2019 Annual Edition
TRAVEL MAGAZINE | ISSUE 01
Follow the paths taken by generations of travellers through England’s idyllic countryside, quaint villages and elegant towns
At Bristol Airport, we’re proud to be the Official Airport Ambassador for the Great West Way®. We’ve invested £160m in developments that have transformed the airport experience and now offer more than 125 destinations to our 8.5 million loyal passengers. Delivering world-class customer service and sustainable aviation is at the heart of everything we do, which is why we’re so proud to win ACI’s Best Airport in Europe (5-10m passengers) award.
Pictured Below: Cherhill White Horse, and The River Thames at Marlow
THE STORY OF THE GREAT WEST WAY® I AM THRILLED TO INTRODUCE Great West Way Travel Magazine, welcoming visitors to explore this new 125 mile touring route, based on one of the first Great Roads commissioned by the Kings of England. Follow the paths taken by generations of travellers. Plan your own course from the roads, lanes and towpaths and, best of all, whether you drive, ride, float or walk, allow your senses to take in the natural, and manmade, wonders of our countryside. Discover how, over millennia and centuries, our history and heritage are reflected in what you see. Relax and take your time – and feel inspired by the infinitely rewarding, flexible path to the best of England – enjoying all the attractions and new experiences that await you!
A new 125-mile touring route between London and Bristol based on ancient routes, roaming through idyllic countryside, quaint villages and elegant towns.
Jessica Way Editor-in-Chief, Great West Way Travel Magazine To download your Great West Way map visit: : GreatWestWay.co.uk/explore/maps
Explore one of the greatest royal residences ever built Walk in the footsteps of Henry VIII and discover the magnificence of Hampton Court Palace
2019 Annual | Edition 01
INTRODUCING THE GREAT WEST WAY
LOST IN TIMELESSNESS Where the world-famous rub shoulders with the yet-to-be-discovered
HERITAGE MEETS HIP From London the UK’s capital, to Bristol, one of the country’s hippest cities, and with many more characterful towns and villages between
THE LEGENDS WHO LIVED HERE Quietly enriching the lives of passers-by for 150 years, we take a look at some of the plaques along the Great West Way - linking the people of the past with the buildings of the present
Pictured above: Afternoon Tea; Close up of a guard at Windsor Castle; and Stonehenge
WAYS TO TRAVEL THE ROUTE
YOUR WAY ON THE WATER Like messing about in boats? The Great West Way offers dozens of opportunities to do just that THE RAILS 24 RIDING Travel the Great Western Railway line
designed and built by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1830s
DISCOVER YOUR PATH One of the best ways to explore the Great West Way is under your own steam, either on foot or bicycle. Soak up sights and sounds easily missed by train or car - off the beaten track →
Visit the heart of beautiful Georgian Bath and step into history with a visit to the Roman Baths, one of the finest spas of the ancient world. Book online at www.romanbaths.co.uk
@RomanBathsBath TheRomanBaths theromanbaths
Contista Media Ltd Mitchell House, Brook Avenue, Warsash, Southampton, Hampshire, SO31 9HP contistamedia.co.uk In association with the Great West Way.
Jessica Way Editor-in-Chief Adrian Wilkinson Business Operations Manager Rebecca Lowe PR and Marketing Consultant Helen Ochyra Outdoor Travel Specialist Jeremy Forsyth Museums, Arts and Culture Writer Gareth Herincx Sports and Motoring Enthusiast Emma Harrison Food and Drink Connoisseur Robin Glover History and Heritage Specialist Diana Woolf Historic Houses and Gardens Writer Emma Johnson Fashion and Shopping Expert
TITLE AMBASSADORS With a special thanks to: Bristol Airport, Canal & River Trust, GWR, and National Trust
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
AS SEEN ON SCREEN Whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter, Downton Abbey or the British Royal Family, there are plenty of places you might just recognise ACRES 36 ARISTOCRATIC A journey along the Great West Way takes
the traveller past some of England’s most spectacular palaces and historic houses
NATURE IN HIGH DEFINITION From the roaming deer in Richmond Park to whole areas of outstanding beauty amid rolling hills and green valleys YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE
Passenger on the Avon Valley Railway Image copyright credits: p5 and p9 © VisitEngland/Doug Harding p14 © VisitBritain/Peter Beavis p20/p22/p25/p29-p31/p33 © Jon Attenborough Photography Ltd p21 © VisitEngland/Visit Wiltshire/ Charlie Ross p22/p53-56 © nicksmithphotography.com p25/ p51/p60 © monitoba.com p34 © VisitBritain/ VisitEngland/ SimonWinnall/nicksmithphotography.com p36/p41 © Anna Stowe p37 © Nick Turner p43 © Colin Hawkins p52 © Historic England p61/p72 © nicksmithphotography.com p63 ©VisitBritain/Ben Selway p64 © Gary Sayers p66 © Simon Brown p69 © VisitBritain/ Joanna Henderson p74 © VisitBritain / Peter Beavis
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PLUS DON’T MISS WHEN PLANNING YOUR JOURNEY
AMAZING MOMENTS World-renowned visitor attractions, iconic sights and some of the greenest, most pleasant landscapes
Pictured above: Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury
CLASSIC CAR TOURS Salisbury Plain, the Mendips and the Ridgeway, take in the views, and soak up the laid-back lifestyle and pretty villages
DRINK LIKE A LOCAL The proud tradition of producing natural alcoholic beverages, good for home consumption but even better taken in your favourite tavern, inn or public house
A WARM WELCOME
JOIN THE FUN! WHAT’S ON
Digital editions available at: GreatWestWay.co.uk/ digitaltravelmagazine
MARVELLOUS MUSEUMS Tucked away in villages, towns and cities, there are fascinating finds to make your journey even more rewarding
LOST IN TIMELESSNESS Where the world-famous rub shoulders with the yet-to-be-discovered Words: Helen Ochyra
AM STANDING in a Dickens novel, sipping a pint of ale and feeling the warm glow of the rousing fire in the fireplace on my face, as I imagine a time when this thatched house, The Waggon and Horses, was a coaching inn filled with weary travellers making their way along the Great Bath Road. I am holding the tiller of a canal boat, watching green and yellow fields slide past on both sides and birds settle in the trees that line the banks of the Kennet & Avon Canal. I plot a course westwards, down a staircase flight of locks and past pub gardens with picnic tables and overnight moorings. I am exploring the Great West Way, a corridor that runs through the very soul of England, from the vibrant capital of London to the creative city of Bristol (read more in Heritage Meets Hip, p12). This is a touring route that is more a lattice – of paths, trails and tracks, snaking across the countryside from ancient market towns to quaint villages. Some of these paths are best on two feet, strolling around Bath’s cobbled streets perhaps, or rambling across the green rolling hills of the Cotswolds, England’s largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Others could have been made for cycling - the towpaths alongside the canals from the Thames to the Bristol Channel for example, or the mountain biking trails that wind through the ancient trees of the Savernake Forest. (Find your trail in Discover Your Path, p29.) Then there are the waterways. There is the River Thames, home to some of the best stretches of water for rowing in the country, not to mention the Henley Royal Regatta, an annual festival of rowing races that brings London society to the river’s banks, Champagne glass in hand. There is also the Devizes Locks, one of the greatest challenges in English narrowboating – 28 locks up (or down!) one very steep
hill. Spend the day tackling that, or get in training for the annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race, when canoeists of all abilities paddle their way from the Wiltshire market town to London. (Discover your next water adventure in Your Way on the Water, p21.) Rather ride the rails? The Great Western Railway runs from London Paddington to Bristol, a modern railway still following the route of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s pioneering line. Brunel designed it to be the longest, most level and broadest railway in Britain, but travellers simply called it the ‘holiday line’, climbing aboard in their thousands to chug out to the coast and countryside for their holidays. (Read more about Brunel in Riding the Rails, p24.) Climb aboard in London and in under an hour you can be in Windsor, poking your head into the rooms and galleries of the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – said to be the Queen’s favourite residence. (Enjoy more Aristocratic Acres, p36.) Spend 90 minutes on board and you could be in Bath, taking the waters at the thermal baths first discovered by the Romans and strolling along Georgian streets, where every building is fashioned from Bath stone and glows the same shade of honey. It pays to take your time travelling along the Great West Way, walking, cycling or narrowboating through the countryside, but it is also possible to drive (plan your route, with Classic Car Tours, p51.) Take a car and you’ll find yourself on one of the first major highways to be built in England, once called the Great Bath Road, and route of the world’s first mail coach service, which ran from London to Bristol from 1784. Along the way you’ll find old coaching inns serving hearty English meals such as fish and chips and Sunday roast, washed down with local real ale – from Wadworth Brewery in Devizes perhaps (see Drink Like a Local, p54.) →
“A corridor that runs through the very soul of England”
Pictured above (then in a clockwise direction): Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle; Tea and cake at a coffee shop in Castle Combe; pretty Wiltshire village of Milton Lilbourne and a smiling florist in Bristol
Pictured left-right: Gardens and woodland at Stourhead, Wiltshire; Hampton Court Palace; The Roman Baths; Calne and the Marden river; Trowbridge, Wiltshire’s county town
This route, now the A4, remains a major highway, bringing you to Bristol from the heart of London in just a few hours. And what an exciting city Bristol is. Innovative, forward thinking and vibrant, this western powerhouse has long been at the cutting edge; a major port that is home to both Brunel’s SS Great Britain passenger ship, today a museum, and his lofty Clifton Suspension Bridge. Bristol is a hotbed of artists and passionate locals, with street art and many independent galleries found in the city. Cycling is popular in Bristol too. With cycle paths on most major roads as well as along rivers and into the countryside it is no wonder Bristol was named as the UK’s first ‘cycling city’. So why not let two wheels take you into the city’s secret corners, where you might find an early Banksy (there’s an app for that) or a yet-to-be-discovered fashion designer, musician or artist displaying their creations? However you choose to travel, the web of trails and tracks that make up the Great West Way mean you can meander off the major routes and find your own favourite slice of England. You might find it in Marlborough, home to one of the country’s widest and grandest high streets, lined with boutiques and cafés; or Malmesbury, England’s oldest borough with a stunning 12th Century Abbey and a Market Cross from 1490. Take time out to enjoy the shopping destinations too, from the iconic Jolly’s in Bath, one of the oldest department stores in Europe to the Oracle shopping centre in Reading, a hub for visitors throughout the Thames Valley. (Enjoy more Shopping Destinations,
p62.) Or at the prehistoric and deeply mysterious Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe, which covers some five acres, reaches about 130 feet high and has no discernible purpose (read more in Nature in High Definition, p41.) Wherever you choose to stay (see A Warm Welcome, p68) you’ll find friendly family-run hotels and boutique B&Bs. Perhaps five-star grandeur at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, proud to describe themselves as “the only landmark building in the world you can sleep in”, located in the historic centre of Bath is for you, or check in to Whatley Manor in the heart of the Cotswolds and cosy up to watch a film in the cinema or immerse yourself in tranquillity at their wonderful Aquarias Spa. Like gardens? Call in to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, home to the world’s most extensive and diverse plant collection. Here in London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site you can stroll through an arboretum that is like a living library of more than 14,000 trees and step into a rainforest in the Victorian-era Palm House, a stunning glass structure that shelters endangered and otherwise-extinct tropical tree species. Seven miles further south in East Molesey, you will find the magnificent royal splendour of Hampton Court Palace, the home of Henry VIII, his wives and children. Walk in the footsteps of kings and queens at the Chapel Royal, experience the splendour of the Great Hall, and lose yourself in the spectacular 60 acres of formal gardens with over 8,000 trees and Britain’s longest flower-filled border. Summer is a
fabulous time to wander in the rose garden, see fruit and vegetables growing in the kitchen garden as they were for 18th century kings. There’s also the world’s largest grape vine planted in 1768 and still producing black grapes, which you can buy from onsite shops from early September. From the 19th century, wind your way along the Great West Way further and you’ll wind the clock back too. In Wiltshire you’ll find many pretty towns and villages to explore. Stroll through the beautiful park in Trowbridge, the county town, and saunter past the independent shops, well-known High Street outlets and a multitude of cafés, pubs and restaurants. There are also a number of convenientlyplaced hotels in Trowbridge which could make a great base for your Great West Way journey. Calne is another great historic town from which you can discover the timeless wonders of Wiltshire - and also the place where the traditional English technique of curing ham and bacon – the Wiltshire Cure - was invented by the Harris family. There’s also Lacock Abbey, a Tudor family home that started life as an abbey and nunnery in the 13th century. You’ll almost certainly recognise the medieval cloisters here – from Wolf Hall or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – then step outside and into a film set. The ridiculously picturesque village of Lacock is the darling of TV producers. Look up and you’ll see why the British TV networks love Lacock – or, rather, you won’t, as it’s the lack of TV aerials and phone cables that have made this National Trust
village the perfect backdrop for everything from Pride and Prejudice to Cranford. (Discover Great West Way places you can step on set in As Seen On Screen, p33.) Travel further back in time and further west again, into Roman Britain and the well-preserved baths of Bath. See the original Roman bathing pool surrounded by gorgeous 18th and 19th century buildings at The Roman Baths, and don’t miss taking a dip yourself, at the modern Thermae Bath Spa. Here the rooftop pool sends curls of steam up above the skyline of this elegant Georgian city and where you can rest your arms on the side of the pool, look up through the heat haze and stare straight at the Victorian Gothic Bath Abbey, the work of another great English architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott. It may only be 125 miles from London to Bristol but the Great West Way can take you all the way back to prehistoric. At Avebury you can touch the ancient standing stones of Britain’s largest stone circle, part of a sacred landscape that dates back to around 2850BCE. There are some 42 remaining stones here, each one weathered and wizened into a different shape. And then of course, there is Stonehenge. This masterpiece of ancient engineering is one of the icons of England, and part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site as Avebury. (Discover more heritage in Marvellous Museums, p59.) This may be one of the planet’s most important ancient sites but it’s just one small part of England’s story, and of your journey on the Great West Way. It’s time to head out there and to start making your own memories.
HERITAGE MEETS HIP
From London, the UK’s capital, to Bristol, one of the country’s hippest cities, and with many more characterful villages and plenty of lush, green landscapes between. Arts and creativity along the Great West Way are diverse and fascinating at every turn Words: Robyn Powell
ARVING A CREATIVE CORRIDOR across Britain, the route encompasses sites of artistic innovation, some old and some new, but all steeped in Britain’s creative heritage. London’s art scene has been well documented and, for centuries, writers, painters and composers have gathered here. At the other end of the Great West Way, Bristol and Bath are home to some of the grandest neoclassical architecture in Britain. The oldest continually-functioning theatre in the English-speaking world is the Bristol Old
Vic and yet this is also the hometown of Banksy, the anonymous graffiti artist whose internationally renowned work grew out of the local underground scene. The city now hosts Upfest, a festival of street art, and some of Banksy’s best street art has been combined into a self-guided walking tour of the city. Between these two urban ‘poles’ are countless artistic gems, waiting to be unearthed or rediscovered. We can only offer a small selection to whet your appetite. Before leaving London, a must-do for lovers of the
Pictured this page: Bristol Docks Pictured opposite page: The Mild Mild West mural by graffiti artist Banksy
60’s pop music revolution is a visit to the new Eel Pie Island Museum, in Twickenham, where the area’s creative connection with superstars like Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart is brilliantly celebrated. Moving westwards, the village of Cookham has been commemorated by the visionary artist Stanley Spencer (1891–1959) whose paintings interpreted the whole world through the prism of his birthplace. Spencer referred to Cookham as “a village in Heaven” and in his biblical scenes, fellow-villagers are shown as their Gospel counterparts. Spencer was a unique talent in Britain and feted around the world. His works continued to be influenced by the landscape in which he grew up and lived. Today if you visit Cookham you can view his paintings at the Stanley Spencer Gallery and see nearby the landscape where he imagined the resurrection and Christ carrying the cross through Jerusalem. Nearby, at Pangbourne, is
the ultra-hip Modern Artists’ Gallery, where works of contemporary art are on permanent display, for viewing or purchase. The area around Reading and Bracknell has become ‘home’ for today’s high-tech creators, finding digital solutions for industry as well as fast-moving computer games for leisure time. While in the town, take time to tour the Abbey Galleries and relax among the ruins of Reading Abbey, founded in 1121 by King Henry I and site of his (as yet undiscovered) burial-place. Oscar Wilde enthusiasts may prefer the opportunity of a tour around that literary giant’s temporary residence, at Reading Prison. A short detour to the south is rewarded by the remarkable Watts Gallery - Artists’ Village, near Guildford, where a moving experience of the passions of some of Victorian England’s most influential artists, painters and sculptors awaits. Head west to Newbury for the altogether different vibe at Arlington Arts, a centre →
“The area around Reading and Bracknell has become ‘home’ for today’s high-tech creators”
for aspiring artists to present their talent, whether creative or performing. Opened by KT Tunstall in 2006, it attracts growing numbers of aspiring musicians and painters, all eager to impress. Out in the English countryside some of the oldest art in Britain is to be found carved into the ancient chalk hills of Wiltshire. The famous White Horses can be seen from many miles away because the grass around the huge chalk incisions is regularly cut, weeds removed and the images cleaned. In a small area between Marlborough and Devizes are a collection of six examples, near Marlborough, Hackpen, Cherhill, Alton Barnes, Pewsey and Devizes. Were they originally pagan symbols or tribal markings to say this was the territory of the White Horse people? We can’t know why they were created but the impact of their highly-stylised designs is unforgettably dramatic and surprisingly modern. West of Devizes, Lacock Abbey is another example of how British creativity continues to evolve. Parts of the medieval complex were incorporated into a grand manor house and, in the 19th century, it became the home of one of the pioneers of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot. The immaculately-conserved village of Lacock is also associated with one of the most successful British artistic ventures of modern times. A number of scenes in the first two Harry Potter film series were shot at the abbey, its cloisters and side rooms transformed into the classrooms at Hogwarts School. Harry’s discovery of the Mirror of Erised was also shot at Lacock, and a house in the nearby village was chosen as the cottage where Harry’s mother Lily was
“Corsham brings together artworks, theatre, film and dance”
Pictured left-right: An artist at Bristol’s Upfest street art and graffiti festival; and Parkside House, Corsham High Street
killed by Voldemort. As if to shake off the ancient and adopt the modern, the nearby country town of Corsham hosts another modern arts hub, The Pound Arts Centre, bringing together artworks, theatre, film and dance. The exquisite city of Bath, whose roots are firmly in the age of the Roman invasion, became a haven for society folk wishing to escape London in the 18th/19th centuries and the UNESCO-listed architecture is breathtakingly beautiful. The National Trust’s Bath Assembly Rooms were often frequented by author Jane Austen during her highlyproductive years in the city. They are now home to Bath Fashion Museum which holds a world-class collection of contemporary and historic dress. For US visitors, the American Museum and Gardens is an irresistible draw, housing the only dedicated collection of American decorative artefacts outside the United States, and located in Sydney Pleasure Gardens is The Holburne Museum, home to fine and decorative arts. The short hop to Bristol takes you to another world. Formerly a great port city and industrial centre, Bristol has been revitalised and its two universities ensure that the creative engine will never stop turning. Among many ventures, we recommend Spike Island, a public art space, near the docks, hosting the workshops of more than 70 contemporary artists, providing workspace for budding designers and wallspace on which to exhibit. Heritage and Hip go hand in hand in contemporary Britain.
