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The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge

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The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge
Author: Pub Walker, Published: 17 Oct 2013 Walk Rating:star1 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walkstar1 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walkstar1 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walkstar1 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walkstar0 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk
Shropshire, Ironbridge
Walk Type: History trail
The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk boot The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk
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A 5 mile circular pub walk from the Woodbridge Inn in Coalport, Shropshire. (A 2 mile version of this walk, The Woodbridge Inn and Coalport, is also available on iFootpath). The Woodbridge Inn is situated on the banks of the River Severn with a raised outside terrace and a sunny garden room both giving great views across the river. The walking route follows an old railway line through the supposed birthplace of the Industrial Revolution all the way to Ironbridge, crossing the famous Iron Bridge which dates from 1779. The return leg follows the gorge lane back through Coalport and then joins a section of the Silkin Way path for the final stretch. There are opportunities to visit some of the popular visitor attractions within the Ironbridge Gorge, including the Coalport China Museum, the Jackfield Tile Museum and the Iron Bridge Toll House.

The walking route is relatively flat, with just a couple of short (but fairly steep) slopes. There are no stiles, just a couple of gates and a short flight of steps. The paths are a mixture of tarmac pavements, quiet lanes and a stone/gravel old railway line. The area is surrounded by woodland so leaf drop can make the paths a little muddy in winter but the mud is never deep. The return leg follows a long stretch of a narrow pavement alongside a fairly busy road. At a couple of points the narrow pavement disappears completely to accommodate properties which sit directly on the road, so take care of traffic here. If you would rather avoid the long stretch of pavement walking, you can simply retrace your steps from the outward leg instead. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours, plus extra time to visit any attractions.

Coalport is located within the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire. The walk starts and finishes from the Woodbridge Inn, just off Coalport Road on the southern side of Coalport Bridge. Approximate post code TF8 7JF. The pub has its own large car park, however during peak times this can be very busy, in which case please use the public pay and display car park at the China Museum on Coalport High Street. (From this car park, turn right along the High Street, then cross over Coalport Bridge to reach the pub on the left – about a 10 minute walk).

Walk Sections

Start to Jackfield Memorial Bridge
Start to Jackfield Memorial Bridge

Start point: 52.6149 lat, -2.4417 long
End point: 52.6195 lat, -2.4541 long

Leave the pub car park via the vehicle entrance and cross over the road with care to join the footpath opposite, the Severn Valley Way signed to Ironbridge. On the right you’ll also see a waymarker in the shape of a Saxon Warrior which marks this as part of the Mercian Way, a 230 mile long cycle path which runs from Salisbury to Chester. This path is so-named as it passes through what was once the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. Pass through the kissing gate (or cross the horse hurdles) to join this wide surfaced track.

The path soon swings left heading up a flight of shallow steps and, at the top of these, follow the track as it swings right and levels off. The path follows the corridor of a former railway. After a little distance you will see a sign pointing to the right for Silkin Way via Jackfield Bridge. Turn right here and follow the slope down to the road. Keep right along the road and, as you draw level with the old railway bridge to your right, swing left still signed for the Silkin Way. Follow the lane as it swings left and you will reach a metal footbridge to your right, Jackfield Memorial Bridge.

Jackfield Memorial Bridge to Jackfield Sidings
Jackfield Memorial Bridge to Jackfield Sidings

Start point: 52.6195 lat, -2.4541 long
End point: 52.6245 lat, -2.4672 long

For this longer version of the walk, do NOT cross Jackfield Memorial Bridge, just continue along Ferry Road. At the end of the road keep straight ahead onto the stone footpath and you will pass a large red brick factory on the left, with a wooden chute protruding from it. This is the former Maw and Co ceramic tile factory which now houses a craft centre.

At the end of the building, keep left signed to Ironbridge and this will lead you past the gated entrance to the craft centre. Continue up the concrete slope and at the top keep right along the quiet lane, again signed for Ironbridge. At the fork in the lane keep left and follow this tarmac lane for some distance. Some way in you’ll notice old wooden sleepers and tracks set into the lane, testament to this areas link with the industrial revolution. Some of the earliest railway systems in Britain were developed in the Ironbridge Gorge, first made of wood and then iron.

