Selecting a SW England base

Mar 7th, 2010, 10:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 47
Selecting a SW England base

Hello all,
I'm a long time lurker but this is my first post.
Husband and I are spending approx. 2 weeks in SW England and need help selecting a good small town/village to use as a base for day trips. We're starting our trip staying a few days in Bath but will then be picking up a rental car and wanting to move to a more parking/traffic friendly spot.

Places we're interested in seeing: Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury, Salisbury, possibly up into the Cotswolds (but thinking it might be wiser to pick another base for this area).

Looking at the map, there's a wealth of locations to choose from that would be reasonably central to our main areas of interest, but we'd like to hear your thoughts on suggested villages that would be easy to get in and out of with the car and have a selection of local shops and restaurants for when we wanted to leave the car and walk to a pub or restaurant for a meal.

Any suggestions from the wise folk of the Fodor's forum?
NS_Crowgirl is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 11:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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If you want to be within walking distance of a selection of shops and restaurants, you need to look for a small town rather than a village.
nona1 is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 12:27 PM
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What about Sherbourne? We spent a couple of days there and found it easy to get around with lots of things to visit in the town and around the area. They also have a weekly market which was fun. Also Wells is a lovely place. We haven't stayed there but found it an easy place to get around with a car/park.

I would recommend a separate place for the Cotswolds. Personally, I like Chipping Campden, but there are lots of good choices. Moreton in Marsh has train service and has lots of shops, just as not as much character.
rickmav is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 12:32 PM
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>>Places we're interested in seeing: Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury, Salisbury
Not sure you'd need a base for these places. If you had a car, it would probably only take a longish day to leave from Bath, visit these sites and end in your base in the Cotswolds. It's about 4 hours of driving that day, but Salisbury is the only one of those locations that takes a few hours to see.
ssachida is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 02:19 PM
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I agree -- Stonehenge, Avebury and Salisbury don't need a 'base' since they would be an easy day trip from Bath. Glastonbury/Wells are in the other direction so a base for Stonehenge/Salisbury wouldn't be a good base for Glastonbury/Wells. But Glastonbury/Wells/Cheddar in another easy days trip from Bath.

My suggestion, instead of staying IN Bath, stay in a village/town near Bath for 4 days and use 2 for seeing Bath and 2 for drives to Salisbury and Glastonbury. Someplace like Bradford-on-Avon, Melksham or Lacock would work.

Then move on to the Cotswolds and pick a base there for a few days.
janisj is online now  
Mar 7th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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Thanks for the speedy responses!
I perhaps should have noted that I'm a big ancient history and stone circles enthusiast, so I'm not intending to do Stonehenge/Avebury/Salisbury as one day trip.

I'm thinking that when in Avebury, I'll want to do a bit of walking around the stones, also taking in the local museum, Silbury Hill, West Kennet long barrow etc. And with Stonehenge, we have already set up an after hours access as well as planning to visit during regular hours to access the audio guide, plus the sites adjacent to Stonehenge itself... Glastonbury, I want to see the tor, the abbey, chalice well and the white spring, plus some shopping (sorry, that's my sort of thing). I'm notorious for stuffing too much into my travels so I wanted to be sure to leave lots of time for each of these places (hence, my thinking that I wanted a 'base' to go from each day).

I'd like to stay in Bath for the first few days of our trip, without the car, and be walking distance to sites within the city. Then, pick up the car and move outside of the city. I'll check janisj's and rickmav's suggestions! If anyone else has any thoughts, I'm happy to hear them. Thanks again!
NS_Crowgirl is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 08:01 PM
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If you are more interested in Silbury/Stonehenge/Avebury/etc -- then you could stay near Avebury and do Bath and Glastonbury as day trips.

This place is an amazing B&B in Mildenhall near Marlborough. It is very near Avebury, Silbury Hill, the Long Barrow, and the sanctuary. It's close to Stonehenge/Salisbury/Sarum, and a very reasonable drive from Bath.
janisj is online now  
Mar 7th, 2010, 08:06 PM
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oops - hit post too soon. Meant to add . . If you really want to stay in Bath - then do Glastonbury (and Wells -- it would be a shame to miss it) as a day trip from Bath. One full day for Bath and one full day for Wells/Glastonbury would be plenty. Then move to Mildenhall for two nights to visit the rest of your wish list (or 3 nights if you want to do some long walks). Then you'll have a reasonable drive to your next base up in the Cotswolds.
janisj is online now  
Mar 8th, 2010, 05:10 AM
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I've held fire for a couple of days because your post screamed out North Wiltshire but nowhere obvious as a base. And I live here.

To be honest, if I was a tourist I would stay in Bath. None of the places you mention are far away. Agreed, it isn't the place to drive around but getting in and out isn't a problem. Marlborough and surroundings are suitably upmarket as a base but I wouldn't use Melksham, Chippenham or Calne as disappointment might loom. Bradford-on-Avon is nice. If you are moving north to the Cotswolds you might want to look at Malmesbury as a centre for everything.
stfc is offline  
Mar 10th, 2010, 09:00 AM
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We recently stayed in Salisbury and had a good day out at Avebury, West Kennet and Silbury Hill. Back in Salisbury I'd recommend the Cathedral Tower tour and the walk along the river to Old Sarum. Great teashop in Marlborough high St called Polly's.
bellini is offline  
Mar 25th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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Thanks everyone for the input - we've found a spot and have moved on with planning for another leg of the journey.
NS_Crowgirl is offline  
Mar 25th, 2010, 03:54 PM
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hi crowgirl,

as a matter of interest, where did you choose?
annhig is offline  
Mar 27th, 2010, 05:48 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2009
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Sorry, I definitely should have commented on our final choice.

As it happened, friends of my parents offered to put us up (I hadn't even realized they lived in that area, so it was a pleasant surprise for us and our budget). They're in Enford, so quite handy to Stonehenge and Avebury.
NS_Crowgirl is offline  
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