Car-free adventures aroundStratford-upon-AvonWarwickshire

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Famous as Shakespeare’s home town and stuffed with bard-themed attractions, Stratford-upon-Avon also makes a great base for exploring the wider delights of Warwickshire.

  • County: Warwickshire
  • Great for: castle | culture | museums | parks and gardens | walking |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated March 2022. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 4. Visit Compton Verney

    Compton Verney is an art gallery, landscaped park, folk museum and grand mansion all rolled into one.

    • Bus 77 from Stratford stops every couple of hours right by the wrought iron gates and all visitors walk (or ride the shuttle bus) through grounds, designed by Capability Brown
    • There are sphinx-guarded Palladian bridges over a long, reed-fringed lake, paths winding through wild daffs near a thatched ice house, and stately cedars of Lebanon. Peter Hall filmed A Midsummer Night’s Dream here in 1968 with, among other now-famous cast members, Judi Dench as Titania.
    • Inside Compton Verney, there are royal Tudor portraits, a nude Venus by Cranach, an elegant hall designed by Robert Adam, changing exhibitions, and the UK’s biggest collection of British folk art. The folk galleries, with their elm chairs and paintings of prize heifers, were remodelled in 2018. The intimate new spaces foreground the objects: chopping blocks and chestnut roasters, copper shop-sign sheep, dog weathervanes, an iron pig from a fairground carousel and a giant papier-mâché teapot.
  1. 5. Coughton Court

    About half an hour westwards by bus from Stratford, the delightful house and gardens at Coughton Court (pronounced “coat-en”) make an idyllic day trip.

    • Bus X19 stops near the Thockmorton pub and visitors can stroll back a few steps on the main road and left along the driveway to Coughton Court.
    • Thousands of daffodils surround this Tudor National Trust house each spring, seat of the Throckmorton family since the 15th century. A recent Throckmorton, Dr Tom (aka “Dean of Daffodils”) first devised a colour-coding system for daffs that is still used internationally.
    • There are geese, ranging through the orchard and a tall heron rises from the lush ferns and kingcups in the Bog Garden.
    • A six-mile walk through the nearby countryside passes some of the young groves of the Heart of England Forest project, which aims to create 30,000 acres of woodland in Warwickshire and Worcestershire. The older woods, once a medieval deer park, are full of bluebells in April and May.
  1. Places to stay in or near Stratford-upon Avon

    As you might expect from a well-known tourist destination, Stratford is packed with hotels.

    • One of the best is the Townhouse, just four minutes’ stroll from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and overlooking Shakespeare’s old half-timbered schoolhouse. Behind the castellated façade of the Townhouse are eleven en-suite bedrooms (doubles from £95, room only) in a Tudor-and-Georgian building with pre-theatre meals in the restaurant from £15 for two courses.
    • Stratford’s Youth Hostel (dorm beds from £15) is in a Georgian mansion out of town near Alveston in the Warwickshire fields. You can get there on bus 15, which stops outside the gates.
    • For reasonably-priced accommodation that is simpler to get to, the canalside Premier Inn is a short walk from the railway station.
    • If you’re going to be catching several buses, you might want to think about a day ticket of some sort. Stagecoach have them from £4.50, but some of the buses you might want to get (like bus 77 to Comoton Verney) are run by local company, Johnson’s. Their day tickets for the town area start from just £2.20.
    • For more information about the area, head to Visit Warwickshire.