One of the most compelling characteristics of Bradford on Avon is its unique location on the edge of the Cotswolds facing the River Avon.
The ancient bridge in the town’s centre remains its natural focus and it still retains two of its original 13th-century arches. The historical view from the main bridge incorporates the hill above the town which is dotted with the old weavers' cottages. The riverbank is flanked with 19th-century former cloth mills.
Visitors to Bradford on Avon get the best of everything – shopping, accommodation, restaurants and inns, river, canal and amazing local history at every turn.
Bradford on Avon on the Great West Way
Bradford on Avon is proud to be featured on the Great West Way route of discovery. So, if you fancy exploring our town as part of a road, rail, hiking or boat trip, the Great West Way is your best companion.
You needn’t always bring a car when visiting as the town has great rail connections to many more amazing destinations across the UK. If you do drive, however, Bradford on Avon is close to both the M4 and M5 with many nearby attractions to explore.
If you choose to visit us as part of a longer cross-country trip, the Great West Way can act as your guide via London, Bath and Bristol – taking a day or two along the way to enjoy Bradford on Avon.
Must sees and dos in Bradford on Avon
Tithe Barn, Barton Manor, Kennet & Avon Canal Boat Trips, K & A Cottage by the Lock Inn, Bradford on Avon Museum, the town lock up, Westwood Manor, the Anglo-Saxon Church St Laurence, Moulton Hall, the Moulton Bicycle Factory, Wiltshire Music Centre, River Avon, Town Market (every Thursday morning in the Library car park), the Shambles, the Lamb Yard Artisan Market (every Friday), Maker’s Market (the first Saturday of the month). If you are a keen foodie, there’s a whole host of cafes, restaurants, and bars for wining and dining, including Timbrel’s Yard, The Dandylion, Ravello, The Bunch of Grapes, and Pablo’s Bistro.
Things to Do in Bradford on Avon
* Family fun
* Afternoon teas
* Food and drink
* Parks and recreation
* Walking tours
* Nature walks
* Stately homes and gardens
* History and heritage
* Art and culture
* Weekly Town Market
* Artisan Market
* Local Maker’s Market
*Entertainment and nightlife
*Tours and sightseeing
Annual events in Bradford on Avon
Pancake Race across the Town Bridge (February), Lions Annual Fun Day (June), Duck Race (April), Green Man Folk Festival (May), BoA Music Festival, Secret Gardens (last Sunday of May and June), Heritage Open Days (September): Walking Festival (September), Flower & Produce Show (September), Big Green Week (September), Fireworks Night (November),Mistletoe Trail (late November/ December), Christmas Light Switch On and Gift Fayre (last Friday in November).
The History of Bradford on Avon
With the River Avon at its heart, the Roman town of Bradford on Avon sits on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, surrounded by glorious scenic countryside. It is no wonder the town has drawn people to the area since the Iron Age.
The Saxons drove their carts across the ‘broad ford’ that gave the town its name – a path you can still follow today – on your way to the impressive Tithe Barn. The Tithe Barn is described by English Heritage as "one of the largest medieval barns in England, and architecturally one of the finest”. Wander back into town along the canal or riverside, and you can’t miss the superb town bridge – parts of which date back to the 13th century – that replaced the ford. Its nine arches span the Avon, and at its centre is a medieval pilgrim chapel, later converted into a lock up for undesirables. Although Bradford on Avon Town Council hold the keys it is now only open to visitors on World Heritage Open Days which are held in September.
Bradford on Avon’s staple industries for six centuries was wool and weaving, starting in the 14th century. The mechanisation of the wool industry in the late 18th century saw the construction of the great mills that still dominate the town’s architecture, along with the rows – or ‘ranks’ – of weavers’ cottages lining the hillsides and streets, punctuated by the grand houses of wealthy clothiers.
As the wool industry declined, largely because of the development of large-scale mechanised and large-scale wool mills in the north of England, it was replaced from 1848 by pioneering rubber works, which operated in the town until 1994 and form yet another of the architectural layers that give Bradford on Avon its unique character.
Nowadays, the cottages, mills and industrial premises of old are joined by independent shops, accommodation and a host of great spots to wine and dine. The town is well connected by road, rail, water to other nearby tourist destinations making it the perfect place to visit even just for one day.
To find out more about what’s to see in Bradford on Avon why not visit the Explore BoA area. For more information on the rich history of Bradford on Avon, why not check out the Bradford on Avon Museum.
Accommodation in Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon is a very friendly and memorising town with plenty hospitality from local pubs and bars to award-winning restaurants. Click here for more information on places to stay.
The Tourist Information Centre is located in Westbury Garden. Click here for more information.
Parking in Bradford on Avon
Local Bradford on Avon car parks can be found HERE.
Off street car parks in Bradford on Avon include:
Barton Farm - maximum stay 10 hours
Bridge Street - maximum stay two hours
Budbury Place - maximum stay 24 hours
Newtown - maximum stay two hours
St Margaret's - maximum stay three hours
Station Zone A - maximum stay three hours
Station Zone B - maximum stay all day
Over 24-hour car parking can be found at the Canal and River Trust Car Park at the end of Baileys Barn.
Public Transport to and from Bradford on Avon
You needn’t always bring a car when visiting Bradford on Avon as the town are well connected by rail to the best of the South West with easy access to services elsewhere.
Tourist Information Centre details
The Explore Bradford on Avon Tourist Information Centre can provide you with comprehensive information on day trips to Bradford on Avon with any group accommodating to any requirements and put you in touch with suppliers for the following:
* Canal boat trips
* Canal boat private day hire
* Blue Badge local guided walks
* Nature and ecology guided walks
* Events and entertainment
* Group friendly restaurants and accommodation
* Family friendly activities
* Leisure and relaxation excursions
* Paddleboard tours
* Shopping and cuisine
* Local historic houses and gardens
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Bradford on Avon is only 18 miles from the M4 motorway which links Wiltshire with London, Bristol and the main M5 artery leading north and south.
There is a railway station in Bradford on Avon, situated within central walking distance of the town. The station is only one stop from the World Heritage City of. Local buses travel from Bradford on Avon direct to Bath and the surrounding areas of Somerset and Wiltshire.
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