Written by Marie Kreft
Ironbridge Gorge & The Wrekin
The Library House 11 Severn Bank, Ironbridge TF8 7AN; 01952 432299; www.libraryhouse.com. This grade II-listed Georgian townhouse is an ideal base in central Ironbridge, within walking distance of excellent pubs and restaurants and many of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s museums. Sarah and Tim Davis run the Library House with a simple ethos: ‘we do it the way we would like it done for us’. Fully licensed, the B&B has a charming south-facing garden for guests’ use; the terrace at the top has calming views over Ironbridge’s distinctive rooftops to the wooded slopes of the gorge beyond. The four bedrooms have been sensitively and tastefully restored, reflecting the owners’ love of 18th- and 19th-century furniture whilst featuring modern comforts and attention to detail: pure cotton linen, fresh milk, and a choice of pillows.
YHA Coalbrookdale 1 Paradise, Coalbrookdale TF8 7NR; 0845 3719325; www.yha.org.uk/hostel/ironbridge-coalbrookdale. This impressive blue-brick building once served as a ‘Literary and Scientific Institute’. It was built in the mid 1850s with funding from the Coalbrookdale Company to further the learning of its workers. Later it was a school of art. Now, still with original flooring and well-tended grounds, the grade II-listed building is managed by the Youth Hostel Association and specialises in group bookings and exclusive hire. Downstairs has 38 beds in eight rooms (all en suite), while upstairs are 34 beds in nine rooms, seven of which are en suite. Communal areas include a spacious lounge and games room. If you’re looking to book youth hostel accommodation as an individual, family or small group of friends, try YHA Coalport (below).
YHA Coalport John Rose Building, High St, Coalport TF8 7HT; 0845 3719325; www.yha.org.uk/hostel/ironbridge-coalport . Located in the light and airy John Rose Building, the earliest surviving part of Coalport China Works (built in the late 18th century), is the Youth Hostel Association’s Coalport accommodation, offering 83 beds over 21 rooms. It’s next to the Coalport China Works and a short canalside walk from Jackfield. As well as conference facilities, the youth hostel has a clean and welcoming licensed café.
Coalport Station Holidays Station House, Coalport TF8 7JF; 01952 885674; www.coalportstation.com. Here’s a holiday with a difference. In a woodland setting at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge UNESCO World Heritage site you can stay in a renovated railway carriage at the former Coalport station. Outside, your abode looks just like lovingly preserved Great Western Railway rolling stock. Inside, it’s a luxuriously converted holiday home, thanks to the care and attentions of owners Steve and Lisa – whose previous lives in London saw them working as interior designers for aircraft, autos and railways, as well as undertaking design for the hospitality industries. They confess to going way over budget in renovating their two carriages (one sleeping four people and the other sleeping six) but the result is astonishing: comfortable and surprisingly spacious-feeling living areas including fully equipped kitchens and high-spec bathrooms that don’t make you feel you’re compromising on space. A Slow, nay stationary, adventure for railway lovers and weekenders seeking total peace.
Iron Bridge House 34 High St, Ironbridge TF8 7AG; 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk. You’d be hard pushed to find a more convenient base for exploring Ironbridge, because this substantial 19th-century building, comprising the former home and premises of affluent grocery firm ‘Messrs Egerton Smith & Sons’, overlooks the iron bridge itself. The double-fronted shop on the ground floor is let to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. Both bedrooms – a double and twin – are on the two top floors, while the living room has an original fireplace, cast in Coalbrookdale. Rental of the property includes a designated parking space for one car: a valuable commodity in the gorge.
Morrells Wood Farm Leighton SY5 6RU; 01952 510273; www.morrellswoodfarm.co.uk
On this working farm dating from the 1600s (originally a dairy farm, now a beef cattle and sheep enterprise), you can stay in one of four self-catering cottages, converted from barns. The largest, Cornhouse, sleeps four (in one double and one single room), while the others are perfect for two. Morrells Wood Farm also offers three hand-built shepherd’s huts, each complete with kitchen, log burner, iron-framed bed, TV and other home comforts – with more self-catering facilities and a shower room just a few yards away.