Four days in West of England

A friend of mine is planning a trip to England next summer (yes, that’s 2019!! She likes to plan ahead), and asked me to recommend some places to spend a four days in West of England.  I figured it’s easier to pin everything down on the Google map and summarise it in a post, as it will be useful for other people as well.  So here’s for you JC.

朋友打算到英國旅遊,想到西部玩幾天,問我有什麼好推薦。 我在這裏規劃了四天的行程,從倫敦開車出發以布里斯托為基地。 四天行程各有特色。大部分地點我自己都去過才會向人家推薦。 第一天從倫敦到布里斯託會經過 Castle Combe, 是一條很美的傳統英式小村莊。第二天布里斯托市內觀光後,沿著西海岸線漫遊,到傍晚可欣賞英國的夕陽。 第三天會去參觀冰河時期的峽谷和山洞。下午會到全英國最細小的城市 Wells。這個是必去。 然後再有時間可以到Clarks Village Outlet 購物區。 最後,第四天會去倫敦以外兩個最著名的英國景點,巴斯和巨石陣。 相信這兩個景點也不用我多介紹。 文章裏的英文版有我以前寫個多個帖子的連結。 若想知道詳細資料可參考這些文章和官網連結。

THE ITINERARY FOR FOUR DAYS IN WEST OF ENGLAND

I have listed the itinerary for four days in west of England below.  All the places for the same day are grouped together and coloured coded on the google map for your convenience.  Apart from day one, you don’t have follow the sequence of the other days.   They are all independent day trips.  I’ve been to most of the places (that’s why I recommend them) and have included links to my previous posts.  There are also official external links where available.  All photos are from my self or my family.

THE BASE

I’ve used Bristol as the base to spend four days in west of England various reasons. First, it’s convenient to get to from London.  London is about 200km away, and driving down the M4 will take around 2 hours if there is no traffic.  Second, Bristol is the biggest city in the West country, and is worth spending a day to explore.  Third, there are more hotels and restaurants in Bristol, thus more options to stay and eat out.  However, if you’re looking for some traditional local accommodation, such as old manors and buildings, there are plenty around all the places I recommend as they are all located in more rural areas.

 

DAY ONE – A VERY ENGLISH VILLAGE

I assume you’ll be driving to Bristol from London and will come down the M4 motorway.  Before arriving at Bristol, drop by to Castle Combe first and have a traditional afternoon tea at The Manor. Castle Combe is a lovely little village which dates back to the 12th century.  This is one traditional quintessential English village worth visiting.  It is just as, if not more beautiful than the other more famous villages in Oxford, but less touristy.

Castle Combe, England
Castle Combe

There is a country manor house at Castle Combe called The Manor House Hotel. If budget is not a concern, you can stay here for the night and continue your journey to Bristol the next day.  Otherwise I would highly recommend the afternoon tea which will set you back £32.50 per person, but it is well worth it!   To get to Castle Combe from London,  leave the  M4 at junction 17,  and drive for another 12km.  From Castle Combe to Bristol is another 32km.

Afternoon Tea in England
Afternoon tea at The Manor

DAY TWO – A DRIVE BY THE SEASIDE

Bristol is a great city that has much to offer.  You must go to see the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, and the SS Great Britain which represents an important part of international maritime history.  Aviation enthusiasts can visit Aerospace Bristol and see the very last Concorde that flew before it went into retirement.  And if you happen to be in Bristol in mid/end August, you must visit the Bristol Balloon Festival, the largest in Europe.  Check out my post here for more details about what to do in Bristol.

Bristol Balloon Festival 2015
Bristol Balloon Festival

After Bristol, go for a drive along the seaside and visit the many small towns and villages on the way.  Starting with Clevedon, then Sand Point, Weston-Super-Mare, and finally Brean Down.  Both Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare have a pier which are very English, whilst Sand Point and Brean Down offers great views looking out to the Bristol Channel.

Weston Super Mare pier, England
Weston Super Mare

 

Sand Point, England
Sand Point

 

Brean Down, England
Brean Down

For dining around here, I would suggest The Ethicurean, an ethical and great restaurant that focuses on local produce.  Come here at lunch time to see the stunning views of the Mendip Hills.

Ethicurean at Bristol, England
Ethicurean

DAY THREE – AN OLD ENGLAND

Today is a tour around nature with a bit is shopping to round off the day.  First stop is to the Cheddar Gorge. Cheddar is the home of Cheddar cheese and the gorge is over 1.2m  years old.  You can visit the 500,000 year old Gough’s Cave or climb up Jacob’s Ladder for a Cheddar cliff top walk. Not far away is Wookey Hole, the caves here are 45,000 years old and go as deep as 90m.  Next stop is Wells, the smallest city in England.  Wells Cathedral and Vicars Close are both architecturally worth visiting.  In fact the whole of Wells is a beautiful city and I highly recommend it.

Cheddar Gorge, England

 

Wells, England

And finally, if you still have time and need a bit of retail therapy you can head to Clarks Village Outlet at Street. Yes it’s really called Street!. The site used to be the factory of the famous Clarks Shoes and now has over 90 high street shops as well as many restaurants.

DAY FOUR – HISTORICAL LANDMARKS

Finally, we go to two of the most famous English landmarks outside of London –  Bath and Stonehenge.    I don’t think neither needs much introduction.  Because they are so famous, I actually don’t have any photos of them.  I last went to Bath about 5 or 6 years ago and the only photos I have were on my old mobile which broke.  And I have to admit, I’ve only ever drove past Stonehenge, but never actually visited it, let alone have any photos to share with you.  Regardless, I’m sure you would have planned to come here anyway.

The last place I want to recommend for four days in west of England is Longleat Safari Park.  This is the first drive through safari park outside of South Africa and is located on a 100 acre estate.  If animals aren’t your thing, then you can visit Longleat, the stately house built back in the 16th century.   When I was a kid, my parents used to come here quite often, and the last time I came was…. probably 16 or 17.  So sorry, no photos again!

TIPS TO SPEND FOUR DAYS IN WEST OF ENGLAND

Most of the need to know information can be found above, and here are few more tips that you may find useful

  • If you’re going to have afternoon tea on Day one at The Manor House Hotel, it is advisable to book in advance
  • Then you can park your car inside the Hotel while you wander around Castle Combe
  • When going to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, be sure to walk across the bridge and admire the Avon Gorge
  • You can go to The Ethicurean for lunch on either Day two or Day three, make sure to book in advance
  • The coast line visits on Day one faces the west, you can admire the sunset at any one of the locations
  • You may get discounts for booking tickets in advance, check the website links
  • Wells is highly recommended.  Wells is highly recommended.  Wells is highly recommended.
  • Parking at Bath can be quite difficult.  Depending on the season, you may have to park quite far out from town
  • If you are visiting the area during the Bristol Balloon Festival, make sure to book your accommodation early.

I hope the above information will help you plan your four days in west of England.  If you need anymore information, just let me know.

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