THE Great West Way, running from London to Bristol, roughly along the line of the A4 trunk road, is the world’s first multi-modal touring route, with road, rail and water links between the two cities, a direct distance of 125 miles.
If you include the off-the-beaten walking and bike trails and other detours, there are more than 500 miles of beautiful landscape and fascinating historic towns and villages to explore.
To help visitors get the most from their explorations, the Great West Way team has launched a food and drink map which covers breweries and pubs, tea rooms and cafés, fine dining and Michelin star restaurants, as well as farm shops, food markets and festivals. It also highlights food and drink experiences such as cookery schools and distillery tours.
The map is available to download from the Great West Way website and will be available to the route’s network of ambassadors and tour operators.
Take your pick of pubs with great food, including the Michelin-starred Pony and Trap at Chew Magna, and the Red Lion free-house at Pewsey, and regional or county specialities such as Wiltshire favourite Lardy Cake, (one of the best is made by Marshalls Bakery in Pewsey), the famous 6X beer produced at Wadworth’s historic brewery in Devizes, or farmhouse Cheddar cheese in Somerset.
If you are looking for places to stay, the map features Buttle’s Farm at Compton Bassett, where stylish comfort is combined with great food – the owners keep rare breed pigs and make outstanding charcuterie – and the village has a great pub, the White Horse.
Farm shops on or close to the Great West Way include the wonderful family-owned Allington Farm Shop near Chippenham, where you can buy a wide range of local produce including Wiltshire Loaf, a historic Wiltshire cheese.
The chalk soils and temperate climate of the south are pretty perfect for crisp, white, bubbly grape varieties, and English wines are winning international awards. Among the vineyards along the Great West Way are Alder Ridge Vineyard near Hungerford and A’Beckett’s near Devizes.
With the West Country’s wealth of traditional and new food and drink, there are also many food fairs and festivals – check the Great West Way website and map for more information. But a few to look out for are the Great Bath Feast, Bristol Food Connections and the Great British Food Festival at Bowood House.
Fiona Errington, head of marketing at Great West Way, says “As well as showcasing history, heritage, popular attractions and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s important that we encourage travellers to support local businesses during their trips, in the same way that we encourage people to explore areas off the beaten track. The map is a great way for us to showcase the many places on route where they can stop and have a bite to eat, as well as tempt them to take an alternative route and perhaps explore a destination they’ve never been to before.”
During 2019, the Great West Way launched its Rough Guide to the Great West Way and the UK’s largest integrated rail and bus pass (the Great Western Railway Great West Way® Discoverer pass).
To download a digital version of the map or to create an itinerary, visit www.GreatWestWay.co.uk
Pictured: Two of Wadworth’s famous shire horses pulling a dray in Devizes; the Cherhill white horse on the downs near Calne; traditional farmhouse Cheddar cheese; the Pony and Trap at Chew Magna.