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7 Reasons to visit Castle Combe in the Cotswolds

Posted: Wed, 30th Nov 2022
Castle Combe

There are many reasons to visit Castle Combe, not least because it’s one of the prettiest villages in the country. It’s got everything you would expect from a Cotswold village and is like taking a step into the past. The Wiltshire village sits within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Castle Combe remains a village of tiny lanes, honey-hued stone houses and local characters. It is pint-sized but perfectly formed and surprisingly for one of the most visited villages in the Cotswolds, beautifully untouched. Read on for a few of our favourite reasons to visit Castle Combe.

Castle Combe Race Circuit

Occupying the site of an old WWII airfield, the Castle Combe Race Circuit is steeped in history. In the circuit’s fuel-filled glory days, drivers including Stirling Moss and John Surtees became regular visitors and both Formula 1 and Formula 2 races had pride of place on the calendar. Today, the race circuit features a programme of club championship races, the Hot Hatch Challenge and much more besides. With driving experiences galore, both as a driver and passenger, and the opportunity to take your own vehicle or a supercar for a spin around the track, this is just one of the many reasons to visit Castle Combe.

Prettiest Village in England

This is frankly a bold but widely upheld statement. Lots of effort goes into ensuring Castle Combe remains an unspoilt, traditional Cotswold village including a refusal to construct any new buildings since the 17th century. The tiny lanes lined with pale gold stone cottages are so synonymous with the Cotswolds and there are no TV aerials or satellite dishes in sight. Visit during the summer months and pretty cottage gardens explode with colour. As the season’s change, the trees in the valley turn every shade of red and gold, and the blue-grey haze of woodsmoke from cottage chimneys fills the air. Carefully restricted parking ensures the views stay panoramic. Our tip for an Insta-worthy shot is to head down the hill from Market Place to the bridge where the weavers’ cottages, River Bybrook and surrounding woodland fit into the frame perfectly.

Ancient History

Finding prosperity in the Middle Ages, like so many other villages and towns in the Cotswolds, thanks to sheep and wool, the original weavers’ cottages form the glorious scenery you see today. When Castle Combe flourished in the 14th century, Henry VI granted the right to a weekly market attracting visitors from far and wide, with traders selling their wares. The market cross still marks the heart of the village. Also taking pride of place in the history of Castle Combe is St Andrew’s Church. It dates from medieval times and is home to the faceless clock, said to be one of the oldest working clocks in Great Britain. There is also a monument to the Norman knight Sir Walter de Dunstanville, former Baron of Castle Combe. He died in 1270 and his cross-legged stance indicates that he participated in not one, but two medieval crusades.

Honesty Boxes

Yes, we mean what we say and it is one of the loveliest reasons to visit Castle Combe. As you stroll through the winding lanes, many of the cottages have honesty boxes on their doorstep or at their garden gate. Take your pick from plants, eggs, honey or homemade jams and chutney, books and cake, even lavender. You can quite literally pick up a picnic as you wander. This is a cash-only enterprise, so fill your pockets with coins, contactless payment won’t cut it here!

Castle Combe Steam Rally

The Castle Combe Steam Rally in May is that most quintessentially English of events and in this era of electric cars, a real slice of living, breathing history. Alongside the wealth of steam and vintage engines, you’ll see classic cars, motorbikes, heritage military vehicles and fabulous fairground steam organs. It’s a wonderful day out and a nostalgic step back into the past.

Eat, Drink & Walk

Begin your visit with a walk, to work up your thirst and an appetite. There are several excellent walks including a gentle stroll around the village, a woodland wander and a circular stroll which encompasses woodland, the beautiful Cotswold countryside and the village of Ford. Keep an eye on the weather and pack your wellies, if it’s been wet you can expect a fun but muddy walk. After a few miles in the fresh air, it’s time to pay a visit to one of the village pubs. The Castle Inn dates from the 12th century, by contrast, the White Hart is a relative newcomer, and has only been welcoming visitors since the 14th century! For a treat head to the Castle Combe Manor House for afternoon tea.

Where to Stay

Maximise your time in Castle Combe by staying nearby in one of our delightful holiday cottages. Euridge Estate is only four miles away and offers three traditional Cotswold holiday cottages and a rustic cabin, as well as the opportunity to stay in the wonderfully unique Orangery. Alternatively, Swangrove House lies on the edge of the Badminton Estate just five miles away and is akin to staying in your own miniature stately home. We also have properties in Batheaston, Marshfield and on the Dyrham Park Estate, which are all within a 10-mile radius.

Read more: Best villages in the Cotswolds

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