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Total Guide to The Great West Way

Welcome to the Great West Way! This is the South’s premier touring route spanning across 500 miles of cities, towns, and countryside linking the Capital city London to the city of culture that is Bristol. Travel along the Great West Way and navigate through the various touring routes, idyllic villages, expansive countryside and much more that awaits on this exciting trail. Find out everything you need to know about the Great West Way.

What is Great West Way?

The Great West Way starting point is London, with the route then travelling through the counties of Berkshire, Wiltshire, Cotswolds, and Bath, before eventually finishing in the vibrant and beautiful city of Bristol. 

You can travel along the route at your own pace, completing it in a day if you so wish, or stop off and take your time touring around the various stunning locations spread out along the Great West Way. 



How can you travel the Great West Way?

Train

Train

About: Buying your train ticket and jumping on board is probably the easiest way to discover the magic of the Great West Way. Starting at London Paddington, trains are accessible along every step of the journey with a direct route from London to Bristol taking just 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

Exploring the Great West Way by train is also a great way to save money as well with unlimited off-peak travel between London and Bristol available on the Great West Discoverer Pass. 

If you’re a train-travelling enthusiast then the route is packed with great spots full of railway history such as Swindon’s STEAM Museum where you can stop off and marvel at the works of world-famous Railway creator Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 

Trains travelling on most major routes can be located along the Great West Way at London Paddington, Reading, Newbury, Hungerford, Avebury, Corsham, and Bath. 

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Car

Car

About: Travel by car and avoid stressing out over public transport by experiencing the wonders of the Great West Way in your own time and from the comfort of your own car. 

The main road connecting the two cities of London and Bristol is the A4 Great West Road that is based on ancient horse tracks and is one of King Charles 1s Great Roads that was involved in the formation of the original Royal Mail. 

The A4 cuts an almost fairly direct path between the two city’s with it taking approximately 2 hours 30 minutes to explore the length of the route. 

The Great West Way isn’t something to be rushed, however, and there are loads of places to stop off, grab a bite to eat, and explore your surroundings along the trail with Windsor, Reading, Newbury, Hungerford, Avebury, Corsham, and Bath some of the most popular overnight locations along the Great West Way. 

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Coach

Coach

About: If you’re looking to unlock the secrets of the Great West Way on a budget, then coach travel may be your best option with extensive bus and coach services located along the Great West Way. 

Coach journeys along the length of the trail are available with providers National Express, Megabus, Stage Coach, and Eurolines with a direct train from London to Bristol taking between 2 and 3 hours. 

There is so much to explore on the Great West Way including historic tours, walking routes, entertainment venues and tons more, so once you’ve reached your chosen destination it’s time to de-bus and get ready for adventure. 

If you want to see more of your surroundings then local bus routes are readily available to take you around the various tourist spots of each destination. 

Connections to other city’s can be found at the main bus stations in London Victoria, Marlow, Reading, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath, and more. 

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What is there to do on the Great West Way?

So you now know how you’re going to travel along the Great West Way, but what can you expect to get up to? Well, there are loads of great activities to join in with along various points of the Great West Way. 

To help you navigate your way through the noise, our brilliant team at Total Guide to Bath have put together their guide to the Great West Way’s best experiences for you to enjoy. 

City culture break

City culture break

Experience: City Culture Break

Locations: Bath, Bristol, London.

London

About: Start your Great West Way in the World’s most famous Capital, London. Explore the iconic London city landmarks such as the London Eye, Big Ben, and Houses Of Parliament, before taking to the monopoly of famous shops that line the streets of London.

If you’re in the mood for some outstanding dramatic entertainment then make sure to visit one of the West End’s famous shows with productions on throughout the week. 

You can travel through London by bus, car (congestion charge applies), taxi, Uber, and tube (our recommendation). 

Land Icons: London Eye, Big Ben, Houses Of Parliament, Downing Street, London Tube Stations, West End. 

Bath

About: Near the end of your Great West Way journey is one of England’s most historic city’s, Bath. Bath is located in the county of Somerset & Avon and is most famous for it’s historic Roman Baths, Gallagher Premiership rugby team Bath Rugby, Spa’s, and vast array of entertainment venues and excellent restaurants and bars. 

