Staycation Salisbury: City in the countryside

Salisbury’s beauty and attraction is clear to see. From the towering Cathedral, medieval architecture and wealth of unique independent shops, there is plenty to discover throughout the city centre but there is so much more to explore right on the doorstep. 

With many of us staycationing in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the perfect time to make the most of the beautiful countryside around us. 

Salisbury is a city in the countryside with five rivers, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage site just some of the attractions within easy reach. 

Try some of these adventures this summer: 

Give it a punt 

Spend some time this summer messing about on the river! Salisbury Punting gives you a unique view of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Step onto a punt for a chauffeured tour along the River Avon, taking in sites including Salisbury Museum, the Bishop’s Canonry, Medieval House. 

Family fun on the farm 

River Bourne Community Farm is Salisbury’s free to visit city farm which includes fifty-four acres of beautiful water meadows. Pop down to see the animals – pigs, goats, donkeys, rabbits and even alpacas are some of those you’ll find here! There’s also a café and wildlife filled walks through the water meadows. Booking is needed for all visits to the farmyard. 

Myths and magic at Grovely Woods 

Grovely Woods is a large expanse of ancient woodland full of secrets and myth. It straddles the Wylye and Nadder valleys and offers many walks and a great area to mountain bike through. There is a lot to see including evidence of Iron age settlements and a Roman road that runs right through the middle of it. There are also some more unusual elements to hunt down including two bunkers that are thought to be Word War II air raid shelters. They are hidden in the undergrowth but keen eyes can find them! And, just off the avenue you will find the ‘Witches Tree’. It hails back to the 18th century when four sisters – the Hansel sisters – were said to be buried here after being accused of being witches. A gnarled old beech tree that grew over their graves is now a memorial to them, with visitors who manage to track it down leaving gifts. 

Prehistoric discoveries 

Stonehenge has stood proud in the Wiltshire countryside for around 5,000 years and even after all this time its mystery continues to attract visitors from around the world. A visit to the English Heritage attraction allows visitors to see the impressive prehistoric stone circles and learn more about the story behind them and how and why it might have been built. Visitors can walk around the outside of the circle, or opt for a truly unique trip by taking the Stone Circle Experience – which allows visitors to get up close to the stones and learn more about their history. 

Saddle up for some countryside fun 

Over the last 40 years Grovely Riding Centre in Wilton has developed into one of the Souths leading equestrian centres offering a wide variety of activities for adults and children. With Grovely Woods right on their doorstep, it’s a perfect location for hacking. Make your way through the enchanting woods or over the rolling chalk downs, all from the back of a horse. 

For those wanting to take in the flora and fauna of Salisbury Plain (and there’s a lot of it!), there are 3-hour horse-riding safaris on offer. For beginner and expert, these treks will allow you to explore the beautiful countryside by horseback. 

Go wild for walking and cycling 

You don’t need to look far from Salisbury for enchanting, magical countryside. The Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers 380 sq miles of countryside overlapping the boundaries of Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset. It is full of meandering rivers, chocolate box villages and historical relics. Just ten minutes from Salisbury and you’re in the heart of the AONB – this is your chance to leave reality behind and embrace nature! Make the most of what’s to see by taking a walk through the area, or hop on a bike for a day of adventure. The Cranborne Chase website has lots of routes to choose from, including those for horse riding. 

For those who want to try a longer route, The Clarendon Way is a 27-mile walk between Winchester and Salisbury Cathedrals. The name of the trail comes from the ruins of Clarendon Palace, which can be found above Salisbury. All that is left of the once-expansive palace are ruins, but even if you don’t want to walk the whole 27-miles it’s worth taking a trip to the Palace for the superb views. 

If you would like more walking or cycling options head to the Experience Salisbury Live pages. From the Avon Valley path to Woodford Valley walk and Salisbury to New Forest cycle route, we have ideas for all levels. 

City in the countryside 

If you are looking for beautiful outdoor areas in the heart of the city you don’t need to look far – there are many to choose from! Take a cooling summer paddle in the river through Queen Elizabeth Gardens (shown in the photo below). Picnic in Churchills Gardens. Or relax in the tranquil Cathedral Close.  

Make the most of your city centre visit with a trip to Salisbury Cathedral. Not only is it a magnificent piece of architecture, it also houses the best-preserved Magna Carta and the world’s oldest working clock! Children under 13 and those living in the SP1, SP2 and Laverstock areas get in free. Tickets must still be booked in advance, but access to the Refectory and Gift Shop is open without a ticket. 

For more staycation inspiration - including itineraries, blogs and hidden gems – head to the Experience Salisbury Explore pages. And, remember to use #ExperienceSalisbury when posting your Salisbury adventures online! 

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