Discover how Brunel's innovations shaped our world. ssgreatbritain.org
THE LEGENDS WHO LIVED HERE
Quietly enriching the lives of passers-by for 150 years, we take a look at some of the plaques along the Great West Way linking the people of the past with the buildings of the present Words: Gareth Herincx
Pictured Freddie Mercury blue plaque with Brian May ©English Heritage
HE IDEA OF ERECTING “memorial tablets” was first proposed by William Ewart MP in the House of Commons in 1863 to mark the homes and workplaces of famous people. The first person honoured was poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) in 1867 with a blue plaque commemorating his birthplace at 24 Holles Street, Cavendish Square, London. There are now more than 900 plaques across London, plus hundreds of others across the UK, though they are not always round and blue or sanctioned by English Heritage. Follow the Great West Way from London to Bristol and you’ll find a fascinating cross section of society reflected in the plaques. A tour of them all would provide enough material for a book, so here we’ve chosen a combination of significant and quirky examples - from a Hollywood legend
to the world’s most famous dog. Our journey into the past takes us out of the central London hotspot for plaques (where some properties have two each) to 40 Sandycombe Road, Twickenham - a house designed by artist J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851). He’s thought to have lived there with his father between 1812 and 1826. Back then it was surrounded by countryside, now it’s hemmed in on all sides by London suburbia. West of Twickenham in the London Borough of Hounslow you’ll find the town of Feltham. It’s here at 22 Gladstone Avenue, TW14, that 17-year-old Freddie Mercury (19461991) settled with his parents after emigrating from Zanzibar in 1964. The Queen frontman was living in the modest semidetached home when he met two other members of the
“Caversham’s award-winning pub, the Fox & Hounds is where (in 1960) Paul McCartney and John Lennon played their only gig as The Nerk Twins just before they formed The Beatles.”
band - Brian May and Roger Taylor - and the rest is history. Staying with music, composer Edward Elgar (18571934) is best associated with the Malvern Hills which inspired many of his most popular compositions. However, he was also a regular visitor to Berkshire, and often stayed and composed - most notably his renowned Cello Concerto - at a mansion in Monkey Island Lane, Bray, Maidenhead. The house was later named Long White Cloud (the Maori name for New Zealand) by a more recent resident, Formula One legend Stirling Moss. You’ll find the pretty village of Cookham three miles north of Maidenhead, once home to Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), author of The Wind in the Willows. He lived with his grandmother at The Mount in Cookham Dean and it’s generally accepted that the river scenes in the children’s classic were inspired by the stretch between Cookham and Henley with Winter Hill above it. Just over 10 miles further west, you will find Caversham’s award-winning pub, The Fox & Hounds where (in 1960) Paul McCartney and John Lennon played their only gig as The Nerk Twins just before they formed The Beatles. The blue plaque is on the wall just before you step inside - where it is also said the pair worked behind the bar on occasion, where at the time Paul’s cousin ran the pub. Blue plaques don’t just celebrate the great and the good - buildings can get the star treatment too. Travel a little further west to Thatcham in Berkshire and you’ll find a plaque outside another pub - The Kings Head in the Broadway, commemorating where Britain’s first mail coach changed horses at the old coaching inn between Bristol and London on August 3, 1784. Up until then, it took two to three days for post to travel from London to Bristol, but the stage coach system cut this down to just over 16 hours by dividing the route into stages with fresh horses at each stop. Head west from Thatcham to the market town of Newbury. Best known for its racecourse, there’s also a large plaque commemorating renowned civil engineer John Rennie (1761-1821) and Newbury Lock - the first to be built on the Kennet & Avon Canal. →
Pictured left-below: British Olympic gold medal winner Ed McKeever’s gold-painted postbox; Hollywood movie legend Cary Grant and Actress Diana Dors Blue Plaque
The Scot was the brains behind the completion of the canal, and its network of locks, which opened in 1810 and meant that goods could be transported between London and Bristol rather than by the often hazardous sea route. Cross the border into Oxfordshire, close to the White Horse at Uffington, and you’ll find Garrard’s Farmhouse where poet John Betjeman (1906-1984) lived with his wife Penelope between 1934 and 1945. Knighted in 1969 and appointed Poet Laureate in 1972, lines from his short poem, Uffington, were set into the floor at London St Pancras station (which he helped save) - “Imprisoned in a cage of sound/ Even the trivial seems profound”. The great diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) is most associated with the City of London, but he travelled widely, hence a blue plaque in Marlborough, Wiltshire. He stayed for a night with his wife at the Hart Inn in 1688 after a tour of the West Country. The inn no longer exists, but a plaque can be found on the north side of the High Street next to a doorway. He wrote: “Before night, come to Marlborough, and lay at the Hart; a good house, and a pretty fair town for a street or two...” The London to Bristol route via Bath through Wiltshire, was described by Pepys as one of England’s finest coaching routes. You’ll find the town of Swindon about 12 miles from Marlborough. Home to the “Magic Roundabout” (which features five mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central, anticlockwise roundabout), it was also the birthplace of actress Diana Dors, who was seen as the British Marilyn Monroe back in the 1950s. Born Diana Mary Fluck, she died in 1984 aged 52 and a blue plaque celebrating her can be seen at 61 and 62 Kent Road SN1 - once the Haven Nursing Home. The market town of Chippenham is 10 minutes west of Swindon by train. Before you leave the station, walk over to a nondescript single-storey building in the forecourt where you’ll see a plaque commemorating Isambard Kingdom Brunel - the creator of the Great Western line. The building, which is still in use today, was Brunel’s site office and its styling echoes the original 1841 station. There’s also a fascinating footnote to the history of rock’n’roll in Chippenham because it was here that American star Eddie Cochran (1938-1960) was killed when the taxi carrying him from a show in Bristol crashed en route to London. Popular and hugely influential among fellow musicians, his hits included Summertime Blues and C’mon Everybody. His plaque at Rowden Hill (the scene of the accident), is mounted on three stone steps, each inscribed with lyrics from his posthumous UK No 1 - Three Steps To Heaven. Head west by road via the A4 and you’ll come to the picture postcard town of Bradford on Avon – home to British Olympic gold medal winner Ed McKeever. The 35-year-old won the men’s 200m (K-1 200m) kayak sprint 18
“Nipper featured on hundreds of millions of records produced by the His Master’s Voice label for more than a century.” at the London 2012 games and the Royal Mail marked his achievement with a special stamp and a gold-painted postbox which can still be seen in The Shambles. A 10-minute train ride takes you from Bradford on Avon to Bath which was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Writer Jane Austen (1775-1817) is arguably Bath’s best known former resident, though she only lived in the city from 1801 to 1806. It did, however, provide the inspiration for Northanger Abbey. You can see her bronze plaque at 4 Sydney Place. There’s another bronze plaque a short walk away at 19 New King Street honouring astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822). Born in Hanover, he migrated to Britain at the age of 19 and was later joined by his sister Caroline (1750–1848) - also a noted astronomer. It was from this house, using a telescope of his own design, that he discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. Their former home is now the site of the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. The last leg of our Great West Way blue plaque tour takes us to Bristol where Hollywood movie legend Cary Grant (1904-1986) was born Archibald Alec Leach. The star of North by Northwest and To Catch a Thief is celebrated in the biennial Cary Grant Comes Home Festival in Bristol and his blue plaque can be found at 15 Hughenden Road where he was born. Finally, we celebrate one of the most recognised dogs in the world. Known as the HMV dog, Nipper the terrier cross was painted sitting with his ear to a wind-up gramophone and featured on hundreds of millions of records produced by the His Master’s Voice label for more than a century. Head to the corner of Park Row and Woodland Road BS1 to see a blue plaque devoted to Nipper (1884-1895) and his master Mark Berraud.
Pictured this page: Wootton Rivers Lock, Kennet & Avon Canal Pictured opposite page: Flight of Devizes Locks at Caen Hill
YOUR WAY ON THE WATER
Like messing about in boats? The Great West Way offers dozens of opportunities to do just that, from captaining a narrowboat yourself to pushing out by canoe Words: Helen Ochyra
We hope you will enjoy our selection of 10 of the best ways to explore the Great West Way by water:
CRUISE TO HENRY VIII’S HOME îClimb aboard one of Thames River Boats’ vessels at Kew and you’ll cruise past the glorious gardens before sailing around a bend in the river to encounter some of West London’s finest vistas, from the picture-postcard pubs of Richmond to the grand 17th-century mansion of Ham House and Garden. The cruise finishes at Hampton Court Palace, once home to notorious monarch Henry VIII. TEST YOUR METTLE AT CAEN HILL îThe 28 Devizes Locks form one of the greatest challenges in English boating. Here you’ll rise 72 metres (237ft) in just two miles, pushing open and pulling shut 28 sets of heavy wooden lock gates to travel uphill to the market town of Devizes. Fortunately you’re unlikely to be alone – this is a busy stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal and help is often at hand.
RELAX ON A NARROWBOAT CRUISE îDon’t fancy driving a narrowboat yourself? Take one of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust’s tours instead, climbing aboard the Barbara McLellan at Bradford on Avon wharf for a slow cruise along a bucolic stretch of the canal. The bow is open for enjoying the view and there’s a licensed bar. SAIL INTO WIND IN THE WILLOWS îCheck out the riverbanks that inspired Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows on a two hour tour of the Thames from Reading with Salters Steamers. Cruise through four traditional locks, passing Sonning and its famous bridge, before arriving at Henley, where you could visit the Wind in the Willows exhibition at the River & Rowing Museum. HOP ON BOARD THE MATTHEW îCruise along Bristol’s old dock cranes in this fabulous and faithful reconstruction of the boat used by John Cabot when he discovered Newfoundland in 1497, and enjoy all the water activity that makes Bristol one of Europe’s most interesting maritime cities. →
Pictured above left & right: Avoncliff village, the point at which the Kennet and Avon canal crosses the river and railway line via the Avoncliff Aqueduct; and Kennet and Avon canal at Burbage Wharf.
6 One of the Great West Way’s many charms is that it can be entirely navigated on water, via the River Thames and the Kennet & Avon Canal.
CANOE THE KENNET & AVON îThe beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal is one of many waterways cared for by the Canal & River Trust. Get closer to its water by hiring a Canadian canoe from Towpath Trail in Bradford on Avon and pushing out into the waters of the canal under nothing but your own muscle power. Paddle eastward to Seend Cleeve and you can moor up at the canalside Cross Guns at Avoncliff for a proper pub lunch before making the return journey.
HIRE A BOAT IN HENLEY îHobbs of Henley provides a variety of ways to enjoy the Royal River Thames from public cruises or self-drive and chauffeur-driven days out, to its newest boats, luxury Linnsen self-drive cruisers, the only ones for hire in the UK. Charter by the weekend or the week. SEE BRUNEL’S WORK FROM THE WATER îIsambard Kingdom Brunel is one of the most ingenious engineers the world has even seen. Check out two of his most incredible achievements, stepping aboard Brunel’s SS Great Britain before joining a cruise along Avon Gorge with Bristol Ferry Boats for jaw-dropping views of the dramatic gorge and the chance to sail beneath Clifton Suspension Bridge. TAKE A DEVIZES BOAT TRIP îSail out on the wide beam Kenavon Venture boat from The Wharf Devizes with the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and enjoy a relaxing two hour trip and cream tea. There’s also their Bruce Branch Boats division offering affordable canal holidays to disabled, disadvantaged or older people. JOIN HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA îEvery July the Thameside town of Henley hosts the world’s most famous regatta, Henley Royal Regatta. Take a seat in the Regatta Enclosure to watch the races or book a trip with Thames Rivercruise to sail along the course and get close to the action. The Henley River and Rowing Museum is also worth a visit – it tells the story of the Thames and the history of rowing.
Take your time on the Kennet & Avon Canal
The beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal (or K&A as it’s known) flows along 87 miles of the Great West Way®. From Bath to Reading, it winds through quintessential rolling Wiltshire hills, bustling towns and even a World Heritage Site. Since 1810, narrowboats have drifted along at four miles an hour, plying their trade from Bristol to London. Today, you’ll find a mixture of holiday and live-aboard boaters, all seeking the calm and tranquillity that comes from life on or by the water. In fact, research by the Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after the K&A, suggests spending time next to water is good for your wellbeing. So take a wander along the towpath, paddle away on a canoe, jump aboard a boat trip, or simply stop, stare and take it all in. The K&A is free and open for everyone to use and enjoy every day.
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RIDING THE RAILS
Travel the Great Western Railway line, designed and built by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel from 1836, to visit the spectacular sights and landmarks along the Great West Way Words: Jeremy Forsyth
NE OF ENGLAND’S GREAT long-distance railway lines, the Great Western Railway (or GWR), is perhaps Brunel’s most enduring legacy and many of the attractions described in this magazine are easily accessed from its stations. The railway west from the capital, sometimes nicknamed “Brunel’s billiard table”, provides a leisurely opportunity to enjoy the delightful sights along the route, via Taplow and Maidenhead to Reading. The ‘northern’ track goes to Bristol through bucolic Pangbourne and the railway town of Swindon while that to the south takes in Newbury, Bradford on Avon and Bath. Choose your destination and take your pick! Incidentally, the Malmaison hotel in Reading, also designed by Brunel, was one of a chain, originally built to accommodate the vast number of passengers taking advantage of the railway to explore places to the west of London. Isambard Kingdom Brunel has often been described as “the little man in the big hat”. However he was in fact a daring British engineer whose work is commemorated to this day throughout the nation, particularly on the Great Western Railway. In 1833, at the age of 27, he was appointed chief engineer of the newly formed GWR. Brunel personally surveyed the route from London to Bristol, and further on to Exeter, and planned a passenger-friendly line that involved few inclines and no sharp curves. Bridges over rivers, viaducts over valleys, and tunnels through hills were constructed. His two mile GWR Box Tunnel, near Chippenham, was the longest in the world when it was completed in 1841 and, when the two teams of tunnellers met in the middle, they were only 1¼“ out of line. The elegant entrances to the tunnel, built of Bath stone quarried at nearby Corsham, have both been listed as national monuments. Railway
enthusiasts, of all ages, will feel the lure of STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway, in Swindon, housed in one of the original engine ‘sheds’ telling the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the GWR. You can see famous locomotives, drive a steam train simulator and even work the signals in the restored signal box. Brunel was a typically energetic Victorian, working up to 18 hours a day, often sleeping in his office. He believed that there was no challenge he couldn’t meet. His engineering solutions were often radical, and frequently graceful, even if not all of them came to fruition. His construction of the Great Western Railway, including the bridge over the Thames at Maidenhead, Bristol docks, and the three biggest steamships in the world were part of an integrated masterplan that would take passengers from London to Bristol by train and then straight over to the United States in transatlantic steamers. SS Great Britain was the first steam powered screw propeller ship to cross the Atlantic. Originally the largest passenger ship in the world on her completion in 1845, Brunel’s masterpiece is now restored and displayed in Bristol Docks. Brunel’s other less well-known ships are the Great Western and the Great Eastern. The former was the longest ship in the world at the time and proved the viability of commercial transoceanic steamship travel. The Great Eastern became a pioneering oceanic telegraph cable-laying ship. The newly-opened ‘Being Brunel’ exhibition, at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, explores the great engineer’s multifaceted character and is full of facts about his extraordinary life and legacy. Maybe he was compensating for only being five feet tall but no one in Victorian Britain thought as big as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. →
“Brunel’s engineering solutions were often radical, and frequently graceful”
Pictured above left (then in a clockwise direction): Brunel’s Box Tunnel on the Great Western Main Line between Bath and Chippenham; Couple riding the rails on Great West Way journey; Commemorative plaque at Clifton Suspension Bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel; and Great Western Railway at Westbury
“The railway west from the capital provides a leisurely opportunity to enjoy the delightful sights along the route.”
