The Cotswolds area of the UK is one of the most stunning locations in England. It’s history, architecture, nature and all-round magical feel is what makes it one of the most popular places to visit in the UK. The Cotswolds region branches out over 5 different counties in England.
Located just a stone’s throw from the City of Bath, Bradford-on-Avon is a beautiful, quintessentially British market town, found on the edge of the Wiltshire Cotswolds.
Like many of the towns you will find in the Cotswolds, Bradford-On-Avon has a tranquil river winding through the heart of the town (as you might guess from the name the River Avon runs through here).
The towns history dates back to Roman times, but most of the architecture you will find here is from the 17th century when the town expanded due to a boom in the textile industry. Most of the buildings that line the river are houses, hotels and bars but these were all once woollen mills.
Bradford-On-Avon is a fairly small town so if you are after a slow and relaxing weekend, then read on to find out my top tips and recommendations for spending your weekend here.
When is the best time to visit Bradford-On-Avon?
Bradford-on-Avon is the kind of town you can visit no matter what the season. Whether you want to take a summer bike ride and a barge boat trip along the canal or have a cosy winter break sat by the fire and surrounded by fairy lights then there is something for you.
We took our trip in August and in classic British style, it was a drizzly weekend that made us feel more like we were in October than August. This didn’t faze us as we were after a cosy weekend, so the weather was quite fitting.
What is the best way to get to Bradford-On-Avon?
There are 3 main ways to get to Bradford-On-Avon these are:
Car: This is probably the easiest and most economical way to get to Bradford-On-Avon. If you are driving here from the London area or outskirts it will take you roughly 2.5 hours.
Train: You can get to Bradford-On-Avon from Paddington Station in under 2 hours. Unfortunately, you can’t get a train directly here you will have to stop off at Bath Spa station and then take the 10-minute train journey to Bradford-On-Avon station.
Coach: Getting the coach from London Victoria Coach Station to Bradford-On-Avon will take you around 3 hours. Similarly, to the train, you cannot get dropped directly to Bradford-On-Avon town centre. You can either go to Bath and get the train or an Uber or alternatively, you can get the coach to the town of Box and again get a train, bus or Uber to Bradford-On-Avon town centre.
What is the best way to see Bradford-On-Avon?
The town of Bradford-On-Avon is quite small so the best way to explore Bradford-On-Avon is on either foot or bicycle. If you don’t have a bicycle of your own you can get information on where to hire one from here.
Where to stay in Bradford-On-Avon?
Before most of my trips, I always scan through the location hashtag on Instagram to get some inspiration of what to do and where to stay. I stumbled across Widbrook Grange during this search and I’m SO glad I did.
Widbrook Grange is slightly outside of the main town and will take you either a 20-minute walk or a 4-minute drive.
Located amongst 11 acres of the Wiltshire countryside, Widbrook Grange is a Georgian country house that’s been converted into a small boutique hotel with just 19 rooms. Not only are the interiors in this place extremely aesthetically pleasing but the hotel is fully equipped with a gym, swimming pool, an amazing restaurant and (my favourite) a dedicated Gin bar! You can also treat yourself to a game of giant Jenga or chess in their onsite gardens.
I also can’t forget to mention how delicious the breakfast here is. This is included in your booking and you can choose from a full English, salmon and eggs, granola, berries and yoghurt and more! The portions are generous, and this really sets you up for a day of exploring.
Finally, to top this place off the service here is amazing and all the staff are so attentive
Budgeting for Bradford-On-Avon
Prices in Bradford-On-Avon are similar to that of London and most of the south of England. Expect to pay around £5 for a pint, £6+ for a glass of wine or prosecco and around £10-£15 for a single dish.
Best places to eat and drink in Bradford-On-Avon
Widbrook Grange: As I mentioned earlier Widbrook Grange has an amazing onsite restaurant which is open to non-guests as well. If you are looking for hearty farmhouse cuisine and a list Gin’s to choose from that is the size of your arm, then this is the best place to come.
Boat House: Just a 5-minute walk from Widbrook Grange the Boat House is a great place to enjoy some food with a view as this restaurant looks out onto the Bradford-On-Avon Marina.
The Lock Inn Cafe: One of the most highly rated restaurants in Bradford-On-Avon. Not only is the food loved by many but they are in an ideal location, situated right next to the Kennet & Avon Canal; which makes for some great beer garden drinking during the summer months.
The Dandy Lion Pub: Located in the centre of Bradford-On-Avon The Dandy Lion is the perfect place to take a break from your exploring and enjoy a spot of lunch.
The Bridge Tea Rooms: Steeped in character and history with a building dating back to 1502, the Bridge Team Rooms has twice been voted the best tearoom in the UK. After visiting here and trying out some of their famous tea and scones for myself I can completely understand why. I recommend you put this place at the top of your foodie list when in Bradford-On-Avon.
Best things to do in Bradford-On-Avon
As I mention before Bradford-On-Avon is a small town, so if you only wanted to come here for the day without staying then it’s definitely possible. See my recommendations below.
Dated back to 1330 Tithe Barn is one of the largest medieval barns in England.
A small passage in the centre of town lined with flowers, bunting and coffee shops. What more could you want?
If you google Bradford-On-Avon you will most likely be presented with many images of this bridge. Consisting of 9 arches and decorated with a small domed chapel,this is probably the most iconic part of the town.
Named after the 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist Ed Mckeever. The Meckeever Footbridge is a great place to stop and get some snaps of the river.
Coppice Hill Road
If you want to see some stereotypical Cotswold houses with colourful front doors and climbing rose bushes then Coppice Hill is the street to visit (this is directly next to The Shambles).
St Margaret’s Hill
Climb up St Margaret’s hill to get a panoramic view of the town. Once you get to the top of the hill you will need to walk left for about 100m to get the best view.
Wallington Hall is not a place you could or would want to go inside and visit (it is just an empty hall) however I loved the outside architecture of the building, so I had to pop this on the list.
Holy Trinity Church
Explore the beautiful church grounds of Holy Trinity Church. If like me and you are fascinated with gravestones that over 100’s of years old then this is the best place to come.
Head here to do a canal boat tour of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Ilford Manor Estate
Visit the award-winning Ilford Manor Gardens which was home to the set of “The Secret Garden” starring Julie Walters and Colin Firth. (Currently temporarily closed due to COVID due to reopen April 2021).
River Avon and Kennet & Avon Canal walk
Take a leisurely stroll along the canal. There are several routes you can take so click here to find out more.