Due to the cost of living crisis, I get quite a lot of requests for suggestions of free days out and attractions. Lots of the free things to do in Shropshire are historical attractions such as museums and old buildings. There’s also plenty to do outdoors, including the stunningly beautiful Carding Mill Valley. This National Trust area is free for everyone to visit, not just members. You can also check out cost-free items in neighbouring counties in the following free activities guides:
Free things to do in Shropshire: Bridgnorth
Bridgnorth Castle and Gardens (Bridgnorth)
Founded in 1101, Bridgnorth Castle is a historic and unique landmark in the town. Its square tower was built during Henry II’s reign and attacked by Cromwell’s Roundheads in 1646. A three week siege was successful and Cromwell ordered the castle to be demolished. Parliamentarians destroyed the castle, leaving it as you can see it now. The castle leans at a 15 degree angle, 4 times more than the leaning tower of Pisa. These days, visitors can admire the spectacular view across the river Severn and enjoy a stroll around the beautiful Castle Gardens, where the town’s war memorial stands. For more information about the history of the Castle and Gardens, head to the About Bridgnorth website.
Bridgnorth Town Hall (Bridgnorth)
Bridgnorth’s black and white town hall was constructed in 1650. These days, it is open to visitors with free admission. It offers an insight into the history of the area. It is worth visiting on market day and combining your visit with a stroll around the Bridgnorth market. More information is available on the Visit Bridgnorth website.
Severn Valley Country Park (Bridgnorth)
The variety of activities at Severn Valley Country park make it an ideal place to visit. Facilities include a refreshment kiosk and toilets. The car park costs £1.20 for two hours or £2.30 all day. A children’s playground, pond with a dipping platform and various activity sheets are great for families. Walking trails and cycle paths around the park are a great way to explore. An easy access trail has been specially designed for pushchairs and wheelchairs. There are picnic benches around the park. Further information is available on the Shropshire Great Outdoors website.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Church Stretton
Carding Mill Valley (Church Stretton)
I have included this as a free day out because unlike many National Trust places, this is free even if you are not a member. However, do bear in mind that there is a charge for parking. Carding Mill Valley is one of my favourite free things to do in Shropshire. It’s hugely popular among locals and visitors alike. It is a great place for walking, wildlife spotting and having a picnic. For a long walk, you may want to tackle the 5 mile Long Mynd walk. Directions are provided by the National Trust. Wild swimming is welcome in the reservoir and it is a popular place for a dip. You can find more information on the National Trust Carding Mill website. Additionally, I found this post about the top 10 things to do at Carding Mill.
Shropshire Hills Mountain Bike and Outdoor Pursuits Centre (Church Stretton)
If you have your own mountain bike, you’ll only need to pay parking charges to access the Shropshire Hills Mountain Bike centre. From there, visitors can access mountain bike trails and skills courses that are free to use. The centre also offer trail maps for £1 and bike hire and cycling guides are available. An onsite pub, the Station Inn is a nice place to stop for a drink or a meal while you’re there. A campsite and camping pods are available onsite too. More information is available on the Mountain Bike Centre website.
Stiperstones National Nature Reserve (Church Stretton)
The Stiperstones National Nature Reserve is formed by the majority of the Stiperstones Ridge, part of the Shropshire Hills. It is a wildlife haven that is appropriately restricted so mountain biking, rock climbing, orienteering and other activities are by permit only. Its quartzite rock makes the area sparkle even on dull days. Interesting birds including red kites, red grouse, ravens and skylarks can be seen in upland areas. Other wildlife and plants also flourish here. There is public access to the reserve through the NNR car park. Here you’ll find information including walking routes and a 650 metre long all-ability trail. For more information, head to the Shropshire National Reserves website.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Ironbridge
Buildwas Abbey (Ironbridge)
Buildwas Abbey is an English Heritage site that is free to visit. The ruins of this Cistercian abbey are incredibly well preserved. The 12th century church remains unaltered and the tiled floor of the vaulted chapter house is surprisingly intact. The ruin is located in a wooded area beside the river Severn. There is free parking for around 20 cars. For full information, head to the English Heritage Buildwas Abbey website.