He was born near Portsmouth, where his father, Marc Isambard Brunel, was working on a project for the Royal Navy. In 1841, Marc Brunel was knighted for successfully designing the world’s first passenger tunnel under a navigable river, and The Brunel Museum, Thames Tunnel, at Rotherhithe, celebrates the life and work of both father and son. Isambard worked with him on that project from the age of 20 as his father’s on-site engineer. To see the tunnel shaft today, connecting Rotherhithe and Wapping, visit the Brunel Museum, or take Brunel’s London Tour, with London Walks, which includes a train ride through the tunnel. The Thames Tunnel was a risky venture and on two occasions young Isambard was lucky not to have been killed when the workings collapsed and flooded. After the second of these narrow escapes, Isambard was sent to recuperate in Bristol and while there heard about a competition to build what would become the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Brunel came up with a design that was daringly simple, two vast stone columns on either side of the Avon to be linked by a metal bridge suspended between the columns. When involved in a project, nothing escaped Brunel’s attention, and he loved a challenge. Not even Marc Brunel thought it was possible for a suspension bridge to span 194 metres (the received wisdom was that 176 metres was the maximum). His idea was eventually adopted by the bridge committee because its simplicity also meant it was the cheapest option - providing it worked. For reasons of financial and civil turbulence the suspension bridge was only completed 33 years later,
in 1864. This was five years after Brunel’s death, but it ‘worked’ and is fully in operation today. Railway bridges that Brunel designed include the graceful Maidenhead Bridge over the Thames in Berkshire, still carrying mainline trains in and out of London. In all, Brunel designed 1,000 miles of track in Britain as well as major stations including London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads. We can see Brunel’s influence in many places along the Great West Way, from Paddington all the way to Bristol. A statue of him, seated and (for once) actually holding, rather than wearing, his famous stovepipe hat stands inside Paddington Station. But Brunel’s most enduring triumph remains the railway line he built. With it, Isambard Kingdom Brunel proved railways did not have to spoil the countryside they passed through. He had a radical impact on the English countryside but it was an impact that opened up new vistas, making the sight of a train crossing a viaduct, entering a tunnel or passing along the riverside something inherently picturesque. For details of ticket options, including ‘PlusBus’ and ‘Discoverer’, please visit gwr.com
Pictured above to below: Clifton Suspension Bridge and couple waiting to board the Great Western Railway.
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© National Trust 2019 . Registered charity, No. 205846. © National Trust Images \Alana Wright.
Moments Momentsto to remember remember
A GLORIOUS STAY IN THE COTSWOLDS
Enjoy a stay and fabulous dining at Lords of the Manor in the magnificent Cotswolds. Immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the countryside while taking in the sensational scenery around the hotel and local area with the River Eye meandering through our grounds and
the ancient and unspoilt picturesque village of Upper Slaughter. A stay at our beautiful hotel will allow you to indulge in everything the Cotswolds has to offer, from timeless scenery and rolling rural countryside to the enchanting sights of picturesque villages like Chipping
Campden, Broadway Tower, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water and Bibury. There are also countless natural attractions to enjoy including Batsford Arboretum, Cotswold Farm Park, Sudley Castle, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens and many more!
LORDSOFTHEMANOR.COM | 01451 820243
Pictured: Cherhill Downs with Cherhill White Horse in the background
DISCOVER YOUR PATH
Explore the land around the Great West Way under your own steam, either on foot or bicycle. Soak up sights and sounds easily missed when speeding west by train or car and discover treasures off the beaten track Words: Diana Woolf
ROM ANCIENT TRAILS to disused railways, there’s a path for all tastes and all energy levels. While some people might like to walk the whole 125 miles from London to Bristol in one single trip, (would recommend at least 6 days!) most will prefer to take their time, and to choose their own path, absorbing the sights as they go and taking advantage of the many rewarding watering-holes and charming resting-places to be experienced. Throughout the Great West Way, there are choices and options of both routes and daily destinations. Armed with a good map (and strong legs), you can roam the countryside, making your own memories in this idyllic land and free to go/stop as you please. Leaving London, the temptation to hurry westward is to be resisted as the opportunity to follow the 50+ miles of Thames Path from Putney to Reading should not be missed, if schedules permit. Taking in such beauties as the magnificent expanse of Richmond Park, the royal palaces
of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle, Henley, Eton and delightful riverside villages, the path leads to the Kennet & Avon Canal and thence, 87-miles away, the city of Bristol. Our suggestions of good places to break this leg of the journey would be The Swan, at Staines, pet-friendly and with great dining, and The Great House or The French Horn, both at Sonning. The easily-negotiated canal/river towpath ends at Bath, from where the 13-mile Bristol-Bath Railway Path, following the route of the old Midland Railway, leads to the destination. For those who like to take things easy, there are plenty of stopping points along this section as some of the old stations are still open; you can get a snack at the Warmley Waiting Room and there’s also a café at Bitton Station. The Railway Path is part of the larger National Cycle Network and links up with National Route 4 which starts in London and makes its way along the Thames and then eventually cross-country to Bath. →
The rural charm of the touring route, including 3 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, makes it a picturesque destination for any walking or cycling tour
As well as passing through some lovely rural scenery, the path takes in some fascinating reminders of England’s industrial past including the extraordinary Devizes Locks, (as featured on page 21) a flight of 28 separate locks, and the longest continuous flight of broad locks. First opened in 1810 and now a scheduled ancient monument. This, then, is certainly the most direct route but misses much of the wonders to be found, away from the waterway and track. Natural beauty, prehistoric marvels and marvellous wayside halts lie in wait for those who choose adventure. A favourite, ancient path is the Ridgeway, starting at Ivinghoe Beacon and joining the Great West Way at the North Wessex Downs, it is certainly one of England’s oldest, used by travellers for at least 5000 years. Accessed at pretty Goring, a little further along the Thames Path from Reading, it’s an 87-mile long path running across the heart of the Great West Way. From the North Chilterns, the path wends its way southwest across the hills to join the North Wessex Downs, finishing at mysterious Silbury Hill, west of Marlborough and just a few miles north of the Kennet & Avon river, close to another ‘white horse’ on Hackpen Hill. It passes through some of our most
lovely countryside and, as it keeps to the high ground – historically less wooded and drier than the surrounding valleys, so easier to travel – it gives walkers a chance to enjoy some spectacular views. A particularly interesting section runs from Wantage to Swindon, across the famous, in the horse-racing world, Lambourn Downs. Legend has it that Dragon Hill is where St George killed the dragon -– there’s no grass on top of the hill as supposedly the dragon’s spilt blood killed it all. You will get a perfect view of the Uffington White Horse, a prehistoric shape carved into the chalky hillside, as well as the site of the Iron Age hill-fort, Uffington Castle, built around 2600 years ago. Nearby, too, is the Neolithic burial mound at Wayland’s Smithy. Legend has it a pagan god had his blacksmith’s forge in the burial chamber and he would shoe your horse if you left it, and a suitable payment, overnight. As it is a country path, you will not pass through villages or towns and careful planning is required. In view of the distances involved, you might consider resting near Goring, Wantage and Swindon. Take a good look at Royal Oak at Yattendon, Queens Arms at East Garston and Helen Browning’s Royal Oak, Wiltshire – you will not be disappointed. Once you are
Pictured both pages: Cherhill Downs
back on the A4 at Avebury, you will likely be ready for another break and the Old Forge at East Kennett, on the very banks of the River Kennet, could not be better placed. If you don’t fancy the towpath challenge, a 10-mile hike/ride will bring you to Chippenham and public transport will speed you on your way. The Cotswolds Way is another of England’s long distance trails and its lower reaches are easily accessible from the Great West Way. It starts in the lovely city of Bath and then runs north along the Cotswold escarpment for 102 miles towards the Midlands. A good day’s effort would take you past Bath Racecourse and the monument to Sir Bevil Grenville’s 1643 heroics in the English Civil War towards the opulent country estate of Dyrham Park. Stop for refreshment (or stay the night) at the Crown Inn at Dyrham. Further along this trail, and a short detour to the east, you could find Malmesbury a vibrant market town steeped in history. Here you can enjoy river walks along the River Avon which winds around the town, or stay in England’s oldest hotel, The Old Bell. Wherever you go, by whichever route and whatever form of transport floats your boat, you’ll be assured of a warm welcome along the Great West Way, with something new and fascinating to discover at every turn.
Make memories in Marlow
Situated along the new 125 mile touring route Great West Way, the charming and characterful town of Marlow awaits you. Welcomed by the iconic suspension bridge spanning the River Thames, soak up the idyllic riverside by boat or on foot, mooch about the boutique high street shops, enjoy impressive, award-winning food and drink or explore the quintessential English villages that lie on the doorstep…
Explore the Marlow Midsomer Murders Locations Trail Follow the local discovery trail based on locations used in the popular TV detective series Midsomer Murders in and around Marlow and the picturesque Hambleden Valley. The 17-mile trail starts in the historic market town of Marlow and you will very quickly find yourself immersed in scenes from Midsomer Murders. Following the trail you can sample local beer and wine, taste fine food, spend the night in a filming location and walk the Chiltern Hills of Midsomer. Download a copy from:
Group enquiries: email@example.com quote ref. GWW19
Come and discover Wiltshire’s hidden treasure Just 8 miles from Bath on the A4, 4 miles from the M4 (J17), or 3 miles from Chippenham Station.
IMAGE CREDIT: MAMMOTH MEDIA
History, heritage, arts and crafts, great places to eat and drink and lots of independent shops – plus Poldark was filmed here too.
AS SEEN ON SCREEN
Whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter, Downton Abbey or the British Royal Family, there are plenty of places you might just recognise, as you step on set! Words: Rebecca Lowe
Pictured: Highclere Castle, also known as Downton Abbey, Hampshire
HE GREAT WEST WAY is quintessentially English, so it’s no surprise that many of its cities, villages and castles have appeared on screen. While the BBC have made good use of Lacock village, Bath and Bristol have both starred in global hits and the castles of Highclere and Windsor are familiar to millions. We hope you enjoy our pick of the best locations to visit.
GREAT WEST WAY - THE MOVIE îHighclere Castle and Downton Abbey
With Downton Abbey The Movie being released on 13 September 2019 (North America on 20 September) there’s no better time to visit Highclere Castle, in Hampshire, perhaps better known as Downton Abbey - the family
home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Visitors can step inside the Great Hall - backdrop to much of Mary and Matthew’s romance - and the Dining Room - scene of many a family drama and plenty of acerbic comments from the Dowager Countess. Production for the movie also took place in the picturesque villages of Lacock, Wiltshire and Brampton in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. îQueen Square, Bristol and Sherlock Holmes Start your action adventure tour in Bristol, where this gorgeous central square was featured in Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. A balcony here was used for Emilia Ricoletti’s shoot-out before she died; later the square morphed into the exterior of the Diogenes Club. →
Did you know? Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world
Pictured top-left (then in a clockwise direction): The Royal Crescent, Bath; Windsor Castle, Windsor; Castle Combe; Queen Square, Bristol
îRoyal Crescent, Bath and Vanity Fair Reese Witherspoon spent some time in Bath filming the 2004 film Vanity Fair. The movie was adapted from William Makepeace Thackeray’s nineteenth century novel of the same name and used the city’s beautiful Georgian architecture to full effect. Scenes were shot in Beauford Square behind the Theatre Royal, in the grand boulevard of Great Pulteney Street and at the sweeping Royal Crescent, a glorious semicircle of 30 golden-hued stone terraced houses. îCastle Combe and Spielberg’s War Horse This chocolate box Wiltshire village is most famous on screen for its appearance in Spielberg’s War Horse, when its main street was transformed into a Devon village whose men were heading off to war. The village’s fourteenth century market cross was bedecked in banners encouraging the locals to enlist. îCorsham and Poldark Most famously, Corsham provided a backdrop for the filming of the drama series Poldark. This pretty market town in west Wiltshire is also seen in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Larkrise to Candleford and The Remains of the Day. îMarlow, Hambleden valley and Midsomer Murders A self-guided Midsomer trail through Marlow and the Hambleden valley is new for 2019. Covering 17 miles, this exciting trail starts and ends in Marlow, taking you through the villages of Frieth, Lane End, Bolter End, Fingest and the Hambleden valley where you will find yourself immersed in scenes from Midsomer Murders! îLacock and Cranford and Harry Potter There are no phone lines or telegraph poles in this National Trust village, making it perfect for historical TV series such as the BBC classics Cranford - when it stood in for Knutsford in Cheshire - and Pride and Prejudice, when it appeared as Meryton. The main street here has also been used in Downton Abbey and Lacock Abbey was the location of several scenes in the Harry Potter films. îWindsor Castle and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding Not all Great West Way sites to have appeared on screen have done so in fiction. Windsor Castle was seen on millions of TV screens around the world in 2018 when it hosted the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
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A journey along the Great West Way takes the traveller past some of England’s most spectacular palaces and historic houses Words: Diana Woolf
BOWOOD HOUSE & GARDENS, WILTSHIRE
here are over 30 National Trust properties alone along the Great West Way route. Many we have already mentioned, such as Cliveden, Mompesson House, Montacute House and Runnymede, the site of the sealing of the Magna Carta, to name but a few. Almost before you leave London, you pass the royal palaces at Kew, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle, the oldest occupied castle in the world. Then further west, as the countryside opens up and the landscape is scattered with an array of stately homes, two further castles, Highclere and Berkeley. Many of these properties are still owned by the aristocratic families who first built them. We hope you feel inspired by our selection of those you must visit.
Bowood House, famed for its gardens, is owned by the Marquis of Lansdowne. Be enchanted by the herbaceous borders and the Italianate terrace gardens with their formal beds and fountains, and don’t miss the 30-acre Woodland Walk, with massed beds of rhododendrons. The park at Bowood designed by ‘Capability’ Brown is another highlight, featuring expanses of lawn and picturesque groups of trees sweeping down to a gently curving artificial lake, it is a quintessentially English landscape. Inside the house, which is open to the public from 30 March – 3 November 2019, there is an unusual stately home laboratory. This is because it was here that Joseph Priestley, while working as the family tutor, discovered oxygen in 1774. You can visit the state rooms, library and chapel as well as the Orangery designed by Robert Adam in the 1760s, and the room he originally created as a small zoo which is now a sculpture gallery.
STONOR PARK, SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE
Stonor Park is one of the longest lived-in family homes in England, owned by the Stonor family for over 850 years. Located near Henley, Stonor is a beautiful place to visit, especially if you are staying east of the Great West Way route. The historic building and sweeping grounds are breathtaking and inside there is a fascinating family collection of art and artefacts. Open to visitors between April-September and at Christmas, (gardens are open AprilOctober), you can view the work of St. Edmund Campion, created when he was given refuge there in 1581, and outside sits their oldest resident, a perfectly preserved prehistoric stone circle.
Home of the Marquess of Bath, Longleat House is one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in England, and since 1580, up until today, has been owned by 16 generations of the Thynn family. The House is open to the public throughout most of the year. Inside this 450-year-old treasure trove, you will find the original Elizabethan Great Hall, the spectacular Grand Staircase, the impressive Saloon stretching 90 feet long with exquisite Flemish tapestries, beautiful antique furniture and a staggering collection of more than 40,000 books. In total there are 15 breathtaking rooms, together with stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped grounds. Famously known for establishing the first drive-through safari park outside of Africa in 1966, home to, amongst other animals, majestic lions, a troop of mischievous macaque monkeys, a pack of grey wolves plus, the only animal collection in Europe to exhibit southern koalas (from 29 March 2019).
