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Castle Combe
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12 brilliant things to do in Castle Combe

Planning a day out in this Cotswolds village? Discover cottages, walks, pubs and more ace things to do in Castle Combe

Written by
Sammy Jones
Written by
Katie Gregory
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Castle Combe is a blast from the past – but in a good way. Lots of effort has been expended to keep it special – for example, no new houses have been built in this tiny Wiltshire village since the 1600s, so you won't have to worry about a new build breaking your immersion in amongst the ancient, honey-hued Cotswold stone cottages (which are its signature feature). Its so unique that its impeccable period features have been the choice setting of beautifully-made TV shows and films including Downton Abbey, Poirot and Stardust.

The village's panoramic views, bubbling river and restrictions on parking make it no surprise that Castle Combe is a mainstay on lists of the UK’s prettiest places. Here are the best things to do in Castle Combe right now.

A perfect day in Castle Combe: the best things to do

First up
Photograph: Adrian Baker

First up

Find the medieval market cross monument near the pretty, Grade I-listed St Andrew’s Church. Head in and spot the faceless clock, one of the oldest working clocks in Britain, and check out the monument of Norman knight Sir Walter de Dunstanville, Baron of Castle Combe, who died in 1270. A tip for history buffs: his crossed legs signal that he went on two medieval crusades. Absolute hard nut. Next, get a snap of Doctor Dolittle’s house from the original 1967 movie. The film’s producers at the time ignored warnings of the county’s rainy summers which persistently interfered with shooting – let’s hope the weather is better for you today. Drop by the village hall, too, to check if the sporadic market is on. If it is, you’re in for a treat – you’ll find locally made pies, cakes, jams, quilts, jewellery and more. Go home with a glut of glorious bits and bobs.

Soak up the vibes

Soak up the vibes

Once you’ve seen this dinky village up close and personal, you'll want to view it from the surrounding hills. You’ll soon find there’s a reason it’s a key attraction within the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty. Slide on your wellies (which are a must in this mud), and navigate up The Street from Market Place to follow the footpath that trails off to the right and into the woodland. The full loop is a gloriously muddy 5.5 miles. Don’t forget to pause now and again to absorb the local wildlife. Depending on the time of day, spot owls, woodpeckers and buzzards overhead.

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Stop for lunch

Stop for lunch

Travelling as a group? For a real village experience, pre-book afternoon tea at The Old Rectory Pop-up Tearoom for a table full of home-baked cakes, afternoon tea and savoury nibbles. This private party venue is authentic old-school English teatime all the way down – just check out those tiny sandwiches, ornate tablecloths and proper china tea sets. If you're a bit more rough and ready, you might want to plump for a bacon butty and coffee in front of the roaring log-burner at The Old Stables. After your walk you'll be glad to tuck into a warm panini and slurp locally-roasted coffee. Otherwise, collect your pound coins and cobble together a picnic from the honesty boxes placed outside locals’ homes – it's that kind of place.

Drink like a local
Photograph: The Manor Exclusive Hotels/Amy Murrell

Drink like a local

Two pubs vie for your attention once you reach Market Place: The Castle Inn and The White Hart. Both are charming pubs filled with the same history you see in every corner of Castle Combe, and more importantly, they both offer freshly pulled pints, roaring fires and charming courtyards in which to rest your walk-weary feet. The Castle Inn offers a fancier food menu both indoors and on its patio. Choose between steak, Cornish crab and the battered fish of the day.

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Splash the cash
Photograph: The Manor Exclusive Hotels/Amy Murrell

Splash the cash

Looking for a bit more luxury? The ivy-covered five-star hotel Manor House is your place to push the boat out. Get your fine dining fix on food fresh from the kitchen garden at in-house Michelin-starred restaurant The Bybrook, sip a freshly-mixed cocktail at the Full Glass Bar or indulge in an afternoon tea complete with clotted cream. If you’d rather be getting active, book in for a day of golf on the championship 18-hole course. Too serene for your tastes? Take a supercar for a spin at Castle Combe Circuit – petrol heads will love it.

If you only do one thing

If you only do one thing

Wander down the hill from Market Place to the bridge at the southern tip of the village for the ultimate photo op. It’s where Castle Combe’s combination of weavers’ cottages, rippling river and wraparound woodland come together in one picture-perfect vista – especially if you can get the church spire into your shot. Perhaps the recent surge in popular period dramas like Netflix’s Bridgerton will inspire you to pose like a member of the aristocracy – either way, you’ll feel utterly resplendent in any season in this gorgeous setting.

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And if you stay the night, wake up here

And if you stay the night, wake up here

Let’s go back to the beginning of your adventure. Arriving in the dreamy village of Castle Combe is fittingly atmospheric, with the main route taking you through a dark tunnel of trees – and The Old Museum, a tiny stone building with cute pastel shutters, is one of the very first you see as you descend into the village. Inside, it’s a petite but bright open-plan space with a little log-burner for chilly evenings. The quaint cottage comes with a rare parking space (winner!) and is just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of the village. Get up early to have its time-warp charm all to yourself before the crowds arrive. From £110 a night. 

Exploring more pretty Cotswolds villages?

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