David Wright, Business Systems Analyst here at Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, recently got out from behind his desk and joined our walking holiday group to explore the idyllic towns, ancient villages and rolling scenery of the North Wiltshire Cotswolds. He found much to enjoy in a perfectly English landscape.
The North Wiltshire hill country seems locked in time, preserving much of what is considered by many to be the best of English countryside. Certainly, the towns, villages and rural views have been largely unchanged for centuries, and the way of life sometimes seems to belong to a bygone age.
This is classic English countryside, with canals, castles, railways, and aqueducts providing man-made contrasts to the natural scenery. I’m not a particularly experienced walker, but I found that the grade (D/SS) was perfect for me, with the terrain varying from flat to quite hilly. There was also a good balance between walking and sight-seeing, and I enjoyed the contrasts between the countryside and the villages and towns.
Much used as a film location, you might expect Lacock to feel a bit false, a bit ‘chocolate boxy’, but no – it was genuinely welcoming as well as picturesque, particularly the fabulous Abbey. Our walk here took us past the Duchess of Cornwall’s residence. In Castle Combe, I liked the church with a mechanical clock, next door to a house with an honesty box to pay for cakes to raise money for charity – you wouldn’t find that in a city! We made an unscheduled stop at a canalside pub, and were very glad we did – it was in an idyllic location, with a lovely garden and local musicians playing – it was just a shame we couldn’t linger longer. As a complete contrast, I really liked the unusual historic buildings in Bath.
Our group comprised a lovely bunch of people. Our leader Rosemary Rathbone was outstanding and our hotel was excellent. Generous evening meals more than made up for the calories expended! A part of England well worth exploring.