England’s most pleasant pub crawl? A Byway itinerary (7 days)

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Christopher Wilson-Elmes

Sawday's Expert

5 min read

Never ones to stumble round city streets from bar to bar, but always fancying a few drinks in the sunshine, we were delighted to team up with sustainable travel experts Byway to create a seven-day South West itinerary that sends you rambling through some beautiful spots. It just so happens that many of those spots are wonderful pubs, but in between refreshment stops we find historic sites, stunning architecture and some wonderful views of classic English countryside.

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Your Sawday’s journey to the West Country

This is a 7-day itinerary from sustainable travel experts, Byway. You can book it here, or get in touch with them to tailor this trip or any of their other journeys to your own needs.

Explore Byway & Sawday’s 7-day West Country itinerary >

London to Bath 

For anyone coming from London, the journey begins with a civilised 10:30 am departure that has you in Bath just before midday. This gives you plenty of time to take your first wander through the small city’s grand streets and maybe a look round the smooth stone buildings of the new shopping district by the station. With two nights here, you’ve got a full day to do things like the world-famous Roman baths, which it’s essential to book in advance. Another city highlight worth booking is the more modern spa, Thermae, whose rooftop pool gives you a unique way to get a view of your surroundings. Once you’ve checked into The Roseate Villa, the bright cocktail bar makes a perfect end to your first day and a perfect start to your evening. 

Owner’s tip, from Jean-Luc of The Roseate Villa: Prior Park Landscape Garden, to the south of Bath, was designed in the 18th century by the poet Alexander Pope and the famous landscape gardener Capability Brown. It’s now owned by the National Trust and offers beautiful walks and views of the city. 

Stay at The Roseate Villa >

Bath to Frome 

With Frome only 40 minutes or so down the line on the train and services running regularly, you can head over whenever you wish, but if you’re a fan of markets, you might want to get there early. The Frome Market, an increasingly expansive affair that takes over the whole town centre, is held monthly, generally on the first Sunday of the month. The whole broad high street is pedestrianised and lined with stalls selling everything you’d expect of a creative town surrounded by great farmland. There’s music, food, crafts and even, on our last visit, a sort of hay bale disco area for kids, which was surrounded by relieved looking parents and sited suspiciously near a hut that sold mulled wine. When’s the market’s not on, a stroll by the canal is a lovely way to pass the time, but there are also two theatres and several music venues worth keeping an eye for evening entertainment. Your room above the bustling Bistro Lotte makes it almost too easy to drop downstairs for dinner before you hit the town. 

Owner’s tip, from Charlotte of Bistro Lotte: Just outside Frome, in Faulkland you’ll find a beautiful lavender farm. You can wander through the fields and pick up all manner of gorgeous lavender products in the shop. 

Stay at Bistro Lotte >

Explore Byway & Sawday’s Frome weekender itinerary >

Frome to Bradford-on-Avon 

Another easy trundle through the countryside brings you to Bradford-on-Avon. While trains take about half an hour and are very frequent, you can make a good half-day hike out of the trip instead, although it’s definitely one for more experienced walkers. Once you arrive in the leafy little village, there’s not much to do except relax and take it in. If you’ve walked all the way, put your feet up and start lunch early. If you took the train, then there are some lovely stretches of the canal path on offer to work up an appetite. Your home for the night, Timbrell’s Yard, is a simply gorgeous riverside pub, with a garden to find a sunny spot and linger in for hours. It’s a good thing your room is just upstairs.  

Owner’s tip: Bradford-on-Avon boasts a 300-seat concert hall, renowned for “the finest acoustics outside London”. It’s worth checking the programme for when you’re visiting, or even scheduling a visit around an event. 

Stay at Timbrell’s Yard >

Explore Byway & Sawday’s Bradford-on-Avon itinerary >

Bradford-on-Avon to Lacock 

When you hear the phrase “quintessential English village” Lacock is the place that comes to mind, even if you’ve never been. It’s thatched roofs and wonky stone cottages have made it the backdrop to numerous period films and TV programmes. It’s almost completely owned by the National Trust, meaning it’s extremely well preserved. While it can get busy in the height of summer, sneaking in off season can give you a much better to wander at the slow pace the village deserves. You’ll finish the day and the trip, dining and sleeping surrounded by history, at Sign of the Angel, a 500-year-old inn. The ownership of an energetic pair of brothers has seen the menus revamped but the stones left unturned, with the huge fireplace the proud centrepiece it has been for half a millennium.  

Owner’s tip: You can’t come here and not visit the famous Lacock abbey, once home to William Henry Fox Talbot, pioneer of photography. You can stroll the woodlands grounds and botanical garden for hours! 

Stay at Sign of the Angel >

Lacock to London

The journey home ease you slowly back into urban life after your days of idyllic peace. A quick bus over to Chippenham and a train to London could see you back in the capital before lunch, although later journey times offer a few more precious hours away from the big smoke, enjoying the leafy quiet of the South West. 

Explore Byway & Sawday’s break in Lacock >

Looking for more train travel inspiration?

Byway don’t just travel to the West Country! Their transport nous can take you anywhere from the wilds of Scotland to the toe of Italy’s boot. Here are a few of their other trips around the UK to give you an idea, from a pleasant Sussex ramble and a wander through Dorchester to a hike in the hills near Malham.

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Christopher Wilson-Elmes

Sawday's Expert

Chris is our in-house copywriter, with a flair for turning rough notes and travel tales into enticing articles. Raised in a tiny Wiltshire village, he was desperate to travel and has backpacked all over the world. Closer to home, he finds himself happiest in the most remote and rural places he can find, preferably with a host of animals to speak to, some waves to be smashed about in and the promise of a good pint somewhere in his future.
View more articles by this author

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