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Visit Wiltshire Blog

The Farm Cookery School

A Spotlight on Gretchen Winter, from The Farm Cookery School

My name is Gretchen Winter and I created and own The Farm Cookery School on Netherstreet Farm in Bromham.  I also work our 300 acre Beef farm with my husband Matthew Winter.  I have always worked in some aspect of The Catering Industry and completed a degree in Hotel and Catering Management at Portsmouth University before going on to work in Restaurant and Event Management in London for 10 years. 

Avebury Mist

Spooky places in Wiltshire

Surrounded by myths and legends Wiltshire is full of troublesome tales. With history dating back to ancient centuries and mysterious stone and burial mounds all around there’s always spooky happenings to watch out for. These are just some places you may want to avoid after dark.

Cranborne Chase AONB

Wiltshire’s ‘Outstanding’ places

You might not be aware but there are three designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Wiltshire. These will be celebrated as part of a national ‘Outstanding’ Week taking place from 16-24 September so we thought we’d share with you twelve reasons why you should make a visit to one or more of our AONBs (The Cotswolds, North Wessex Downs and Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs).

Form and Fascination at The Courts

Form and Fascination at The Courts, Holt

The outdoor sculpture exhibition features the works of artists, Fiona Campbell, and Ian Turnock, in the beautiful setting of the gardens of The Courts. The exhibition runs until 15 October by which time the changing autumn colours will add an extra element to this exhibition.

Mompesson House Salisbury

Step back in time at Mompesson House

This year National Trust are celebrating 40 years of Mompesson House being opened to visitors. The house is situated in one of the most famous addresses in Salisbury, the Cathedral Close, and it’s hard not to be taken aback by it.

REME Museum

A Family Day Out at The REME Museum

As a new museum in the county which details the story of the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers within the Army, I thought this would be of particular interest to the three boys (two mine and one visiting) that I found myself having to entertain for the day. 

Salisbury Plain Safaris

Salisbury Plain Horseback Safari Experience

On an August weekend, we met bright and early at the Riverside riding stables in Shrewton, where we were met by James from Salisbury Plain Safaris. Time, we weren’t heading out in his 4x4 vehicle but we were going to experience Salisbury Plain on horseback!

Longleat

10 fun September activities to be had in Wiltshire

The school holidays may be pretty much over but that doesn’t stop the fun here in Wiltshire. During September, we’ve plenty of events and activities to keep all of the family entertained, whether you are here for a short break or just fancy a day trip.

Wilton Windmill

Celebrate some of Wiltshire’s unique heritage this September

During September, many buildings open up for the annual Heritage Open Days. Some of these buildings are ones that aren’t usually open to the general public whereas others give people the opportunity to visit an attraction free of charge.

We take a look at some of the highlights of this year’s Heritage Open Days event that you can enjoy here in Wiltshire.

Elements of Avebury

Learning new skills in the inspirational surroundings of Avebury

I am always keen to discover constructive ways to use the crafting techniques I have learnt over the years, so was really pleased to be invited along to a Creative Journaling Workshop. The workshop is one of many courses held at Elements of Avebury, a beautiful shop located right in the centre of the village set amongst ancient stones. The shop sells beautiful locally sourced gifts, and interesting products from further afield such as exquisite dresses made from recycled saris, and bags made in Africa from recycled water bottles.

Calne, Wiltshire

10 reasons why you should consider a visit to Calne this year

You may or may not have heard of Calne. Situated on the A4, this town’s roots developed as a stopping point for pig drovers travelling between Bristol and the West Country towards the markets in London. 

There’s more than meets the eye in this small Wiltshire town. Here are ten reasons why you should visit.

Mad Max Tours

A tour of Lacock, Avebury and Castle Combe with Mad Max Tours

On a lovely summer’s afternoon recently I was invited to join a Mad Max Tour around North Wiltshire.  I joined the tour in Lacock, at this stage the group had already visited Stonehenge, and travelled through some of the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. Talking to some of those on board, they had thoroughly enjoyed Stonehenge and the journey so far, one lady from North America said she now wanted to move to Wiltshire because it was so beautiful!

Lucknam Park Hotel

Places to stay with swimming pools

If you fancy dipping your toes into some water this summer then why not consider making a stay at one of our properties which offers a swimming pool as part of its facilities? Here we’ve put together a handy list of 10 places to stay in Wiltshire that offer guests use of their pool included in their rates...

Concert

15 things to do in Wiltshire this August

Whether you are planning days out and activities with the family or would like some alone time, there are lots of options for fun-filled days here in Wiltshire this August. Here we’ve put together a selection of some of the top highlights for you to enjoy. 

