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An imprecise term for the area that runs along the English border with Wales, ‘The Marches’ are an area of beautiful, hilly countryside littered with the ruins of the many border castles and several wonderfully preserved historic towns and villages.

To the south, in Hereford, the River Wye cuts through wonderful scenery in an area that is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, including some excellent canoeing on the river. The impressive ruins of Goodrich Castle look over the Wye Valley and pretty Ross-on-Wye, with an interesting collection of historic buildings, sits above a loop in the river.

The surrounding countryside is littered with pretty villages of classic black-and-white timbered Tudor cottages.

Right on the Welsh border, the ‘book town’ of Hay-on-Wye, with its wide array of antique and second-hand book shops, makes a unique stop and is a good base for crossing the border into Wales’ Brecon Beacons National Park.

Further north, in the county of Shropshire, those with an interest in industry should visit Iron Bridge Gorge. Now a peaceful, rural spot, the area is credited as being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. A designated UNESCO world heritage site, the gorge is home to several interesting museums on the subject.

The picturesque town of Ludlow offers a wealth of historic buildings scattered along a maze of narrow, winding streets, all stretching out from the impressive remains of Ludlow Castle in the town centre. Ludlow has also turned itself into something of a foodie haven and has a number of excellent eateries.

The surrounding countryside is home to several dramatic castle ruins, plenty of walking trails and a raft of classic English villages.

Image © VisitBritain / Adrian Houston

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