BERKELEY CASTLE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE
Just half an hour north of Bristol, Berkeley Castle makes an excellent day out for stays based west of the Great West Way route. Another impressive history, having been lived in by the same family for nearly 900 years, it is the longest lived-in family fortress in England. Surrounded by eight acres of landscaped gardens, including Queen Elizabeth I’s bowling green and the 8th Earl’s swimming pool, now an ornamental lily pond with plume fountain. Explore the Norman Keep complete with the cell in which King Edward II was held captive and reputedly murdered. Walk through medieval kitchens and the imposing Great Hall and marvel at the elegant State Apartments. See magnificent furniture, rare paintings by English and Dutch Masters, Elizabethan tapestries and the world famous Berkeley silver. There are free guided tours, a Tropical Butterfly House, a host of seasonal events and you could even stay overnight in their characterful 9 bedroom town house located on the estate. →
IFORD MANOR GARDENS, BRADFORD ON AVON
MOMPESSON HOUSE, WILTSHIRE
For garden-lovers, a perfect day out on your Great West Way journey could be the wonderful Iford Manor Gardens, close to Bath and the idyllic Frome River valley. Here you can dreamily wander around 2.5 acres of historic gardens that sit at the heart of the Grade I listed grounds designed by Harold Peto during his tenure at Iford from 1899-1933. Explore freely getting lost amongst the colonnades, pools and steps, as you enjoy the magnificent rural views over the valley. The garden contains many steep, narrow and uneven paths, as well as long flights of steps without handrails very much part of the garden’s charm and design.
Imagine you are living in the 18th century as you walk down the graceful oak staircase, perch on a window seat and admire the wonderful plasterwork of this quintessential Queen Anne townhouse, situated inside Salisbury’s historic Cathedral Close. All of the interiors are decorated as they might have been in the 1700s, except the library which is 1950s - and you might recognise it too, as Mompesson House was used as the set for Mrs Jennings’ London townhouse in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility. The house, garden, shop and tea-room are open to visitors from 9 March until 3 November.
GREAT CHALFIELD MANOR, WILTSHIRE
BLENHEIM PALACE, OXFORDSHIRE
As well as these aristocratic superstars, there are many smaller historic houses dotted along the Great West Way. Great Chalfield Manor is a late medieval manor house, built by the self-made Thomas Tropenell to proclaim his arrival into the landed gentry. He gave his new house all the necessary mod cons of the day including a gate house, moat, great hall and fashionable oriel windows, features which can still be seen, as the house has hardly been touched since his time. This relative neglect accounts for the house’s gentle charm and explains why it’s a popular film location: the BBC series Poldark and Wolf Hall were both filmed here.
A short detour off the route and you’ll find Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage Site near Oxford. A vast confection of pinnacles, pilasters and porticos built in golden stone, owned by the 12th Duke of Marlborough. Sarah, the notoriously difficult wife of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, took charge of the building project, and managed to fall out with the architect John Vanbrugh and with the queen herself. However in spite of the rows, Sarah oversaw the creation of one of England’s finest Baroque palaces which includes the magnificent state rooms with their painted ceilings glorifying John Churchill.
Berkeley Castle A jewel in the crown of British history
Only half an hour north of Bristol, and 10 minutes from junctions 13 & 14 of the M5
Berkeley Castle is unique; it has been lived in by the same family for nearly 900 years, longer than any other fortress in England. Now a comfortable family home, this Norman castle welcomes visitors from all over the world, interested to find out more about its celebrated and colourful history.
The Castle and Gardens are open Sunday – Wednesday, 1st April – end of October Easter – open every day from Friday 19th April – Monday 22nd April Tropical Butterfly House open Sunday – Wednesday from May until the end of October
Immerse yourself in the life and experiences of a 17th Century wealthy Silk Merchant with our guides At the Merchantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s House Marlborough
132 High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1HN firstname.lastname@example.org 01672 511491 www.themerchantshouse.co.uk
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NATURE IN HIGH DEFINITION
From the roaming deer in Richmond Park to whole areas of outstanding beauty amid rolling hills and green valleys, the Great West Way is one of the very best examples of England’s stunning countryside Words: Emma Johnson
Words: Emma Johnson
Pictured: Poppy fields in early morning sunshine on the Marlborough Downs, Wiltshire
NATURE’S OWN MARVELS
The surrounding countryside of the Great West Way includes three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the Chilterns, the Cotswolds and the North Wessex Downs. AONBs are vast stretches of countryside that have been designated for conservation due to their significant landscape value. The Chilterns are the closest to London, stretching from the River Thames in southern Oxfordshire up through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. A living, working area of countryside, nearly two thirds of it is given over to farmland, while a fifth of it is woodland. The chalk rock underlying the Chilterns gives it its distinctive hillsides of velvety chalk downland.
Further south, you come to the North Wessex Downs, which stretch across West Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. They are home to Avebury as well as numerous other historic sites of importance, including eight white horses – carved out of chalk into the hillside and visible from miles around; Whitchurch Silk Mill – the oldest working silk mill in the UK still in its original building; and the now iconic Highclere Castle, the setting for Downtown Abbey. Finally, further west and the route takes in the beautiful rolling hills of the South Cotswolds, home to the Slad Valley, made famous by Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie, whose hills glow golden as the sun sets. The Cotswolds is England’s largest designated AONB, and is famous for mile upon →
Pictured left to right: Fallow deer roam the parkland at Dyrham Park, near Bath; Corsham Court Peacocks; The Palladian Bridge at 18th-century landscape garden Prior Park, Bath; and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
mile of rolling hills and quaint villages built in honey-coloured stone – including Bibury, Broadway and Lower and Upper Slaughter. If it is a countryside getaway you are after then this area of the Great West Way is the perfect place to stay over for a night, or three. It is within easy access of some of the best attractions and most idyllic destinations along the route, and there are many beautiful hotels and traditional bed and breakfast style accommodation to choose from. If you do decide on a break in the Cotswolds be sure to take a look at Compass Holidays, specialists in walking, cycling and activities in the area, and also visit Cotswolds.com, the official Cotswolds tourist information website for all the latest information. The Cotswolds are also home to the beautiful Westonbirt, The National Arboretum with dozens of designated “champion trees”, the largest or tallest of their kind in Britain, and an impressive Treetop Walkway which runs through the tree canopy for 300 metres, providing a totally different look at the forest, from a unique vantage point. Autumn is the most special time here, when hundreds of Japanese maples transform into a host of stunning colours, turning Westonbirt into a red, orange, russet and yellow wonderland. Elsewhere, there is beauty to be found in the most diverse of places – from dazzling carpets of bluebells at West Woods just outside Marlborough to nothing but silence in the designated Silent Space at Prior Park Landscape Garden in Bath. In Bristol you will find 4,500 plant species from over 200 plant families at the University of Bristol Botanic Garden, or you can simply enjoy the amazing sight of thousands of rare orchids at Hartslock Nature Reserve near Goring-on-Thames, south Oxfordshire.
Nothing starts your day quite so wonderfully as watching the sunrise with hundreds of free-roaming deer in Richmond Park. Watch as the morning mist clears to reveal a lush green expanse, rich with ancient trees and views of London in the far distance. Deer have roamed 42
freely in this royal park since the seventeenth century and it’s easy to get close to the herd here. Autumn is rutting season, when the stags might be seen clashing antlers, while May to July is your best chance of seeing tiny fawns, skittering alongside their mothers. You can also enjoy free-roaming deer at the striking Ashton Court Estate, near Bristol, a fine country mansion in 850 acres of woodland and pasture; and the spectacular Dyrham Park, near Bath, where fallow deer roam around a 17th-century Baroque mansion, set in 274 acres of lush parkland. Not too far away, the lush expanses and rolling hills of the Marlborough Downs offer beautiful views and a feeling of total peace and escape. They are frequented by hundreds of native birds, including the rare corn bunting, coupled with grazing sheep and a carpet of wild flowers - harebells, cowslips and orchids amongst them. Part of the expansive Downs includes Savernake Forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to its rare lichens and fungi. Here, you’ll not only find some of the most ancient and intriguingly named oak trees – Bumble Oak, Cathedral Oak and the famous Big Belly Oak – but nightjars, woodpeckers, crossbills, nightingales, numerous owls, buzzards, kestrels and red kites – and plenty of native Red and Roe deer. Further south west, it’s worth taking a stroll around to try and spot Corsham’s free-roaming peacocks, who are famous for strutting down the pretty town’s high street. And don’t miss the rich host of wildlife in marshland at Jones’s Mill Nature Reserve in the Pewsey Vale in the wonderful North Wessex Downs. Previously used as water meadows to encourage the growing of crops, this protected area is now home to kingfishers - a striking flash of blue and orange as they dart about the river - as well as water voles, dragonflies, water shrews, snipes and herons. Heading back towards London, make sure to add the beautiful Chilterns to one of your stops, so you can spot stunning red kites soaring across the sky from October to April, and beautiful butterflies flitting about wildflowers in the rare chalk grasslands throughout the summer months.
PROTECTED AND CELEBRATED
Some of England’s most famous and important heritage sites are situated just off the Great West Way, and there is none more impressive and beguiling than the entire World Heritage Site that is home to Stonehenge – an ancient and important prehistoric monument that continues to fascinate visitors to this day. Historians are still pondering both how the stones got there and why, and its mystery remains a vital part of its appeal, which sees it attract over one million visitors a year. It is really worth exploring the whole World Heritage Site, and not just focusing on Stonehenge as there as so many hidden gems to seek out and discover. You can also marvel at the ancient origins of the standing stones in Avebury, a Neolithic monument containing three stone circles, including the largest megalithic stone circle in the world, with a village built inside the stone surrounds. In addition, don’t miss Silbury Hill – a man-made chalk mound whose specific origins remain a mystery, and West Kennet Long Barrow, a Neolithic tomb, situated on a prominent chalk ridge, near Silbury Hill. The extensive and ancient history of this entire place continues to reveal its secrets, even in modern times, and remains one of the most fascinating of English sites for archaeologists and visitors alike. Stonehenge and Avebury are both part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site, an honour shared by two other sites easily accessible from the Great West Way. The entire city of Bath is one, a striking example of beautiful Georgian architecture, whose impressive crescents and cobbled streets feel both ancient and timeless. The incredible Roman Baths, the UK’s only natural hot springs, situated in the heart of the city, soothed aching muscles for over 2000 years and now feed the open-air rooftop pool at Bath’s Thermae Bath Spa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is also a World Heritage Site, created in 1759, and boasting 330 acres of important landscape, several striking botanical glasshouses – including the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world and four Grade I listed buildings. Home to the largest and
most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world, it boasts 30,000 different kinds of plants, some of which are extinct in the wild and an extensive arboretum of 14,000 trees, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in Britain. Its newest addition is a unique 17m-high honeycomb structure called The Hive, which takes you inside the world of honeybees using 900 LED lights and the sound of 40,000 bees. All along the Great West Way you’ll find plenty of houses, parks, gardens and other places to visit. English Heritage sites and buildings are designated as important monuments to English history and are protected from development or unapproved work, so visitors are ensured an authentic and unspoilt journey back into the past. Highlights nearby include Apsley House, the Duke of Wellington’s former home; Donnington Castle, an impressive 14th century twin-towered gatehouse; Bratton Camp, an Iron Age hillfort complete with one of the area’s distinctive white horses, a giant 17th century chalk carving of a horse, a major landmark and visible from miles around; and Harmondsworth Barn, a Grade I listed medieval barn near London, which ranks alongside the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey for its exceptional architectural and historic interest. If walking in nature, exploring the roads and paths less travelled, finding hidden gems and a host of native wildlife is your idea of the perfect short break, then why not plan a walking road trip down the Great West Way over the course of several days? There are a host of fantastic accommodation options along the route, from bed and breakfasts in quintessential villages and rental options in quaint cottages, to luxury hotels in grand houses. You can find everything you need at GreatWestWay.co.uk/stay
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Here are just a few amazing moments you will only find on the Great West Way Words: Rebecca Lowe
Pictured: Rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa, Bath
BEST FOR ROMANCE îGet an out-of-hours visit by booking the Stone Circle
Access visit at Stonehenge and rising early to be inside the stone circle before it opens to the public. You still can’t touch the stones, but you will get some great pictures of them. îSoak in the UK’s only natural hot springs at Thermae Bath Spa – home to a rooftop al fresco pool with views over the city’s ancient rooftops. You might want to upgrade your experience by booking exclusive use of The Cross Bath, a more intimate open-air thermal bath, located just across the street from Thermae Bath Spa.
îFor the ultimate in romantic experiences take a (Bailey) Balloon flight and fly high above Bristol and Bath. îSip Champagne while enjoying Afternoon Tea, one where homemade scones and cakes star and the tea itself is endless. Most five-star hotels do a great one, including Whatley Manor, The Langley and The Royal Crescent. îEnjoy an al fresco theatre performance under the stars at Dyrham Park. An enchanting, fast-paced production, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the open air on two summer evenings (2-3 August 2019). Booking is essential. → GreatWestWay.co.uk
GREAT FOR HERITAGE îClimb the mighty ramparts for views over the
îVisit the super-elite school that educated Princes William and Harry – as well as 19 British Wiltshire plains and imagine the once thriving town Prime Ministers - with a tour of Eton College, of Old Sarum. Stand in the footprint of Salisbury’s including the School Yard and College Chapel. original cathedral, conquer the royal castle which îHaggle for antiques in Hungerford, a stood high on the motte, and discover the picturesque Berkshire town. Head to Hungerford awe-inspiring Iron Age hill fort where it all began. Arcade Antiques, home to more than 100 dealers Unearth over 2,000 years of history and find out how the Romans, Normans and Saxons have all left in everything from jewellery to pottery. their mark on this impressive landscape. îVisit Reading Abbey, the ruined medieval church which Henry I spent the equivalent of half a billion îIn a country renowned for its industrial pounds on building before being buried there. heritage, none is more exciting or glamorous than Concorde, the iconic supersonic passenger îSalisbury Cathedral just 9 miles from Stonehenge jet that was a testament to British (and French) has Britain’s tallest spire, and best preserved engineering. At Aerospace Bristol, the site that original Magna Carta, or still within easy reach built every British Concorde ever made, visitors of the route is Wells Cathedral, the first English can climb on board the last one built. Cathedral built entirely in the new Gothic Style.
Pictured above left (then in a clockwise direction): Old Sarum, Salisbury; Sign in Eton; Cheddar Gorge & Caves; Beckford’s Tower; Castle Combe Circuit; SS Great Britain; Salisbury Cathedral; and British Concorde at Aerospace Bristol
BEST FOR ADVENTURE îFor thrill seekers, flying down mountain biking
trails that weave through ancient woodland in Swinley Forest is sure to get your adrenaline going! The 13km Red route is not for the faint-hearted – expect jumps, drops and twists all the way! îFor the ultimate experience take a tandem 13000ft skydive with military instructors from Skydive Netheravon! From the thrill and anticipation of your first jump, right through to the exhilaration for those who take it to the extreme with Wingsuit flying, this sport has it all. îIf heights are your thing then you’ll love the experience of climbing the rigging of Victorian ship, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, reaching heights of more than 25 metres above Bristol harbour! If you’re feeling really brave you can even walk out along the main yard. îMix heights with beauty by learning the ropes on a rock climbing lesson at the high limestone cliffs of Avon Gorge. There are 750 climbing routes here, some of them so physically and mentally challenging that they’ve only been climbed once. îTake in the wonderful view of the Great West Way from the skies while soaring like a bird above the Wiltshire Downs on a paragliding lesson. îClimbing a 120-foot Neoclassical tower built for Europe’s wealthiest man at Beckford’s Tower just outside Bath is an experience you won’t forget!
îSee Bath’s beautiful cityscape from a different angle by taking to the water on a stand up paddleboard with Original Wild - they will teach you how to gain your balance and paddle before leading you on a unique tour of the city. Or see the exciting waterways of Bristol Harbourside with an expert SUP Bristol instructor to show you the ropes. It’s no wonder stand up paddleboarding is the UK’s fastest growing watersport. îPeer down from steep cliffs into England’s largest gorge before descending beneath this dramatic landscape on a caving adventure at Cheddar Gorge & Caves. îGo wild swimming in the Thames at Cock Marsh near Cookham, where you’ll find sandy beaches to paddle out from and clear, clean waters. îFor motor enthusiasts it doesn’t get much better than taking the wheel of a Formula Ford 1600 or Lotus Elise on a lap of Castle Combe Circuit race track. →
BEST FOR ANIMAL LOVERS îMeeting some very mischievous monkeys at
Longleat – as you drive through their habitat expect them to clamber onto your car (you can always bypass them if you prefer to). îStepping behind the scenes in a daring, hands-on Lion Feeding Experience at Bristol Zoo Gardens! Help prepare the lions’ meat before heading over to their enclosure and being introduced to these majestic animals. Then steady your heartbeat and get ready to hand-feed a lion with only the enclosure railings between you. îTaking a day out to visit the giraffes, lions, rhinos and more at Cotswold Wildlife Park - or meeting the adorable Aldabra Giant Tortoises with one of their 30 minute animal encounter experiences.
