If you’ve heard of Bewdley in the last 12 months it will have been for one of two reasons. Firstly, it might have been Becky Hill, the wild-eyed, somewhat excitable Worcestershire lass who made it to the semi-final of The Voice by virtue of a massive voice and the, erm, career help of letterbox-faced, Cleopatra-styled wigger extraordinaire, Jessie J. The other reason we figured out on our most recent day out in Bewdley. Working on our general laziness, we walked from the tiny village of Arley along the wonderfully scenic Severn valley towards this Georgian town – a highly recommended hike filled mostly with speculation about which house we’d buy given the chance (I think, on the way there, we settled on one of the wood-surrounded chalets on Northwood Lane). The return journey, on the western bank, was altogether harder work thanks to muddy and precipitous paths, blown-down trees and the like, but yielded some even more desirable properties. Anyone who knows me in person would tell you that gregariousness is not my defining feature, and the house outside of town, at the foot of a wooded hill overlooking a meadow and the river, would be just perfect. The house has recently become available, but on a less cheerful note, it was the scene of the murder of its most recent inhabitant, Betty Yates. That is entirely typical of my constant companion and I.
You’d have to admit that the setting is wonderful, and Bewdley has all mod cons you’d want out of a small town. Excepting perhaps a train station (the Severn Valley Railway is hardly ideal for commuting, and Kidderminster is only 3 miles away) Bewdley is a cute yet bustling Severnside town, more serene than Bridgnorth, more refined than Stourport. Served by an array of local food and drink shops, pubs, delis, cafes and boutiques on the main shopping drag of Load Street, I don’t suppose residents are particularly regretful that (aside from a Co-op) there’s no major supermarket in town. That’s one in the book for Bewdley really, and the very close Kidderminster has a bizarrely massive range of large-scale shopping experiences.
Charity-shop-wise, Bewdley also fairs pretty well, and is a relaxed and pretty place to wile away your time. At the top of the hill, near the church in the middle of the road, is Kemp Hospice. It’s a large shop with an extensive back room full of books, so obviously I’m in trouble. Recently renovated, over the road you’ll find the Richard House Hospice shop, which now also has a pile of books in a nice clean, new-looking shop. Still a little hard to navigate the various cases and shelves, however. On the same side is a small-ish but reasonable Sue Ryder Care. Finally, there’s a more ad hoc sort of affair through the back of the hardware shop. It sounds odd, and is, and using all my Google-fu I can’t remember what it’s name is.
When first thinking of moving to the Midlands, I drove through Bewdley (and Kinver, Bridgnorth and the surrounding countryside) and it was what sold me on the area. North Worcestershire is hardly a buzzing tourist hotspot, but with the Severn valley, the Clee Hills, Wyre Forest and plenty more right there, it’s a lovely part of the world. I’d cheerfully recommend Bewdley on a CST-style day out.
Find: Bewdley @ Google Maps
Get there: No rail link (except for the Severn Valley Railway, which is even pricier than the main line), but plenty of buses serving Kiddy, Bridgnorth and Stourbridge.
Consume with: Piccolo’s is well worth a coffee stop, or Merchants on the riverside for a chip lunch.
Visit: Bewdley Museum is set in the old butchers’ shambles, or if more active is your thing, the Worcestershire Way, North Worcestershire Path, Severn Way and National Cycle Network Route 45 all converge on Bewdley.
Overall rating: four ceramic egg cups.