Winter holidays: take a seasonal break in Wiltshire
This week we welcome VisitWiltshire to the Pitchup.com blog with some tips for a winter holiday among Britain's finest Neolithic monuments, military museums and breweries and miles of rolling valley and downland.
Wiltshire is a county that actively welcomes campers and caravanners, as can be seen by the selection of sites offering excellent facilities and amenities, many of which are located close to top attractions such as Longleat and Stonehenge.
Even though winter is on its way, caravanning holidays are still in full swing, offering a quieter, more relaxing experience than the busy summer months, yet equally as many things to see and do.
By using a little imagination and enthusiasm visitors will find that a winter holiday in Wiltshire still offers a host of attractions to visit. The thousands of miles of footpaths and bridleways around the county change from autumn hues of red, gold and brown into carpets of white as the snowdrops and other winter flowers come into bloom from January onwards.
Here are our top ten suggestions for a winter holiday in Wiltshire:
Wiltshire’s most popular attraction, Stonehenge remains open all year and is a spectacular sight whatever the weather. Whether you are coming simply to admire the impressive monument or perhaps gain an insight into its purpose, Stonehenge cannot fail to arouse interest. There is ample parking on site, along with a small shop and hot refreshments kiosk. Adult admission is £6.90, while children can enter for just £3.50.
Like Stonehenge, Avebury is a unique prehistoric monument and a World Heritage Site. Avebury is located in the centre of Wiltshire and is one of the UK’s largest stone circles, literally encircling an entire village. Visitors can walk all around and inside the stones and for those with a little more time the entire site stretches out towards Silbury Hill, a prehistoric ritual mound just a few miles north of Avebury. In winter, when shrouded by low cloud and mist, these sites become even more charismatic! Avebury is free to visit but for a fuller experience guided tours are recommended.
The massive Iron Age fort of Old Sarum (literally meaning 'Old Salisbury') is the original location of Wiltshire’s only city. Legend has it that the site of Salisbury Cathedral was chosen when an arrow was fired from Old Sarum and the site where the cathedral now stands is where the arrow fell. Old Sarum remains a fascinating site with evidence of Celtic, Roman, Saxon and Norman heritage. Visitors can explore the ruins of a castle, cathedral and royal palace. Entry is £1.80 for children and £3.50 for adults.
4. Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum
Located in Cathedral Close this fascinating museum is a must for all visitors to Wiltshire as it helps explain the history and culture behind many of the key attractions including Old Sarum, medieval Salisbury and Stonehenge. In 2011 the museum will play host to an impressive Constable exhibition which sees many of the artist’s works brought together under one roof for the first time. Entry is £2 for children and £6 for adults.
STEAM in Swindon tells the story of the Great Western Railway through interactive displays and exhibits. It’s a great day out for all the family and visitors even have the opportunity to step aboard an original locomotive! Entry is £4.25 for children and £6.40 for adults.
Wiltshire’s premier brewery, Wadworth's Visitor Centre offers an insight into traditional brewing methods. The visitor centre is free to enter and open daily. For a deeper look into the workings of a brewery, tours and tastings are offered for £10 per person. It’s even a great attraction for children who can enjoy saying hello to the shire horses which are still used today to deliver ale locally.
The beautiful village of Lacock appeals to all types of visitor for many reasons. Some come simply to admire this beautiful traditional village with its old fashioned buildings and vintage shops. Others are here to see Lacock Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum which are famous for the connection to the world’s first photographic negative. For children and drama lovers Lacock appeals as the setting for movies and dramas such as Harry Potter and Cranford. Whatever the reason, it’s a truly delightful day out; the traditional pubs have real log fires, and the bakery even sells hot chocolate – a must on any cold winter's day!
8. Salisbury Cathedral
This beautiful cathedral takes centre stage in Salisbury. Open all year, the cathedral is a great place to explore and after a walk around, the refectory offers excellent homemade cakes and excellent upward vistas of the spire! Tower Tours of the cathedral are also available where visitors can climb up to the base of the famous spire. Tickets are £6.50 for children and £8.50 for adults.
Built in the 14th century, this unusual hexagonal castle was built for its inhabitants to enjoy luxury living. The true tales of its history are quite dramatic - from bloody battles to hangings and hauntings. Audio tours are offered to help bring these spectacular ruins to life. Tickets are £1.90 for children and £3.80 for adults.
Known locally as The Wardrobe, this museum is three attractions in one. Firstly there is the military museum containing details of the 250-year history of two local regiments. An historic house and beautiful riverside gardens are also in the same location. Tickets are £3.50 for adults and £1 for children.
This is just a small sample of places to visit in Wiltshire. For a full listing of attractions visit the VisitWiltshire website, where you can find more ideas of how to make the most out of a seasonal break in Wiltshire.