- Countryside Chalky downs, mystic menhirs
- Country life Market-hopping and rural rambles
Nothing falls flat in this gorgeous setting of sweeping hills and verdant vales, where folklore, myth and mystery lurk around every curve of the road.
The county of chalk and cheese loaf bristles with history and local legends. Commune with the ancients at Stonehenge and the Avebury Circle, forage in farmers’ markets and scale the cathedral spires in the magnificent mediaeval city of Salisbury, unfurl your picnic rug by the River Avon or wend your way through the enchanting cottages and cloisters of Lacock. Grazing uplands are flanked by the dairy farms that fleck the dales, and villages of oyster-coloured Cotswold stone bed down on the hill verges, making the most of the springs that emerge between chalk and clay. It’s also the cantering grounds for over a dozen white chalk horses etched into the hillsides. As much as we shy from superlatives, Wiltshire really couldn’t be much lovelier.
Do go/Don’t go
Spring and summer are England’s most straightforwardly lovely seasons and June to September offers your best hope for glorious sunshine. But the South West is typically milder and wetter than the rest of the country, and a cathedral town like Salisbury, admired from a snug pub fireside on a crisp winter’s day, has enticements all of its own.
Planes Bristol has the closest airport | where easyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies from Belfast | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Inverness and Newcastle. For international travel | London Heathrow is an hour and a half’s drive or so.
Trains Direct trains from London Paddington take between one and two hours to reach Wiltshire stations, including Chippenham and Westbury. Salisbury and Tilsbury are on the West of England Main Line between Exeter and London Waterloo.
Automobiles The county’s collection of market towns and country roads make for lovely and leisurely motoring. The M4 sweeps across the northern end | from London | through Swindon and into Bristol | and but Wiltshire’s scenic star is the A303 | which offers head-turning views of Stonehenge on the way into Devon.
- Taxis Always worth booking if you’re outside the larger cities. Your hotel can advise on the best firms.