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GREAT FOR SPORT
îBetting on the horses at Ascot and Newbury
Racecourses, which have racedays year-round. îEnjoying an immersive Archery Experience in Somerset with Hood Archery. Travel around the world and through time, under the guidance of different historic characters, until you are fully trained and ready to save the world! îSeeing what’s biting in the Kennet & Avon Canal – home to some of England’s most bankable angling spots. Fishing is permitted along much of the towpath here, but two of the best places for a bumper catch are Bathampton near Bath and Hungerford in Berkshire. Contact the local angling association for a permit.
îHaving a go at clay pigeon shooting in the grounds of Donnington Grove in Berkshire. îWatching a professional rugby match or taking a tour of Twickenham Stadium (also home to The World Rugby Museum). Or you could visit other Rugby Premiership teams including Harlequins, Bath and Bristol - also on the Great West Way. 48
Pictured top left to Bottom Right: Children having fun with rainbow lorikeets, Longleat Safari Park; monkeys at Longleat Safari Park; Rhinos at Cotswold Wildlife Park; and a lion at Cotswold Wildlife Park
îTaking a dip al fresco at an outdoor lido. There’s Thames Lido in Kings Meadow, Reading, a beautiful Edwardian swimming baths offering non-members swimming sessions every weekday from 1-4pm. The same company operate Bristol Lido in Clifton, Bristol, which dates from the Victorian era, and has been reborn as a gorgeous 24-metre outdoor pool, complete with adjacent restaurant. îSeeing the cave where two giants, Goram and Ghyston, are said to have once made their home. You can walk to this small cave overlooking Avon Gorge in Bristol from the Observatory above it, through a tunnel carved in the nineteenth century by artist William West. îLearning how stop animation works in Bristol, home to Aardman Animations, the Academy Award winning studio who brought the world Wallace and Gromit. We The Curious science centre is home to Animate It! where you can meet your favourite Aardman characters, draw your own and create stop frame animations.
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NEW for 2019! Classic Motorcycle Race Weekend Sat 6th/Sun 7th April Howards Day Mon 22nd April May Day Madness Race Day Mon 6th May Combe Challenge Race Day Mon 27th May The Big Race Weekend Sat 6th-Sun 7th July Combe Countdown Race Day Mon 26th August Motorcycle Grand National Race Weekend Sat 31st August/Sun 1st September Grand Finals Race Day Sat 14th September Autumn Classic Sat 5th October
Spring Performance Action Day Sat 30th March Pure Ford Sat 27th May JDM Combe Sat 1st June Summer Action Festival Sat 22nd June German Performance Day Sat 13th July Forge Motorsport Action Day Sat 7th September Mini Action Day Sat 28th September Action Day Finale Sat 12th October
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CLASSIC CAR TOURS
Salisbury Plain, the Mendips and the Ridgeway, take in the views and pretty villages, and soak up the laid-back lifestyle Words: Gareth Henrincx
Pictured: Vintage Classics car drives through pretty Wiltshire Cotswolds village
FINDING YOUR JOURNEY
THE GREAT WEST WAY meanders from London to Bristol via historic towns and villages, country estates, canals, castles and vibrant cities. As highlighted within our magazine articles so far, travelling the 125-mile journey can be enjoyed in a number of ways, on the water, railway lines, countryside footpaths, and by road. Taking to explore the route by car is a great way in finding the undiscovered, and exploring the Great West Way in your own time, and under your own steam. To help inspire your journey, and set you on your way, we’ve chosen three routes with a mix of entertaining roads snaking through the countryside either side of the Great West Way, all boasting history, culture and amazing sightseeing. It is easy by road to stray off the Great West
Way too, taking a detour north for example towards the Cotswolds, where there are yet more picture postcard villages and wonders of the world to discover.
BRISTOL TO WELLS îA blend of tight, twisty roads and open countryside with a stop-off at Britain’s highest, inland limestone cliffs created during the Ice Age... Our first route is recommended as a day out, starting from your Great West Way accommodation, ideally based west of the route, and beginning your journey from Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, one of Brunel’s most spectacular legacies – then heading south, and taking you a short detour off the route, to the medieval splendour of Wells Cathedral in Somerset. Opened to the public on →
Pictured left-right: The beautiful Wells Cathedral; Uffington White Horse; Bath’s Kennet & Avon Canal; Bradford on Avon’s ancient bridge still with two of its original 13th century arches
December 8th, 1864, the bridge spans the spectacular Avon Gorge linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in the North of Somerset. Built to a design by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, (based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel) it’s a Grade I listed building and forms part of the B3129 road (just make sure you have a £1 coin ready for the toll). Enjoy the spectacular views as you cross, then carry on along the B3129 and B3128 towards Clevedon where you might want to enjoy the delights of the only Grade I listed pier in the country. Described as “the most beautiful pier in England” by poet Sir John Betjeman, it’s celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019. Next, stop off at the National Trust’s Tyntesfield - a gothic Victorian time capsule. From Clevedon take the B3133 towards Yatton, Congresbury and Cheddar Gorge. From its stunning cliffs to its remarkable subterranean stalactite show caves, the gorge was forged some 1.2 million years ago and ‘Cheddar Man’ - Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton - was found in the caves in 1903. If you park up, take the 274-step walk to the Lookout Tower or enjoy the three-mile Clifftop Gorge Walk for awe-inspiring views. The first section of road as you leave Cheddar is the most dramatic, offering incredible views of England’s deepest gorge. The B3135 snakes through rocky outcrops as it climbs away into the Mendips. After a series of tight bends, the road opens so that you can savour the countryside. You’re now in the heart of the Mendips, but don’t miss the Wells Road turning, followed by the Old Bristol Road which will take you into Wells - arguably England’s smallest city. Built between 1175 and 1490, Wells Cathedral has been described as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals” and it’s the earliest English cathedral to be built in the Gothic style. Head to Wells on a Wednesday and Saturday if you want to catch a traditional market. The town is also popular with TV and movie makers - think Wolf Hall and Hot Fuzz.
NEWBURY TO CASTLE COMBE îA gallop past two chalk White Horses and on to a couple of automotive treats… We begin our second route in the Berkshire town of Newbury (turn off Junction 13 of the M4 and head south on the A34, then A329). It’s the perfect base for exploring numerous walking and cycling trails, visiting Highclere Castle, home of TV’s Downton Abbey, or simply spending a day at the races. Head north-west from Newbury, picking up the Lambourn Road at Speen. It slices through the countryside, much of it alongside the River Lambourn, before dipping under the M4 just past Easton. Keep going until you get to Great Shefford, making sure you head east to Lambourn – the heart of the area known as the Valley of the Racehorse, so called because it’s one of the UK’s major racehorse training centres. Watch out for racehorse crossings as you motor towards Ashbury on the B4057, followed by Uffington where you’ll see a 110-metre prehistoric chalk white horse carved into the hillside. Now go north through Hinton Parva, over the M4 and onto the A346 which sweeps towards the village of Wroughton, west of Swindon. From here, go south and onto the A4 westwards, looking out for a sign to our second white horse of the day, at Cherhill - 3.5 miles east of the town of Calne in Wiltshire. Calne is also the home of the small, friendly Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum, exhibiting cars and interesting motoring memorabilia from the 1920’s onwards. The final section of our journey takes us to the historic Castle Combe circuit. Just follow the A4 west. You can also stop off at the picture postcard village of Castle Combe, a favourite TV and film location for productions such as Stardust, War Horse and the original Doctor Dolittle with Rex Harrison in 1966. Castle Combe Circuit was opened just 18 months after Silverstone in the summer of 1950, making it one of the longest established (and fastest) tracks in the UK. Still an active circuit, it’s even possible to test your own car to the limit during special ‘track days’ staged several times a year.
BATH TO BRADFORD ON AVON îA loop up to the Cotswolds, a visit to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum and drive on the ancient Fosse Way… Route three starts in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath. Historic and beautiful with its honey-coloured stone, it’s located within a valley of seven hills. Our journey takes us north out of Bath on the A46. Before you know it, you’ve crossed the border from Somerset and into South Gloucestershire. Stay on the A46 and before crossing over the M4 look out for the village of Pennsylvania, which is said to have been named after the American state by Quakers. There are more intriguingly named villages as we head further up the A46, with its fast stretches of open road. There’s Petty France and the slightly smaller hamlet of Dunkirk - both are believed to have been Huguenot (Protestant) settlements after thousands fled (Catholic) France during the 17th century. Just past Dunkirk we take a right fork onto the A433 for the short drive to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in South Gloucestershire. With 15,000 specimens and 2,500 species of tree from all over the world it’s the perfect place to escape, relax or have an adventure. Soon you’ll be back on the A433 where you need to cross over onto the Tetbury Road towards Sherston. Carry on south, turning off onto a section of the Fosse Way just after Ladyswood. Stretching from Exeter (Isca Dumnoriorum) north-east to Lincoln (Lindum), today’s Fosse Way follows the course of a major Roman Road. Now continue over the M4 through the pretty villages of Yatton Keynell and Biddestone before crossing over the A4 Bath Road and into Corsham. The historic market town is an ideal base for exploring the surrounding area, including the picture postcard villages of Lacock and Castle Combe. Corsham, where some of the hit TV period drama Poldark was filmed, is also home to a number of historic buildings including Corsham Court. The art collection at Corsham Court contains important paintings by such masters as Fra Filippo Lippi, Van Dyck,
Carlo Dolci and Joshua Reynolds. The mirrors and tables in the Picture Gallery were specially designed by Robert Adam, while ‘Capability’ Brown was responsible for the layout of the park and gardens. The 20-minute final leg of the drive takes us on the A4 west, forking off down the B3109 to Bradford on Avon. Occupying a unique position on the edge of the Cotswolds facing the River Avon, Bradford on Avon’s ancient bridge in the centre remains the town’s natural focus and still retains two of its original 13th century arches. Stroll southwards and you can walk along the Kennet & Avon Canal or visit the spectacular Tithe Barn for free. It’s been described by English Heritage as “one of the largest medieval barns in England, and architecturally one of the finest”.
Did you know? You can fly to Bristol from over 60 destinations. Find out all you need to know, including the £7 Airport Flyer Express Link, from GreatWestWay.co.uk/explore/air/from-uk
îDRIVE YOUR DREAM CAR
Fancy driving an E-Type or an Aston Martin or Austin Healey 3000 or perhaps you’ve always hankered after an Audi ur-quattro? Beautiful memories are available to hire. vintage-classics.co.uk
îBOOK A DRIVING EXPERIENCE
The West Country’s home of motorsport Castle Combe Circuit offers a range of driving experiences for different abilities. castlecombecircuit.co.uk
îGENERAL CAR HIRE
Some recognisable brands operating in the region are Avis, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Sixt and Hertz. You can arrange in advance to pick these up at any of the nearby airports. GreatWestWay.co.uk/explore/car-hire
DRINK LIKE A LOCAL
The proud tradition of producing natural alcoholic beverages, good for home consumption but even better taken in your favourite tavern, inn or public house Words: Robin Glover
Pictured left: The Red Lion, East Chisenbury
HE RENAISSANCE OF INTEREST in gin, and its vast variety of fascinating flavours, is well documented and the north Hampshire village of Whitchurch is home to the leader of this upsurge, Bombay Sapphire. Less well-known, but magnetic to all ‘ginnoisseurs’, are small-batch products from 137 at Newbury, Ramsbury at Aldbourne, (north of Marlborough) and the outstanding Bristol Dry Gin. Before the gin revolution came, the heroic, sometimes derided, stand taken by dedicated British beer-drinkers, in the late 20th century, against the major breweries’ policy of phasing out ‘real’ ale in favour of the sterile ‘keg’ imitation. The resounding success of this consumers’
campaign has secured the survival of this uniquely British brew. Not only have the major manufacturers been obliged to maintain production but the increased demand has enabled independent breweries to grow and, with improved technology, low-volume micro-breweries to become commercially viable. You will find a warm welcome at most of these distilleries and breweries, such as the recently established West Berkshire Brewery, in Yattendon, a village to the north-east of Newbury, and world-famous Wadworth Brewery, founded in Devizes in 1852. If you’re lucky, you will have timed your arrival to catch the company’s horse-drawn drays delivering their wares to local hostelries in the town. English wines, too, are gaining
Pictured left: Aldwick Estate Vineyard; Wadworth’s horse-drawn dray delivering its wares Pictured right: The Griffin Inn, Bath
in worldwide popularity and excellent vineries can be found along the route – we suggest you try a’Beckett’s Vineyard at Littleton Panell, near Devizes, Mumfords near Bath, Alder Ridge Vineyard on the edge of Hungerford and Aldwick at Redhill near Bristol. Whether your chosen transport is by car, train, bicycle or canal, along the Great West Way you can discover a handsome choice of top-quality, locally-produced drinks and some of the country’s most perfect pubs in which to enjoy them. There really is a wealth of options – some in quaint, chocolate-box villages, some wayside inns and others in medieval market squares – and we are only scratching at the surface by mentioning just a few of our favourites. You will surely find more! For fabulous food, in an unmatched Thames-side location, visit TV chef, Tom Kerridge’s 2-Michelin-starred Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Bucks, but you must book, and well in advance. Heading westwards, Yattendon is not only the village base of the West Berkshire Brewery where, in the Taproom, you can sample the full range of their excellent ales
but also of the Royal Oak, Yattendon, a pub/restaurant/ hotel which achieves that extraordinary feat of succeeding on all three fronts. The olde-worlde charm of the bar, all beams and open fires (and West Berkshire ales), and the walled garden blend with delicious dining and blissful accommodation. Since the opening of the by-pass around Newbury, this horse-racing, historic town is mercifully free of traffic and able, once again, to charm the tourists. A regular in the Good Pub Guide is The Newbury, a modern, town-centre gastropub in which the food’s high quality is equalled by that of the drinking experience. Venturing ever westwards toward Bristol, the rural landscape welcomes the adventurous traveller, bringing rich rewards. Just off the M4 J14, north of Marlborough, is the splendid Queens Arms, East Garston, an award-winning pub/restaurant/hotel in an idyllic setting. A little further on and the road takes the traveller past two more ‘unmissables’. The first is the The Red Lion, East Chisenbury, a pretty, family-run country gastropub, with five exquisite →
“If you’re lucky, you will have timed your arrival to catch the company’s horse-drawn drays delivering their wares to local hostelries in the town”
bedrooms on the banks of the River Avon and with the accent on hospitality. Just a few miles away, on the edge of Savernake Forest, is the Three Tuns Freehouse at Great Bedwyn, an authentic, village pub by the side of the Kennet & Avon Canal. The Chef/Proprietor is James Wilsey, who is as proud of his dog-friendly garden and drinker-friendly bar as he is of the honest, locally-sourced food on offer. There’s also the nearby Royal Oak at the centre of Wootton Rivers, a beautiful thatched village. Wootton Rivers is on the Kennet and Avon canal, just 10 minutes from the historical market town of Marlborough. Slightly south, and before reaching booming Bristol, we come to the handsome, 16th century inn at Ford, The White Hart, the epitome of a traditional English country pub but with a good restaurant and quality accommodation in case you enjoy the welcome a little too much! Even in the bustling city centres, there are gems waiting to be unearthed. Bath has the wonderful Whisky Shop in its High Street and in Bristol’s reborn waterside is an uber-cool underground bar, already winning awards for its uniquely modern concept. The Beer Emporium lures the adventurous traveller into its vaults to sample a range of craft ales, ciders and wines and to dine, either in the bar or the adjoining ‘Pepenero’ restaurant. There is simply not enough print-space to do more than give you a hint of the pleasures open to the thirsty/hungry/ tired ‘pilgrims’ taking to the Great West Way but we hope we have whetted your appetites with our selections. Whether you are walking, cycling, boating or driving, you will certainly stumble on others, just as good, and wonder at the joys on offer, off the beaten track. Good hunting!
Pictured above: The Royal Oak, Wootton Rivers Pictured left: Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre
STILL THIRSTY? FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DRINKS YOU LOVE
îWADWORTH BREWERY VISITOR CENTRE
Sample the delights and discover the history and heritage of Wadworth Brewery. Featuring a ‘Brewseum’ of Wadworth memorabilia, interactive displays showcasing the traditional brewing methods, a sample bar and fully stocked gift shop.
îBOMBAY SAPPHIRE DISTILLERY
Uncover the secrets of Bombay Sapphire world-famous gin. Behind the doors of this historic distillery, Laverstoke Mill you can unveil the care, skill and artistry behind every drop, from the comfort of a private deck.
