, , / October 3rd, 2019

Motorhome Must Dos: The Great West Way

UK Road Trip: Bristol to London via Salisbury & Newbury.
Words & pics by guest blogger & motorhome maniac Dane Preston.

Azure X: Do you fancy a luxury motorhome for a week, on us?

Me: What's the catch?

Azure X: Take pics and write notes so we can share with other members.

Me: Ok, sure. I'd love to. Where do I pick it up?

Azure X: Where would you like to pick it up?

Me: Well, me and my partner quite fancy this Great West Way trip everyone's raving about.

Azure X: Nice, so. . .

Me: So can we pick it up in Bristol, drop it off near London?

Azure X: Of course, email your preferred travel dates and we'll make all the arrangements for you.

Me: Great, thank you!

1. Bristol: Urban Jungle Feast

Start your road trip in vibrant Bristol

Enter imposing Bristol Uni to behold many wonders

After a morning wandering the highveld and cloud forests of the Bristol University Botanic Gardens, snapping Insta-licious Giant Amazon Waterlilies and Sacred Lotuses, we gorge on Tibetan dumplings and Thai doughnuts at St Nicholas's year-round street food market.

See the Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at Bristol University Botanic Gardens

Follow your nose to Bristol's street food markets

2. Avon Valley: Far from a Madding World

Recharge your batteries with views of the Severn from the outskirts of Bristol

We collect our motorhome and the Great West Way adventure begins. Based on one of the first Great Roads commissioned by the Kings of England, it’s a 125 mile stretch bursting with attractions. First stop, Knights Folly Farm, a pitch overlooking the Avon Valley. We unhitch the bikes for a 10k spin on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.

The ever-idyllic Avon Valley at sunset

3. Bath: City of Untold Charms

Pulteney Bridge, a design believed to be inspired by the Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Rialto in Florence and Venice

With a name like Marco Polo, how could our mobile home not visit Roman Bath? After a heavenly soak in Thermae Bath Spa’s natural hot springs on a rooftop overlooking the city, we retire to the motorhome and don breeches, gowns and Venetian masks and twirl the night away in the Spa’s Pump Room at the Regency Costumed Masked Ball, part of the Jane Austen festival.

Have a ball in Bath

4. Bradford-on-Avon: Boating Beauty Spot

Hop into a Canadian and paddle the Avon & Kennet

A relaxed slo-mo morning sauntering the romantic gardens of Great Chalfield Manor. Later, we hire Canadian canoes at Bradford on Avon, paddle the Kennet and Avon Canal to Barge Inn and polish off cured Wiltshire ham, egg and chips for lunch. In the late afternoon, we arrive at Hudson’s Fields campsite in Salisbury, overlooking the Iron Age hill fort of Old Sarum.

Park your motorhome close to this, the hilltop fort of Old Sarum

5. Stonehenge & Salisbury: All About the Light

Early start for the Stonehenge Inner Circle tour. Standing among the towering, 5,000-year-old Sarsen rocks, there’s a real sense of mystical grandeur as the first rays of rising sun touch the ancient stones. Salisbury Cathedral’s soaring spire then lures us into its glass-roofed Refectory Restaurant for tea and scones with jam and Cornish clotted cream.

Salisbury Cathedral, one of England's most iconic images

6. Wiltshire: A 10,560ft High

Jump out a plane

Must be something in the Wiltshire air that encourages daredevilry. Dropping from two miles high, we catch glimpses of a white horse in the Vale of Pewsey. More aerial eye-candy comes with a magical bird’s-eye-view of Stonehenge. Our feet hit the ground and elation erupts, all courtesy of a tandem jump in the safe hands of the Army Parachute Association at Skydive Netheravon.

Westbury/Bratton Horse, the oldest of Wiltshire's white horses

7. Highclere Castle: Downton Abbey Binge

Find an excuse to pull over

We take the A343 northeast towards Newbury. Gorgeous, gently rolling countryside stretches to the horizon and we’ve the road all to ourselves. Many scenic stops later at Highclere Castle, we take our time in the Great Hall, recalling cherished Downton Abbey scenes, such as Atticus’s proposal to Lady Rose and countless ripostes from the Dowager Countess.

Highclere Castle through fields

8. Donington Grove: Let Yourself Go Country

River Lambourn runs through Donington Park, former home of Regency style icon Beau Brummel

From our overnight pitch at Bishops Green Farm in Newbury, we visit Donington Grove, blast away at clay pigeons and learn from resident guide John Stevens how to fly-fish for wild brown trout on the gin-clear River Lambourn.

When in the country. . .

Learn how to catch trout on the fly

Next it’s the trailblazing West Berkshire Brewery, where we sip on award-winning brews Thamesis Stout and Good Old Boy, tour the high-tech brewery and toss a few cases of the dark stuff in our spacious ride.

Hmm. . . decisions, decisions

9. Newbury: Top Teas & Flying Steeds

After a good night of Good Old Boys, the morning brings a need to feed. The Tea Shop by the Canal is perfect. Old world charm, canal-side tables and amazing Eggs Benedict set us up for a couple of thrilling jump races at Newbury Racecourse. Back at the site, we make a fire and enjoy sizzling Vicars Game Cumberlands beneath a canopy of stars.

10. Reading: Festival Town on The Thames

Thames Lido, courtesy of GreatWestWay.co.uk

Hit the road again, to Kings Meadow, Reading, where we work out a few kinks at al fresco Thames Lido. The heated, fully restored Edwardian swimming baths include a Poolside Tapas Bar, where we got stuck into some proper Mediterranean tucker. After marvelling at the old ploughs, wagons and tractors at The Museum of English Rural Life, we’re off again.

How we used to live in the country

11. Bray: UK's Michelin-Star Mecca

That Tudor timbered building in the distance? That's The Waterside Inn.

We greet a new day in Bray, a sleepy village albeit with seven Michelin star restaurants. With funds dwindling, lunch is a cracking Irish Hereford burger at Heston Blumenthal’s The Crown, saving space and pennies for dinner at Alain Roux’s three-star Michelin masterpiece, The Waterside Inn. The Menu Exceptionnel does what it says on the tin. After a divine meal including lobster salad, pheasant velouté soup and pan roasted fillet of Angus beef with blue cheese, we take a super-sated 20-minute saunter back to Camp Amerden Caravan Park.

Monsieur Roux in the kitchen at The Waterside Inn, merci Alain!

12. Maidenhead: Journey's End

Cock Marsh water meadows, the dry side

How do we end such a relaxing UK road trip that showcased so much of the UK’s incredible diversity? By taking a leisurely wander through water meadows at Cock Marsh near Cookham, where you can wild swim the clear, clean Thames. We end with afternoon tea at Monkey Island Brasserie, site of a former monks' abbey set on a lush private island on the Thames. The Monkey Room, with various monkeys smoking, shooting and fishing, is a real hoot.

Monkey suit not required




Keep in the loop with latest articles

Leave a Comment:

Access your week of wow - from just €149 per couple

Apply now for an Azure X taster experience. If you qualify, you’ll enjoy full VIP treatment for 7 nights at Azure X’s flagship resort in Malta. With its pristine Blue Flag beachfront setting, over 8 restaurants and bars, lagoon pools, full-treatment spa and much more, the 5 star Golden Sands Resort & Spa has all the ingredients for the perfect Mediterranean getaway.

Required field
Required field
Required field
Required field
Required field

Thanks for your interest, please check your email address

By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Cookie Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your Cookie Settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.