Sometimes there is somewhere you either hear about or pass through and you know that you have to go back. I went through Bradford on Avon on the train and was blown away by how picturesque it was on an otherwise rather boring journey. As we had a free weekend ahead of us I persuaded James that we should go on a day trip and whilst initially he couldn’t really see the point of going to a small town that he knew nothing about, but I think he quite liked it once we got there.
One the way we stopped off at Book Barn International, having seen it signposted from the road. It apparently had over a million books and was one of the largest second hand book shops in the UK. I was mainly impressed because it was so cheap! Every book on the main shop floor only cost £1! Admittedly you could tell that they were all second hand and some weren’t in the best condition, but for that price you can’t really complain too much. I think it’s somewhere I’ll be heading back to, particularly as we didn’t try out the café.
Our next spontaneous stop on the trip was to Farleigh Hungerford Castle which was managed by English Heritage. On arrival it looked like quite a small property, but given its size there was quite a lot there as there was both an audio guide and an exhibition. I would recommend the audio guide as it gave a lot more background to the history of the castle and some interesting stories that you wouldn’t get just from the information boards. I admit we didn’t really bother much with the exhibition as we were keen to press on by that point.
Once we eventually arrived in Bradford on Avon the sun was shining and it was looking at its best, it really is a beautiful place. Situated on the banks of a canal it was a lovely space to sit and watch the canal boats, and had we not wanted to see more of the town I think we could have happily spent an afternoon in the sun watching the boats. As it was, we fancied exploring so we headed for a short walk down the canal path and ended up talking to one of the boat owners. Apparently at Christmas all the canal boat owners decorate their boats with fairy lights and sell their wares, creating a floating Christmas market which sounded lovely.
We continued to walk on around the town and saw multiple lovely looking tearooms and restaurants. There were also lots of independent shops, although I have to say that I prefer the Shambles in York. The one here was a bit short. We also ended up going to a rather upmarket pet shop which had a cafe serving dog friendly cakes. The soft toys looked beautiful compared to the lurid toys you often get for pets, and the freezer of meals looked much nicer than in a human supermarket.
Whilst Bradford on Avon is only a small town, there was quite a bit to see if you are happy to take it easy and just potter around. It’s certainly a good place to go in the nice weather. It’s also not too far from Bath so you could easily go for a day if you were staying in Bath for a long weekend.