Ludlow, Shropshire - A guide for visitors and locals: where to stay, where to eat, accommodation, things to do, events, businesses......
Ludlow’s reputation as a centre for some of Britain’s best food and drink is well founded in reality it certainly isn’t marketing hype!
The beautiful, unspoiled countryside of the Welsh Marches contains an amazing number of small and independent producers who are genuinely passionate about producing 'real' food and drink of the highest quality with minimal artificial interference. To produce good food, you need top quality raw materials, and the Marches can supply these in abundance.
Ludlow contains an impressive number of independent, specialist food shops: butchers, bakers, cheese shops, delicatessens, whole food shops, organic food shops - all selling products of the highest quality, with a heavy emphasis on local sourcing. As well as traditional shops, there is the “Local to Ludlow” farmers' market held on the second and fourth Thursday each month in Castle Square, where you have the opportunity to buy face-to-face from local food producers , as well as Ludlow’s traditional open-air market containing food stalls, held three or four times a week. There are also several excellent farm shops in the surrounding area and, by no means least, there is the amazing “Ludlow Food Centre”, situated in Bromfield, two miles or so north of Ludlow on the A49, and well worth a visit.
Restaurants and other eating places
There is no shortage of good eating places in and around Ludlow, at all levels and to suit all tastes and budgets. Many top chefs have been attracted to the area because of the excellent supply of raw materials, resulting in frequent reviews in both restaurant guides and national papers. But it's not just gourmet meals that Ludlow excels in. At all kinds of eating establishments from the simplest cafe or pub upwards, you will be far more likely to experience really good quality food that is locally sourced than almost anywhere else in Britain.
The real ale revival has seen a boom in micro-breweries producing ranges of beers that include interesting new and experimental brews, as well as some really good traditional ale and stout recipes. There are quite a few breweries in the Ludlow area, including Ludlow’s own Ludlow Brewing Company, which you can visit to sample their brews, including local favourites Gold, Boiling Well, Best Bitter and Black Knight. Other local breweries whose products are well worth tasting include Hobsons of Cleobury Mortimer, Wye Valley Brewery at Stoke Prior, Herefordshire, Woods of Wistanstow near Craven Arms, the Corve dale Brewery at the Sun at Corfton, and two home-brew pubs at Bishop’s Castle whose products can be found at quite a few pubs in the area: Six Bells and the Three Tuns, which claims to be the oldest brewery in England.
The hop fields in the Teme Valley area of Worcestershire, which once seemed to be in decline, now seem to be in an upward swing again, not least because of the resurgence of interest in local breweries, most which use local hops in their products.
A great place to try a huge range of real ales (as well as cider, perry, wine and other drinks) from all over the border counties and Wales is at the annual Ludlow Spring Festival, Centred on Ludlow Castle, it’s a two day event that takes place on the second weekend in May. Not just about beer, the Spring Festival also features bread and bangers, as well as vintage cars! Click here to visit their website for more information.
Cider, perry and other drinks
You don’t have to travel many miles south of Ludlow before you reach Herefordshire, one of Britain’s key cider and perry producing regions, where there are a large number of small independent cider and perry producers. The painstaking care and attention lavished on the products of some of the best cider and perry makers in the area can justifiably be compared to that of fine wine producers. There’s also at least one Shropshire cider producer, Mahorall Cider, near Ludlow.
Back in 1995 a small group of people decided to hold the first Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival, to draw attention to the wide range of specialist food and other shops in Ludlow, and to highlight the food and drink of small independent producers throughout the Marches. This was the first successful food and drink festival to be held in the United Kingdom, it caught people’s imagination and grew and grew within a few years to be a major, nationally-recognised event the first of its kind and still the best - that attracts many thousands of visitors from all over Britain and beyond. The Festival takes place both in the castle and throughout the town, over a three-day weekend, the second weekend in September. Website.
There is a tremendous atmosphere of fun, enthusiasm and dedication to food and drink of all kinds.
An offshoot of the Food and Drink Festival is the much newer Ludlow Spring Festival which takes place on the second weekend of May. Based in Ludlow Castle, with at least 140 real ales on draught from small breweries in Wales and the Marches, brought to Ludlow with help of SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, plus other drinks, seriously good local sausages, proper bread, and more, visitors will enjoy a great fun atmosphere! Website.