Bradford on Avon

Top views of Bradford on Avon

The Saxon town of Bradford on Avon offers a taste of the Cotswolds, mixed with the grace and architecture of nearby Bath. An easy town to get to, with trains directly from London, Bradford on Avon makes a great place to visit.

Here we explore some of the best views of the town…

Eastcott Studios

Getting creative with Eastcott Studio

I haven’t played with clay since school days, and that is a very long time ago, so the idea of a ‘Create and Chill’ session at Eastcott Studio sounded a great way to try again!

Eastcott Studios are based in Old Town, Swindon and offer a variety of freestyle sessions, workshops and activities for all ages. There is some parking available just outside and as I entered the gallery area at the front of the studio I was greeted by the very friendly resident dog… and Jo who runs the studio!

St Thomas' Church

Celebrate Church Tourism Week here in Wiltshire

Did you know that 21-30 July is Church Tourism Week? This got us thinking about some of the interesting churches and places of worship (both former and existing) that we have around Wiltshire and some of the quirky features and facts that you might not know about them…

Bowood Golf

Enjoying a round of golf at Bowood Golf Club

Over a weekend in June, I had the great pleasure to play the 18 hole Bowood golf course. Set in lush parklands, it is an architect designed championship course. For those not playing golf there is a superb alternative with the Bowood Spa and Leisure providing a relaxing area to rejuvenate. This is what my wife, Theresa, took full advantage of while I was playing!

Walking in Wiltshire

9 reasons to go walking in Wiltshire

Wiltshire is blessed with many walking routes, suitable for those who prefer a short ramble in the countryside to those who are looking for a challenge. Here, we give you nine reasons why you should walk in Wiltshire.

Roses at Abbey House Gardens

Roses, Ruins and Royalty – A summer’s walk around Malmesbury

Wanting to make the most of the Great British summer, I decided to head off and discover the historic market town of Malmesbury and explore the beautiful Abbey House Gardens.
From the very moment I walked towards St John’s Bridge on the entrance to the town, I sensed this place had many of tales to tell. The architecture of the Avon Mills building, former cloth and silk mills built in 1793 by a clothier named Francis Hill and the surrounding Cotswold stone townhouses lining the High Street, clearly reflecting Malmesbury’s trade and industrial heritage.

John Blake

A spotlight on John Blake, Marlborough College

I joined Marlborough College as the Director of Enterprise in July 2014. I am responsible for revenue generation from events such as Summer School and our new School of English and Culture for unaccompanied overseas teenagers, our retail operations and the hiring out of our sports facilities.

West Amesbury

Exploring Amesbury and villages

Many people know of Amesbury due to its close proximity to Stonehenge. In fact, the town is only two miles from the iconic site and in addition to the World Heritage Site, there is an interesting history to be found in and around the town.

Cosy Club dessert

7 totally scrummy-looking desserts to try in Wiltshire

Who doesn’t love a dessert? After watching far too much MasterChef over the past few months, it’s got us inspired to find out more about some of the tantalising desserts that are on offer around the county. Take a look at these beauties…

Castle Hill, Mere

An exploration of Mere

Mere is often one of those places I’ve been meaning to stop by at but haven’t had the time. Like many people, I’ve passed it plenty of times on my way to and from the West Country and to nearby Stourhead. I decided that I was going to change this, particularly as from the passing bits of the town that I have seen I have been very impressed.

Red Lion Freehouse

Top spots to enjoy some alfresco dining

When the weather’s fine, there’s nothing better than sitting outside with a glass of wine in your hand and enjoying the fresh air over some food.

Here’s a handy guide giving you some of the top spots to enjoy alfresco dining in Wiltshire and reasons why you should book a table now!

Bowood

Spring in Wiltshire: from our fans’ perspective

You may have seen that we are currently running a competition on Instagram and Twitter to win a break to Wiltshire. The competition runs until the end of June and is encouraging our visitors to use #timeforwiltshire and #wiltshirespring in their social posts.

Corsham (C) Andy Rose

A photographic treasure hunt of Corsham

When visiting our historic towns and villages it’s always worth taking time to stop, pause and look up at some of our buildings. Often you’ll see a wealth of features that you could quite easily miss.

Stars

Top spots for stargazing in Wiltshire

On a clear evening, there’s nothing better than a spot of stargazing. Wiltshire being a predominantly rural county lends itself to stargazing with the advantage of less light pollution than more urban areas.

