Ironbridge is a pretty village on the banks of the River Severn, perfect for a day trip. There’s plenty to do in Ironbridge and the surrounding villages. The whole area of Ironbridge Gorge is now a World Heritage site. Here are some of the best things to do in Ironbridge.
The Iron Bridge
The main attraction in Ironbridge is, of course, the iron bridge. Built in 1779, it was the world’s first bridge made of iron. Built by Abraham Darby III, the bridge is an important piece of engineering and construction history. After the bridge was completed, cast iron became widely used in the construction of bridges, aqueducts, and buildings.
The bridge is only open to pedestrians now (it’s flat and easy to access for wheelchairs and pushchairs too), so you can stroll across for some fabulous views of the river and the Gorge.
The Station Yard Car Park is at one end of the bridge, so it’s easy to park nearby. At this end, you’ll also find the old Toll House. The bridge is now free to cross, and the toll house now houses a small museum and a gift shop. The museum is currently closed under Covid guidelines, but the shop is open and is staffed by knowledgeable people who will happily chat to you about the bridge. On the day I visited, there was also a volunteer from English Heritage (who manage the site) positioned halfway along the bridge, ready to answer any questions and talk about the history of the area.
You can also get down underneath the bridge on a few different pathways, for a better look at the huge pieces of cast iron that were used to make it.
Where To Eat In Ironbridge
There are several cafes and coffee shops right next to the bridge, so there’s plenty of choice on where to eat, whether you want a quick sandwich or a traditional cream tea. There’s also a fish and chip shop, and lots of outdoor seating around the bridge, so you can eat your chips with a view. If you’re after something stronger than a coffee, there are several pretty riverside pubs and a cocktail bar a short walk away.
I’d recommend walking into Coalbrookdale and visiting The Green Wood Café. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the bridge, but most of the route is along the river, so it’s a pleasant walk.
The café is in the Green Wood Centre. It’s very pretty and peaceful, set in woodland, and much more relaxing than the packed tourist cafes nearer the bridge.
Of course, no day trip is complete without an ice cream, and there are a few options right by the bridge. While you’re looking for ice cream, you can also visit Eley’s Of Ironbridge, who make traditional, hand-raised pork pies.
Shopping In Ironbridge
There are lots of lovely little independent shops along the main street in Ironbridge Village. You can find everything from sweets to vintage clothing.
There are several gift shops, and in the Square, you’ll find another row of small shops, including a book shop, a teddy bear shop, and a specialist drinks shop.
Walk a little way down the river and you’ll find the Ironbridge Antique, Arts and Crafts Centre, where you’ll find local crafts, vintage clothing, and antique furniture.
Walking And Cycling In Ironbridge
If the weather’s good, Ironbridge is the perfect place for a walk or bike ride. There are footpaths all along the river for a gentle stroll (armed with an ice cream, of course), and lots of trails for longer walks.
The South Telford Heritage Trail covers most of the most interesting historical sites in the area. The whole 12-mile circular trail takes about six hours to get around, or you could choose a small part for a shorter walk. The Severn Way also crosses through the village.
If you’re cycling, the Mercian Way passes through Ironbridge, as well as several other shorter cycle ways.
Museums In Ironbridge
There are several museums in Ironbridge. Of course, at the moment, the museums have not yet reopened but should reopen later in May, as the Government’s easing of Coronavirus restrictions continues. You can visit the information centres and gift shops at the Toll House and the Museum Of The Gorge, and Blist Hills Victorian Town outdoor spaces, market, and shops have now reopened.
When they are open, you can visit Blist Hills Victorian Town, Science museum Enginuity, the Jackfield Tile Museum, the Coalport China Museum, the Coalbrook Dale Museum of Iron, the Museum of the Gorge, the Darby Houses, the Tar Tunnel, The Iron Bridge and Tollhouse, and Broseley Pipeworks.
Most of the museums are quite small, so you should be able to visit several of them on the same day. You can buy an annual pass for unlimited entry for the whole year into all the museums. At the moment, you must book online before you visit, and need to book a timeslot to visit Blist Hills.
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