Just beyond the sleepers, you’ll pass a church on the right and another tile works on the left, Craven Dunnill. The ceramic tile production industry here dates back to the 16th century and tile manufacturing at this site restarted in 2001. Towards the end of the building you’ll see examples of the beautifully decorated Victorian tiles set within the arches of the windows. Follow the lane as it bends left (passing the entrance to the Jackfield Tile Museum should you wish to visit), then bends right (passing the old converted school dating from 1844), then bends left again.

You will come to a junction with another road, keep right/ahead and, at the bottom of the slope, cross over to keep straight ahead onto the footpath which runs immediately to the left of the old Jackfield Sidings.

Jackfield Sidings to Ironbridge
Jackfield Sidings to Ironbridge

Start point: 52.6245 lat, -2.4672 long
End point: 52.6273 lat, -2.4854 long

This path was once a section of the Severn Valley railway line. The 40 mile long line was built between 1858 and 1862. There were sidings here to support the various tile works, along with a passenger halt station. Little remains of the railway except the large level crossing gates.

Follow the tarmac path, pass through a wooden gate and then continue onto the stone path. Some distance in you’ll pass under a footbridge and then later under a road bridge. You will emerge out to a coach parking area. Keep straight ahead through the long narrow parking area and at the end, pass by another Saxon Warrior marker post and leave the car park via a small gate. Turn immediately right to cross over the famous Iron Bridge. (You’ll pass the old toll house on the left which houses a museum should you wish to visit). Take a moment in the centre of the bridge to enjoy the views along the River Severn.

Ironbridge to Coalport
Ironbridge to Coalport

Start point: 52.6273 lat, -2.4854 long
End point: 52.6224 lat, -2.4561 long

The Iron Bridge was the first of its kind in the world fabricated from cast iron. Abraham Darby III built the 30 metre bridge with construction beginning in 1779 and the bridge opening in 1781.

On the far side of the bridge keep right, passing a number of small shops in the square to the left. On the right, you’ll find a great viewing platform from which you can really appreciate the intricate metal work of Iron Bridge. Keep straight ahead on the pavement of the High Street and you’ll come to a small roundabout. Follow the right-hand pavement to continue along the road opposite, Waterloo Street. Follow this street and, beyond the main village, you’ll have great views of the River Severn down to the right.

The River Severn was always the main artery for transport through the gorge, with large barges carrying goods. It is Britain’s longest river and today is a haven for wildlife with strong populations of trout, salmon and otters testifying to its cleanliness.

On the left you’ll pass the remains of the Bedlam Furnaces. The Bedlam Furnaces were built in 1756 and were taken over by Abraham Darby III in 1776. The furnaces were used to forge cast iron at lower prices making it economic for engineers to build the first iron bridge in the world. The name Bedlam Furnaces may have originated from a painting by John Sell Cotman who painted the furnaces in 1803 and titled it Bedlam Furnace near Irongate, Shropshire.

A little further along you’ll pass the next bridge over the river at Coalford, a modern cantilever structure built in 1993. Do NOT cross the bridge, continue on the pavement running along the left-hand side of the river. Follow the pavement for some distance. At one point the pavement disappears to accommodate a cottage which is set right up to the road – take care here to listen carefully for any traffic before you pass by. Eventually you will reach a fork in the road marking the start of Coalport.

Coalport to End
Coalport to End

Start point: 52.6224 lat, -2.4561 long
End point: 52.6152 lat, -2.4422 long

Keep right along the grass verge and then follow the road edge (take care on this busy junction) and immediately beyond the junction you can join a slightly raised path running to the right of the road. After some distance this paths veers right away from the road and you will reach the northern end of Jackfield Memorial Footbridge. Ahead of you is a stretch of the Shropshire Canal, known as the Coalport Canal. Walk a few paces forward and look to your left where you’ll see an inclined railway emerging from the canal’s water! The explanation for this requires a little knowledge of the history of the town.

