills, wooded valleys, calm green pastures stretching out as far as the eye can see, all sprinkled with an air of magic and mystery. No idea why, but whenever visiting this county, always feels like stepping into an ancient landscape, filled with half forgotten glories and half remembered history. All of it covered with a cloak of mystery, centuries old.
Might be something to do with the geography, the location. It’s nestled between the Midlands, the North and the foothills of Wales. Drawing influences from all three, yet somehow remaining completely distinct from all of them. Whatever the reason, makes it a real nice nugget of a holiday destination, all year round.
Ruyton XI Towns
We were staying just outside the village of Ruyton XI Towns, a lovely, sleepy, little place, pronounced, “Ruyton eleven towns.”An odd name for a village, and according to a friendly man we met inside the 12th century church, the only village in the UK with roman numerals in the name. A useful factoid I filed away for future pub quiz trivia purposes.
Riverside Cabins are a collection of ten cabins of various sizes, all laid out with plenty of wide open, tree dotted space between them. As the name suggests, a river runs through it all, giving the place a wonderful secluded feel, as if you have stumbled into your very own long lost valley. An effect helped by the 70 acres of rugged woodland beyond.
Our cabin was called, Snowy, was dog friendly, and could sleep up to 8 people in three bedrooms, plus sofa bed. First thing I did when we got inside, was take off my muddy boots. Second thing I did, was stroll around in my socked feet, grinning like a Cheshire cat and sighing with extreme joy.
The place is kept toasty warm by underfloor heating. Which is a treat for the feet and something would be very easy to get used to. Must admit, I was a big fan.
The kitchen is an open plan affair, along with the living room area. Would easily accommodate 8 folks sitting down to eat, with some at the breakfast bar, and others at the small dining table nearby.
Around and about, there are a whole host of lovely kitchen cookery bits and bobs, easily enough to keep the most discerning chef entertained and happy.
I know this, because my biking buddy was just such a discerning chef, rustling up some superb feasts whilst we were there. A whole host of tasty, home cooked, goodies.
After enjoying a fine meal, the living room area was just right for dropping down onto the sofa, putting your feet up and watching a spot of telly. We went for some old school films and had we some might fine nights in.
The 3 bedrooms are all warm, cosy and full of creamy, dreamy bed time satisfaction. Don’t know if it was the peace, quiet, general relaxing vibe of the place, or all three. But we both slept like babes whilst we were there. Big thumbs up all round.
The master bedroom has a delicious little en suite, complete with shower, whilst off the living room area is an equally tasty main bathroom. Allowing everyone to keep squeaky clean at all times.
These days, seems like no holiday is complete without a touch of heavenly hot tub action. The things are turning up everywhere. Thank goodness. In this case, the hot tub on the patio was the perfect cabin accessory, superb on sunny days, soggy days and every evening, no matter what.
It really was glorious to slide into a bubbling hot tub, with a (plastic) glass of fizz to hand, lying back, watching the steam rise up, drifting through the canopy of trees overhead, only to disappear into a coal dark sky full of stars. Bubbles amongst the bubbles, beneath the stars. Joyous.
As the cabins are well spaced out, means you don’t hear a peep from your neighbours. Apart from the owls. Turns out, ain’t nothing like an owl club party. It’s a real hoot. Tee hee. Though, in truth, it does make a fantastic sound track for hot tub time.
The only way we knew our human neighbours were out there, was seeing the twinkle of little lights around the edges of the night. The owner has lit up the river bank and the tree line with tiny LED lights, which means that the view from the patio / hot tub looks like something from the Lord of the Rings. Like a golden glowing Hobbit town. It’s most marvellous.
Out and About
There are paths and bridleways nearby, places where you can take bracing strolls through beautiful countryside, but whilst we were there, the weather was mainly soggy and cold. So when we went out and about for some exercise, we stuck to the country lanes.
A couple of very enjoyable miles, with plenty of roadside gates to lean on and far reaching views to take in, took us to Ruyton XI Towns. With the 12th century church mentioned above, and a jewel of a coffee shop, Cafe Eleven.
We popped in and found ourselves welcomed like long lost relations. The menu was short, but perfectly formed. When the smiling young lady behind the counter arrived at our table with food and drinks, we got chatting. She then took a seat and answered all our questions, even offering a few handy hints of things to do and places to go.
Which is something else I have always found with this slightly overlooked county, the locals have always been amazingly friendly. Very much so. Definitely adds to the appeal.
Talking of which, the guy who runs Riverside Cabins was also a friendly and chatty soul. When we mentioned we fancied popping out to a pub for some food, he gave us the lowdown on all the local ale houses. Apparently, there are two excellent ones nearby. To get to one, you turn left on leaving the drive. To get to the other you turn right.
Sadly, we never did get to eat out. We were too busy enjoying the cabin, so stayed in every evening. Mind, makes a pretty good reason for a return visit. To finally check out those highly recommended pubs.
If you are looking for a quiet, chilled out, indulgent break away, not too far from home. In a place that feels warm, welcoming yet also, a million miles away from the everyday, then Riverside Cabins and this county might be just what you are looking for. With secluded charm, backwoods beauty and more owls than you can shake a stick at. Absolutely recommended.
Doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, don’t forget your swimmers.
What do you get when you book a cabin?
A beautiful and well-equipped cabin or lodge, with private hot tub, situated in the pretty Shropshire countryside. Sleeping 2, 4 or 6. All feature underfloor heating. Prices include all bed linen, towels, private heated hot tub, fire pit for toasting marshmallows, BBQ and complimentary use of outdoor kitchen area, SUPs and kayaks.
How much does it cost?
Prices for a 2-night weekend stay are from £303 for a woodland cabin sleeping four, and from £454 for a three-bedroomed/two bathroom lodge sleeping six.
Are the cabins dog friendly?
Is there anything for Yoga fans?
Yes. Yoga fans can also enjoy complimentary use of the new and spacious wellness studio.