The lovely weekend we spent in Wiltshire was a much needed retreat for The Greek Mister and myself. Although it was only 48 hours, it felt like we’ve spent a lot more days than that. I got confused of what day it was a couple of times while we were there because it truly felt like we’ve been whiling away our time in the beautiful surroundings of Wiltshire for a good whole week. Time stood still and the least of our worries – those are (what I think) the two main recipes of a relaxing holiday.
WHERE IS WILTSHIRE?
Wiltshire is a county in South West England, a landlocked place characterized by its endless rolling hills and ancient Cotswolds villages. It offers an amazing scenery with half of it designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is also home to two World Heritage Sites, the Stonehenge and Avebury.
While it may be construed as a place only for nature lovers, it offers an abundance of activities for all kinds of travelers. It was extremely hard for me to decide which places I should visit for the weekend and which places I should save for a next visit. Whatever your choice may be, you can never go wrong as everything’s absolutely gorgeous.
HOW TO GET THERE?
There are many ways to get to Wiltshire depending on where in Wiltshire you’ll be visiting. It can be reached by public transportation but of course the most comfortable way to reach and explore it is by car which is what we did. Parking in Wiltshire is relatively cheap compared to London prices and each places that we’ve visited had designated parking areas close to the attractions.
WHERE WE STAYED?
We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast in Castle Combe called Fosse Farmhouse and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s gorgeous and had a lot of character, fits the whole Wiltshire experience to a tee. It’s one of the reasons why we enjoyed our weekend – it was a comfortable retreat for when we’re tired from all the exploration we’ve done around the area.
Caron, the owner of Fosse Farmhouse was extremely lovely, helpful and informative. She made sure that we were comfortable during our stay and made us aware of the local places that we must see and how to get there.
Fosse Farmhouse is located 25 minutes away from the main village of Castle Combe by walking through the beautiful woods, golf course and public footpaths. A good place to base yourself in if you’re planning to do a lot of this area’s famous walking paths.
WHERE WE ATE?
Breakfast served at Fosse Farmhouse fueled us for the whole day. We skipped lunch both days and had our dinner in the nearby Salutation Inn which is only 3 minutes from Fosse Farmhouse by driving. You can actually walk there too but we’re just too lazy to do so.
Salutation Inn is your typical neighborhood pub, we felt like we were intruding a private get-together when we first went there for dinner on our first night. Everyone seemed to know each other and we felt a bit out of place. That awkwardness flew out the window as soon as the food was served, it’s hard to focus on anything else when you’re being fed by good food.
We had juicy burgers the first night and on our second dinner there, I had roasted duck breast while The Greek Mister had one of the specials – a beef stew. Both The Greek Mister and myself agreed that it’s definitely the best pub food we’ve ever had.
COTSWOLD VILLAGE HOPPING ITINERARY
There are so many villages that you can visit in Wiltshire – each has its own distinct character but all of them are oh so pretty. If I could, I would’ve visited much more villages than what we did but I didn’t want to merely pass by it. I wanted to explore it somehow and what better way of exploring it but on foot and having a beer in one of its pubs. 🙂
Our first stop was of course the beautiful Castle Combe as it was only 25 minutes walk through the woods from our accommodation. The stone cottages which stood the test of time for hundreds of years are listed as ancient monuments. It’s charming, lovely and very instagrammable – it’s voted as the prettiest village of England after all.
We went back to Fosse Farmhouse after admiring the beauty of Castle Combe to get the car and drive to our next stop, the historic market town of Corsham. It’s famous for the beautiful Corsham Court and the peacocks roaming around town freely. The pedestrianized High Street is lined up with independent shops and restaurants which adds up to the charm of this place. It’s also very well known as the filming location of Poldark.
Driving time from Castle Combe: 20 minutes
We drove toward Bradfod-on-Avon next but as we’ve already been there before, we stayed in the Shambles area and had coffee while waiting for the rain to stop. This is The Greek Mister’s favorite Cotswolds village among all the other villages that we’ve visited. The charm of this place extends to the whole area and not only concentrated in one street like the others had. As soon as the rain stopped, we walked around for a bit before heading back to our car for our next stop.
Driving time from Corsham: 20 minutes
Our next stop was Lacock, another village where time stood still. We went straight to Lacock Abbey which was the main highlight of this stop but didn’t realize that we had to pay for a full day parking fee which was £4. The problem was, we didn’t have enough coins so we had to drive around the village to look for a pub, buy a pint and have some coins as change. 🙂
The village is quintessential English and would make you feel like you’ve walked into an open-air museum. The house where Harry Potter (supposedly) grew up can be found here, near to the church and the Lacock Abbey’s cloisters is also popular to Potter fans as it was used for several Hogwarts scenes. Unfortunately, the cloisters was closed as it was being used for another filming when we visited.
Lacock Abbey used to be a convent until it became the home of Talbot family. This is where William Henry Fox Talbot invented the photo negative. I spent quite a long time admiring the “latticed window” which was the very first thing ever photographed. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer as I think I do lack the skills to be called one but I am into photography as a hobby and seeing this window meant more to me than The Greek Mister who merely passed by it and didn’t even give it a second look.
We also visited the Fox Talbot Museum which shows the history of photography. The original camera used by William Henry Fox Talbot is displayed here as well as the first negative produced by it.
Driving time from Bradford-on-Avon: 25 minutes
Standard entrance fee is £14 but we paid only £10.40 since the cloisters was closed for filming.
We went back to Castle Combe after our visit to Lacock to have a drink in two of its village pubs before heading to Salutation Inn for dinner.
BONUS: LONGLEAT SAFARI PARK
We spent the whole of Sunday in Longleat, famous for its safari drive through. Yes, an actual safari exists here in England. I was a bit worried that it will be geared towards children too much but we found ourselves having a grand time while there.
Before driving through the safari park, we explored the majestic Longleat house which is actually still the residence of the Thynn family, that made it unique among all the stately homes I’ve visited. It’s quite new to my eyes to see photos and paintings of people not wearing period clothes displayed in stately and grand rooms. Sadly, photos were not allowed inside and it devastated me as the house is so beautiful and so grand!
After our visit to the Longleat House, we ventured on to start our animal safari. It was again quite a unique experience to see wild animals like lions, cheetahs and tigers roaming around the endless green fields. I recommend an entire full day to be spent here as there’s just so many things to do and see.
Online price: £28.85 per person
Gate price: £33.95 per person
Grand stately homes, charming medieval villages and a safari – that’s just a bit of Wiltshire that we experienced in a span of 48 hours. Imagine what else could we have discovered if we stayed for a longer time.
My visit to Wiltshire was sponsored by Visit Wiltshire which includes the accommodation in Fosse Farmhouse and the entrance fee to Longleat. As always, all photos and opinions are my own and are in no way influenced.
EXPLORE MORE OF ENGLAND AS A DAY TRIP OR A WEEKEND: OXFORD, CANTERBURY, BRIGHTON AND BATH.
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