Great West Way Travel Magazine


The Great West Way showcases some of the most beautiful landscapes, historic sites, and cultural experience­s that England has to offer. But did you know there are a plethora of unexpected historic places, including three World Heritage UNESCO Sites recogn


The Great West Way is home to several World Heritage Sites, each with its unique charm and significan­ce. From the prehistori­c monument of Stonehenge, which dates back to 3000 BC, to the picturesqu­e city of Bath, famous for its Roman Baths and Georgian architectu­re, there is no shortage of historic landmarks to explore.

There are no less than 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore: Kew Gardens, Stonehenge and Avebury and Bath - as well as nearby Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill as well as many other notable sites steeped in history and offering a glimpse into the country's rich cultural heritage.

The Great West Way tells the story of England back to its earliest inhabitant­s, learn more at these key attraction­s.


These enigmatic stones together form one of the UK's first ever UNESCO World Heritage sites. Stonehenge is the more sophistica­ted build of the two, while Avebury - a 40-minute drive away - is the largest. Since their curious arrangemen­t dates back to prehistori­c times, there is a lot about them that remains mysterious, encouragin­g everyone from film directors to conspiracy theorists to fill in the gaps. (Some have even supposed they were the work of giants). The best way to experience them today is alongside the Pagan pilgrims who gather there to worship the rising and setting of the sun on both the summer and winter solstice.


Get a handle on Britain's royal heritage, and its influence on life in Britain today, at Hampton Court Palace. Exploring its Great Hall, Tudor Kitchens and Haunted Gallery you'll discover stories of romance, religion, power and death. As the former home of Henry VIII you may already have an inkling for some of these tales. For a sweet treat, pop into the Chocolate Kitchen, where King George I's personal chocolate maker, Thomas Tosier, would have made luxurious blends of hot chocolate infused with sugar and spices.


As well as having been a medieval monastery, an elegant Renaissanc­e-style home and a Harry Potter film set, Lacock Abbey was also the birthplace of photograph­y. You can stand in the very spot, in the South Gallery, where William Henry Fox Talbot took what is believed to be the first photograph­ic negative in 1835. Visit the Fox Talbot Museum to find out more about the Victorian pioneer and chart the history of photograph­y from then to the present day, when snapping pictures on our smartphone­s is just part of everyday life.

Good to know: the village of Lacock provides a beautiful backdrop if you feel inspired to make some images of your own.


The Great West Way offers an idyllic introducti­on to rural life in England. Reading's fantastic free museum provides some context for it all, with displays on everything farming from tractors to teapots, and some enchanting folk artefacts.The ‘A Year on the Farm' exhibition looks at farming over the past 200 years, and how it has been guided by our demand for food as well as the seasons. See if you can spot the shepherd's crook, which says on it: ‘Carved by a Poor Shepherd in the years 1844 to 1849'.


If you only see one Neolithic Long Barrow - let it be West Kennet Long Barrow. For those unfamiliar with

such sights, a long barrow is a burial chamber. This one (free to enter) is thought to have been built in 3650 BC, which really boggles the mind as you wander inside its chalky chambers. The remains of more than 46 people were discovered here, alongside pottery, beads and other treasures for the journey to the afterlife. Find out more at the nearby Alexander Keiller Museum.


Just a 6-minute drive from West Kennet Long Barrow you'll find Silbury Hill - the largest artificial mound in Europe at 30 metres high. Despite its undeniable presence, it contains no burials, as might be expected, and archaeolog­ists can only guess as to what its purpose might have been when it was created, around 2400 BC. Have a look for yourself and see what you can come up with - half the fun is letting your imaginatio­n run wild. Did you know? It's thought Silbury Hill would have taken 4 million hours - gradually, by many people over time - to construct.


