Characterised by its high down land and wide valleys, the county of Wiltshire in Southwest England is one of the country’s finest areas for outdoor exploration. It’s also home to several notable landmarks of historic interest that draw large numbers of visitors each year. If you’re thinking about embarking on a rural UK adventure, here are five reasons why Wiltshire should be top of your list.
Lydiard House & Park
Wiltshire has numerous historic country homes and among the finest is this beautiful estate on the western edge of Swindon. Spread across some 260 acres of parkland, the site comprises the Palladian House, a church and a walled garden. Visitors can marvel at delights including ornate plasterwork, original furnishings and family portraits dating back to Elizabethan times. There’s also a children’s play area and a café and tea rooms. Regular events including theatre performances are held here too.
One of the world’s most iconic landmarks, Stonehenge needs little introduction. And for any uninitiated readers, I can only recommend that you come and see this magnificent prehistoric monument, two miles west of Amesbury, for yourself. Consisting of a ring of standing stones, each around 13 feet high, seven feet wide and weighing around 25 tons, the mystery of how the stones were erected has continued down the ages. If you’d like to visit, TravelMag.com has recommended several Stonehenge tours from London.
This bustling medieval cathedral city is one of the jewels in Wiltshire’s crown. Recently in the news for rather less salubrious reasons, it nonetheless continues to draw scores of visitors, thanks in large part to its flagship attraction – an ornate 13th-century cathedral boasting a 123m spire, a working 14th-century clock and an original copy of the Magna Carta. Meanwhile Salisbury Museum, Salisbury Arts Centre, and several timber-framed Tudor buildings in Market Place offer plenty more of historic interest to satisfy culture vultures.
Both a quintessential English stately home and home to a fully operational safari park, this is one Wiltshire attraction that’s guaranteed to satisfy every taste. Nestled within 900 acres of ‘Capability Brown’ landscaped grounds close to the village of Horningsham, the house itself is considered one of the country’s finest and best preserved examples of Elizabethan architecture. As for the safari park, it offers th chance to get up-close and personal with an array of exotic wildlife, including rhinos, giraffes, lemurs, wallabies, meerkats, sea lions and penguins.
Taking you through 500,000 years of history through wonderfully curated galleries, interactive displays and exhibits dating back to the Neolithic era, this museum offers a fun and engaging educational experience for all who visit. Run by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, highlights include excavated gold dating back to the time of Stonehenge and authentic Bronze Age clothing. There’s plenty for children to enjoy too, including the chance to build your own Stonehenge.
If you’re looking for affordable accommodation in Wiltshire, YHA Cholderton is a fine choice. Located on Cholderton Charlie’s, a Rare Breeds Farm in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, the hostel offers private rooms and free Wi-Fi, and is perfectly situated for visiting the area’s most popular attractions including Salisbury and Stonehenge.
By Paul Joseph