Itinerary: Back Roads to Bath

Back Roads to Bath

Shun the M4, and amble west on this scenic tour, travelling the back roads to Bath and back. Escape the traffic, venture into the Hampshire Downs, criss-cross the Kennet & Avon Canal through rolling Wiltshire countryside to Bradford-on-Avon, walking the canal path or taking the train to savour the beauty of Bath. Saunter home via the southern Cotswolds, Lambourn Downs, Chilterns and the Thames Valley.

The Itinerary

Day 1

From London, exit M4 at J11 (A33); south to Stratfield Saye House (Wellington's former home); or visit Silchester Roman Villa before lunch at the Wellington Arms, Baughurst. Head east towards Highclere Castle, via Sandham Memorial Chapel (Stanley Spencer paintings). STAY – The Jack Russell, Faccombe, Hampshire (from £100).

Day 2

Take a tour of Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey); enjoy a downland walk at Inkpen Beacon (views); or a walk beside the Kennet & Avon Canal before lunch at the Dundas Arms, Kintbury. Stroll around Hungerford (antiques) and visit the fascinating Crofton Pumping Station (Steam Beam Engines). STAY – Crown & Anchor, Ham, Wiltshire (from £100).

Day 3

Visit Marlborough (shopping); head west to Avebury Stone Circle and Caen Hill Locks, a series of 29 locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Rowde. Don't miss Lacock (NT village; Abbey; village walk; lunch at Sign of the Angel). Visit Great Chalfield Manor & Garden and Bradford-on-Avon (Tithe Barn). STAY – Timbrell’s Yard, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire (from £85).

Day 4

Travel to Bath (Pump Rooms; Roman Baths & Museum; Abbey; Georgian splendour - Royal Crescent) either by train or by foot on the tranquil towpath beside the Kennet & Avon Canal (a glorious 9 mile walk - aqueducts and beautiful scenery); explore the city and then take the train back to Bradford-on-Avon. STAY - Timbrell’s Yard, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire (from £85).

Day 5

Head north to Dyrham Park (NT), then visit the picture-book Castle Combe (well worth the detour). Skirt southern edge of Cotswolds, to visit Westonbirt Arboretum (spectacular tree collection; autumnal colours); Malmesbury (Abbey); and Cricklade (Fritillary Meadows (March) & Cotswold Water Park). STAY - Masons Arms, Meysey Hampton, Gloucestershire (from £90).

Day 6

Visit Kelmscott Manor (William Morris' home & Thames Path stroll) or Buscott Park (NT) or the Great Barn at Great Coxwell (NT). Detour to Burford (charming Cotswold town; lunch at Highway Inn); or enjoy a Lambourn Downs walk (Ridgeway Path; White Horse; Wayland Smithy). STAY – The Greyhound, Letcombe Regis, Oxfordshire (from £95).

Day 7

Into the glorious Chiltern Hills; back lanes from Watlington to charming Turville (film/TV location) and Stonor Park & Gardens to reach Henley-on-Thames (independent shops; riverside walk) and a trio of National Trust properties close to the Thames - Cliveden; West Wycombe Park; Grey’s Court. STAY – Chequers Inn, Marlow, Buckinghamshire (from £90).

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