îHISTORIC PUBS, MINING & DINING
Experience the best and breadth of quintessential English inns, pubs, food, drink and learn about our intriguing past on this unique experience with Around & About Bath. The 4 hour tour takes you out of Bath and into the local area for an evening of stories, brews and the most amazing fine dining you’ll find anywhere in the Bath region. Escape the crowds, create timeless memories, and immerse yourself in authentic England.
GIN MAKING Explore the magic of gin-making. We are reinstalling an appreciation for gin-making through a fun, hands-on experience. Enjoy tasting, distilling, and creating your very own bespoke gin blend.
The Newbury is an imposing grade II listed gastro pub in the centre of Newbury. It is a multi-award winning venue which prides itself on its exciting British a la carte menu, a great selection of ales, extensive wine list & fabulous service.
Against the backdrop of a renowned collection experience critically acclaimed exhibitions of historical and contemporary art, lectures, concerts, workshops and events or indulge in our Garden Café. George Shaw A Corner of a Foreign Field Édouard Vuillard The Poetry of the Everyday Lauren Child The Art of Illustration Rembrandt A Life in Print Henri Matisse Master of Line
Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB www.holburne.org
The Great West Way takes you past some of England’s finest heritage sites but, tucked away in villages, towns and cities, there are fascinating finds to make your journey even more rewarding Words: Robin Glover
Pictured: The Museum of English Rural Life, Reading
RAVELLERS ALONG the Great West Way, whether driving, cycling, boating or walking, will be granted many opportunities to visit sites of national and international importance. The world is well aware of magnificent Windsor Castle, majestic Salisbury Cathedral, mystical Stonehenge and the Roman Baths in Georgian Bath – and each demands a visit – but may overlook the less well-known. We British are not just a nation of hoarders and collectors anxious to justify the odd fancy, whether it be dolls or aeroplanes, but are also proud of local heritage and keen to put our history on display. Keep a look out for these attractions and prepare to be amazed.
Before leaving behind the Thames-side delights of Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, historic Runnymede, notorious Cliveden and Royal Windsor, seek out the Windsor & Royal Borough Museum, unassuming but full of interesting exhibits illustrating the thousands of years of the settlement’s existence and royal patronage. By contrast, just a few minutes away, at Eton Wick, is an absorbing, privately-owned collection of civilian and military motor vehicles and militaria, The History on Wheels Museum. As a bonus, there’s also an all-encompassing exhibition of Princess Diana memorabilia, painstakingly assembled and, reputedly, second only to the Althorp collection. →
Head a little further upstream and you will come to the Maidenhead Heritage Centre where you can both trace the two thousand years of the town’s history and, unforgettably for enthusiasts of all ages, ‘fly’ in a WWII Spitfire simulator. Although in a less rural setting, the town of Reading has many visitor attractions. Reading Museum, is full of fascinating regional history and artefacts, a 70-metre long, woven replica of the famous Bayeux Tapestry and the Huntley & Palmer exhibition, reflecting on the 150 years of local biscuit manufacture. The Museum of English Rural Life is where agriculture, through the ages, is brilliantly brought to life with interactive exhibits as well as comprehensive displays of implements, machinery and vehicles, and the new Abbey Galleries are a great introduction to exploring the ruins of Reading Abbey and finding out more about Henry I, England’s last ‘unfound’ king. We think there really is ‘something for everyone, of all ages’ in our selection so far, but there are even more, large and small, to consider. In Newbury is the West Berkshire Museum, a treasure trove of information and exhibits illustrating the origins of the county and its people. By contrast, just a few miles further west, in Wiltshire, is a pair of remarkable survivors from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. The Crofton Beam Engines were built over 200 years ago to maintain water-
levels in the nearby Kennet & Avon Canal and, amazingly, those great steam engines are still in working order, doing the job for which they were designed! Negotiating the pretty lanes of the Vale of Pewsey brings the happy traveller to Devizes, home of the independent craft brewers, Wadworth Brewery, and of the county’s Wiltshire Museum, telling the 500,000 years story of the county through its award-winning galleries, exhibits, high-quality graphics and striking reconstructions. In order to maximise their enjoyment, visitors en route to such prehistoric sites as Avebury and Stonehenge are urged to visit this museum first. And in Wiltshire’s county town, one museum to watch for the future is the Trowbridge Museum, offering insight into the rich textile related heritage in the heart of the town. Currently the museum is undergoing a fantastic multi-million pound expansion, which will see the museum double in size for its 2020 re-opening! Moving forward in time, the history of 19th and 20th century steam railways is retold at STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway and, if historic aeroplanes are a ‘must-see’ for you or your children, you need look no further than the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection at Old Sarum, Salisbury, where cockpits are mostly open
Pictured left-right: We The Curious, Bristol; Crofton Beam Engines, with the oldest working steam engines in the world; Jane Austen Centre, Bath; STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway; STEAM Museum pattern shop; and The Merchant’s House, Marlborough
and you can sit in and use the controls. Since its formation in 1942, the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers has been the driving-force of the British Army and the inspiring story of the unit is told at the REME Museum through their collections of armoured vehicles and weaponry and child-friendly interactive displays. When you reach Bristol, be prepared for even more, as Aerospace Bristol houses an awesome collection of aeroplanes and space vehicles spanning the centuries, including the last Concorde to be built and to fly. While in Bristol don’t miss We The Curious on Bristol’s harbourside, with all sorts of different experiences and exhibits for you to interact with, and experiments you can take part in. Our next ports-of-call are altogether more restful, starting at the charming Georgian town of Chippenham, where we are pleased to recommend the Chippenham Museum & Heritage Centre, set in an immaculate 18th century townhouse and relating the story of the town’s
development since the prehistoric era. On the way to the nearby market town of Corsham, a small detour will bring you to the picture-perfect village of Lacock, and National Trust’s Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village. Here, in 1835, William Fox Talbot created the world’s first photographic negative and it is only proper that the Museum of Photography is established here. Pretty Corsham offers two museum ‘treats’, a moving historical experience in the original 17th century Corsham Schoolroom and Almshouse and The Pound Arts Centre, a North Wiltshire hub for the performing and visual arts. The City of Bath, in its entirety, has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status and this modest feature cannot do it full justice. Explore it for yourself, at leisure, and marvel at the splendour and grace of its Georgian beauty. Impressive museums and exhibitions include the imaginative recreations at No. 1 Royal Crescent and the Jane Austen Centre and the superb collection of fine and decorative arts to be viewed at the Grade I listed The Holburne Museum.
“Moving forward in time, the history of 19th and 20th century steam railways is retold at STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway”
With one-of-a-kind independent boutiques, selling antiques, arts and crafts, books, fashion, jewellery and clothing, historic department stores, markets and entire shopping villages, there is an abundance of shopping destinations to be enjoyed Words: Emma Johnson
ERHAPS IT’S DOWN to its history as a main arterial route between the east and west of southern England, flanked partly by the Thames. Or because it wends its way through some of the most beautiful and sought-after English countryside around. Whatever the reason, the Great West Way boasts some of the most wonderful cities, towns and villages for indulging all your retail desires. Whether you want to pick up a few mementos of your trip from local artisans in Marlborough and Windsor, rummage through the antiques shops in Hungerford and Tetbury, or splash out on renowned British brands in Bath and Richmond, shopping along the Great West Way is both diverse and inspiring.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew until early January, with more than a million pretty fairy lights installed along the route and a festive market selling homemade food and gifts.
TOWN AND COUNTRY
From Richmond and Kew, you’ll journey away from the big city and soon find yourself in delightful little towns whose independent shops and boutiques have been steadfastly preserved. A beautiful and historic town, Windsor is also somewhere that prides itself on having a thriving and popular high street. Many important British names, from Jigsaw and Jo Malone to Joules and Hobbs London are here, located in the beautiful Windsor Royal Shopping centre, previously the old station booking hall, and a glorious glass-covered atrium, with numerous shops, restaurants, cafés and bars. Close by, you’ll also find country outfitters Barbour, tailors New & Lingwood (just over the river in neighbouring Eton) and just outside of town, Windsor Farm Shop and Café which sources meat and game from the royal estate, and also sells local honey, craft ales, flowers and fresh produce, as well as royal estate gifts and hampers. Close by, beautiful Henley on Thames is a smart, chic town with a great mix of independent shops and carefully chosen brands. Amidst the likes of classic British homeware brand Laura Ashley, luxury beauty store Space NK and British fashion names Joules, Crew, White Stuff and Whistles, you’ll also find Fluidity - a chic fashion store which recently shot to fame as the store responsible for Prime Minister Theresa May’s eclectic wardrobe; as well
“The Great West Way boasts some of the most wonderful cities, towns and villages for indulging all your retail desires.”
At the beginning of your journey west, make a stop in Richmond, where you can find upcycling and preloved beauties at Mary’s Living and Giving; quirky home décor in Anthropologie; 30th Century Comics, who specialise in back issues of every comic ever made; and The Open Book, an independent bookshop with an amazing range and knowledgeable staff. Richmond also has a Whole Foods Market. And, don’t miss shopping in Kew too, close by and a lovely place to shop, with a number of wonderful galleries, especially those whose artists are inspired by their botanical surroundings. Next to each other, the Marianne North Galley and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art are both well worth a visit. While at Christmas, a showstopping trail of festive light installations runs through
Pictured: Couple enjoy shopping in Windsor
as Way’s Rare & Secondhand Bookshop, nautical fashion emporium Boatique and Italian shoe brand Moda in Pelle. Moving west, you’ll come to Newbury, whose Parkway Shopping complex is a great town centre addition, featuring John Lewis at Home, L’Occitane, Hotel Chocolat and Neal’s Yard Remedies; while in Hungerford you can spend an entire day exploring the Hungerford Antiques Arcade, home to more than 100 antiques dealers – and plenty of weird and wonderful finds. Antiques are also a popular feature in the beautiful market town of Tetbury. Make sure to visit Lorfords, who sell their own range of traditionally upholstered, contemporary sofas/armchairs; Muir Antiques, who mix contemporary design with selected pieces from the 20th century, French decorative antiques and retro; and Brownrigg, based in an impressive Georgian house, spread over three floors dealing in period antique furniture, decorative antiques and painted antiques. A short drive away is Malmesbury, England’s oldest borough, where you’ll find local favourite French Grey Interiors, gift shop Woodcock & Cavendish and the popular cashmere knitwear brand, Sassy & Boo. Don’t miss out on a potter down the high street of market town Marlborough, either - one of the widest high streets in England, with a host of adorable tea shops, as well as interior design shop Susie Watson and modern British art gallery Katharine House Gallery. And, not too far away, in Bradford on Avon, the honeycoloured stone and meandering, cobbled streets are home to the likes of Made In Bradford on Avon, a collective of local artisans’ wares in the old vaults, vintage treasure trove Instant Vintage, gift shop Strawberry Blue and the wonderfully pungent The Cheese Shop.
BATH & BRISTOL
Towards the end of the Great West Way, you’ll pass through both Bath and Bristol, wonderful cities with very different but inspiring shopping scenes. In Bath, celebrate the beauty of the city’s extraordinary architecture, while perusing the likes of Jolly’s – the oldest department store in the UK, and Rossiters of Bath, an independent department store in a wonderful higgeldy piggeldy building. Also, make sure to wander along Pulteney Bridge in Bath. This gorgeous Georgian bridge is one of only four worldwide to have shops lining both sides and is a classical, and retail, masterpiece. From here, take your time exploring the winding Georgian streets in search of the best boutiques and bookshops. Mr B’s Emporium is best for books, Vintage to Vogue is a top destination for vintage fashion, while, when it comes to homewares, you’re spoilt for choice – Found, Graham & Green, OKA, Brissi, The Fig Store and The Loft and Looking Glass of Bath are all inspiring, beautiful shops. The newly launched Bath Gift Card is also a great idea if you’re planning a weekend away here or in search of a unique present. Accepted across the city in over 200 shops, bars, museums and beauty salons, the Mastercard-based card works in the same way as a store gift card, but can be redeemed at a wide range of participating retailers, hotels, restaurants and attractions. (You can buy a pre-loaded card online, bathgiftcard.com or at the Visitor Information Centre, just off Terrace Walk.) In Bristol, Cabot Circus shopping centre remains the perfect destination for contemporary fashions, but for a sense of heritage you can’t beat St Nicholas Market – an award-winning indoor market dating back 275 years. There are a host of independent food stalls, as well as shops →
Pictured above left (then in a clockwise direction): McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon; Clarks Village; and restored Great Western Railway works
selling vintage records, art, handmade knitwear, books, board games and model-making kits. It’s worth setting aside some time to explore the rest of Bristol too, as little shopping enclaves with popular local names are starting to emerge. Park Street, The Arcade and Gloucester Road are the places to head to for second-hand shopping and vintage fashions. We love S8, a popular independent department store on Park Street, and also the Bristol Guild, with a heavy focus on design, it features everything from dining and kitchenware to toys, jewellery and ceramics. The Stokes Croft area includes Gloucester Road, the longest street of independent shops in the UK, which has a trendy, indie feel. Stokes Croft is also where you can see one of Bristol-born artist Banksy’s best pieces. Iota sells homeware and gifts, Fig does interiors, and you can refuel at Joe’s Bakery with some organic, artisan fast food. In Clifton, start at the amazing Clifton Arcade, a veritable rabbit hole of old-world charm, with quirky antiques, vintage fashion and sweet shops. Around Clifton itself, don’t miss the jewellery in Bees & Graves or fashion in Fenice and Grace & Mabel. Also try Focus on the Past for antiques, pick up beautiful stationery at Papersmiths and enjoy organic artisan food at Arch House Deli.
Housed in the beautifully renovated Grade II listed buildings of the Great Western Railway Works, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon is one of the largest covered designer outlets in Europe. With everything from Bose and Jack Wills to Joules and Links of London, it is the perfect place, in a great location to pick up a bargain. As well as many dining options, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon also houses a great selection of cafés including Starbucks, Soho Coffee and Costa. The on-site STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway offers families the chance to learn about the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway and National Trust has its own café and shop. Head south from Bath, a short detour off the Great West Way route, and nestled in the heart of Somerset just one mile from the world famous town of Glastonbury, and you will find your way to Clarks Village where you will discover big brands and hidden gems - all under one roof. Clarks Village is no ordinary designer shopping outlet. It was established in 1993 on the site of old C&J Clark factory buildings and was the UK’s first ever outlet shopping centre to open its doors. Less than 20 minutes from the M5, you will find paved walkways and canopies, award winning landscaped gardens, seasonal flower beds and an amazing array of mature trees. There are more than 90 high street and designer brands, cafés, ‘grab & go’ kiosks and restaurants that continue to offer great value for money to fashion foragers and style seekers. You will find a wonderful emporium of big name brands including Jack Wills, Hobbs, Barbour, Dune London, Jack Wolfskin, Hotel Chocolat, Mint Velvet, Levis, Vans and Joules.
Experience outlet shopping in the heart of Somerset
Up to 60% off every day at over 90 designer and high street brands
Whether you are looking for traditional British classics or experimental cookery to tantalise your taste buds, there has never been a better time to eat out whilst exploring the stunning landscapes of the Great West Way Words: Emma Harrison
FROM FINESSED FINE DINING TO GLORIOUS GASTROPUBS, WE HOPE YOU’LL ENJOY OUR GREAT WEST WAY FOODIE ROUND UP.
