Taking a frosty stroll in the countryside features on many friends and families Facebook pages during the Christmas and New Year period. I think it’s a real English tradition to head out after a large festive meal to walk off the excess and to get the children outside for some fresh air. I walk my dog everyday and I try to find different places to walk her so I am fortunate to live in such a beautiful area. I thought I would share my 5 favourite walks in my area with you. The ones I’ve chosen are every day kind of walks and are dog/children friendly as they are not too long. I tried to add a bit of history where I can with some personal recommendations.
- Lacock and pub
Lacock is a beautiful National Trust village near the town of Corsham. It’s on the tourist route so can get very busy at times but is a beautiful place with lots of interesting places to see. The houses are quaint and built during the 13th Century onwards so have lots of character. Look out for the 14th Century tithe barn, the medieval church and the Abbey is also worth a visit. Many films have been filmed here such as Harry Potter and The Other Boleyn Girl so you may recognise it. It’s a great place to wander around, have a drink in one of the pubs or take the walk from the car park.
Park in the National Trust car park and follow the signs towards the Abbey. You can visit the Abbey as well as going into the museum which will cost you a small fee or it is free if you are a National Trust member. Turn left towards the village. The Red Lion pub is on the other side of the street just up ahead and is great for a sneaky drink. It also does food. Turn right here into East Street and walk to the end. Along this street is the Tithe barn, the village hall and the village lock up all of which are worth a look. At the end is a bakery so turn right here towards the church. St Cyriac church is beautiful and if you can, look inside as it’s well worth it. It was originally built in the 11th Century on a saxon site but has been added to and restored over time. Just before the church, turn left and head up the hill and over the weir. In the summer, my children and dog love paddling in this weir so ŷou may like this too. Continue to follow the path up the hill, past the allotments and through the kissing gate at the top. The view here is towards Reybridge so follow the path across the field and cross the road to the bridge. Cross the bridge and take the right path immediately afterwards across the fields. Keep the river on your right as you make your way back towards Lacock through the fields. As the Abbey comes into view, make your way across a wooden bridge taking a diagonal path across the field. Then you can join the path alongside the road (take care, it’s busy) which will take you back to the car park. This walk is about 40 minutes if you don’t stop but could be a day trip if you visit the Abbey or stop for lunch.
- Bath Racecourse
This is a great walk for views and for allowing you dog to run off the lead. It’s not so good in very cold or windy weather as it’s very exposed on Lansdown but it’s still a great walk just wrap up first! It’s great as children can’t get lost as there is nowhere for them to hide! I love seeing the skylarks here in the Spring and Summer.
Park in the Blathwayt Arms pub car park or at the Lansdown Park and Ride and walk along to the pub. This pub is good for food or coffee and cake and dog walkers with dogs and children are welcome. There is a kissing gate on the left of the pub that takes you straight onto the racecourse. Turn right. I tend to walk along the path closest to the hedge but you can also walk in the middle of the course where others have. Here your dog can run free. I walk all the way to the end….as far as you can see. It’s a lovely walk, especially in the Spring when the sides of the course are full of wild flowers. At the end you can stop to admire the incredible view towards Bristol and Wales. There’s a viewpoint stone map which shows you some of the landmarks. I then turn right and make a loop back towards the car. This walk takes about 45 minutes. You can also walk part of The Cotswold way here, Google “Journey’s end, a walk to Bath” although this walk is much longer.
- Brownes Folly
This walk is great on both a sunny or rainy day and takes about an hour. It’s a beautiful woodland walk with amazing views towards Bath and is managed by Avon Wildlife Trust. It is near the village of Monkton Farleigh. The folly was built in 1849 by a quarry man called Wade-Browne who perhaps wanted to show off his stone. The area was quarried for Bath stone and so now is home to many bats in the caves that have been left behind. When my children were younger they loved swinging on various rope swings that have put up here but it’s also quite steep in places so would be unsuitable for wheelchair users or very young children. Although in woodland it can still be muddy. You can let dogs off the lead, just take care with possible sheep in a fenced field which is near to the folly. The circular walk starts in the car park and is clearly marked so I won’t explain it here.
- Cherhill white horse
This walk is near the town of Calne and is about 2 hours long. This is the 3rd oldest Whitehorse in Wiltshire and is found on the Cherhill Downs where you will also find the Lansdowne monument. This is another walk with a terrific view but it is hilly and quite steep in places. I have never found it particularly muddy though which is useful! Dogs love it as they can run off the lead but beware of sheep in the surrounding fields. You can park in the village or there is a small parking area at the foot of the hill. You can follow the path or walk the White Horse Trail or take the extra walk to Avebury Stones and Silbury Hill which is worth the effort.
The Avebury walk can be added onto the Cherhill walk but we tend to walk this separately. Avebury is a lovely little place and is part of the National Trust so you can park in their car park if you are a member. This village has the largest circle of stones in Europe which date to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. There is a fantastic pub called The Red Lion plus a tea room and museum. When my children were younger they would love running up and down the hills here as they are really steep. You can walk in the village, roll down the hills, visit the stones or museum or walk across the fields with your dog.
I call this the Wadswick walk but it’s really around Hazelbury Manor. I always park near to Woodland Adventurers on Quarry Hill in Box Highlands as it means the dog can go straight into the field without her lead. You can also park near the Manor just off the B3109 near Wadswick Country Store (hence the name Wadswick walk). The Manor is open to the public on Garden Days. This is one place that is on my list to go to as the gardens are Grade II listed and are apparently stunning.
Start the walk where Boxfields road turns to Quarry Hill at the top of the hill near Woodland Adventurers and go into the field through the stile. Follow the track through the field to the end where you can walk left or right as this is a circular walk that is about 45 minutes. I go right and walk towards the woods where a path turns left again. You can explore these woods further if you wish but don’t go into them if you want to carry on with the walk. The woods are full of caves and also entrances to the secret underground city of Burlington which is a cold war relic. The site stretches for 35 acres and was to house 4,000 central Government personnel in the event of a nuclear war. Apparently it has a church, an underground lake, 60 miles of railtrack and a pub!
Turning left before the woods take this path until the land starts to dip downwards. There is a lovely view here of the town of Box where Brunel built his famous tunnel. Take the turn left down the hill towards Muddy Bottom (urrr..it’s a bit muddy here). Alternatively take the stile on the left before you go down the hill and this will take you down a farm track towards the Manor. If you did take Muddy Bottom, take a left at the muddiest part back up the hill towards the Manor. The Manor is now on your left past some farm buildings and a pond. Where the entrance to the Manor is, take the closest left to the entrance and make your way back out towards the fields along a paved road/track (the other left is someone’s driveway). When you start to climb a little, take the left past the hay barn. This will take you back through the field where you come to the field nearest your car. Turn left once more and follow the track back to your car. Alternatively leave your car and walk up the road taking the left turn. Along here a little way you will find The Quarrymans Arms. This is a FAB pub that does great food and a pint. The views here in the summer are brilliant from the pub garden and it’s well worth the detour.
So I hope you enjoy some of my favourite walks. I’d love to hear about any other places you like so do make a comment in the box.
OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.