Whittington Castle proves to be ideal venue for Shropshire Outdoor Show

The great outdoors and everything it has to offer was celebrated in the grounds of an historic castle over the weekend.

Jenson Holgate, seven, of Ruabon getting to grips with archery
Jenson Holgate, seven, of Ruabon getting to grips with archery

The Shropshire Outdoor Show brought about 25 stallholders and demonstrators to Whittington Castle, all of them showing off a wealth of countryside crafts and outdoor pursuits.

It was an encouraging return for a large-scale outdoor event, after Covid restrictions were eased earlier in May.

There was everything from bushcraft survival to willow weaving to canoe rides.

Young visitors were able to take part in a treasure hunt around the showground and many of them got to grips with bows and arrows, fire-lighting and whistle-making.

'Honest Jim' Evans looked the part for his traditional displays

Organiser Michael May said that the contrast between this year's event and the heavily Covid-affected inaugural one in 2020 was huge.

He said: "We've been in lockdown so long now, as soon as people have a chance to see each other outdoors again..."

But in his opinion the biggest factor was the glorious weather that prevailed for much. of the weekend.

"Everything conspired but in a good way. We had people coming and going, coming to the castle for a few hours, going to have a look around the local area and then coming back.

"There were families who came both days. The archery people were rushed off their feet for two days.

"We had all the right people here for the event, everyone was so complimentary about the demos.

"I've had so much positive feedback, I don't know if I could have planned it any better."

Canoeing was one of the most popular activities on offer

Many of those demonstrators and stallholders are already looking forward to taking part again next year, some of them in an expanded capacity.

"The canoe guy is going to come back with axe and spear throwing, I basically bit his hand off."

The outdoors nature of the castle and its grounds and made regulating for Covid straightforward, and the familiar signifiers (hand sanitiser stations, QR codes for track and trace, and marshals ensuring massive groups didn't form) were seen across the weekend.

And the backdrop of the castle helped add to the adventurous feeling for visitors, said Mr May.

Michael Taylor from MT Greenwood Crafts showed his skills

"The traders couldn't speak highly enough of the venue. For an outdoor visitor event it couldn't be better.

"It creates its own scene."

He was full of praise and gratitude for the traders, the team at the castle who helped facilitate the event, and the visitors who left the grounds in spotless condition.

Dave Watson from Woodland Survival Crafts

"They've really, really taken care of the venue which is important for me.

"The traders have all been fantastic."

Visitors were able to enjoy live music from the Shropshire Ukulele Massive.

A spokesman for the musicians said: "It was wonderful to see people at Whittington Castle. It was great to finally see people face-to-face and play live for the first time in about 15 months,"

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