RURAL WILTSHIRE – FROM QUIRKY LACOCK ABBEY TO A PEACEFUL KENNET&AVON CANAL

There is no shortage of quintessentially English rural places. And Wiltshire is a perfect example, full of green pastures, narrow and winding country lanes, picturesque villages dotted among chalk hills and over 100 miles of criss-crossing canals.

The Wiltshire landscape manages to incorporate as many English emblems as it can. But even by its high standards the Lacock village with the Abbey in its midst is truly unique.

On arrival, I’m greeted by a quirky Abbey Country House surrounded by woods, green pastures and by medieval cottages untouched by modern alterations.

I gasp with childlike wonder at picturesque, historic streets lined with crooked white cottages or stone houses. Shops, houses, pubs and barns remain exactly the same as they looked in the 18th century.

Apart from many parked cars nothing has changed over the last 200 years and you can expect to bump into Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet at every corner.

No wonder that the village has become a favourite with film producers. It’s most famous appearances include “Pride and Prejudice”, “Cranford”, “The Other Boleyn Girl” and Harry Potter films.

There are narrow, winding lanes to explore and a delightful King John tea house with its peaceful and secluded pub garden and serving excellent cream teas.

Just before St. Cyriac’s Church it’s worthwhile to turn into a small lane Nethercote leading to the Packhorse Bridge built in the 1700s . Two streams link together and encompass the village on one side.

The most historic building is the old Tithe Barn dating from the 14th century and still in a good shape both inside and outside.

After wandering medieval streets and visiting a quaint bakery it’s time to explore the unusual Lacock Abbey and its fascinating 800 years of history.

The Abbey is a mix of different architectural styles and built upon the foundations of a former Benedictine Monastery (nunnery).

You can enter medieval rooms and a cloister court and soak up its monastic past.

Upstairs you will see impressive Tudor halls, treasures of a devious Tudor courtier, the 18th century dining room, the dance floor from the 1920s and William Henry Fox Talbot’s museum. It’s a small museum crammed with photographic equipment and celebrating William Talbot’s contribution to the invention of modern photography especially negatives.

On your way back through this pleasant land, amongst gentle rolling hills and thatched cottages, you can stop to discover the Wiltshire’s main waterway -The Kennet&Avon Canal which runs for 87 miles across the countryside.


In Denizes there’s a great walk along the canal where you can admire Caen Hills Locks in action. The Canal climbs for 2 miles through a series of 16 locks  and it’s interesting to observe boats passing underneath.

A few miles to the east there’s the world’s oldest steam-driven beam engine at Crofton Pumping Station.

The station is open in summer and invites visitors to go inside and see two huge steam beam engines dating from 1812.


Outside there are lovely views across the canal and a big picnic area.

HOW TO GET THERE

the best is by car

Lacock village in Wiltshire SN15 2LG

Denizes Wharf SN10 1EB

Crofton Pumping Station is 2 miles from Great Bedwyn

www.waterscape.com

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