Fancy seeing a gold postbox and having the cake of your dreams in one of England’s quaintest towns? Then read on…
Some travel bloggers have an obsession with the number of countries they have been to, but I’m just as keen to see as much of England as I can. Last weekend, I was excited to visit a new county – Wiltshire – for the first time.
The town of Bradford on Avon (“BoA”), with a population of under 10,000, started life as a settlement around a “broad ford” in the River Avon, hence the name. Situated just south of Bath, it is nowhere near, and has nothing to do with the Yorkshire city, Bradford.
It is the hometown of Team GB kayaker Ed McKeever, and after he won a gold medal in the London 2012 Olympics a postbox was painted gold in his honour. Postboxes were painted gold in the hometowns of every Team GB gold medal winner in the Olympics and Paralympics that year, so there are over 100 around.
As well as a postbox, Ed has had a footbridge across the River Avon, next to the local Rowing and Canoeing Club, named after him.
There is another more impressive bridge across the Avon, the busy road bridge called Town Bridge, which I reckon Ed would have preferred to have had re-named after him. This 13th Century arched bridge is made with the town’s ubiquitous golden coloured stone. It has a small building on it which has been used as a chapel and a prison cell (known as the Lock Up) over the years.
I couldn’t help noticing a shortage of pubs in BoA, and thought it might not be the most exciting place to live in as a teenager. But what it lacks in boozers, it makes up for in cafes and tea-rooms – this is a seriously good town for cake lovers.
We grabbed an outside table at the Grumpy Badger (4 The Shambles; www.thegrumpybadger.co.uk), a place I had heard great things about in this post from fellow blogger WadeandRock. To be honest, the main reason for my 230 mile round-trip daytrip was to sample the raspberry, blueberry and lime cake I’d read about. That particular cake had sold out, so instead I plumped for the white chocolate, peach and pistachio beauty, which was as good as it looks – well worth the petrol money. All the cakes are homemade and the selection is a little more interesting than in your usual café – my second choice was chocolate and beetroot. My only regret was forgetting to return to buy a Grumpy Badger t-shirt. There was another café opposite the Grumpy Badger, several in the square next to Budgens, and a few others scattered around town so visitors will not go hungry.
To burn off the calories, we walked back down The Shambles (a narrow pedestrianized lane of shops in the same vein as, but not quite as impressive as its namesake in York), crossed Town Bridge and strolled for a couple of miles through a park alongside the River Avon. This would have eventually taken us to Bristol, so we back-tracked past the churches, cottages and cake shops of BoA.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day in BoA, a place that is the epitome of the word quaint – the kind of town that, if it hasn’t already, would make an ideal picturesque setting in a TV or film drama.
BoA can be reached by taking the A46 south at junction 18 of the M4. Follow the signs for Bath, then take the A363 for Bradford on Avon.
BoA does have its own rail station in the centre of town – change at Bath Spa.