Chippenham resident and mum to TWO sets of twins, Katy Walton (mumoftwintwins) tells us her top tips for taking a day trip to our neighbouring town…
Best way to get there
Really easy via bus or train…. The train takes just 11 minutes and buses run frequently with fast ones taking just 35 minutes and the more scenic routes (!) taking just over an hour.
What kids love doing there
We might not have Bath’s enviable literary legacy but we do have an awesome mini golf course in Monkton Park right by the river – big kids can even book in for football golf!
The museum is an unexpected gem – and free! Housed in a beautiful 18th century town house a short walk from the station and full of fascinating history from the prehistoric to present day.
You are spoilt for choice for parks and walks; John Coles Park is landscaped with a band-stand that regularly hosts rousing free concerts given by talented local bands. There are tennis courts available to hire for £4 an hour and a splash pad catering for children under 12 (open May to September).
There are more rugged walks along nature trails that can be accessed from the back of Monkton Park – which is the closest park to the train station! Great cycle routes too if you are those fitness families I envy!
The Olympiad leisure centre in Monkton Park has family fun sessions in the pool and a good programme of children’s clubs – and there is a fab outdoor cinema season in the Summer.
Lacock Abbey is a gorgeous National Trust property a few minutes drive from Chippenham town centre. It’s a country house with monastic roots and the birthplace of British photography. Always worth checking their events programme for plays and exhibitions. Lacock itself is a stunningly picturesque village and rumour has it Johnny Depp was recently spotted at the local pub on a break from filming!
Bowood House has a National Trust vibe but has been home to the Lansdowne family for over 250 years. It’s just on the outskirts of Chippenham and while I’m not sure if the Marquis and Marchioness still enjoy the ‘death slide’ in the fabulous adventure playground my older twins certainly do! The life size pirate ship is perfect for Peter Pan-esque adventures and the playground is a short stroll from the Tractor Ted Little Farm with a barn full of friendly animals.
Head to Rivo Lounge for unflappable kid-proof staff and a great, reasonably priced menu. As an ex Londoner this quenches my thirst for a dose of Shoreditch esque cool; hipster staff, vegan options – and they’ll even welcome your dog!
Waterstones has a fish tank that distracts most toddlers long enough for frazzled parents to catch their breath – and there are often colouring pencils and pictures on little tables to up your chances of smile success. If that doesn’t work head into Toy Master opposite for a Thorntons ice cream and a bribe, I mean educational toy!
The Astoria Cinema has been recently renovated and now offers a bit more luxury for it’s reasonably priced tickets. The library is always a guilt free place to shelter from the rain – but if its coffee that you need then head to Coffee One and raid their books and crayons (and cakes!) until you spy a rainbow outside.
Can’t come and not visit
Take a few strides away from the main high street and you will stumble across the beautiful St Mary’s Street and stroll past the stunning 15th century vicarage that features in the opening credits to the Antiques Road Show!
Before you set off you should know
Chippenham may not be a bucket list destination but the river Avon adds its charm and for history buffs it has a bit of everything from the Romans to King Alfred The Great (and if it was good enough for him…!). The charity shops are full of affordable treasures, there are enough coffee shops to keep even the most sleep deprived of families caffeine powered – and Eddie Cochran tragically died in a car crash here in 1960, giving the town an unexpected rock and roll legacy so, ‘C’mon Everybody’, give it a go….! (sorry!)