Coalfield was planned as a canal–river interchange and new town by ironmaster William Reynolds. Between 1788 and 1796 he built warehouses, workshops, factories and workers’ accommodation in Coalport, making the town much larger than it is today. He also directed the construction of the Shropshire Canal, linking the East Shropshire coalfield with the River Severn — the terminus being Coalport Wharf. The Hay Inclined Plane (the inclined railway you can see before you) was completed in 1793 and acted as a link between the top and bottom of the Severn gorge. The Shropshire Canal, 63 metres above where you are standing now, used box-shaped tub boats to transport goods. The twin railway tracks were laid down the incline so that the tub boats could ascend and descend the inclined plane on wheeled cradles. At the bottom of the incline the rails went underwater allowing the cradle to become submerged and the tub boat to float, moving along the Coalport Canal and out to the River Severn. The alternative to this amazing engineering feat would have required 27 locks to move the tubs the same height.

Coalport is perhaps most famous for Coalport Pottery, founded in 1795. Production continued here until the factory was moved to Staffordshire in 1926. If you wish to visit the Coalport China Museum, (which houses the Northumberland Vase, the largest piece of Coalport China ever produced) go straight ahead along the canal to reach the entrance and then come back to this point to continue your walk.

When you are ready to continue, return to the point with Jackfield Memorial Bridge to your right and turn left up the steps (signed to Tar Tunnel and Victorian Town). At the top of the steps, turn right over the bridge (up to the left you’ll have another great view of the Hay Inclined Plane). Keep straight ahead along the High Street taking care of any traffic.

As a section of grass opens up on the right, turn left onto a stone slope heading uphill and signed for the Victorian Town. Follow this zig-zagging up through the park area. At the very top of the slope you’ll see an old train wheel which acts as a waymarker for the Silkin Way footpath. Turn right, signed to Coalport Bridge. At the next crossroads keep straight ahead, still signed for Coalport Bridge.

Stay on the Silkin Way heading steadily downhill, ignoring any footpaths off left or right. The path eventually leads you under a road bridge. Continue on the path between tall walls and you will emerge out to a junction with a wide tarmac drive. Keep left along the drive and, a few yards in, keep right at the fork (passing another black train wheel marker post). Continue up a short slope and through a gate to reach a T-junction with the road. Turn right across Coalport Bridge.

Coalport Bridge was built from cast iron in 1818, and unlike its more famous neighbour in Ironbridge, it remains open to traffic, albeit limited to a single lane.

At the far side of the bridge you'll reach the Woodbridge Inn on the left, for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by iFootpath and the author pubwalker and may not be reproduced without permission.

3 Comments for: "The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge"

Great way to work off our lunch at the Woodbridge Inn

By Dibble1 on 02 Apr 2018

Lovely walk. Food at the pub is delightful. There are a few alternatives that mean you don’t need to walk on the road on the way back.

By rossa75 on 10 Mar 2018

Our favourite walk so far. No steep inclines or overly muddy terrain. Easy to follow trail and nice pub to stop and eat at the end of the walk. Pub was fine with us parking there but would check with them first as there is a sign saying £50 fine for non customers. Best tip, when you are nearing Ironbridge, veer off down a path on your right (there is an information board showing the furnaces and bowl sculptures) walk down some steep steps to the waters edge and view the old Bedlam furnaces, we also spotted a Kingfisher! Recommended walk.

By shelloaks on 28 Oct 2017

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 Gallery Images for: "The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge"

2633_0Richard1382170152 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 19 Oct 2013
Coalport bridge is lovely and cars still go over it - but no vans or lorries
2633_1Richard1382170153 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 19 Oct 2013
Plenty of bridges over the severn gorge. Love this cantilever bridge - open to traffic too
2633_2Richard1382170153 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 19 Oct 2013

2633_3Richard1382170153 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 19 Oct 2013

2633_0Philaaron511401627825 The Woodbridge Inn and Ironbridge Pub Walk Image by: Philip+Harris
Uploaded: 01 Jun 2014



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