We take a look inside the beautiful town of Bradford-on Avon with the help of Woolley Grange’s Caroline Mackay and local culinary wizard Beth Al-Rikabi, The Free Range Chef

What’s the best way to get here? 

Caroline: Train, bus or car!

Beth: Train is definitely the way to arrive in this beautiful town as parking and driving through can be a bit nightmare-ish. There is a good bus service too although it takes longer. Alternatively if you are feeling adventurous, you can walk along the canal, stopping for a drink or a nibble at one of the pubs along the way.

What do kids love doing here the most?

Caroline: Playing in the grounds of Woolley Grange – Open to  guests, spa members and those coming for a meal (they also have a monthly family coffee morning). Meet Rosie the Pig, the Indian runner ducks and chickens, Simon the Rabbit. Play in the various play houses, including the White Witch of Woolley’s House, on the trampoline, swing or football nets. Ideally followed by afternoon tea (Adults afternoon tea £21.50, special Children’s Afternoon Tea £6.75).

Also, Barton Farm Country Park: playing in one of the two playparks, exploring the Tithe Barn, watching nature on the river and canal and cycling allow the canal tow path.

Beth: Plenty of safe, easy and pretty walks along the river and canal plus a couple of fun parks to boot. Lots of cafes which are spacious and child friendly plus a nice pool at the local leisure centre to pop for a swim.

It’s feeding time, where will everybody be happy? 

Caroline: Afternoon Tea at Woolley Grange or there are some great picnic spots by the river and a nice coffee shop by the tithe barn.

Beth: If it’s dry and warm enough, there are plenty of spots to hunker down in the park near the station and Tithe Barn for picnics. For a pub with outside seating you’ll want to head to Timbrell’s Yard. In the chillier months you can board the little boat moored up at The Lock Inn which you can hire for small parties. And a short walk up to the top of town will be well worth it for the tasty pub grub and good pints at The Castle Inn.

There’s a tantrum brewing, help! 

Caroline: Play pooh sticks on McKeever Bridge! This footbridge by St Margaret’s Hall in the centre of Bradford on Avon ,was renamed McKeever bridge in honour of Ed Mckeever, our Olympic Gold Medallist Sprint Kayaker who used to paddle under the bridge as a member of the Bradford on Avon Canoe Club.

Beth: To tire out the older children there’s a pretty groovy play area at Barton Farm Country Park and in the summer there is an icecream van too. You can grab hot drinks, cake and other nibbles at The Coffee Barn. Plus there’s lush stuff to peruse in The Granary for the grown ups.

Is it worth it in the rain? 

Caroline: In wet weather, visit the fascinating Bradford on Avon Museum (above the library) where there are all sorts of historical artifacts including the Christopher’s Pharmacy Shop, originally established in Silver Street in 1863 by Thomas Prideaux Saunders – fascinating!

Beth: Just get your wet weather gear on and go at it! There’s plenty of country pubs that won’t mind a muddy boot. If it is really coming down, you’d do worse than to get trapped at The Bunch of Grapes. Lovely staff, inventive food and a thoughtfully stocked bar.

You can’t come here and not visit…

Caroline: Well if you own a dog, Doghouse – shop, café and pooch parlour rolled into one, and just opposite Made in BOA, where local artists display their wares, including some really cute handmade kiddies clothes.

If your kids’ don’t mind the climb, it is well worth going up to The Tory and St Mary’s Chapel, an ancient pilgrimage site (now restored). From here you get great views across town and beyond to the White Horse of Westbury. Below St Mary’s rumour has it that a hermit used to live in a cave there!

Beth: The Tithe Barn is a must as it is an impressive structure and surrounded by other sites of interest including a lovely café, The Granary and lots of other smaller creative crafters. The Saxon Church is worth a look although it might just be a quick peek depending on how old your children are. If you are up for adventuring around the area called The Torys, there’s the tiny atmspheric chapel of St Mary’s which has lovely views across Bradford on Avon. There are lots of independent businesses in the centre of town worth a visit like Christine’s Sustainable Supermarket, Ruby Red Wine Cellars and Cloud & Cove.

Before you set off, you should know… 

Caroline: Yes- it is really hilly. If you are coming to Woolley Grange it is at the top of a hill about 15-20 minutes walk from the centre. Barton Farm, being by the canal is level but some of the other more historic places (that are well worth a visit) like the Tory are a steep and narrow climb.

Beth: Parking is a pain so it might be easier to park a little way out and walk in to avoid wasting time queing round a car park. Pavements are quite narrow so might be worth taking the sling if you can.

 

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