June Walks Giveaway: Malmesbury, Wiltshire
This walk is reproduced from our popular walking book 'Guide to Wiltshire Pub Walks'
📥 To download this walk and take it with you, click here!
Distance: 2.5 miles
Alfred the Great granted Malmesbury a charter in around AD 880, making it England’s oldest borough. History is everywhere in the town; the ancient abbey is but the jewel in the crown. Also lying along the way on this walk are the market cross, dating from 1490; almshouses dating from the 17th century; and a four-storey former cloth mill. The mill is a reminder that Malmesbury was once a thriving weaving centre, with the River Avon powering the local waterwheels. Malmesbury marks the confluence of two of the Avon’s tributaries, known as the Tetbury Branch and the Sherston Branch. This is a delightful waterside walk, with the riverbank sections providing a marked contrast with the town sections of the walk.
RECOMMENDED PUB (in case you’re reading this in the future, when pubs are open again)
The Smoking Dog, SN16 9AT
HOW TO GET THERE & PARKING
Malmesbury lies 10 miles north of Chippenham on the A429 Cirencester road. Approaching the town from the south, leave the A429 at the first roundabout to follow the ‘Town Centre’ turning. This road crosses the Avon at St John’s Bridge; the Smoking Dog is 200 yards further on, at the lower end of the High Street. There is no car park at the Smoking Dog, with parking on the roadside opposite permitted for just one hour (Sundays excepted).
Parking: 150 metres south of the pub, parking is permitted in St John’s Street alongside the Rose & Crown for up to 23 hours. This should provide ample time to complete the walk! Postcode SN16 9BN for St John’s Street.
1. Continue along St John’s Street, walking away from the B4042. In 200 yards, having crossed the River Avon, turn left immediately past the local bowls club; follow a path along to a bridge over the Avon and a stile. Follow the footpath ahead for 350 yards to the B4040 and a bridge over the Avon. Cross this bridge, and immediately turn left – ahead is an Indian restaurant called the Spice Merchant – to follow a path alongside the Avon through the Conygre Mead Nature Reserve. In 250 yards, the path passes through a gateway to emerge into a parking area.
2. Turn left, cross the river, and follow a path uphill towards Malmesbury’s town centre. At an early junction, climb the steps ahead, and keep on the stepped path as it bears left to emerge in 200 yards by the Whole Hog restaurant and Malmesbury’s market cross. Turn sharply right, and pass through an archway into the abbey’s churchyard. Walk straight ahead to the abbey’s main entrance, before bearing left to leave the churchyard by the Old Bell Hotel. Follow Gloucester Street ahead, shortly passing Abbey Row on the right, to reach the Triangle. Bear left into Bristol Street; after 175 yards, bear left into Foxley Road. Keep on Foxley Road as it bears left to cross the Avon, before following a track on the left to a stile on the left.
3. Beyond the stile, follow a path across meadowland bordering the Avon for 200 yards; you will reach a stone footbridge over the Avon on the left. Ignoring this bridge, follow the river downstream for 200 yards, before veering right across to a gap in the hedgerow. Beyond this gap, turn left to a handgate before following the path ahead for 600 yards, passing through gates bordering the Avon for most of the way, to emerge onto the B4014 by Avon Mills. Turn left; in 100 yards, the first right by the Rose & Crown is St John’s Street. For the Smoking Dog, continue up the High Street for 200 yards; the pub is on the right-hand side of the road.
- Alex Batho