Great West Way Travel Magazine


From Easter egg hunts, to the fun of the summer shows, to being immersed by illuminati­ons at Christmas - whatever it is you choose, there's always a perfect season for discoverin­g the Great West Way

- Words: Samantha Rutherford

From Easter egg hunts, to the fun of the summer shows, to being immersed by illuminati­ons at Christmas - whatever it is you choose, there's always a perfect season for discoverin­g the Great West Way

YOU CAN CELEBRATE throughout the year while touring the Great West Way - with special events for every season. National Trust properties are a great way to enjoy Easter with the family, while in the summertime you won't struggle to find entertainm­ent with a beautiful view. Autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy the countrysid­e with golden tree walks and Halloween train rides, while the festive season is full of Christmass­y days, and evenings, full of magic, fireworks and joyful laughter.


You can't beat a spring nature walk on Good Friday or Easter Monday and they don't get much better at this time of year than following the Bath Skyline Family Discovery Trail. A fun-packed two-mile stretch of the Bath Skyline loaded with activities. Discover magical doors in the Long Wood elf and fairy foray, hunt for geocaches, complete a series of '50 things' challenges or just let off some steam playing in the woodland play area.

Celebrate the arrival of spring as the Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt returns to Hampton Court Palace in April. Explore the palace and its stunning gardens through an adventuref­illed treasure hunt. Lindt Gold Bunny is hidden all around the palace - where monarchs through the ages have indulged their sweet tooth!

Bounce into spring by decorating a ceramic bunny in cheerful spring-like colours, or join in the fun of an Easter wreath workshop and create your own arrangemen­t using seasonal flowers at Shaw House, on the outskirts Newbury - one of the best-preserved Elizabetha­n mansions in England. Or for a Quirky Easter Quiz Trail and a great day out, or even an overnight stay (landmarktr­ don't miss Beckford's Tower and Museum, Bath. Built between 1826 and 1827, Beckford's Tower is an extraordin­ary building that was once home to one of the greatest collection­s of books, furniture and art in Georgian England and now stands as the only surviving example of William Beckford's great architectu­ral achievemen­ts.

Easter just wouldn't be Easter without going on an

Easter egg hunt, and the Great West Way's National Trust properties are a great place to find them. Explore Prior

Park Landscape Garden in Bath and enjoy your chocolate in the intimate 18th-century landscape, where one of only four Palladian bridges of this design in the world can be crossed. In Berkshire, visit Basildon Park, an 18th-century house which survived the threat of being demolished after the Second World War, and today sits proudly in 400 acres of historic gardens and parkland - or discover the story of West Berkshire in the museum of the same name.

While in Wiltshire, Harry Potter fans will love the Easter trail at Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village, once home to William Henry Fox Talbot, inventor of the photograph­ic negative. Just make sure you have spotted the cloisters which doubled as part of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosophe­r's Stone before you leave! Nearby, pop into the award-winning Wiltshire Museum or Roves Farm is bound to be a great family day out come rain or shine!


Whether you're a royal fan or just want to experience a traditiona­l English day out, Royal Ascot horse races in

June and Henley Royal Regatta in July should be on your summer agenda. Going to a music festival in a muddy field is a rite of passage in the UK - a pair of jazzy (preferably glittery) wellies are essential! There's in August, one of the biggest, at Charlton Park, Wiltshire in July, at Eastville Park, Bristol in May, and in Bath - a music festival with skating, BMX and street art.

If opera and classical music is more to your taste, visit Iford Arts at Belcombe Court and enjoy listening in 45 acres of Cotswold parkland and gardens. Bookworms will love the Swindon Festival of Literature in May, and for film, dance, theatre and more the Devizes Arts Festival in June is a must. A country show is a great way to learn more about country life in England. Given the rural nature of much of the touring route, there'll be plenty to choose from, but one of the biggest is the Royal Bath & West Show in May/June. →

Due to the abundance of fresh homegrown produce along the route, you'll also find lots of food and drink festivals to attend too. The Great British Food Festival at Bowood House in August, Bristol Food Connection­s in June, and The Big Feastival in the Cotswolds in August are some of the biggest but you'll find lots of smaller ones in villages and towns too.

Want something really different? Dare to bare all for the Bristol World Naked Bike Ride in June! Not everyone's cup of tea perhaps, but it's for a good cause: raising awareness about road safety for cyclists.

If you're visiting in May, try to get tickets for Pint of Science. These informal yet informativ­e science events take place in pubs around London, Reading, Bath, Bristol and beyond. While you enjoy a pint, scientists will fill you in on their latest research findings on topics ranging from human biology to robotics.

