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Frank's travels around Britain 2008.

Bradford on Avon.


What a gem of a place! Built along a steep valley with it's buildings of Bath stone & with the Kennet & Avon canal running through it, this lovely town is about ten miles from Bath. In fact it looks just like a miniature of that stunning city. The name came from the place to cross the river Avon, it was a Broad Ford. A pack horse bridge then crossed the river in Norman times. This was widened in the 17th century.

During these winter months there were road works & the traffic flow was heavy & slow. I guess, in summer, it would be difficult to get through or park if you left it past mid day. Don't let that put you off. This place is superb.

On top of the bridge is an old small building. It was originally a chapel but later used as a town lockup. The weather vane on top takes the form of a gudgeon (an early Christian symbol), hence the local saying "under the fish but over the water". Near by is an empty building. It has chiselled across one door frame "The Three gables". Amazingly, it was a cafe & not what it looks like, a derelict pub. I think there is a plan to renovate many buildings in Bradford by 2012. I sure hope this is one of them. There are, by the river, factories that look empty. I guess these were its old industries, like the woollen trade. In the centre of town is the old town hall that is now the Catholic church, pristine after the outside has now been cleaned.

The sun was reluctant to shine during my visit & I'm sure it won't be the last time I go there. I missed seeing the famous Tithe Barn & on a sunnier day, I think a walk along the canal to the aqueduct will be brilliant. Nevertheless, the town was begging to show itself off to me. It was the H.Q. for Avon Rubber. Alex Moulton has his bicycle company there today. It is now a place for tourists (The west country  call us grockels or as Granny Mo would say, emmets).

I came in from the south, after staying in Warminster. Following the signs for the car parks, I came out opposite the Granny Mo's cafe on the other side of the Kennet & Avon canal. Now there's a place! Granny Mo is the youngest looking granny ever. She has a great little business in what was the original old wharf building on the canal. It looks like its home from home for the canal folk. Its meant to be comfy & cosy like your grandma's kitchen. Nothing matches, the food is really good & the whole place is unique! Mo is ex Cornish & proud of it. (thats where "emmets" comes from, its Cornish for ants!) I had an unbelievable mixture of a soup. Sweet potato, chilli & coconut!!!! Oh boy was it good! Its came with a huge brown homemade cob & it was delicious. Kept me warm on a freezing day. Mo was on her own on this mid-week winters day, she told me she needs 8 staff, to cope during the summer months. I can well believe it. Good food, plenty to see  & a very attractive, ten minute walk into the centre of town. This place must be packed.

Bradford on Avon may go back to Roman times & the wool industry may have made it rich but this is another Lacock or Castle Combe, only its alive & real people live here. I heartily recommend a visit & don't make it too fleeting!

I must have done something wrong when I visited Warminster. I left the Travel lodge, followed the sign into town, saw the sign for town centre & ended up on the road out! Maybe one day, I'll try again. What ever the system they use to get people into their town, its not suitable for silly old drivers like me!

One morning when the sun was out, I asked one of the people in the Lodge for a local beauty spot to take photographs. This very nice, middle aged lady couldn't have been more helpful. She even drew me a map. Don't tell me west country women have no spatial awareness! It was spot on & I was soon by Shearwater lake ... quite beautiful!

Shearwater is a man-made freshwater lake near Crockerton village, close to Warminster. Part of the famous Longleat estate, the lake is surrounded by mature woodlands and is popular with anglers, walkers and cyclists. The lake is home to Shearwater sailing club. In the late 1980’s the fishery was then developed into one of the country’s top venues. Information from the web says "The Lake holds a big head of carp from 2lb to 26lb providing excellent sport for the specimen and pleasure anglers. The lake also boasts a huge head of bream which produce bags regularly over 50lb. Quality roach, perch, tench and rudd are in profusion making Shear Water a truly mixed fishery. In 2002, 15 new carp were introduced to the lake, weighing in at 15-18lbs. A yearly stocking programme of young, fast growing carp is also in place"

Its been years since I have fished but this place looks idyllic! In the low winter sunshine, all the colours came out, the birds did their own kind of fishing, it was one of those days where a little ice in the puddles enhanced a glorious bracing morning.

The weather forecast had threatened heavy rain, so I made my way to Salisbury so I could get inside if needs be. It's a really attractive city that I have visited before, I love the way the river runs through it's shopping centre, what a mixture the city is. Inexpensive shops are next to places you need a second mortgage to look in their windows.

On this Wednesday, there was the smallest farmers market I have ever seen. I tried a few of the tasters on the stalls which were very nice. I am sure these people believe in everything they sell. Some of the prices seemed eye wateringly high to me. Maybe it's because I'm a northerner on a fixed income that I feel I can't join in on all these goodies! The one stall that stood out as a lady with a very upmarket voice selling Bison meat! I was so impressed with her sincerity & the information she gave out. She claimed that Bison is an excellent red meat source, low in fat, high in protein and rich in flavour. Unfortunately, looking at the size of the portions against the price it was marked up at, it will be sometime before I find Bison on my menu!

I never seem to get enough of the West Country. The melodious accents, the many welcoming people & a never ending supply of very attractive places to see. Every trips a joy!

Links for information on this page:

Bradford on Avon

Granny Mos

Bison in Wiltshire