Chalke Valley History Festival

9 summer scorchers this June

June makes a great time of year to make a Wiltshire escape and with some fantastic events taking place this month, there are even more reasons to visit.

Alton Priors (C) Diane Neale LRPS

Top 10 churches to visit in Wiltshire

Like many parts of the UK, there are plenty of historic churches here in Wiltshire. These sometime overlooked buildings are often heritage gems in beautiful locations with their stories of the past to tell. We’ve teamed up with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) to give you the top 10 of their Wiltshire-based churches to visit and reasons why…

Hillbrush

Fun for all the family this half term

Wiltshire’s May half term will this year take place from 29 May until 2 June. If you are looking for things to do with the children over this week and the weekends either side then this handy guide will be able to help you.

Paul McLean

A spotlight on: Bowood Golf Pro, Paul McLean

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Bowood I am originally from Middlesbrough and started working at Bowood in 1997 having moved back to the UK from Bahrain where I learned to play golf o..

Wildflowers

A tour of the wildflower meadows at Clattinger Farm

Clattinger Farm forms part of the Lower Moor Farm complex of nature reserves owned and managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. 

I joined the Trust for one of their guided walks, highlighting the Snakeshead Fritillaries which dominate some of the meadows here in April. Many people flock to nearby Cricklade to see these delicate flowers but Clattinger Farm is another fine example of wildflower meadows.

Salisbury Cathedral Graffiti

Salisbury Cathedral Graffiti Tour

If you’ve ever joined Salisbury Cathedral for one of their Tower Tours then you will have probably seen a fair bit of ancient graffiti as you approach the base of the spire.

Cathedral guide, Steve Dunn (with his team of approximately 60 volunteers) has recently launched a three year project aimed at recording the various marks left on the building over the centuries which will soon be able to be explored on a guided tour.

Breakfast

What makes the perfect breakfast?

It’s claimed to be the most important meal of the day so we asked some of our local bed and breakfast providers here in Wiltshire what they think makes the perfect breakfast. Warning – reading on might make you hungry!

Iford Manor

A spring visit to The Peto Garden

I always love visiting Iford Manor’s Peto Garden, it’s a great place to enjoy some tranquillity and every time I make the descent into the village down the narrow country lane I am in awe of the views.

Lamb

A lambing tour at Church Farm Country Cottages

Guests staying at Church Farm Country Cottages, near Bradford on Avon are in for a treat! If you are staying during spring there’s the opportunity to join one of the farm’s lambing tours to see a bit behind-the-scenes on this working farm.

Christine Wallace

Perfecting pastry, and discovering some Bake Off secrets at Vaughan’s Cookery School

I have enjoyed several courses at Vaughan’s Cookery School in the past and have always come away having had a great time and learnt some new skills, so when I had the opportunity to join the Perfect Pastry course Mr H decided it was time he broadened his culinary skills, and join me. Vaughan’s Cookery School is located in the lovely town of Devizes, and we took the opportunity to stop off in town first, as the range of independent shops there offer some lovely different gifts, and I had a few birthday presents to get. Mr H used the opportunity to call into Wadworth Visitor Centre Shop and pick up a few souvenirs for himself!

Chris, Wyvern Theatre

A spotlight on: Chris Husseyin, Wyvern Theatre

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Wyvern Theatre My name is Chris and I have worked at the Wyvern for many years in several different departments. I am currently the Ticket Office Manage..

Painting

A Painting Class with a difference in Bradford on Avon

Bradford on Avon is always a pleasure to visit, with its lovely independent shops, great range of eating places, and fabulous selection of place to stay, I am often to be found there enjoying the canal and river walks, or a bit of shopping and coffee culture! However, Friday night was an opportunity to try something completely new to the town – painting and cocktails – how could I resist? So on a beautiful spring evening my daughter and I headed to The Boathouse.

Vintage Classics

A spotlight on: Phil Rowe, Vintage Classics

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Vintage Classics I have always had a love of classic cars staring with my very first car a 1959 Frogeye Sprite and when the opportunity presented itsel..

Downton Cuckoo Fair

10 reasons to visit Wiltshire this April

In addition to the Easter holidays and lots of Easter-related events, there’s plenty more to keep you entertained on a visit to Wiltshire this April. Here we’ve selected ten things to see and do but don’t forget to check out the rest of our website for other ideas too!

Avebury Stone Circle

Exploring Avebury World Heritage Site with Oldbury Tours

Visitors to Wiltshire may have been to Avebury Stone Circle, however how many of you have explored the wider landscape at this World Heritage Site?

