Have you been to Bradford-On-Avon lately?
We're loving this Bath stone beaut on the Avon, for its cocktail of heritage, river action and top food with an optional dash of outdoor activity.
Call it a nearcation, a hollstay, or a good ol’ fashioned mini-break, but you need to get away and the usual suspects range from unlikely to just too damn crowded. Well this delightful honey-coloured town could be just the ticket, and we reckon we’ve designed a trip that will light your fire. For great food and shopping, messing about on the river, Georgian mansions, a medieval tithe barn and some tempting sleepover options, just follow our insider guide.
Fancy a day trip?
It’s a great place to visit by train, as the station is bang in the middle of the areas you want to see – the old town and the river. Start with a turn around town: over the Norman bridge, via the old Saxon Church and up the hill to the picturesque Tory. Descend via market street to the Shambles and Silver Street – the location of two this year’s Muddy Awards winners.
Up on the left Best Art Gallery Quercus Gallery will have you thinking it’s about time you treated yourself (it’s been a tough year, am I right? And artists need support…) to some properly good art, funky homeware or stunning contemporary jewellery.
On the way down you’ll find Muddy Awards Best Restaurant The Bunch of Grapes. It’s a long time till dinner, so pick up some of their cinnamon buns on the way.
Let’s be optimistic and say we’re going picnic. First stop indie wine emporium down the hill, Cru Wines. You may have trouble just popping in, as there is so much to see, and before you know it vinophile boss Leanne will have you engaged in a wine tour of the world. She’ll see you right, and likely introduce you to your new fave.
Need picnic accessories or glasses? Strawberry Blue opposite will be able to help. Just round the corner in market street, The Cheese Shop (Muddy Finalist Best Deli – always the bridesmaid Christophe – fingers crossed for next year as he deserves a win) has everything you need for a scrumptious picnic – his homemade mini quiches are parfait.
Now before you leave the area, pop into another 2021 award-winner (I know, there’s something about this street) Vitality Day Spa and book in for one of their expert massages or facials. You will not regret it. Now grab your haul and head for the river, over the bridge and to the right.
Barton Farm Country Park has lots of picnic spots and a few benches, you’ll know you’re there when you pass the soaring Tithe Barn. It won’t surprise you to hear that they filmed Wolf Hall here. Never knowingly passing up a shopping op, just over the way is Stone Paper Scissors, where owner-artist Mary has some lust-worthy stuff. We can’t resist her handmade ceramics.
Walk (or cycle, you can hire bikes here) along the canal to Avoncliff, or engage in the activity du jour with a paddleboard session. However you may not want to waste your time with that, as there’s loads more scoffing and quaffing to be done.
Walk the twenty mins or so up to The George at Woolley, would you believe it Muddy Stilettos Best Destination Pub. Both atmospheric bar and pretty garden great for a drink, but also for their amazing food at pretty much any time of the day, including cream teas (which Muddy readers are, understandably, obsessed with).
A further ten min walk out of town takes you to Luxury Family Hotel Woolley Grange. The inside-outside of the Hideout restaurant in their glamping field is particularly good for right now, and open to non-residents.
Want to stay over?
Of course you do, and we have just the place. Timbrell’s Yard over-looking the river has 17 of the funkiest rooms in a gorgeous conversion of an eighteenth century merchant’s house. Even if you’re not staying, it’s a perfect spot for lunch, dinner or an evening drink. You guessed it, we’re finishing the day at Muddy Stilettos Best Bar in Wiltshire.
Of course Woolley Grange is a luxe choice for a sleepover too – especially if you have little ones in tow, either in the historic main house or in the fab glamping pods (below, booking until end Sept), and has the added attraction of indoor and outdoor pools.
Iford Manor stayover
We’re excited to report that Iford Manor Gardens, just a few minutes out of town and one of our total faves, now has its very own dreamy holiday rental, Rowley Cottage. Fans of historic houses and/or gardens will be beside themselves with excitement. Roll-top baths, luxury beds and privileged access to the exquisite gardens: seriously, get booking before word gets out.