Archive for July, 2008

Wiltshire Road Trip

The sun made an unusual appearance here in the UK this week so we’ve been out on the road in Wiltshire (and a little bit of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset).

Where have we been?  All over.

In the south and west of Wiltshire there’s been Stourhead, Mere, Old Wardour Castle, Fovant, Dinton Park, Wilton.  We also popped into Dorset to photograph Shaftesbury and Somerset to climb King Alfred’s Tower.  Views from the tower across much of south west England are worth the effort.

In the north, we’ve been to Malmesbury and across the border into Gloucestershire with the National Arboretum at Westonbirt.

There’s also been Devizes, Avebury and Marlborough to the centre of the county.

With that, we’ve pretty much covered all the main attractions and locations in the county.  We’re now working on a system to enable others to upload attractions which is how we’ll fill all the gaps that exist in our coverage of the county.

Next stop, Devon 🙂


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Dear Museums

Dear Museums,

We love you.  You make us very happy, expand our minds, reveal lives and lifestyles we never knew existed.

So why don’t you let us spread the love?  We know why we can’t take photos, we know why video is frowned upon but why not take a few picis for us and shoot some short videos we can use to promote you?  It’ll be a day’s work.  100 photos and a handful of videos.  Make them available on your websites or dump them on a technology platform like www.picturetheuk.com so other people can take your photos and spread the love.  Post your videos on YouTube and let us at them.

Come on, don’t be coy.  We love you.

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Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, Wiltshire

In 2002, I took my baby daughter to Malmesbury Abbey.  A great place in a beautiful north Wiltshire town.  Yesterday, six years on, we returned.  Still a great place, still a beautiful town.  What was different were the ‘Abbey House Gardens’.

I’ve never visited a city, town or village where I’ve thought ‘Christ, I’d like to live there’ because of a single (tourist) attraction.  The ‘Abbey House Gardens’ are a first.

The gardens are breathtaking, especially the lower gardens behind the house which run along the banks of the Avon.  The people are wonderful (google ‘The Naked Gardeners’).  The tea rooms, views, vibe are just magnificent.

If I lived near this place, I’d buy a season ticket. 

Season tickets: Adults £27.50, Concessions £22.50,  Families (2 adults + 2 children) £60.00

The Abbey House Gardens: http://www.picturetheuk.com/uk-tourism/attraction/the-abbey-house-gardens-1176.html

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This other Eden (6): Meldon Hill

The medieval stannary town (a place where tin was traded) of Chagford lies in the north east of Dartmoor National Park.  A path from town climbs Meldon Hill.

Meldon Hill offers panoramic views of this part of the Park.  To the west are two mountains, Yes Tor and Willhays.  The very popular Haytor is silhouetted to the south east.  All the way north is the outline of Exmoor National Park in Somerset and Devon.

Chagford and Meldon Hill are great places to start exploring this part of the world.


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Details: Swanborough Tump

A ‘tump’ is a mound.  The word derives from the Latin word ‘tumulus’.  Swanborough is an area in the Pewsey Vale in Wiltshire, South West England.  Swanborough Tump is, therefore, a mound in this area.  The mound refers to a possible prehistoric barrow or perhaps more likely a Roman or Saxon burial mound. 

Today, there is a sarsen stone and an engraving which states that Alfred the Great met his brother here before battling the Danes.  Eventually, Alfred defeated the Danes and England as we know it today began to evolve.

So, from a detail, a stone and an engraving on the side of the road, one can begin to picture the UK’s past from its prehistory through to the present which makes details important.

The engraving: ‘Swanborough Tump – Swinbeorg c850.  Here in the year 871 the future King Alfred the Great met his elder brother King Aethelred I on their way to fight the invading Danes and each one swore if the other died in battle the dead man’s children would inherit the lands of their father King Aethelwulf.’

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK

UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  There are 24 of them in the UK and some, if not all, should be on every UK traveller’s list of ‘attractions-to-see-before-I-die’.  Here they are, by country:

Blenheim Palace (1987)
Canterbury Cathedral – St. Augustine’s Abbey – St. Martin’s Church (1988 )
City of Bath (1987)
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (2006)
Derwent Valley Mills (2001)
Durham Castle and Cathedral (1986)
Ironbridge Gorge (1986)
Dorset and East Devon Coast (Jurassic Coast) (2001)
Frontiers of the Roman Empire (Hadrian’s Wall) (1987, 2005)
Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens (2003)
Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (2004)
Maritime Greenwich (1997)
Westminster Palace – Westminster Abbey – St. Margaret’s Church (1987)
Saltaire (2001)
Stonehenge and Avebury Stone Circle (1986)
Studley Royal Park and Fountains Abbey (1986)
Tower of London (1988 )

Edinburgh Old Town and New Town (1995)
Heart of Neolithic Orkney (Maeshowe • Ring of Brodgar • Skara Brae • Standing Stones of Stenness) (1999)
New Lanark (2001)
St. Kilda (1986, 2004, 2005)

Castles and Town Walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd (Beaumaris Castle • Caernarfon Castle • Conwy Castle • Harlech Castle) (1986)
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape (2000)

Northern Ireland:
Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast (1986)

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This other Eden (5): Marlborough Downs

Marlborough is an affluent market town in the middle of Wiltshire.  There’s a wide high street, shops and shoppers you might find in London and an elite UK boarding school.  The Noble Laureate William Golding (‘Lord of the Flies’) lived here and Cardinal Wolsey (Henry VIII and The Dissolution of the Monasteries) was ordained priest in one its churches.

More interesting are the Marlborough Downs which sorround the town.  Home to numerous hill forts and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avebury.  The Ridgeway National Trail cuts through rolling hills and offers spectacular views of Europe’s largest man made hill called Silbury Hill.

To the south the steep scarp face leads down into Pewsey Vale.  To the north, there are breathtaking views over Swindon to the White Horse Vale (Uffington) and towards the Cotswolds.

A great place to spend your time (and money if you choose to stay in Marlborough 😉 ).

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This other Eden (4): Isle of Rum

Off the western coast of Scotland there are hundreds of islands.  Big ones such as Skye and little ones such as its neighbour Rum.  You can hop on a ferry, boat or speed boat to Rum and take a guided tour around its main attraction, Kinloch Castle.  There’s an organ under the stairs, a Victorian power shower and a very private ball room in which very private parties were held.  Home to a seriously wealthy industrialist, Kinloch Castle was used by Dukes and City bankers. 

If you’re on a boat or speed boat trip, it’s likely you’ll be taken to see Kilmory Beach with its deer and pale sands.  The BBC shoot the series Autumnwatch here to follow the progress of stags during the rutting season.  Also look out for the building just off the beach where servants washed the laundry for Kinloch Castle.  Note that the castle is on the other side of the island!

Oh, and one last thing.  The midges here are bad, very bad. 

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