THE VINEYARD, STOCKCROSS, BERKSHIRE Not only is The Vineyard a luxury five-star hotel and spa in a quaint country setting in Berkshire, it also has a 30,000-bottle wine cellar and a fine dining restaurant. Head chef Robby Jenks is at the helm of this 3AA Rosette restaurant. Diners can choose from an à la carte or a tasting menu where they can enjoy dishes such as veal sweetbread ravioli with pumpkin seeds in a pumpkin and brown butter sauce or roast brill, brassicas, caper berries and almond. îStockcross, Newbury RG20 8JU THE FAT DUCK, BRAY, BERKSHIRE If you love theatre, Heston Blumenthal’s renowned eatery in Bray offers the perfect destination, serving innovative modern British cuisine in the most spectacular of settings. Heston has previously been described as the ‘Willy Wonka of British gastronomy’ and diners who would like to eat at his three-Michelin-starred wonderland pay £325 up front for a ‘ticket’ - providing them with access to the 17-courses on offer that showcase his multisensory cuisine. îHigh St, Bray SL6 2AQ
CLIVEDEN HOUSE, TAPLOW, BERKSHIRE Cliveden House has always been the place for ‘people in the know’ and since Meghan Markle spent the night before her wedding to Prince Harry there, its star continues to rise. This is largely helped by its varied food offering. Chef André Garrett’s innovative dishes and meticulous preparation and 2 elaborate finishes showcase his exquisitely crafted creation. Produce is locally sourced and is highly seasonal - guests can choose between an à la carte menu or an eight-course tasting menu. îCliveden Rd, Taplow, Berkshire, SL6 0JF
THE WATERSIDE INN, BRAY, BERKSHIRE Bray clearly is the place for foodies to be! The Waterside Inn which is under the leadership of chef patron Alain Roux has held three Michelin stars for over thirty years. Expect the most exquisite Classic French cooking coupled with the most impeccable service. îFerry Rd, Bray, Berkshire SL6 2AT
THE DINING ROOM, MALMESBURY, WILTSHIRE ‘Michelin’s European Young Chef of the Year’ Niall Keating showcases his skills as Executive Chef at this one Michelin star dining room restaurant at Whatley Manor Hotel. Serving seasonal British produce influenced by his worldwide travels. îWhatley Manor Hotel and Spa, Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, SN16 0RB
BELMOND LE MANOIR AUX QUAT’SAISONS, SOUTH OXFORDSHIRE Described as ‘Oxfordshire heritage meets French flair’, Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin-starred chic restaurant has earned itself a global reputation for fine gastronomy and creative cooking. Diners continue to be charmed by both the setting (country-house luxe) and the delicious treats on offer which include the likes of spiced monkfish, ravioli of pumpkin and smoked trout amongst others. îChurch Road, Great Milton, South Oxfordshire, OX44 7PD
THE MILLER OF MANSFIELD, GORING-ON-THAMES, READING Despite its intriguing name, The Miller of Mansfield is situated in the sweet village of Goring-onThames. This 18th-century country pub has been given a contemporary twist and can be defined as ‘Modern European’ which has earned two AA Rosettes and offers refined modern British dishes from the freshest seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients. îHigh Street, Goring, Reading RG8 9AW
THE HARROW AT LITTLE BEDWYN, NR. MARLBOROUGH, WILTSHIRE Owned and run by Sue and Roger Jones, this Michelin Star gem has received worldwide accolades for its food and has also been critically acclaimed for its 900 bin Wine List. Offering three menus, to include an 8 course evening gourmet option, often changed to reflect the best seasonal ingredients. îLittle Bedwyn, Nr. Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 3JP
PONY & TRAP, BRISTOL Run by brother and sister Josh and Holly Eggleton, this Michelin Star pub, with exceptional views of the stunning Chew Valley, offers an ever-changing menu that focuses on fresh produce which is locally sourced. Diners can choose from a tasting menu or from the dinner and lunch menus where they can enjoy dishes such as wood pigeon and ‘day boat’ fish. îMoorledge Rd, Newtown, Chew Magna, BS40 8TQ
THE HAND AND FLOWERS, MARLOW, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE Nestled in the pretty Georgian town of Marlow, The Hand and Flowers is the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars and with celebrated chef Tom Kerridge at the helm it is easy to see why. The restaurant has a rustic feel which is complemented by the refined British cuisine on offer. î126 West St, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 2BP
RED LION FREEHOUSE, EAST CHISENBURY, WILTSHIRE Husband and wife team, Guy and Brittany Manning modestly describe themselves as “just a couple of chefs working to create a place with real soul”. Sourcing from the best possible producers, talent and hard work has earned the duo, and their team, one Michelin star status and a restaurant “where the food has personality, the surroundings are relaxed and the hospitality is warm and sincere”. îEast Chisenbury, Pewsey, Wiltshire, SN9 6AQ
BULRUSH, BRISTOL One of the additions to the recently released Michelin Guide, Bristol-based restaurant Bulrush is certainly on many a foodie’s ‘must visit’ list for 2019. Chef Proprietor George Livesey’s imaginative and wellbalanced menu is chock-full of seasonal ingredients which are either organic or have been foraged. î21 Cotham Rd South, Bristol BS6 5TZ
OLIVE TREE RESTAURANT, BATH Located in the renowned Queensberry Hotel, Olive Tree is a 3 AA Rosette restaurant in the heart of the beautiful city of Bath. It is a contemporary British restaurant offering informal fine dining under the direction of award-winning head chef, Chris Cleghorn. He has recently been awarded a Michelin Star in the 2019 guide and is the only restaurant in the city to be awarded this prestigious honour. Chris’s menu is quintessentially British with Mediterranean influences. î4-7 Russell St, Bath BA1 2QF
QUEENS ARMS, EAST GARSTON, BERKSHIRE Perfectly placed as a stop-over destination to explore on your Great West Way journey, in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, yet only 3 miles from the M4. This award winning, pub, restaurant and hotel (with its own private lodge) serves seasonal British cuisine. îEast Garston, Berkshire, RG17 7ET
G R E AT W E S T WAY H I G H L I G H T
CASAMIA, BRISTOL Casamia is a family run restaurant serving a multi-course tasting menu within an intimate restaurant setting of just nine tables. Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias and his team create dishes which are influenced by the individuality, multicultural and creative vibes of their home city of Bristol. His refined British dishes are served in his stylish restaurant with seasonally changing decor. îThe General, Lower Guinea Street, Bristol BS1 6FU
Savouring Bath (savouringbath.com) offer expert epicurean tours and experiences introducing you to the best of the city’s food and drink scene. Locally based, and passionate foodie guides will introduce you to the top food and drink hot spots and Bath’s hidden gems of yumminess along with some of the city’s famed history, while the food itself remains centre stage.
A WARM WELCOME
Stay overnight, treating yourself to a minibreak and more time to explore the Great West Way. From spas to luxury hotels, manor farms to guest houses, here’s our pick of some of the best places to stay through the seasons Words: Rebecca Lowe
If your New Year’s Resolution is to detox and start afresh, then it’s time to spa! The Great West Way has some of the country’s best and most unique spa hotels, including the Gainsborough Bath Spa, which draws on the city’s natural thermal waters, the only one in the UK; The Langley - a new five-star hotel opening in Buckinghamshire on the former country estate of the third Duke of Marlborough to include a world-class wellness centre, complete with indoor and outdoor pool, thermal area and a fitness suite designed
by trainer to the stars, Matt Roberts; and Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, a country house retreat 6 miles from Bath, with a luxurious and rejuvenating spa surrounded by walled gardens, avenues of beautiful trees and manicured lawns. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Great West Way break, choosing from one of the many romantic hotels, B&Bs or inns along the route. Some top picks are: Roseate Hotels with hotels in London, Bath and Reading, which has been dubbed the UK’s Sexiest Townhouse Hotel. Troutbeck Guest House, just across the road from the Michelin starred
country pub, Red Lion Freehouse, is located in the heart of Wiltshire. Try and get The Benjamin Room, which has its own private entrance, lobby and large deck with views of the River Avon and has a roll-top bath in the bedroom to make the most of those river views. For something a bit different, try a canalboat holiday. Moonraker Canalboats in Wiltshire have luxury, widebeam boats that come complete with king-sized beds, Jacuzzi baths and log burners. If you fancy afternoon tea you are spoilt for choice along the Great West Way. As afternoon tea is as English as Jane Austen, it seems apt to partake in Bath, where Austen famously lived. The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa has a choice of three Afternoon Teas, including a dedicated Children’s Afternoon Tea, all of which are deliciously decadent. Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa is one of the most luxurious places to take tea, whether you choose to be served in the Garden Room, Drawing Room, Reception Hall, or on one of its terraces.
HRH Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting a spring baby. If born in April, the bundle of joy will share a birth month with its Great Grandmother, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, so when better to explore the Great West Way’s royal links? Five star country house hotel Cliveden House in Berkshire was the hotel of choice for Meghan and her mother the night before the royal wedding, or head over to Gloucestershire and Berkeley Castle, where the Barons of the West gathered before setting out to the momentous meeting with King John at Runnymede at which the Magna Carta was sealed.
May is the month to enjoy Britain in bloom, when the country is a riot of colour and nowhere more so than the Great West Way, home to many pretty guest houses and B&Bs with walks and gardens to visit just a short stroll away. Try Manor Farm situated in the small village of Collingbourne Kingston, on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain, forming part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – a traditional farmhouse B&B, alongside their own working arable farm.→
Pictured left: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath Pictured above-right: Grand staircase at Berkeley Castle and bedroom at Whatley Manor Hotel & Spa
Pictured left (then in a clockwise direction): The Lygon Arms Hotel; Woolley Grange Hotel; Abbey Hotel Bath; and The Old Bell Hotel
During the long summer holidays, you can’t get much better than The Lodge at Bristol Zoo Gardens, where overnight visitors can enjoy having the zoo all to themselves, with rooms overlooking the enclosures, free entrance included and optional experiences such as a behind-the-scenes tour, animal feeding experiences and breakfast with the Gorillas. Woolley Grange, a hotel that puts family first, is another great option. As well as its family-friendly spa and playhouses, swings, trampoline, nature garden and pond dipping in the 14-acre grounds, the luxury hotel also offers an Ofsted registered nursery, 2 hours daily free childcare and a Children’s Breakfast Club, where children are collected from their room at 8am and taken for breakfast so parents can go back to bed! If you fancy taking a tour off the Great West Way route to the Cotswolds, there’s many beautiful places to choose from. Some of our favourites include The Lygon Arms, a luxury 16th century coaching inn on Broadway High Street, Cricklade House Hotel located on the Wiltshire edge of the Cotswolds an absolutely ideal venue for a relaxing golfing break, while Lords of the Manor Hotel in the quaint Cotswold village of Upper Slaughter near Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-onthe-Wold offers a truly enchanting getaway.
Cosy up in the pretty Wiltshire town of Calne with a romantic stay in a luxury holiday cottage, come barn conversion, at Buttle Farm. Or stay at the nearby Old Bell Hotel, reputed to be the oldest in the country, dating from 1220 but sympathetically modernised over the passing centuries. Recently refurbished, the intention is to be the best country house hotel in England, albeit in the centre of Malmesbury, and right by the majestic might of its medieval abbey. Meadowbank House B&B located in the lovely village of Liddington, Marlborough is a great option for being close to the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Swindon, which offers up to 60% off over 100 leading brands and hosts an annual Festive Fashion Event (15th November). To enjoy this great season full of festive fun, there are plenty of Christmas Markets from November, including one of the country’s biggest, the award-winning Bath Christmas Market. Consisting of 180 stalls, set amongst Bath’s Georgian streets, the market sells hand-made ceramics, glassware, jewellery and local produce. Located in the historic centre of Bath, is The Abbey Hotel with chalet-style Après-Ski bar!
SCHEDULED WEEKLY TOURS INCLUDE:
‘GUILTY PLEASURES’ A naughty but nice tour of the city!
‘GEORGIAN FARE’ Explore the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath using your taste buds on artisanal food & drink sampling experiences
What our customers say...
Bath’s historical culinary traditions
‘FOOD HEROES’ The people & foods who have put Bath on the culinary map of the UK
“If you’re a foodie there isn’t a better way to spend an afternoon…” “We had so much fantastic food along with lots of laughter!” “Lots of yummy tastings and so interesting to hear from the local traders & producers”
‘PLANTED!’ Our entirely gluten-free & plant-based food sampling tour!
BOOK ONLINE AT SAVOURINGBATH.COM
Sumptuous Afternoon Teas ■ Delicious Sunday Roast ■ New Tapas Menu ■ Fully Refurbished Bar featuring 100+ Whiskies and 50+ Gins ■ New Restaurant and award-winning chef ■ 45 Bedrooms ■ Leisure Facilities including Golf
CRICKLADE HOUSE Common Hill, Cricklade, Wiltshire, SN6 6HA firstname.lastname@example.org, 01793 750751 www.crickladehotel.co.uk
JOIN THE FUN!
From confetti battles to music festivals, canoe races to country shows and big-ticket exhibitions Words: Samantha Rutherford
CALENDAR OF EVENTS APRIL / MAY / JUNE
Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race 20-21 APRIL This is the world’s longest non-stop canoe race, which starts in Devizes, following the Kennet & Avon Canal and joining The Thames, finishing just downstream of Westminster Bridge, opposite the Houses of Parliament, a total distance of some 125 miles. îdwrace.co.uk
Howard’s Day at Castle Castle Combe Circuit 22 APRIL Easter Monday is the traditional start to the motor racing season at Castle Combe Circuit and is marked by this popular race day. îcastlecombecircuit.co.uk The Bath Festival 17-26 MAY Having recently celebrated its 70th birthday, this 10-day festival celebrates music and literature, bringing prominent
writers, musicians and cultural figures to the city. îbathfestivals.org.uk Pub in the Park Marlow 17-19 MAY Still new to the foodie festival scene, Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park has been a sellout in its first 2 years, with people clamouring for tickets to enjoy pop-up pubs and great live music in this stunning riverside park. îpubintheparkuk.com
One of Britain’s most well-known racecourses, Ascot holds a special week of races in June each year, which is attended by The Queen, who has had an interest in horses since childhood.
Highclere Country Show 26-27 MAY The estate better known as Downton Abbey, Highclere hosts one of England’s best country shows, with falconry, gundog displays and the chance to have a go at clay shooting. îhighclerecountryshow.co.uk Afghanistan v Australia – 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, at the Bristol County Ground 1 JUNE Australia launch their title defence
Pictured leftright: Henley on Thames and Horse and Coach at Royal Ascot
against Afghanistan in this crucial match in the Cricket World Cup, taking place at The County Ground in Bristol, one of 11 venues to feature in the 46-day tournament. îIce-cricket.com
the 3km landscaped course designed using natural features with over 30 big obstacles – involving water, foam and of course plenty of MUD! îthelittlewelly.co.uk
The Little Welly Obstacle Course & Festival, Henley on Thames 8-9 JUNE A day at The Little Welly is jam-packed full of fun and crazy experiences. Let your kids Go Wild, Get Muddy and have a great day out. Enjoy tackling
Royal Ascot 18-22 JUNE Arguably England’s most famous – and grandest – horse racing event, with five days of races each kicked off by a royal carriage parade. This is your chance to wave at The Queen and to wear a fabulous hat! →
JULY / AUGUST / SEPTEMBER Henley Royal Regatta 3-7 JULY Established in 1839, this annual regatta attracts rowing crews from around the world to its five days of head to head knockout competitions and is regarded as an integral part of the English social season. îhrr.co.uk Kew the Music 9-14 JULY Kew Gardens hosts six nights of laidback picnic concerts, from big names in every genre of music from pop and rock to classical and jazz. Headliners include Craig David, Beverley Knight and Jools Holland. îkewthemusic.org Bristol Harbour Festival 19-21 JULY Bristol’s largest annual event fills the harbour from the SS Great Britain to the city centre with tall ships, music stages, dance areas and food markets. Expect water displays and circus acts too. îbristolharbourfestival.co.uk Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford 19-21 JULY One of the world’s greatest airshows, fresh from celebrating the centenary of the RAF, will return to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO. Over 300 aircraft typically take part in the flypasts and aerial acrobatics. îairtattoo.com WOMAD, Malmesbury 25-28 JULY Global fiesta of music, dance, art and food that started in Charlton Park, Malmesbury and has since taken the party to more than 27 countries worldwide including Australia, Chile and Spain. îwomad.co.uk
Cinema Rediscovered 25-28 JULY Love cinema? 2019 will be the 4th year of Cinema Rediscovered where great films will be brought back to the big screen in cinemas across Bristol. It’s a chance to experience lesser known cinematic voices, some of the finest digital restorations, contemporary classics and film print rarities from across the globe back where they belong – on the big screen. The perfect excuse for a city break with a cinematic twist! îwatershed.co.uk/whatson Bath Carnival 13 JULY Bath’s biggest party features a procession of more than 1,000 dancers and musicians through the city plus plenty of world music on the sound systems and at Party in the Park in Sydney Gardens. îbathcarnival.co.uk Bristol Pride 1-14 JULY Bristol Pride is an annual celebration of the LGBT+ community. A series of events that take place across Bristol ranging from theatre, comedy, dance and their award winning film festival, Queer Vision. The main Pride Day festival will take place on Saturday 13 July. îbristolpride.co.uk Malmesbury Carnival & Festival 1 AUGUST-1 SEPTEMBER The month-long carnival and festival has events for everyone including Petticoat Lane Street Market, Open Gardens, a Funfair, Walks & Talks, Wine Tasting and of course the Carnival Procession itself. îmalmesburycarnival.co.uk 4 April 2019 marks NATO’s 70th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty
Pictured leftright: Henley Royal Regatta; an artist at Upfest festival; Bristol International Balloon Fiesta; Jane and circus fun at Devizes Festival
Festival of British Eventing, Gatcombe Park 2-4 AUGUST Held at the spectacular home of the Princess Royal and her family, incorporating the British Open, Intermediate and Novice Championships, as well as the Amateur Championship, The Corinthian Cup. îfestivalofbritisheventing.com Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 8-11 AUGUST Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons brings colour to the sky above Bristol with twice-daily mass balloon launches and the chance to take a ride yourself. îbristolballoonfiesta.co.uk Reading Festival 23-25 AUGUST One of England’s biggest and best-loved music festivals, featuring big-name acts from around the world – think Kings of Leon and Foo Fighters. îreadingfestival.com The Colour Rush and Confetti Battle, Devizes, 31 AUGUST Nobody knows why it started but Devizes’ Confetti Battle is surely the most fun you can have with torn up bits of coloured paper. Get stuck into the battle in the marketplace and stay for the fireworks! îdocadevizes.org.uk Jane Austen Festival, Bath 13-22 SEPTEMBER Get your top hats, bonnets and lace out for this 10-day celebration of all things Austen. Highlights include a costumed Promenade through the city, and the Regency Costumed Masked Ball, with dancing in the Pump Room of the Roman Baths. îjaneaustenfestivalbath.co.uk
Heritage Open Days 13-22 SEPTEMBER This national event sees normally hidden and closed places throw their doors open to the public. Highlights along the Great West Way include Reading Synagogue, Sevington Victorian School in Wiltshire and the RollsRoyce Heritage Trust in Bristol - with many more besides! îheritageopendays.org.uk Mini Action Day, Castle Combe Circuit 28 SEPTEMBER Things go pocket-sized for Mini Action Day on Saturday 28th September – the UK’s oldest, best and ONLY trackbased Mini event. Prepare to marvel at the hundreds of both old and new examples of this iconic car that make the venue their home for the day. îminiactionday.co.uk Henley Literary Festival 28 SEPTEMBER – 6 OCTOBER Bringing together punters and pundits from far and wide, last year’s speakers included Irvine Welsh, Judith Kerr, Sebastian Faulks and Michael Morpurgo, so expect an equally diverse and stellar line up for 2019. îhenleyliteraryfestival.co.uk Cliveden Literary Festival 28-29 SEPTEMBER Famous for its literary salon which has inspired writers including Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw and Lord Tennyson, Cliveden’s annual literary festival has attracted writers from the world of TV and film including Stephen Frears, Armando Iannucci, Sarah Waters and Kier Kreishi. clivedenliteraryfestival.org →
Great West Way Discoverer pass With just a single train ticket, you can explore the Great West Way’s most iconic destinations, including London, Bristol and Bath. The best and most relaxing way to explore the route is by rail, and the Great West Way Discoverer pass allows you unlimited off-peak train and bus travel between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads, with options to branch off in the Thames Valley, Cotswolds and Wiltshire. It is an easy and relaxing way to explore some of England’s most popular destinations, taking you along an historic route that has been in use since the early days of rail travel, built by pioneering Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Great West Way Discoverer pass also includes unlimited travel on selected bus services along the route, transporting you to Eton, Henley, the Cotswolds, Stonehenge and beyond.
