For lovers of ancient buildings, the elegant market town, watched over by its ruined stone castle, is a feast, described by John Betjemen as the "perfect historic town". Ludlow was laid out in a grid pattern soon after the castle was completed 900 years ago, and remains today a beautifully ordered little settlement.
Start at the castle and walk across Castle Square to Broad Street, to take in the best of the town’s architecture. Don’t miss, in Corve Street, the extraordinarily ornate Jacobean facade of the Feathers Hotel.
There are nearly 500 listed buildings in the town, many half-timbered Tudor affairs and many dating back to the period in the 18th century when Ludlow became fashionable.
Nowadays, Ludlow is a magnet for small independent food producers, and is lined with restaurants that delight in making full use of their wares. The annual Food and Drink Festival (www.foodfestival.co.uk) celebrates the area’s rare breeds of livestock and locally made drinks, such as real ale and perry. Heaven for gourmet sausage fans.
A word of warning: you may be disappointed if you don’t book well in advance to eat in the best restaurants, but there are plenty of consolations. The town’s butchers, bakers, greengrocers, cheesemongers and chocolatiers will supply you with all the ingredients for a perfect picnic and plenty to take home. For details of stores stocked with food and drink from within 30 miles of Ludlow, see www.localtoludlow.org.uk.
If you fancy shopping of the inedible kind, check out Ludlow’s lively community of local craftspeople, who produce everything from ironwork to jewellery, textiles and ceramics (see www.ludlowdesignermakers.co.uk).
Keren Wheeler’s contemporary hand-tufted carpets and hangings, in fresh modern colours and patterns, are well worth a browse (www.kerenwheeler.com). Another Ludlow local, Chris Underhill, makes beautiful wooden boxes (www.theboxman.co.uk) and eccentric wooden fish, in holly and oak, laburnum and black walnut, cherry and yew.
It takes two-and-a-half hours to drive from the M25/M40 junction, while by train, from London Paddington, you can be there in three-and-a-half hours (www.ludlow.org.uk/travel.html).
Where to eat
Mr Underhills at Dinham Weir (01584 874431; www.mr-underhills.co.uk)
Restaurant with rooms at Dinham Bridge, just to the west of the castle. The wine list combines well-known names with some real discoveries.
Overton Grange, Old Hereford Road (01584 873500; www.overtongrangehotel.com)
An Edwardian country house hotel, just to the south of Ludlow, with glorious countryside views. The menu is based on local ingredients with a classical French flourish.
Where to stay
The Feathers Hotel, The Bull Ring (01584 875261; www.feathersatludlow.co.uk)
A fabulous black-and-white Tudor wedding cake of a building.
Dinham Hall Hotel, Dinham (01584 876464; www.dinhamhall.co.uk)
An 18th century manor house with a pretty walled garden, just near the castle.