Charming tea rooms, cheerful locals and a tranquil canal, the beautiful town of Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire has the potential to be one of the best day trips you’ll take in the UK this year.
For me, exploring Bradford-on-Avon has been well overdue, I visited once as teen and have misty memories of a river bridge and honey coloured buildings. I wanted to return with a completely open mind so did little research and asked the team at Visit Wiltshire if they’d like to organise some of my experience.
THE TOWPATH TRAIL HIRE CENTRE
My day began at the Towpath Trail hire centre, across the road from a lock on the Kennet and Avon canal. The company hire out bicycles and canoes – had the canal not been starting to freeze over I’d probably be telling you about my paddling adventure to Avoncliff! Instead I tightened my scarf, put on my mittens and fastened a bicycle helmet over my bobble hat for a chilly (but scenic!) peddle.
Further reading: A bicycle tour on the Isle of Wight
I’m already picturing my family and I enjoying this experience in the summer months, Avoncliff’s 17th century Cross Guns pub has a wonderful aspect over the weir with a decked out beer garden for a refreshing cool off. It’s around 15-20 minutes by bike and 45 minutes in a canoe from my starting point in Bradford-on-Avon. You can ride further to the city of Bath as the canal is 86 miles long in total connecting Bristol to Reading.
Further reading: A day trip guide to England’s Prettiest Village
THE LOCK INN CAFÉ | Bradford-on-Avon Day Trip Guide
On return to Bradford-on-Avon I was warmly welcomed in to the canal side Lock Inn Café. This place is as cosy as it gets, beneath a quirky collection of pots and pans I rested beside the roaring fire with a freshly brewed tea. The Lock Inn’s menu is extensive and their famous “Boatman’s breakfast” is a generously sized all-day feast at a reasonable (current price) of £7.75. I had the veggie option and despite my best efforts I made a minor dent in it.
The Lock Inn also has an outside space containing three summerhouses and a narrowboat which is popular for young families to dine in.
THE TITHE BARN
One of the more well known tourist attractions in the city, The Tithe Barn is a 14th century architectural wonder. I was so impressed by the original timber roof inside this vast space, it’s well worth checking out. If you’re visiting with children I noticed a nearby play park and grassy area too.
THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
My next stop was The Holy Trinity Church, a tip I picked up from Jennifer at Towpath Trail. I do love visiting Churches, they have a special atmosphere and are usually one of the oldest and historically significant buildings in any British town or city.
THE SHAMBLES | Bradford-on-Avon Day Trip Guide
My final stop was to the local shops, The Shambles is a historic street lined with timber framed buildings. Before my trip I only knew about The Shambles in York but the name refers to Medieval markets that used to occupy this area. Across the town bridge is The Bridge Tearoom, double-winner of the ‘Top UK Tea Place‘ – just look at the little windows and door, amazing!
Further reading: Three must-see places in The Cotswolds
Hot chocolate from Leaf & Bean
If you’re planning a wonderful day out in the UK, Bradford-on-Avon ticks all the boxes and is just minutes away from the popular city of Bath. I particularly like how easy it is to navigate in a day, but I would feel quite content spending the rest of the week/month/year lazing by the river with a cream tea or two… may be next time!
There are car parks available in the centre, but it may be easier to take the train as it’s well connected to the mainline via Bristol to Cardiff and London.
Have you been to Bradford-on-Avon before? Let me know if you have any extra tips to share!
Disclosure: My experience at The Tow Trail and Lock Inn Café was complimentary, all opinions shared are my own.