CST’s first foray into the wilds of England’s largest inland county is a somewhat tentative one, but is definitely not the last. Going West from our new home we leave the West Midlands via a little Worcestershire and a little Staffordshire, but as the altitude rises towards the Welsh Marches we hit South Shropshire. Whereas the North of the county sweeps through from the Cheshire plains to the industrial heartland of Shrewsbury-Telford-Ironbridge, the South of the county is dramatic, rugged and massively rural. Bridgnorth is about the biggest settlement in the area, with huge gaps between civilization. To go any further West the intrepid charity shopper must set out over Wenlock Edge, Longmynd, the Clee Hills and more, looking on towards the mountains of Wales. Ideal for the fully experienced rambling hiker.
Bridgnorth itself is a bustling little burgh, an old and historic country town. There’s antiquated civic buildings on legs, city gates and the like. The most notable feature is the town’s split level – the high town and the low town. Approaching this as though you’d be making a day trip to Bridgnorth, the following is the recommendation. From Kidderminster (coming soon) take the Severn Valley Steam Railway through Bewdley and the Wyre Forest, terminating overlooking the Severn in Bridgnorth. Have a wander along the riverbank until you reach the large old bridge, and the low town spans either side of this. While there’s no charity shop action, there’s plenty of room to sit and have an ice cream, watching the Brummies on vacation that tend to throng the town on sunny days – bikers too. From there a pound will buy you a return ticket on the funicular railway, the steepest of its type in the country, no less.
The little railway drops you around the back of the town, next to the castle (which, trivia fans, leans at four times the angle of the leaning tower of Pisa), from where it’s just a short walk round the corner into the high street. There are four charity shops along here. They’re unremarkable, to be honest, and if you go on a Saturday they are sure to be heaving. For a start, the Saturday market butts right up against the pavement, causing all manner of crush for pedestrians. (Make sure you have a full explore of the market though, right around the back to near the supermarket, as there’s all sorts of fun tat to be found. The Old Curiosity Shop is worth a rummage through for army surplus and various randomness, and follow the road round for a lovely, sprawling antiques centre.)
Along the High Street you’ll find Oxfam, Hope House Hospice and British Red Cross, and at the end of the road, Cancer Research. The best of these is probably the Red Cross shop, which sported a nice looking accordion last time we were in.There’s nothing which sets Bridgnorth out as a charity shop Destination, really, but that’s only half the point isn’t it? On the tourism front it’s great fun, especially if you can time your visit to arrive on a 1940s recreation day when the town is swarmed by vintage uniforms…
Find: Bridgnorth @ Google Maps
Get there: if you can find the fare, go on the steam train!
Consume with: plenty of choice in terms of pubs, cafes and chippies along the high street.
Visit: the leaning castle would be worth a look around.
Overall rating: three RAF uniforms.