Spend a couple of days in the city and explore everything that Bath has to offer. Bath is also surrounded by some of the country’s most sensational countryside with a plentitude of excellent walking routes available. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay the night then you’re in luck because Bath is home to some of the World’s most iconic hotels. Take a look at some of our recommended hotels in Bath here. 

Continue your Great West Way journey by getting on the train at Bath Spa train station. 

Land Icons: Bath Rugby Stadium, The Royal Crescent, Pulteney Bridge, Bath Abbey.

Bristol

About: Bristol is the home of England’s Culture scene and is the ending point of the Great West Way. Bristol is famous for its amazing Harbourside’s and is known as the Capital of the South-West. 

Explore the streets of this colourful city by starting your day with a Bristol Street Art Tour and marvel at some of the masterpieces of iconic street artist Banksy.

If you’re a sports fans then Bristol is the place to be, with the city playing host to both English Championship club Bristol City, and Gallagher Premiership Rugby club Bristol Bears, both of whom play at the Ashton Gate Stadium. 

Bristol also has a thriving nightlife scene with its vast array of pubs, bars, and night clubs all located within close proximity of one another and has something suitable for everyone of all tastes. Find out more about Bristol’s nightlife scene here. 

Get the train out of Bristol Temple Meads with trains running directly from the station to London Paddington. 

Land Icons: Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol Cathedral, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton Observatory, Bristol Zoo. 

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Family Fun

Family Fun

About: Family Fun is at the heart of The Great West Way experience, and from London to Bristol there is a whole host of exciting family-fun activities to get stuck in with. Starting your Great West Way journey in London, excitement is just a stone's throw away with the world-famous Lego Windsor a short train ride away. 

Watch your little one's faces fill with joy as they interact with their favourite Lego characters, ride on the exhilarating attractions, and stuff themselves with sweets as the whole family experiences a great day out. If your kids aren’t ready to put the Lego down once the day is over, then you can continue the fun by booking in for a night at the Lego Windsor hotel.

Once you’ve conquered Legoland, it’s time to get back on track with your Great West Way journey, and in Swindon, you can discover the exciting history of Britain’s marvellous railway creations at the STEAM Museum. 

Marvel at the works of world-famous Railway creator Isambard Kingdom Brunel and take time exploring everything Swindon has to offer. 

When you’re ready to continue your journey, set off towards the final destination of Bristol and encompass all of the wonderful family fun activities that the city of culture has to offer. 

Land Icons: Legoland Windsor, Longleat, Bristol Zoo, Swindon STEAM Museum, etc.

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Food and drink

Food and drink

About: England is home to the world’s most diverse and varied food and drink scene, with city’s around the country stocked with an abundance of culinary cuisines, late-night drinking spots, and a host of traditional English pubs. Fortunately, as you travel through the South-West on your Great West Way journey, there are a bountiful of outstanding food and drink destinations for you to experience. 

Setting off from London? Then why not explore the diverse food and drink scene of our capital with different areas of London serving up some of the World’s best food. If you’re in the mood for a taste of Asia then head to Chinatown for an evening experience like no other. 

If London isn’t your scene then fear not because the Great West Way serves up a plethora of great food and drink locations. 

Stop off in Bath and explore the culinary scene of the South-West by visiting some of the city’s best restaurants. Enjoy a luxury meal at The Pump Rooms, dine in splendour at The Abbey Hotel and ArtBar, or maybe take a trip to the famous Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa and experience a meal of the highest quality. 

Your Great West Way journey doesn’t stop once you get to Bristol though because the city of culture is full of great food and drink destinations! So whether your a vegan looking for a new and flavoursome meal or a meat-eater on the hunt for your next carnivorous tuck in, there is something for everyone in Bristol!

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Through the ages

Through the ages

Experience: Through the ages

About: Grab your rucksacks and get ready for a historic adventure as you travel through the ages exploring the history of the famous North Wessex Downs. 

Established as one of the nations Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, North Wessex Downs is formed using parts of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire. 

Explore the historic beauty of the Downs and travel through the ages as you get an understanding of prehistoric ages right through to the start of the industrial revolution.

Take a stroll in the ancient woodland, watch the water flow through the chalk streams, and experience drama at the watermill tuned theatre as you start to unlock the magic of the Great West Way. 

Whether you’re looking for a short and exciting day trip or a longer stay, North Wessex Downs is a wonderful place to start exploring the Great West Way. 

Land Icons: Avebury, Uffington White Horse, Kennet and Avon Canal.

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