Meanwhile the fields are ablaze with colour, wildlife is abundant and blooms fill the air with wildflower perfume at Stoke Common Meadows, in Cricklade. Nearby, at Lower Moor Farm, Oaksey Moor Farm Meadow ruddy darter and four-spotted chaser dragonflie­s can be seen hovering above the pond. And if in Devizes, take a walk in Peppercomb­e Wood's picturesqu­e ancient woodland and listen out for birdsong from chiffchaff­s, wrens, black caps, and tits.


From classic pumpkin carving and ghost stories to afterhours ghost tours, National Trust properties make a fantastic day out for some Halloween magic. Try the Halloween Trail at Tyntesfiel­d, near Wraxall, and make the most of the autumn colour with walks across the estate.

In Wiltshire, Stourhead's vistas are sure to be highlighte­d with burnished leaves, or try Bowood House & Gardens, halfway between Calne and Chippenham, 100 acres of beautifull­y landscaped ‘Capability' Brown Parkland and enjoy pumpkin hunts to freaky face painting.

Visit Dyrham Park, near Bristol and Bath, where you might also witness one of nature's most majestic happenings as the bucks battle it out for the top spot of master buck in their annual deer rut. Or you could creep down into the cellars and meet a coven of witches, and a few wizards, at Berkeley Castle, Gloucester­shire's Spooktacul­ar Halloween.

If you're visiting in October, celebrate Halloween at Legoland, Windsor and enjoy their annual fireworks spectacula­r, or book a ghost train and visit the bat caves at Longleat Safari Park. You could scare yourself silly during Fright Night at Bristol Zoo or visit a Halloween Twilight Tour of Lansdown Cemetery, Beckford's Tower and Museum, Bath. Or join in the fun of Windsor's annual Halloween Pumpkin Party at Windsor Royal Station including the Mr Marvel Magic Show - frightful free fun for all the family!


At the most magical time of the year, nothing feels more festive than a market, and there are arguably none more well-known in the UK than Bath Christmas Market, with its magical Regency backdrop providing the perfect setting for a mulled wine and a mince pie. This year will be the 20th Bath Christmas Market, and in addition to the usual festivitie­s, there will be lots of celebrator­y activities taking place to mark the occasion. Try also Bristol Christmas Market, Windsor and Berkshire Christmas Fairs, and the beautiful Christmas Market in the grounds at Blenheim Palace, just a short detour off the route. Sip a mulled wine, pick up unique hand-made gifts, or sample local produce.

Beautifull­y decorated for the season you might like to celebrate Christmas in style through the ages at Stonor Park, Henley-on-Thames, which will be sparkling →

with gorgeous candlelit displays, roaring open fires and a magnificen­t 20ft Victorian-decorated Christmas Tree in the Gothic Hall. Discover an Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, or at Longleat's Festival of Light,

the UK's original, biggest lantern festival. Watch hundreds of breathtaki­ng, illuminate­d lanterns, set in over 30 acres of splendid ‘Capability' Brown landscaped grounds transform the Estate as darkness falls.

Step back in time into a classic Christmas from England's past as you explore Victorian Christmas Weekend at SS Great Britain in Bristol. The iconic ship SS Great Britain is transforme­d into a Dickensian winter scene where you can meet Victorian characters, shop for seasonal gifts and indulge in festive food and drink.

And Christmas just wouldn't be the same without a festive trip to the theatre - Bristol Hippodrome or Theatre Royal Bath

perhaps? A Christmas show or pantomime is an essential part of any traditiona­l English Christmas, so be sure to pick up a Christmas programme from the Watermill Theatre, Newbury, the Barn Theatre in Cirenceste­r, Pound Arts Centre in Corsham or head to the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon.

For a heartwarmi­ng traditiona­l Christmas, why not sing in a carol service in front of Windsor Castle, or enjoy the seasonal atmosphere at the Hampton Court Palace ice rink, a wonderful way to get into the festive spirit, with spectacula­r views of the Thames-side Tudor palace.

Discover an enchanted wonderland of light and magic during Christmas At Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury or discover the glittering spiral trees, and dynamic laser projection­s which illuminate the iconic Temperate House at Christmas at Kew,


Or why not put the sparkle in your family Christmas by enjoying the annual Christmas Extravagan­za and Carol Concert in Hungerford, or the season of lights and lanterns in Devizes

with their annual Lantern Parade & Christmas Festival.

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 ??  ?? Pictured left-right: Visitor explores Shaw House; Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum; Fawn on the Great West Way; a family enjoying a day out at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Pictured left-right: Visitor explores Shaw House; Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum; Fawn on the Great West Way; a family enjoying a day out at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
 ??  ?? Pictured top left then clockwise: Longleat Safari Park; Bowood House; Beckford's Tower and Museum
Pictured top left then clockwise: Longleat Safari Park; Bowood House; Beckford's Tower and Museum
 ??  ?? Pictured: Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Pictured: Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

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