Often overlooked for its much more famous neighbour, Bath, Bradford on Avon is a truly beautiful part of England and well worth it as a weekend break option in England if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten track. The town is much quieter than Bath, home to a picturesque river and close to many lesser known sites in the Wiltshire and Somerset countryside.
Here are some ideas of how you could spend 48 hours in this wonderful town.
Day 1 – Bradford on Avon and Lacock
There is plenty to see and do in Bradford on Avon, so spend your first morning slowing down and enjoying the sites in the town. After lunch, head to historic Lacock -home to stunning cottages and an ancient abbey.
A. Chapel of St Mary Tory
Bradford on Avon is a town built on a hill – and right at the top is a beautiful chapel which looks out over the town below. Getting up there requires moderate fitness as there are lots of steps, but the chapel is gorgeous inside and out and the views incredible.
B. Saxon Church
Just down the hill is one of the few remaining Anglo Saxon churches still surviving in England with little alteration, founded in the 10th century. It’s simple and calming inside, and just incredible to see such an ancient building still in use.
C. River stroll
Keep heading down towards the river, and take in the views along the various bridges – including the Town Bridge which you can follow round to visit the Bradford on Avon museum. Also along the river is Bridge Tea Rooms, the perfect spot for a slice of cake.
D. Tithe Barn
Follow the river away from the city centre and out towards the railway station, which will eventually bring you out at the Tithe Barn, and incredible 14th century monastic stone barn. It’s yet another beautiful old building which adds to the unique appeal of Bradford on Avon. Then head back towards the town for a spot of lunch before driving 20 minutes down the road to historic Lacock.
E. Lacock Abbey
The star of the show in Lacock is Lacock Abbey. Founded in the early 13th century as a nunnery, many of the original Abbey features remain (despite, yet again, being shut down by Henry VIII in his dissolution of the monasteries). Subsequent private owners sympathetically did up the house around the original Abbey and the beautiful cloisters still remain.
One such private owner was William Fox Talbot, who was the founder of photography. Interestingly, the first photo ever taken was of a window in Lacock Abbey! The Abbey has also been used for filming in many famous shows – including Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter films.
F. Lacock Village
After the Abbey, walk down to Lacock village, one of the most beautiful in all of England and filled with ancient houses, beautiful shops and road after road of England like it used to be. Finish up the day with dinner in one of its many pubs before heading back to Bradford on Avon for the night.
Day 2 – Castles and countryside
On your second day, explore further afield and take in some beautiful English countryside across Somerset and Wiltshire, including historic castles and rolling hills, all within a 30 minute drive of Bradford on Avon.
A. Bratton Camp and Westbury White Horse
Start the day by driving the 25 minutes out of Bradford on Avon to Bratton Camp, an Iron Age fort in the Wiltshire countryside. From the free car park, follow the path out across the field to explore the Iron Age Fort, and see the famous Westbury White Horse which was cut in to the hillside in the 1600s.
To make a nice long walk of it, you can then follow the route HERE, which takes you from the White Horse down to Bratton village, which is home to a stunning local church, pretty houses and even a Medieval well! You can then walk through some nice woodland, enjoy more countryside views and end back up at your start point in a lovely loop that takes around 2-3 hours to walk.
B. Farleigh Hungerford Castle
After the visit to Bratton and the White Horse, it’s time for an English Castle, Farleigh Hungerford. Built in the 1300s, it was occupied by the Hungerford family for over 300 years and many of them are buried here.
The original Hungerford is buried in the Chapel on site in an incredible tomb next to his wife and you can learn more about him (and the rest of the family) with the free audio guide. On some days, they even do wine and mead tasting – what more could you want!
After all that exploring, it’s time to head back to Bradford on Avon to relax after a day in the countryside.
One thing I love about England is that no matter where you go, there is always something to discover. The Bradford on Avon area was a real gem of a find, with so many lesser known and off the beaten track spots to enjoy. What do you think? Stay safe and happy travelling!