Rail days out
Whether you live in Wiltshire or are visiting from outside the county, why not plan your trip by train?
1. The Kennet & Avon Canal
Take your bike on the train to Bradford on Avon, where it is a short trip from the station to the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath. As you set off there is a stunning aqueduct at Avoncliff. You can also cycle through towns such as Trowbridge and Melksham. Be sure to stop off at Devizes where you can view the impressive flight of 16 consecutive locks at Caen Hill. If you like ale, treat yourself to a tour of the Wadworth Brewery. If you have the energy you could continue on to Great Bedwyn, passing through beautiful scenery and rolling landscapes. Stop off at Wilton Windmill, the only working windmill in the south west of England, and buy some of the locally produced flour to take home.
If you don’t have your own bike, you can also hire bikes in Bradford on Avon and Marlborough.
Key rail stations: Avoncliff, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Melksham, Great Bedwyn.
2. Salisbury – the city in the countryside
Walk across the town path from Queen Elizabeth Gardens towards Harnham with views of Salisbury Cathedral across the water-meadows (as seen by Constable). The awesome sight of the cathedral rising up from the lush green water-meadows has been described as ‘Britain’s Best View’ by readers of Country Life magazine. You can walk, cycle or take the bus to many quiet rural gems such as Wilton House or the Old Sarum Iron Age Hill Fort. Weave your way along the Avon Valley Path or take a bus to Downton and stop for a traditional pub meal before exploring the beautiful New Forest countryside around Redlynch and Woodfalls.
Have a look at the bus links between Salisbury and the New Forest.
Key rail station: Salisbury
3. Stonehenge and Woodhenge
From Salisbury, cycle up the charming Woodford Valley to Stonehenge, stopping off at Amesbury along the way. Well worth a visit is Woodhenge – just to the north of Amesbury, a Neolithic site, originally believed to be the remains of a large burial mound. Take time to enjoy the Stonehenge landscape which is all part of the World Heritage Site and perfect place to stop off for a picnic. Join a National Trust guided walk to discover ancient places such as the Great Cursus, the Stonehenge Avenue, King Barrow Ridge and the Great Henge of Durrington Walls.
You can also try having a look at other ways to travel to Stonehenge.
Key rail station: Salisbury
Steeped in history, Tisbury is an excellent base from which to explore Wiltshire’s countryside, including the Cranborne Chase AONB. Be sure to treat yourself to morning coffee or afternoon tea at Beatons Tearoom in The Square. Picturesque villages such as Hindon, Dinton, Fonthill Bishop and the Donheads are nearby. Just down the road is the 14th century Old Wardour Castle, although now without a roof courtesy of the Civil War. The unusual hexagonal ruins of Old Wardour Castle stand serenely in their lakeside setting, protected by acres of wood. Today the castle ruin provides a relaxing day out for everyone. Try something new like an exclusive art workshop in the beautiful settings – create your very own masterpiece to take home!
Key rail station: Tisbury
5. Walking in Warminster
Warminster lies on the edge of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within Wiltshire. You can access the Imber Range perimeter path or the Wessex Ridgeway from Warminster or Westbury. Stay for a few days on a guided walking holiday with Foot trails or Footpath holidays. You can also take a taxi to Longleat house and park.
Key Rail Station: Warminster
Walk part of Britain’s oldest road through beautiful Wiltshire countryside. The last part of the Ridgeway National Trail runs from Marlborough to the Avebury stone circle. The stones form a huge ring a quarter of a mile across, enclosing part of the village, and whatever the time of the day you are free to wander hand in hand among the inner and outer circles or along the ‘avenue’ of stones that originally led to the Sanctuary. The walled gardens of Avebury Manor are a delightful place for a stroll, as the sun goes down, you can return to the shelter of the stones to enjoy a delicious picnic. You can then take a leisurely bus back to Swindon, Trowbridge or Devizes.
Find more ways to travel to Avebury.
Key rail stations: Swindon, Trowbridge, Great Bedwyn (bus from Marlborough).
7. STEAM and SHOP
Enjoy a relaxing train ride through the Wiltshire countryside and historic market towns, stop off at Swindon and take a trip to STEAM – Museum of the Great Railway.
Experience what it was like to be an engine driver or a signal man in hands-on interactive exhibits including locomotives that you can climb aboard. If you fancy a bit of shopping the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet is right next door, or take the train back through the countryside and see how many white horses you can spot.
Key rail station: Swindon