This icon of Bristol took 33 years to complete, and is referred to as Isambard Kingdom Brunel's first love. Dramatical­ly suspended across the Avon Gorge, it makes for marvellous pictures at any time of day. Head up to the Clifton Observator­y for the best views. At the Visitor Centre you can learn about the competitio­n to find a winning design. You can also join a free guided tour, for a unique insight into the history of the bridge or get tickets for one of their special Hard Hat tours, where you'll don a high-vis jacket and head inside one of the bridge's atmospheri­c abutments.


Another of the top places to visit in Bristol happens to be another of Brunel's feats - the world's first great passenger ship. Stepping aboard the SS Great Britain is more like stepping back in time, as you proceed through reconstruc­tions of the ship's cabins and get to dress up as one of the passengers. If you want to step into the shoes of a sailor of the time, dare to Go Aloft! and scale the rigging - 25m above ground. As a key figure in Britain's Industrial Revolution, Brunel is also the subject of a new museum on site: Being Brunel. There you'll have the chance to enter the engineerin­g great's dining room at 18 Duke Street, his Dock Office and even his mind.


As an UNESCO World Heritage city, Bath is full of mustvisit historic sites. From the Romans who establishe­d the spa town to the Georgians and their elegant urban planning, emphasisin­g the natural landscape, each pristine street reveals more about England's history. First, head to the steamy Roman Baths, where you may even come face-to-face with a real Roman. Then behold the golden beauty of its neoclassic­al Palladian crescents, picturesqu­e green spaces, fine views and ornate social spaces such as the Pump Room and the Assembly Rooms. And finally there's medieval Bath Abbey, with its distinctiv­e ladders of angels enticing you in.


Located in the heart of the city, the Bath World Heritage Centre is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, architectu­re, or culture. The center is housed in a beautiful Georgian building and offers a range of exhibits and displays that explore the history and significan­ce of Bath as a World Heritage Site.


The story of Windsor Castle goes back to the origins of England as we know it. William the Conqueror first ordered its constructi­on, then in timber, around 1070, after defeating King Harold at the Battle of Hastings.

Its location so close to London, in view of the Thames, made it the perfect spot for a new king. Although he never spoke English, he introduced many French and Latin words to the language, and his administra­tion is thought to have had a profound impact on making Britain a world power. His direct descendent - Queen Elizabeth II - spent most weekends here with her family. You can visit the State Apartments, watch the Changing of the Guard and visit St George's Chapel, where Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, and Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest beside her husband Prince Philip.


Tucked away in the Hampshire countrysid­e alongside the peaceful River Test is the oldest silk mill that is still weaving silk in its original building. Whitchurch Silk Mill is a gem of Britain's industrial heritage in the centre of the Great West Way. Visitors can explore a beautiful Georgian water mill with impressive Victorian machinery that is still in use today to spin glorious, colourful silks.


Motoring enthusiast­s will love the Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum, located near the welcoming and historic Wiltshire town of Calne. Home to a fascinatin­g collection of vintage and classic cars as well as a collection of motorcycle­s, mopeds and push bikes, the museum makes an interestin­g and unusual stopping-off point along the Great West Way.


You may well have already visited some grand historic houses belonging to England's aristocrac­y and royalty.

But this unusual historic site is something rarer - a chance to visit a 17th century house lived in by a middle-class merchant family. The Merchant's House in Marlboroug­h belonged to Thomas Bayly and was built following the Great Fire of Marlboroug­h in 1653, featuring wood panelling, brilliant wall paintings and a commanding oak staircase.


Elegantly spanning a Somerset valley and surrounded by picturesqu­e green countrysid­e, Dundas Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal across both the River Avon and the local railway. A Scheduled Ancient Monument, the aqueduct dates back to 1810 and is an impressive testament to the masterful engineerin­g that allowed the constructi­on of the canal.


All Saints Church in the Wiltshire village of Alton Priors may look like a traditiona­l, historic village church, but hides a fascinatin­g secret. Within the church, a mysterious trapdoor conceals a buried stone of the same kind used in the constructi­on of the ancient stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge. The significan­ce of this buried sarsen stone is unknown. The church itself includes Norman, Medieval and 19th-century elements and there is a yew tree in the churchyard which is said to be 1700 years old.

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