How to buy your pass You can purchase the Great West Way Discoverer pass online at GWR.com or from your local station. They come in the form of a standard orange ticket, clearly showing the route you have purchased and whether it is valid for one day or seven.
The West route covers the railway line from Bristol Temple Meads to Swindon, Pewsey and Salisbury. The one-day pass costs £24 and the seven-day pass costs £69. The Global route includes both the East and West routes and is available as a seven-day pass, costing £239 for adults. There are also the following discounts available: 0 to 5 years old – free of charge; 5 to 15 years old – 50% discount; Railcard – 10% discount.
• Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol – designed by Great Western Railway’s chief engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, spanning the Avon Gorge, is a masterpiece of British creativity. • Stonehenge, near Salisbury – this 5,000-year-old landmark has intrigued and beguiled visitors for centuries.
East, West or Global routes There are three Great West Way Discoverer routes available, giving you the opportunity to explore the area in one-day instalments or over the duration of a week. The East route covers the railway line from London Paddington and London Waterloo to Swindon, Pewsey and Salisbury, and costs £69 for a one-day pass and £159 for a seven-day pass.
status in 1987. It is one of the best-preserved attractions of its kind in the world.
• STEAM: Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon – discover the bygone days of steam-powered locomotion in this beautifullyrestored railway building. If you are travelling from overseas, international passes (similar to a BritRail pass) can be purchased online at ACPRail.com or via your travel agent, where discounted international rates apply and with no off-peak travel time restrictions. Get inspired With a Great West Way Discoverer Global pass, there are plenty of attractions you can visit, including some of the country’s most treasured landmarks. Here are some recommended places to see on your journey: • Roman Baths, Bath – this ancient thermal spa is just one of the reasons that the city of Bath was awarded UNESCO World Heritage
• Bradford-on-Avon – take time to explore this picturesque Wiltshire market town and stroll along the banks of the historic Kennet and Avon Canal. • Henley-on-Thames – this archetypal English town is best known for its regatta in July, but is a charming location to visit all year round, full of boutique shops and elegant cafes, where you can take afternoon tea. • Windsor – it was here that Prince Harry tied the knot with Meghan Markle in May 2018, and for that reason alone you should visit the beautiful Windsor Castle where the wedding reception was held.
Buy online at GWR.com or from your local station.
Pictured: Christmas at Kew
OCTOBER / NOVEMBER / DECEMBER LEGOLAND Fireworks Spectacular, VARIOUS DATES IN OCTOBER Make your visit to Legoland even more magical by timing it to coincide with the annual fireworks spectacular, part of the theme park’s spooky Halloween season. îlegoland.co.uk The Festival of Light, Longleat SELECTED DATES FROM 09 NOVEMBER - 5 JANUARY 2020 The UK’s original, biggest and unsurpassed lantern festival returns for 2019. Hundreds of breath-taking, illuminated lanterns, set in over 30 acres of splendid ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped grounds, will transform Longleat as darkness falls. This year the extraordinary Festival of Light presents Myths and Legends. îlongleat.co.uk/festival-of-light LaplandUK, Ascot 16 NOVEMBER – 24 DECEMBER Are you ready for the most magical, mystical, Elftastic day of your lives? Based in Berkshire, LaplandUK offers a festive family phenomenon hidden within The Crown Estate and a favourite of celebrities and royals such as Sir Elton John, the Beckhams, and The Countess of Wessex. îlaplanduk.co.uk
Christmas at Kew LATE NOVEMBER-EARLY JANUARY A show-stopping trail of festive light installations runs through Kew Gardens from late November until early January. More than a million teeny pea lights are installed along the route and there are festive treats such as spiced cider and toasted marshmallows. îkew.org Windsor On Ice 16 NOVEMBER - 5 JANUARY 2020 Alexandra Gardens in Windsor plays host to two ice rinks – one indoor and one outdoor. You’ll also find the UK’s biggest dodgems and plenty of other fairground rides. îwindsoronice.com Bath Christmas Market 21 NOVEMBER - 8 DECEMBER One of the country’s biggest Christmas markets, consisting of 180 stalls, set amongst Bath’s Georgian streets, the market sells hand-made ceramics, glassware, jewellery and local produce. îbathchristmasmarket.co.uk To discover more events on the Great West Way visit GreatWestWay.co.uk /see-and-do/festivals-and-events
TOUR & EXPLORE with Anne Bartlett
Anne is an experienced Cotswold based Blue Badge Tourist Guide and Tour Director who provides a friendly, professional guiding service for groups exploring the Great West Way. Email: email@example.com tourandexplore.com Ambassador for The Great West Way
Where? Windsor, Henley, Reading, Kennet and Avon Canal, River Thames, Chiltern Hills, North Wessex Downs How? Waterways trips, town and countryside walking tours, coach tours, themed tours
DiscoverYour Your Discover Cathedral Cathedral
FREE ENTRY . GUIDED TOURS . GIFT SHOP .
Who? Graham Horn, GREAT WEST WAY® Ambassador, experienced Blue Badge Guide, local knowledge
DAILY WORSHIP . CAFE . GARDENS FREE ENTRY . GUIDED TOURS . GIFT SHOP . DAILY WORSHIP . CAFE . GARDENS www.bristol-cathedral.co.uk
Contact me to enhance your GREAT WEST WAY® tour
• www.tours2order.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Discover Your Cathedral www.bristol-cathedral.co.uk
Enjoy your gift card across Bath Food & Drink • Health & Beauty Museums & Galleries • Hotels & Shops
The best of Bath in one little card
we the curious Bring questions, start discoveries Live shows, planetarium voyages and hundreds of ways to spark new ideas. Find us on Bristol’s Harbourside. wethecurious.org
Registered charity number 1049954
Image: Lisa Whiting
FREE ENTRY . GUIDED TOURS . GIFT SHOP . DAILY WORSHIP . CAFE . GARDENS
Champagne Balloon Flights with Bailey Balloons
See Bristol, Bath and Wiltshire from the sky!
E X P LORE T HE GREAT WEST WAY® WI T H AN EXP ERT G UI D E
Chauffeur driven tours with a Blue Badge Guide
April to late October
baileyballoons.co.uk 01275 375 300 www.southwestdriverguide.co.uk email@example.com
Avebury and Stonehenge Private Guided Tours Wiltshire’s wonderful countryside, full of internationally important monuments, is a very special place to visit.
Bristol Balloon Fiesta flights are 8-11 August 2019 Book early to avoid disappointment!
See how the other half lived
at ROYAL CRESCENT Discover how life used to be above and below stairs in Bath’s most fashionable address.
Find out more online or call Laurence
oldburytours.co.uk | +44 (0)7947 488665 6555 No.1 A3,A4,A5 portrait AW.indd 1
THE ONLY MOTOR MUSEUM IN WILTSHIRE!
Stay in a Jacobean manor on your Great West Way journey! ■ A small, friendly museum just off the A4 in Calne ■ 100+ exhibits - many are vehicles from the 1920s onwards ■ Apr-Oct (Tues-Sun11-5) Nov, Feb-March (Thurs-Sun 11-4) Dec-Jan (Sat-Sun 11-4)
01225 864705 | www.woolleygrangehotel.co.uk Woolley Green, Bradford-On-Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 1TX A member of the Luxury Family Hotel collection
Queens HOTEL • PUB • RESTAURANT • PRIVATE ROOMS • GARDEN
Discovering Cotswolds the
Just 90 minutes from London and featuring many of England’s most picturesque towns and villages, the Cotswolds are full to bursting with honey-coloured stone cottages, beautiful scenery, gorgeous places to stay and a whole host of fabulous things to do. Whether your passion is strolling through the rolling hills and countryside, browsing unique boutiques and markets or learning more about how history shaped this picture-perfect part of England, you’ll find it all – waiting to be discovered.
Perfect place for long, lazy weekends! Daily Telegraph
Create your own 2019 Cotswolds escape at www.cotswolds.com
3 miles off J14 of M4 (Hungerford & Lambourn) Halfway between London, the South West & Wales GLORIOUS GARDENS - from Hidcote to HRH Prince Charles’s Highgrove garden and hidden gems waiting for you to discover and explore.
www.cotswolds.com COTSWOLD DISTRICT COUNCIL FP BSUP.indd 1
HISTORY AND HERITAGE – discover Blenheim Palace - the birthplace of England’s best known Prime Minister or walk in the footsteps of Tudor kings and queens at Sudeley Castle. There’s history around every Cotswold corner.
TOURING THE COTSWOLDS - hear the little known stories and get off the beaten track with knowledgeable expert guides. Many guides offer collections from local train stations, your hotel or even from the airport – let them take the strain out of your Cotswold adventure, giving you time to sit back and relax.
T: 01285 623000 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
East Garston • Berkshire • RG17 7ET Tel: 01488 648 757 i n fo@que e n s ar m s e as tg ar s ton . co. u k w w w. que e n s ar m s e as tg ar s ton . co. u k
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THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HELPED US ALONG THE WAY Title Ambassadors
Bristol Airport Canal & River Trust Great Western Railway National Trust
Abbey Hotel The Abbey Quarter a’Beckett’s Vineyard Active England Aldermaston Tea Rooms, Visitor Centre, & Shop Aldwick Estate Alison Howell’s Foottrails Alton Priors Church Apex Hotel, Bath Arnos Vale Cemetery Around and About Bath Aspley House Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum Avalon Lodge Bed and Breakfast Avebury Landscape Wiltshire Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park Bailey Balloons Bainton Bikes Barbara McLellan The Barn Theatre Barrington Court Bath Apartment Breaks The Bath Brew House Bath Bus Company Bath Self Catering Beanhill Farm B&B Berkeley Castle Best Western Plus Angel Hotel, Chippenham Bombay Sapphire Bozedown Alpacas Bristol Blue Glass Bristol Cathedral Bristol Community Ferry Boats Bristol Packet Boats Bristol Tandem Hire Bristol Zoo Gardens Brooks Guest House B&B, Bath Bruce Branch Boats Brunel’s SS Great Britain Buttle Farm Canal Trust Café Castle Combe Circuit Cheddar Gorge The Chilterns View Chippenham Museum and Heritage Centre Church Farm Country Cottages Clifton Suspension Bridge & Visitor Centre Cobbs Farm Shop Compass Holidays The Courts Garden Cricklade Hotel Crofton Beam Engines Cumberwell Country Cottages
Destination Ambassadors Bath Business Improvement District Bradford on Avon Town Calne Town Chippenham Town Corsham Cotswolds Tourism Destination Bristol Devizes Town Henley on Thames Hungerford Town Malmesbury Town Marlborough Town Marlow North Wessex Downs AONB Reading UK Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Stonehenge & Avebury WHS Swindon Town Tourism South East Trowbridge Town Vale of Pewsey Visit Bath Visit Thames Visit Newbury Visit Richmond VisitWiltshire
Designated Attraction & Hotel Ambassadors Aerospace Bristol Alder Ridge Vineyard Bowood House & Gardens Cheddar Gorge & Caves McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, Swindon Fashion Museum Bath Longleat The Roman Baths Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa Stonehenge Thermae Bath Spa Wadworth Brewery & Tours West Berkshire Brewery Westonbirt, The National Arboretum Whatley Manor Windsor Castle
Devizes Marina Devizes Marina Day Boat Hire Devizes Wharf Tea room Didcot Railway Centre Donnington Grove DoubleTree by Hilton, Swindon Dyrham Park The Engineman’s Rest Café The Farm Camp French Brothers Glenside Hospital Museum Great Northern Hotel Hampton by Hilton Bristol Airport Hampton Court Palace Harrow at Little Bedwyn Helen Browning’s Royal Oak Henley Greenlands Hotel Heritage Bed & Breakfast Hobbs of Henley The Holburne Museum Holiday Inn, Salisbury - Stonehenge Honey Street Boats & Café Hungerford Wharf and Kintbury Iford Manor Gardens Inspirock Jane Austen Centre Kenavon Venture Koffmann & Mr. Whites English and French Brasserie Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and village The Langley Lido Bristol Lytes Cary Manor Macdonald Hotel & Spa Bath Maidenhead Heritage Centre Manor Farm B&B Marlborough College Summer School The Matthew Of Bristol Meadowbank House Merchants House Mompesson House Montacute House The Museum of English Rural Life MV Jubilee Newark Park The Newbury Pub Newbury Racecourse No. 1 Royal Crescent Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm The Old Bell, Malmesbury The Old Chapel Old Sarum Oldbury Tours Parkway Shopping, Newbury Pound Arts Practical Car and Motorhome hire, Chippenham Prince Street Social
Discover more about our Ambassadors at: GreatWestWay.co.uk
Prior Park Landscape Garden Queens Arms, East Garston Reading Museum The Red Lion East, Chisenbury REME Museum River & Rowing Museum Roseate House London The Roseate Villa, Bath The Roseate Reading Rose of Hungerford Roves Farm Royal Oak, Yattendon Salisbury Cathedral Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sarum Tours Salters Steamers Savouring Bath Shaw House Skydive Netheravon Stonor Park South West Heritage Tours South Western Railway Stourhead SUP Bristol The Swan, Bradford on Avon Swinley Bike Hub Thames Lido Thames Rivercruise Three Tuns Freehouse Tintinhull Garden Totteridge Farm Tour and Explore Tours 2 Order TransWilts Community Rail Partnership Troutbeck Tucking Mill Self catering Tutti Pole Tyntesfield University of Bristol Botanic Garden Vaughan’s Kitchen Vintage Classics The Watermill Theatre Wellington Arch West Berkshire Museum We The Curious Whitchurch Silk Mill Wiltshire landscape, Stonehenge Wiltshire Museum Wiltshire Music Centre Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Blakehill Farm Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Lower Moor Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Jones’s Mill Woolley Grange Hotel
Descend into an expansive and eccentric land, populated with over 1,000 animals from all continents. Delve into 450 years of history spanning 16 generations of the Thynn family with Longleat House; one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in Britain. Home to the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s original safari park established in 1966, Longleat is also the only animal collection in England to have southern koalas from 29th March 2019.
Book online at longleat.co.uk and save up to 15%, group discounts also available.
Explore Goughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cave where the oldest, most complete skeleton in Britain, dating back 10,000 years, was discovered in 1903. Wander up the 274 steps of Jacobâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ladder and then on to the highest, inland limestone cliff formation to find an abundance of wildlife including the rare Cheddar pink, then descend into the caves to marvel at the beautiful, natural rock formations.
Book online at cheddargorge.co.uk and save up to 15%, group discounts also available.