The Cotswolds is synonymous with natural beauty and Castle Combe, one of its charming villages, is no exception. Located in the county of Wiltshire in the South West of England, it encapsulates the phrase ‘quintessentially British’ and has more than earned its reputation as a chocolate box village. In fact, it was chosen in 1962 as the prettiest village in England. There’s far more to this little corner of the country than its beauty though and I cannot recommend a visit to this tiny little village enough. It feels as though it has been trapped in time and with no new houses having been built here since the 1600’s, it is very easy to see why. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning on paying a visit.
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About Castle Combe
Named on account of the 13th century castle that once stood nearby, Castle Combe is steeped in history. From the Norman Knight who settled there to its historic reputation for wool making, there are tales to uncover from as far back as the 1400s. More recently, the village has become a popular location for filming. Doctor Doolittle, Stardust and Downtown Abbey are just a few of this little town’s more modern claims to fame. But despite the upheaval of becoming a movie set, Castle Combe soon reverts to its slumber that it enjoys between regular influxes of tourists.
Once a centre for cloth weaving, the village lies in a hollow and is approached through a valley, shaded by tall trees. The houses and cottages, church and 15th century market cross are all of the traditional honey coloured stone you expect of the Cotswolds. Stone steps lead up to a covered area next to the Castle Inn and this is once where the wool market used to be held. Leading out of the village is a beautiful old bridge which spans the Bybrook river, a beautiful spot to sit and take the village in from.
How To Get To Castle Combe
By car, Castle Combe is around a two-and-a-half-hour drive from London and upwards of three if you’re setting off from the north of the country but its proximity to the M4 makes it a straightforward drive no matter where you start out. Travelling by train is another option. The village itself unsurprisingly doesn’t have its own station but the neighbouring city of Chippenham does and is then just a short bus or taxi drive away depending on budget. London to Castle Combe is also super easy via numerous bus links such as the National Express which have buses which will take you direct from London Victoria to Chippenham.
If travelling by car (definitely the best option!! – click here to check rental car prices), there is a large car park at the top of the village which is ideal if you are visiting during busy times as there is limited parking in the village. It is only a 5-10 minute walk down into the village from there. If you are visiting earlier in the morning or later in the evening when it is quieter, you can park along the side of the road leading into the village which is free and there are no time constraints on how long you may park there.
The postcode for the carpark at the top of the hill is SN14 7HH for those with a satnav.
Things To Do In Castle Combe
Explore the village itself
Castle Combe offers plenty of entertainment if your tastes are a little more laid back. Venture across the bridge that runs over the Bybrook River and wander into the heart of the village. There is only one main street in this village but it is brimming with beauty. Potter down the lane and take in all the charm, of which there is an abundance! The houses have an other worldly charm about them. You’ll also find locals selling delicious homemade cakes with an honesty box to pay for your nibbles. Potter through the church yard and you will find an entrance to the Manor House where you can explore the ground and the pretty gardens that it has to offer.
Visit St Andrew’s Church
St Andrew’s, the village church, dates back to the 15th century and is home to what is thought to be the oldest working clock in the country – well worth a visit for anyone with a keen interest in history. The tower was built in 1434 at the expense of the clothiers of the village. Although much of the modern church dates back to 1851 when it was restored, there is still a chancel wall from the 13th century and even the 13th century tomb of Sir Walter de Dunstanville who was responsible for building the now vanished castle which gave the village its name.
Go For A Walk Of The Surrounding Area
Have A Ride Round Castle Combe Circuit
What was once an airfield is now one of the region’s most coveted racing circuits that’s welcomed motoring heroes from across the world. Castle Combe Circuit is used by racing clubs from around the country and has even featured on Top Gear but you don’t have to be a professional to experience the adrenalin inducing thrill of this course. It’s a popular destination for track days if you’re after an activity that’s a little out of the ordinary.
Further Reading: How To Spend 3 Days In Wiltshire – more of the very best things to see and do around Castle Combe.
Where To Stay In Castle Combe
The Manor House – The 5-star Manor House Hotel is a popular choice and it’s not hard to see why. The country house and golf club boast stunning grounds, a Michelin star restaurant and their very own pub.
The Castle Inn – Located in the heart of the village, The Castle Inn is not only one of the best pubs in the village but also a great place to spend the night in comfort with rooms that are cosy and stylish.
Castle Combe Airbnb’s – If you’re on the lookout for a place that you can have entirely to yourself then there are a handful or Airbnb’s that you can take advantage of during your stay. If you are yet to use Airbnb (I use them for almost all of my travels!) then you can use my code to get £34 off your first stay.
Where To Eat And Drink In Castle Combe
Castle Combe may be small but you certainly won’t struggle to find somewhere to refuel. Its street has a handful of traditional pubs and cafes to stop by on your travels.
The Castle Inn – This pub at the centre of the village offers freshly pulled pints, roaring fires and charming courtyards, but The Castle Inn wins on fancy food: from a full English to a full-blown roast, it does a great line of hearty homemade fare.
The Old Stables – The Old Stables Coffee Shop is the perfect pit stop for an afternoon refreshment in a super child friendly location. Tuck into a cake or sandwich and coffee in front of the roaring log burner on a cool autumnal day or or sit outside and enjoy the fresh breeze on a warm sunny one. Little tip! If you have got children with you, as you approach the old stables cafe, keep walking to the far left corner of this courtyard and turn right and you will find a children’s playground (totally secure, no other way out than back through this entrance) – thank me later for the welcome distraction whilst you enjoy a piece of cake in peace 🙂
The White Hart – Located across from the market place, this is a popular pub with locals! I love the interior of this pub and it makes for a cosy place to rest for an hour and grab a pint. I do like to stop in here for a drink. If it is food you are after though, I have to admit that we prefer The Castle Inn across the road.
The Bybrook Restaurant – If you want to book somewhere in advance, then the Bybrook Restaurant at The Manor House is a must visit for a special occasion dinner even if you’re not staying there. Be warned though, this is a Michelin restaurant so comes with quite a high price tag for the average day tripper – worth it for that extra special something though!
Looking for other areas to explore in The Cotswolds? These posts might be of interest!
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