On the 12th February 1809, Charles Robert Darwin was born in the town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire. He spent the first 27 years of his life here and the streets are littered with historical relics dating back to his lifetime. The Darwin Town Trail takes you on a journey in his footsteps so we took Elsa along to explore...
On arrival in Shrewsbury, we headed towards the Tourist Information Centre to look for a map to guide us around town...
The Trail begins at Darwin Gate.
Rising out of the ground on columns that are made of glass, the three segments of this marker are very hard to miss! They form different shapes when looked at from various angles.
The design was inspired by St. Mary's Church, which Darwin attended as a child.
The second stop on the trail is The Bellstone.
This stone is significant because it is said to be what sparked Charles Darwin's interest in geology.
Darwin Day | Crowds gather at 12 noon on the 12th February to pay homage to Charles Darwin at The Bellstone.
Claremont Hill is the next stop.
In the early 1800's Charles Darwin began his education here under the guidance of Reverend Case, a Unitarian minister.
The marker features an ammonite fossil. Many of these fossils have been found on Shropshire's Wenlock Edge, a narrow limestone escarpment that runs from Craven Arms to Ironbridge.
St. Chad's Church sits just around the corner from Claremont Hill.
Charles Darwin was christened here. The church overlooks Quarry Park - one of our favourite places in Shrewsbury!
It took us approximately 15 minutes to get here from Darwin Gate.
The next stop on the trail is The Dingle.
Situated in the centre of Quarry Park, The Dingle is a beautiful landscaped garden with many interesting features.
Charles Darwin spent time here as a child, fishing for newts.
The marker at The Lion Hotel was a challenge to find... we had to give up and return later on for a second look!
We eventually found it, hidden under a free-standing sign. (Which we moved so that the marker was left exposed - this one is far too significant to keep hidden away!) It is inscribed with an image of HMS Beagle, the ship that took Darwin on his first voyage of exploration.
From here we travelled back across town to the Library where we passed several landmarks including St. Mary's church.
The Library used to house Shrewsbury School, which Darwin attended although he did not enjoy his time here very much!
In 1897 a statue was erected to celebrate Charles Darwin, Shrewsbury's 'most famous son'.
The last marker on the trail can be found at The Unitarian Church.
The Unitarian faith has a very liberal outlook and this is said to have contributed to the development of Darwin's 'open and enquiring mind'.
The way-marker features a trilobite fossil. Many of these fossils have been found as close as 15 miles away in the town of Church Stretton.
Although this was the end of the main trail, there is one more place of great significance that is approximately 15 minutes walk from town; Darwin's Birthplace, a house built by Robert Darwin in 1798. Sadly, the house is not open to the public as it is used as an office for the District Valuer, but you can discreetly take photographs of the building and plaque. A way-marker featuring a fish fossil can also be found there.
We didn't have time to visit Darwin's Birthplace on this trip but it's definitely somewhere we'll take Elsa the next time an opportunity arises!
We felt like The Darwin Trail was a perfect activity to enjoy with Elsa, combining a dog walk with an informative tour. We'd highly recommend exploring Shrewsbury this way if you are unfamiliar with the town!
[Source: Information about The Darwin Town Trail can be found at www.discoverdarwin.co.uk and the trail is sponsored by Royal Mail.]