The Iron Bridge (Ironbridge)
Shropshire’s Iron Bridge was the first of its kind in the world. These days, it is one of the most iconic symbols of the Industrial Revolution. Managed and maintained by English Heritage, the Iron Bridge is free to visit. There is a nearby pay and display car park at Station Yard and the bridge is a great place to start exploring the Ironbridge Gorge. For more information, visit the English Heritage Iron Bridge website.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Ludlow
Clee Hills and the Corvedale (Ludlow)
Among the Clee Hills and the Covedale, visitors can discover a variety of walks. Choose between walking in a nature reserve, seeing historic castles or visiting the historic market town of Ludlow. The Clee Hills were mined in the past but now most mining has stopped and the landscape is much more wild. More information on the area is available on the Visit Shropshire website.
Mortimer Forest (Ludlow)
Wildlife-rich Mortimer Forest is a fantastic place to see birds of prey, small birds, butterflies and reptiles. There are fallow deer in the forest as well. Its four car parks are free to use and it is a popular place for walks and picnics. Walking trails cater for all from the easy access trail at Vinnalls Car Park with two half mile loops, through to longer and more challenging walks. Mortimer forest is also the venue for the Ludlow Parkrun. To find out more about the forest, head to the Forestry England website.
Whitcliffe Common (Ludlow)
Whitcliffe Common nature reserve is a Wildlife Trust managed area located near to Ludlow Castle. It is free to visit and dogs are welcome. A variety of footpaths stretch from the river Teme across open grassland with rocky cliffs and even a waterfall. Views of Ludlow Castle and across the town are spectacular. Further information is available from the Wildlife Trust.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Oswestry
Cae Glas Park (Oswestry)
Oswestry’s huge city centre park is a popular tourist attraction. A children’s play area, floral displays and bandstand are free to visit. Live music often takes place in the park and other activities are available at a small cost including crazy golf, tennis and bowling. For more information, visit the Oswestry Town Council website.
Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Reserve (Oswestry)
Lake Vyrnwy RSPB Reserve in Oswestry is a vast reservoir that stretches into Powys. It is free to visit and offers a variety of walking and cycling routes, including the 12 mile circumference of the lake. A sculpture park, riverside walk and waterfall are also worth exploring. Numerous facilities are available including car parking, toilets and a visitor centre. Full information is available from the RSPB.
Offa’s Dyke Path (Oswestry)
The Offa’s Dyke path runs for 177 miles along the England / Wales border. You can pick up a portion of it at Oswestry and the route takes in many heritage sites and iconic landscapes. Many people take accommodation along the route and walk all or a large amount of it over the course of a couple of weeks. However, it is equally possible to pick a small section and walk it for a day. More information is available on the Oswestry website.
Old Oswestry Hillfort (Oswestry)
Old Oswestry Hillfort is an English Heritage managed site that is free to visit. Parking is also free. The hillfort is thought to have been the site of an Iron Age tribal settlement. Access to the hillfort is via steep, uneven paths. Cycling is not allowed and dogs must be on leads due to grazing animals. Further information is available on the English Heritage website and you can read about the history of the hillfort.
Whittington Castle (Oswestry)
The beautiful ruins of Whittington Castle and its grounds are run by a community group, keeping it free to visit. A tea shop on site offers food and drink. Parking costs £1. Guidebooks and guided tours are available for a small fee or visitors can look around at their leisure and read signs with information about the castle’s history. More information is available on the Whittington Castle website.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Shrewsbury
Acton Burnell Castle (Shrewsbury)
These days, Acton Burnell Castle is a red shell made of sandstone. It was constructed from 1284 to 1293 and abandoned by 1420. It remains a fascinating example of a fortified manor. Whilst there are no facilities onsite, it remains an interesting place to visit. Dogs on leads are welcome and the castle offers a flat, grassy walk. Parking is available onsite for five cars and one minibus. From the car park, there is a flat walk through a wood to reach the castle. For more information, head to the English Heritage Acton Burnell website and read about its history.
Cantlop Bridge (Shrewsbury)
Built in 1813, Cantlop Bridge is thought to have been either designed or approved by Thomas Telford. It is located next to the road and can be accessed by parking in a nearby layby, as detailed on the English Heritage Cantlop Bridge website. Its pretty, riverside location is the ideal place for a quiet picnic. You can also read about its history.
Haughmond Hill (Shrewsbury)
Haughmond Hill is a Forestry England site that is free to visit. Parking costs £1 for two hours or £2 all day. Four walking trails are available in the area, two of which are suitable for buggies and mobility scooters. The other two are longer and may be uneven and muddy. At the front of the hill are beautiful views of the River Severn, South Shropshire and the Welsh Hills. A cafe, toilets and picnic areas make this the ideal place for a relaxing day out. Dogs are welcome at this attraction. For more information, head to the Haughmond Hill Forestry England website.
