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Sports Guide

Sports Guide

Watch it, play it, but most of all enjoy it.

Throughout the Great West Way you’ll find some amazing ways to experience British sport, from cheering along the home team at a football match to placing your bets at a horse race. And as well as all these special spectator experiences, there are plenty of opportunities to get active yourself. Here’s a few ideas to inspire your sporting break…

Watch ‘the beautiful game’

Football in England is not just a game but a national obsession. Even if you’re not a football fan, it’s hard not to get swept away by the atmosphere at a good match. See what all the fuss is about at a game in Bristol, which has multiple teams. 

Bristol City, whose home stadium is Ashton Gate, and Bristol Rovers, at Memorial Stadium, have a historic rivalry. While top performing Bristol City Women’s F.C. can be found at Stoke Gifford Stadium. There’s also the Easton Cowboys & Cowgirls. This inclusive, egalitarian club’s activities go well beyond football including travel, social events and championing important causes. No surprise then that graffiti artist Banksy was once a member (apparently he played in goal).

If you prefer your sport a bit boisterous, you could go and see Bath Rugby play at The Rec by the River Avon. The team’s been going strong for more than 150 years, making it one of the oldest teams in the world. Did you know? In 1971, Mollie Gerrard became the first woman president of Bath Rugby, and indeed any rugby club. 

Horse riding & rowing 

There’s a strong horse riding heritage running through the Great West Way, and many tracks where you can watch races and put money on your favourite horses. Ascot is of course the most famous, hosting Royal Ascot in June, but there’s many other racecourses in the region including those at Newbury, Windsor and Bath. And don’t miss Barbury International Horse Trials in July, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Marlborough Downs. Did you know? In British horse racing, a horse’s name can only have 18 characters and must not be the same as any others. That explains the long names with no spaces, such as Shutthefrontdoor.

Henley-on-Thames is world-renowned for Henley Royal Regatta, which takes place in July, but you’ll find various other rowing events throughout the year along the River Thames. Like Henley Women’s Regatta, Marley Regatta (now at Dorney Lake near Eton) and Marlow Town Regatta - a great one for kids with its family fun day, Dragon Boat Festival and dog show.

If you’re inspired to have a go yourself, there are multiple companies along the touring route offering horse riding and rowing experiences. Explore Salisbury Plain on horseback, stopping for a nice cup of tea and a biscuit while you take in the scenery (see Salisbury Plain Safaris). Or for an unforgettable time on the water, have a gold, silver or bronze rowing session in Henley-on-Thames with Olympic rower Toby Garbett. 

Take your travels up a gear

If you like high octane sport, have you ever raced a rally car? Incongruously located in ‘the prettiest village in England’, Castle Combe Circuit offers petrol heads the possibility to tackle high speed laps and time trials themselves, as well as experience a white knuckle passenger ride with a pro driver at the wheel. 

Fun and games

See who can jump the highest at the Extreme Trampoline Park in Bath or Freedog in Swindon and Bristol. At Freedog centres you can also try freerunning - flipping, spinning and doing tricks while in transit. All in a safe, supervised space. 

A few more ideas… 

●    Play a game of ping pong at one of these tables in pubs, bars and outside spaces along the Great West Way and beyond.
●    Have a go at sailing at Cotswold Water Park or on the River Thames.
●    Channel your inner Chris Hoy and whizz round the tracks on the velodrome at Palmer Park, Reading (adaptable bikes available).
●    Take a tandem ride around Bristol with Bristol Tandem Hire.
●    Delve deeper into rowing history at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames.

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Product Information

  1. Castle Combe Circuit


    Ultimate motoring thrills for adrenaline junkies.

  2. What's happening in Newbury?


    Alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal, the largest town in West Berkshire, Newbury, has a bustling high street with many interesting shops, which include unique stores such as family-run department store Camp Hopson.

  3. Bath


    The golden city of Bath has been welcoming visitors for over 2,000 years. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Bath is home to some of the most impressive architectural sights in the world such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney.

  4. Marlborough

    Marlborough is situated in the picturesque rural north-east of Wiltshire.

    Much of its great natural beauty is environmentally protected and it offers the discerning visitor a unique blend of modern attractions and facilities. Site of a twice-weekly market, the High Street is one of the widest in…

  5. Henley on Thames

    Henley On Thames

    South Oxfordshire is an area full of natural beauty, picturesque villages, shops to browse and places to stay and to eat.

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Castle Combe Circuit (51.4984,-2.21966)Bristol Tandem Hire (51.45049,-2.59477)23.9
Bristol Tandem Hire (51.45049,-2.59477)Bristol (51.45152,-2.59816)0.24
Bristol (51.45152,-2.59816)What's happening in Newbury? (51.40368,-1.32427)79.73
What's happening in Newbury? (51.40368,-1.32427)Bath (51.3856,-2.36168)64.88
Bath (51.3856,-2.36168)Marlborough (51.41998,-1.73264)39.47
Marlborough (51.41998,-1.73264)Henley on Thames (51.53528,-0.90088)53.18
Total Distance *261.34 miles
Estimated Journey Time8.41 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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