Why You Should Consider The West Midlands For Your Next Staycation

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OK, let’s start with some general knowledge: what do the counties of Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire and West Midlands all have in common? We’ll give you a moment. Final answer? They all make up the West Midlands region of England!

Another titbit for you: the West Midlands region is also home to five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the Wye Valley and the Shropshire Hills.

To give you a flavour of what you can expect to find in this rich and varied region of the UK, we’ve selected one highlight from each county. 

Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire

Here at dealchecker, we love a good castle, and when we discovered that William Wordsworth himself had described Goodrich Castle as ‘the noblest ruin in Herefordshire’, we were completely won over.

Originally built in mud and wood in the years after the Norman invasion, Goodrich Castle was reinvented in stone in the 13th century and significantly expanded into the structure we see today. However, during the English Civil War, the castle was badly damaged by cannon fire and fell into disrepair.

Although much of Goodrich Castle is in ruins, there is still lots to see today, including the last surviving cannon from the Civil War (the locally-built and colloquially-named ‘Roaring Meg’), a number of permanent exhibitions exploring what life was like in the castle, and even battlements to climb. Thanks to the castle’s prime position overlooking the River Wye and the surrounding countryside, there’s also the opportunity to wander in the grounds and take in the imposing ruins from a distance. Friends of the four-legged variety are allowed in the grounds, but unfortunately they won’t be permitted into the castle itself. 

The Roaches, Staffordshire

We thoroughly researched this and, although some might claim that the Roaches are in the Peak District, it seems that this unusual rocky ridge does actually reside in Staffordshire.

Part of a rugged gritstone escarpment, the Roaches reach a height of 505 metres at their tallest point, offering outstanding views of Cheshire and even the slopes of Snowdon on a clear day. Well-trodden public footpaths intertwine across the heather-clad slopes, which are said to still be home to the descendants of wallabies released on the land in the 1930s! If you don’t spot an antipodean creature roaming the horizon, turn your attention to the skies in search of peregrines instead; you’ll have to keep an eagle eye out, though, as these falcons are amongst the fastest birds on the planet!

Although a popular spot with walkers, you’d better beware: a blue nymph by the name of Jenny Greenteeth is said to have made her lair in the depths of Doxey Pool near the peak, luring in wayward travellers to a watery grave… Do you dare make the climb?

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire

Overlooking the village of Broadway in the heart of the Cotswolds, the aptly-named Broadway Tower acts as a beacon atop the second-highest peak in this revered Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Built in the latter years of the 1700s as a result of Lady Coventry’s musings (this is what the rich ladies of the time had to think about!), Broadway Tower represents a fusion of ideas from both Capability Brown and James Wyatt. Neither could have foreseen how the folly would be used in the years to come: the tower has been utilised as everything from a printing press to a nuclear fallout observation post!

Nowadays, it acts as a striking waymarker upon the Cotswold Way and a focal point for the country park. In the nearby visitors centre, peruse the locally-made arts and crafts, and indulge in a scone before continuing on your journey through the honey-hued settlements nestled between the undulating hills. 

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Warwickshire

Whether you believe he wrote the plays or not, Shakespeare’s name is synonymous with English literature. It only makes sense then, that his birthplace should act as ‘a mecca for all lovers of literature’, while also drawing in those who were last forced to read Romeo & Juliet for GCSE.

Found on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, this wattle and daub house was the Bard’s home in his infancy, acting as both a family dwelling and business property for the playwright’s father. Following a painstaking recreation of the house and the addition of a museum to the side, Shakespeare’s Birthplace is now one of the central draws to the area, thanks to the insightful permanent exhibitions on display.

If you haven’t quite got your fill of all things Shakespearean after this, why not take in the fondly-named New Place, which was the author’s residence in his retirement? Similarly, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and various other sites belonging to the Shakespeare family can be found within walking distance, as can the celebrated Royal Shakespeare Theatre. 

The Iron Bridge, Shropshire

One of the resounding symbols of the Industrial Revolution, the Iron Bridge was the world’s first major crossing to be constructed from cast iron – a feat, at the time, that was considered a remarkable achievement. Spanning the River Severn, it eventually opened in 1781 to critical acclaim after two years of manufacture, inspiring the use of cast iron across the globe.

At its widest, the bridge spans over 30 metres, a key part of the design which enabled boats and barges carrying industrial cargo to pass beneath. The gorge upon which the bridge resides, as well as the neighbouring village and the iron structure itself have been collectively recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although closed to vehicles today, visitors to the area are able to walk across the iconic structure, as well as sit beneath it. The nearby museum and village are also worthy of a perusal, as it is believed these small neighbouring settlements were the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution… There’s also an excellent pie shop!

Cadbury World, West Midlands

For our final top pick, we’ve gone with our gut and picked chocolate heaven on earth: Cadbury World. We know what you’re thinking – have they all gone mad? Crazy for cocoa, maybe, but hear us out – Cadbury World isn’t just about gorging on your favourite sweet treats (although, we’re definitely all for that too!), as it also explores the story behind chocolate, the beginnings of cocoa mass production and the origins of Cadbury itself. There’s also ample opportunity to create some of your very own moreish munchies. If creativity isn’t your strong suit, purchase some purple-clad morsels from the world’s biggest Cadbury shop or opt for a chocolate-centric afternoon tea in the cafe. Just thinking about it has given us a sugar high! 

We hope our West Midlands regional highlights have given you a flavour of what this part of England has to offer.