Shrewsbury Abbey (Shrewsbury)
Founded in 1083, Shrewsbury Abbey is of great historical significance. Kings have made pilgrimages there and it hosted the first Parliament. These days, it is a quiet and peaceful place to visit, enjoy the spectacular architecture and learn about its history. Shrewsbury Abbey is free to visit although donations are appreciated. Further information is available on the Shrewsbury Abbey website.
Quarry Park (Shrewsbury)
The Quarry Park in Shrewsbury comprises 29 acres of parkland. It includes the Dingle at the centre of the park, a floral display cultivated by Percy Thrower who looked after the park for 28 years. The River Severn circles the outskirts of the Quarry. It is an ideal place to walk, picnic and relax. Toilet facilities are available at the Quarry and it is dog friendly. Full information is available on the Original Shrewsbury website.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Telford
Granville Country Park (Telford)
Granville was the last deep mine in Shropshire to close down. These days, wildlife has taken over the previously industrial area. Old furnaces and an old winding house can be seen among the woodland. There are footpaths and walking routes around the nature reserve and dogs are welcome. Further information is available from the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Telford Town Park (Telford)
Telford Town Park is notably more exciting than it sounds. It is worth bearing in mind that there are lots of activities that do cost money. For example disk golf, adventure golf and the Sky Reach climbing and high ropes adventures. However, there is also plenty to do for free. Stroll around beautiful gardens or follow a heritage or nature trail around the park. Let children enjoy the impressive play areas or bring a bike and explore 14 miles of off road cycle paths. There’s a café to buy food and plenty of places for a picnic. Find out more on the Telford Town Park website.
Free things to do in Shropshire: Around the County
British Ironwork Centre (Aston)
The British Ironwork Centre is located in 90 acres of grounds where ironwork sculptures are on display throughout. Look out for a spoon gorilla, made from over 40,000 spoons. Its design was created as a collaboration with Uri Gellar. There are also two indoor showrooms and children’s activities take place all year round. They do ask that visitors don’t take picnics in order to allow the centre to remain free. They rely on people buying food at their café if they eat at the Ironwork Centre. Find out more about the British Ironwork centre on their website.
Comer Woods (Quatford)
Part of the Dudmaston Estate, Comer Woods are free to visit and dog friendly. There is a fee for car parking although it is free for National Trust members. A variety of walking routes offer woodland walks passing by beautiful pools and an opportunity to spot wildlife. Cycling is also welcome with both family cycling trails and more challenging mountain bike routes. Toilet facilities are available and food is served at the Shepherd’s Hut or you can take a picnic. Further information is available on the Comer Woods website.
Cosford RAF Museum (Shifnal)
The Cosford RAF Museum offers an incredible amount of entertainment for a completely free day out. In fact, it is so large that they are sure you won’t be able to see everything in one day. However you could visit the hangars to learn about 100 years of the RAF. See the transport and training planes in hangar 1. Check out the planes from different countries and learn about the cold war. Children will love the test flights hangar with its hands-on fun and flight exhibition. To find out more about all the exhibits, opening hours and to book your visit, head to the RAF Cosford Museum website.
Mere Lake (Ellesmere)
Ellesmere is a beautiful market town on the Llangollen Canal. The town is next to Mere lake, an idyllic picnic spot. You can walk from the Langollen Canal to the Mere visitor centre. There, you’ll find a children’s play area and woodland walks. The Canal and River Trust provide further information on visiting Ellesmere.
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre (Craven Arms)
Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre offers access to the 30 acre Onny Meadows beside the river Onny. This consists of a variety of walks including wheelchair accessible paths. At the Discovery Centre itself there is parking, toilets, free wifi, a café, a shop and a gallery. There is also a visitor information centre for the Shropshire Hills. There is an entry fee for the gallery. For full information about the centre, head to their website.
Whitchurch and Grindley Brook (Whitchurch)
Walking from Whitchurch to Grindley Brook along the Llangollen Canal takes about half an hour. It’s a great walk for spotting boats and wildlife, always a favourite for children. Alternatively, its fine to cycle along the towpath. A café and a pub along the way are ideal food stops if you want to buy something. Alternatively to keep it completely free, bring a picnic blanket to lay on the grass as there are no picnic benches. For full details, head to the Canal and River Trust website. Before setting out for a walk, you may enjoy a visit to the Whitchurch Heritage centre. This free museum has exhibits and displays relating to the town’s history.