I went on a trip to discover more with Laurence Davis from Oldbury Tours. Accompanying us for the half day tour were Ellie and Gillian Farago from Heritage B&B in Calne. The three of us had all visited Avebury previously and had various different levels of knowledge about the history and spirituality of the area.

Pewsey Vale Riding

A ride across the Pewsey Vale

We arrived at the Pewsey Vale Riding Centre on Sunday morning just before 10am, as the three of us Justine, Angela and I, had been booked in for a two hour hack across the beautiful Pewsey Vale in Wiltshire as a birthday treat for me! All of us can ride but we had not been out for a hack for a while so we were a little out of practice.

Hillworth Park, Devizes

A winter’s walk around Devizes

After starting off my morning in Devizes by joining the Wadworth Shire horses on their deliveries (see my previous blog) I decided to explore more of the historic town.

Wadworth Shire Horses

Wiltshire from a Shire horse’s perspective

When visiting Devizes it’s always a pleasure to see Wadworth Brewery’s Shire horses out and about making their deliveries. It’s a tradition that has been kept alive by this brewery in a time when many breweries use more conventional forms of vehicle for their deliveries.

Blood Brothers

West End quality production in Wiltshire

We are very lucky, in Wiltshire, in having several great venues and events which attract artists of national, and international, renown. The Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival, Playhouse and City Hall in Salisbury all offer a wide selection of top class productions, and in other areas the Wiltshire Music Centre, Pound Arts Centre and Chippenham Folk Festival offer a diverse range for all tastes.

Royal Signals Museum

Signalling a royal visit – a family day out at The Royal Signals Museum

When my 3 year old son (nearly 4 as he keeps on reminding me), asked if we could go an “army museum“ I knew just the place to take him. George loves creative role play and can often be found attacking and defending his castle with his toy soldiers, knights and action figures, so we planned a visit to the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford Camp, home of The Royal Corps. Of Signals, a short drive from the Wiltshire border.

Lamb

12 photos to show why you should visit Wiltshire this spring

Oh how we love spring, it’s so beautiful to see the blossoms appearing on the trees, the daffodils popping out along the verges and the bluebells begin to emerge in our woodlands.
We’ve put together a selection of some of our favourite spring photos that we have here at VisitWiltshire, we hope you enjoy them!

Chippenham

A Chippenham Treasure Trail

I have done several Treasure Trails in the past and know how good they are at helping you to discover new places. So this time I decided to use it to find hidden treasures in a town I know very well, Chippenham.

Roman Baths

A day trip to Bath

Wiltshire makes a great base for a day out to the World Heritage Site of Bath. Bath is just a short hop across the border into Somerset and there’s easy access by train from Salisbury, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster, Chippenham and Swindon (to name just a few places!).

The Laverton, Westbury

Victorian Westbury and the Blue Plaque Trail

When you think of Westbury you probably think of the Westbury White Horse. It certainly dominates the landscape and is always a welcome sight when I’m passing through the town on the train.

However, Westbury is not just famous for its White Horse, it also has a rich Victorian heritage which is now being celebrated in a new Victorian Westbury exhibition in The Laverton.

Snowdrops

A shower of snowdrops at Lydiard Park

Towards the end of January I made a trip to the tranquil setting of Lydiard Park. The morning had been cold and blustery but luckily by the time I pulled up at the car park the weather was beginning to turn for the better. I’d heard that some of the snowdrops were already making an appearance here so I went for a bit of an investigation.

Spring Flowers

Fast forward into February: 17 ways to beat the winter blues

If, like me, the start of the year has left you feeling all a bit ‘January-ish’, it helps to have something to look forward to. So here are 17 great ideas for things to see and do around Wiltshire that are sure to brighten up the first few months of 2017.

Beatons tearooms

A winter’s walk in Tisbury

I love getting the opportunity to don my walking boots and explore the county and I had the opportunity to do just that on a recent visit to Tisbury.

Monkey World

Monkeying around - a fun day out across the Wiltshire borders

About an hour across the Wiltshire border into Dorset you’ll find Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre. Monkey World started off in 1987 (I remember seeing it on the Challenge Anneka programme in the early nineties and that was the last time I had visited and it has really grown since then).

Corsham

A Corsham Instameet

What better way is there to spend a sunny, frosty morning in January then getting together with a group of likeminded photographers and exploring some of Wiltshire’s treasures?
 

Salisbury Cathedral's Library

A tour of Salisbury Cathedral’s Library

Given I grew up in Salisbury and the nature of my job here at VisitWiltshire I’ve always felt that I have known the Cathedral pretty well however one place I’d never ventured to was the Cathedral’s library.