As you can tell from the title, the second to last part of our UK road trip was pretty eventful – we crammed a lot into this day! In fact, it was even more than the title makes it appear – we had another stop too! But first a quick note – it’s my blog’s 7th birthday today – WOW!! 7 years of posting here, I can’t believe I’ve managed to keep it up 😀 But on with the road trip for now:
The night before, we’d stayed in Montacute in the most gorgeous Airbnb. We were reluctant to leave as it meant we were coming towards the end of our holiday, but we got an early start after a lovely breakfast and headed off. First stop was Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, home to the iconic Hovis advert. My mum and dad had the music from this playing at their wedding, which is all too ironic considering the family business, so we wanted to make sure to stop off there on our travels. The town itself didn’t have a huge amount to see, but the blue sky that day made for a very pretty photo location on Gold Hill – take a look:
We continued on our journey from Montacute to Oxfordshire via Salisbury where we jumped on a Park & Ride bus and headed in to explore the city. I’d actually visited many moons ago, back when I was still at school and did a 2 week Ancient Greek course (also known as “Greek Camp”!) at nearby Bryanston School, and Salisbury was a day trip from there one weekend. At the time, the trip had mostly involved shopping for the disco and social we had that evening, so I wanted to see more of the city this time!
We visited Salisbury Cathedral – a school event had just finished there and we were engulfed in the crowds leaving, but it quietened down as we went in – and had a look at the Magna Carta exhibition. My history teacher at school had this running joke to do with the Magna Carta and him having a secret copy in his cupboard which he would carefully bring out to each year group as they studied it, so I just had to see the “real” thing too!
The cathedral itself is pretty spectacular and definitely something you need to see. I’d remembered it being similar to York Minster, probably as it was the only real comparison I had at the time, but it’s actually very different. It’s set in a larger area of grounds, all green and manicured, and was very beautiful – worth a trip!
We also wandered the streets of Salisbury, buying fudge to snack on and exploring a market we stumbled across before getting on the bus out of town again.
And there was one final stop on our way to Oxfordshire that we weren’t sure we were going to make: Stonehenge. We knew that Stonehenge was owned by English Heritage, whereas we’d become National Trust members specifically for this trip. It’s somewhere I’d always wanted to visit, but it seemed pretty costly for a stop that would be barely half a day for us. Fortunately we discovered when we got there that National Trust members get in free too – excellent tip for any UK road trippers there!
Since I hadn’t thought we’d be able to get in and that we’d just be visiting the shop (and toilets!), I’d left my camera in the car. So when we realised we could get in free, I didn’t turn back for the camera and, of course, we both left our phones too – whoops! While this meant that we got no photos while walking around Stonehenge (which I found really interesting and spectacular by the way), it did mean we were far more immersed in seeing it and finding out more, rather than trying to snap the perfect photo of it that’s probably been taken thousands of times before. I’d love to go again and get an audio tour to learn even more about it as I’m fascinated by ancient cultures.
Then finally we reached our last Airbnb stop of the trip in the village of South Stoke in Oxfordshire. We’d taken a bit of a gamble with this Airbnb booking as there weren’t many pictures or reviews as it was fairly new, but the gamble paid off! We stayed in a lovely modern annexe in this gorgeous village which was light, airy and recently refurbished – it was warm and cozy but also modern and fresh. We liked the bedsheets and sofa so much that we actually bought both of them in the couple of months after we got home, oops!
The annexe was only a stone’s throw from the river Thames, so we went for a late afternoon walk down there before heading out for tea at a local pub, again, a short walk away. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great meal – it was under new ownership and they seemed very confused a lot of the time! Another large party near us had several meals messed up or arriving at the wrong time; we waited a long time, never got the bread as a starter, then our burgers came without any sides. Not great, but never mind!
I’ve got one tiny last bit left of our road trip to share as we met Charley and Frankie at our usual Peak District holiday cottage for the last night, so keep your eyes peeled for that!