Coast’s Choice: Wiltshire

This week’s Coast’s Choice turns the spotlight on Wiltshire, a county famous for its pre-Roman archaeology (it is the home of Stonehenge after all), military training tradition and sweeping valleys.

Avebury Stone Circle

Stonehenge might be more famous, but it’s certainly worth visiting Avebury – the largest stone circle in the world – on your trip to Wiltshire.

The stone ring is speculated to have been built in 2600BC, with its outer circle erected the following century. Of the 154 estimated original stones, 36 remain today covering 28 acres of land. Each stone is around 20 foot high and weight more than 40 tons, meaning the local inhabitants must have worked together to position them in divots measuring between six and 24 inches in depth.

At the centre of the ring is a large ditch, which historians believe could once have been filled with water to make it appear as if the stones were floating.

The exact use of Avebury Stone Circle by ancient civilizations is unknown to this day, although landscape has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Visitors can access the stone circle during daylight hours free of charge, although please note that it is particularly busy during the summer solstice – the official website contains further information.

Nearest caravan site: 7.4 miles

Farmer Giles’ Farmstead

This fun, family attraction celebrates its 30th birthday in 2012 and a number of special events will be taking place during the summer months to celebrate three successful decades.

Farmer Giles’ Farmstead is designed to give children aged 18 months to 10 years old (and their accompanying overgrown children!) a chance to interact with a wide variety of animals. Its residents include Blacklace the sheep, Cyril the hen, Gandalf the ram, Adam the donkey, Snowy the goat, Matilda the pig, Pebbles the pony and many more farmyard creatures!

Visitors are welcome to watch, feed and pet the animals before enjoying a relaxing meal or drink in the on-site café. There is also a children’s soft play area to burn off some excess energy.

Entry to Farmer Giles’ Farmstead costs £6.95 per adult and £6.50 for children, every ticket includes a free tractor ride. The farm is open daily from 10.00am – 4.00pm. Dogs are welcome. Click here for more information.

Nearest caravan site: 2.2 miles

Kennet and Avon Canal

This jewel in the crown of Wiltshire’s waterways is the Kennet and Avon canal, which runs for 87 miles across southern England.

There are many ways for the canal to be enjoyed by tourists, including cycle routes, picturesque walks and fishing spots. Regular narrowboat trips depart from Bradford-on-Avon, Devizes, Hungerford and Newbury, while those interested in the history of the canal can find out more at Devizes Wharf’s dedicated museum, which is open seven days a week. The preservation and development of the route as a tourist attraction is looked after by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust; further information on all the projects and activities taking place around the canal is available on their website.

Nearest caravan site: 3.9 miles (Devizes)

King Alfred’s Tower

Legend has it that this brick tower stands on the site where Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied his troops before the Battle of Ethandun, where the Saxons defeated the Danish army. At the time of construction it stood with one corner of its base in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, uniting all three counties, although geographical changes mean it now only straddles the Wiltshire and Somerset border.

The tower itself does not serve a practical purpose, but it creates a stunning addition to the skyline and offers some of the best views in Wiltshire from its summit.

King Alfred’s Tower was conceived by a banker called Henry Hoare II in the early 1760s and designed by Henry Flitcroft in 1765. It stands at 49 metres high and 51 metes wide with a gothic arched entrance door, statue of King Alfred mounted on the front and hollow opening in the centre. Visitors are encouraged to climb the designated grade I building’s 205 steps to a viewing platform and parapet.

Located within the Stourhead Estate, the tower is owned by the National Trust. Entry to King Alfred’s Tower costs £3.00 for adults and £1.50 for children, while access to the whole property – including the Stourhead palladian mansion and landscape gardens – is available for £13.80 and £6.90 respectively. More information is available here.

Nearest caravan site: 7 miles

Salisbury Cathedral

If you’re inspired by architecture, Salisbury is the home of one of the UK’s most impressive medieval Cathedrals. Built in the Early English Gothic style with a remarkable tall spire added shortly after, Salisbury Cathedral is an historical gem inside and out.
After you’ve enjoyed a walk around the eight acres of lawn, the Coast team recommends taking a look inside. In addition to its stunning interior, you can take a close look at historical artifacts such as Europe’s oldest working clock and a preserved copy of the 1215 Magna Carta, which takes pride of place in the Chapter House. The roof space is the perfect spot to admire the view over Salisbury, while if you visit the Cathedral in the evening you can listen to the young choristers at a daily evensong service. Click here to find out more.

Salisbury Cathedral is open to the public from 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Saturday and midday – 4.00pm on Sunday.

Nearest caravan site: 1.8 miles

Before you set off on your travels this spring, remember to check whether your touring caravan insurance is up to date. If you’re a new customer or looking to renew your policy, Coast can offer you a free quote on your caravan insurance. To find out more, call our sales team on Freephone 0800 614 849 or visit our Quotation Page.