You will be surprised how much you can pack into 48 hours in Wiltshire. Take some inspiration from our weekend guide.
A stroll along Marlborough’s splendid High Street – the second widest in Britain – with its historic buildings and collection of independent shops is a marvellous way to start the day. If it’s a Wednesday or Saturday, check out the bustling market. Make your way to St Peter’s Church’s coffee shop, which serves excellent breakfasts.
This 15th-century church is also home to a craft shop where you can pick up unique, locally-made gifts. Drive out of town to the glorious expanse of Savernake Forest where you can explore in the shady delights of this ancient royal hunting ground. Having worked up an appetite, head along the A4 for 20 minutes to The Bell at Ramsbury, a former AA Pub of the Year for England. This 300-year-old coaching inn is part of the 19,000-acre Ramsbury Estate and much of its food, beer and even vodka is produced on the estate.
From Ramsbury, take a half-hour drive via the B4192 and B4006 to Barbury Castle, perched atop the ancient Ridgeway. The hilltop Iron Age fort within the Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has magnificent views right across the Cotswolds. Unless it’s the height of summer, you’ll want to wrap up warm – it tends to be windy. From the car park, head up the lane on foot for a few minutes and enjoy a stroll along the Ridgeway. Return to Marlborough for afternoon tea at The Polly Tearooms on the High Street. Ranked 15th in The Sunday Telegraph’s top 30 places in the UK for afternoon tea, it was a favourite with the Duchess of Cambridge during her time at Marlborough College.
Head to the Merchant’s House, built after the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653. With its impressive wall paintings and a recreation of a 17th-century garden, it offers a glimpse into the life of silk merchant Thomas Bayly. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to enjoy the Mop Fair, the Marlborough Rising music festival or the town’s literature festival. Round off your day by dining at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant on the High Street.
Drive out of town to the glorious expanse of Savernake Forest where you can explore in the shady delights of this ancient royal hunting ground
Spend some time exploring Salisbury’s historic streets with their half-timbered buildings and don’t miss out on the chance to pick up some unique gifts in one of the city’s array of independent shops. Nip into the tranquil Greengages cafe in Catherine Street for breakfast. It prides itself on home-made food.
Fortified, head for the medieval cathedral in its stunning water meadow setting. Don’t miss Magna Carta in the Chapter House, the best preserved of the four remaining copies. From Salisbury, jump in the car and head eight miles out to Salisbury Plain to see the world-famous Stonehenge. Take a 40-minute drive to Avebury, via the A345, stopping en route at the Red Lion at East Chisenbury for a Michelin-starred lunch in idyllic surroundings.
At Avebury, explore the largest stone circle in Britain. Try to catch the stones as the sun goes down for a truly magical experience. If you’re in need of a sit-down, you can always enjoy the spectacle from the Red Lion’s beer garden just across the road. For supper, head to the Waggon and Horses at Beckhampton, just a mile up the road. This olde worlde pub with a pretty garden inspired a scene in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers and even has two ghosts.
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