Church Stretton is the largest of three settlements in the neighbourhood which bear the name "Stretton", the others being All Stretton and Little Stretton. The word "Stretton" means "settlement on a Roman Road" in Old English. The Roman road in question is the famous Watling Street, which linked the cross-Channel ports of Kent, via Londinium to Viroconium.
Until around 1900, Church Stretton was a very small local market town, but one whose inhabitants gained a reputation for being able to fiercely defend their rights and way of life. The much-maligned Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries held little sway here, as the locals rioted every time it was proposed that their common land be fenced off. By the 1850s, the popularity of grouse shooting had all but killed off the prospect of the Long Mynd being parcelled into private estates, and it remains common land to this day, though managed by the National Trust.
The town quickly grew in the early 20th century as a popular spa resort. It was at this time it got the nickname "Little Switzerland" because of its situation among the dominating hills. The hills, while small in height, do have an impressive rockiness, shape and steepness, and so the comparison with the much loftier Swiss Alps is strangely apt. Today Church Stretton remains small, but is busy and prosperous, and is popular for those who enjoy hillwalking and admiring the scenery of south Shropshire. The worst of the traffic is diverted along the A49, meaning the town is quite a pleasant place for an hour or two's exploration. The backstreets, particularly around the parish church, are especially pretty and secluded.
Church Stretton is just off the main A49 trunk road between Shrewsbury and Ludlow. The B4371 road from Much Wenlock ends in Church Stretton. The main car park is next to the Co-operative supermarket From the A49, take the first left after the railway station turnoff (Easthope Road).
- Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
The most convenient airport is 2 Birmingham Airport (BHX IATA) at Birmingham. Straightforward rail connections via Shrewsbury. Alternatively 3 Manchester Airport (MAN IATA) is not much further and is also accessible by rail.
Church Stretton is a small town and is easy to get around on foot. There is a local bus service, the 435 run by Minsterley Motors.
- Hillwalking. Church Stretton is the main centre for walking in the Shropshire Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, especially the Long Mynd and Caradoc ranges. A good place to start for new visitors is the National Trust's Carding Mill Valley centre.
- Flying. The Long Mynd is one of the top centres for gliding and hang-gliding in England.
Church Stretton is a busy market town and has many shops, including Shropshire's largest antiques market.
- 1 Stretton Antiques Market, 36 Sandford Ave, SY6 6BH, ☏ . Mon-Sat: 10:00am-5:00pm, Sun: 10:30pm-4:30pm.
There is one medium-sized supermarket, the Co-op on Lion Meadow. Otherwise most shops are small independents.
The town has a number of small restaurants and traditional tea rooms. There are also a number of international cuisine restaurants and take-aways.
- 1 The Bucks Head, 42 High Street Church, SY6 6BX, ☏ . Large, town centre public house.
- 2 Housmans, 27 High St, SY6 6BX, ☏ . Modern cafe bar.
- 3 The Ragleth Inn, Ludlow Rd, Little Stretton, SY6 6RB (Little Stretton is 1 mile south of Church Stretton), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Known locally for its good food. Lovely beer garden. Car park.
- 4 The Green Dragon, Ludlow Rd, Little Stretton, SY6 6RE (Little Stretton is 1 mile south of Church Stretton), ☏ . Separate bar and restaurant rooms. Childrens play area. Real ale.
When planning for hill-walking do remember that the weather can change quickly. It is also likely to be colder, windier and wetter higher up. The Long Mynd is notorious for being a windy place and for deep snow in winter. Always take with you a good map (Ordnance Survey 1:25000 ideally) and a mobile phone if heading out into the wilds.
For exploring the surrounding hills, the Long Mynd Shuttle Bus operates on weekends and bank holidays in summer months. It runs from Church Stretton across the Long Mynd to the Stiperstones and Pontesbury.
|Routes through Church Stretton|
|Shrewsbury ←||N S||→ Ludlow → Hereford|
|END ←||W E||→ Hope Bowdler → Much Wenlock|