Winter is all about the cute and cosy, and nowhere has this more in spades than Castle Combe. Picturesque and ‘chocolate box’ are just some words closely associated with the Wiltshire hamlet, which is as close to the ideal English village as you could describe. See the babbling Bybrook River flow through the centre, as honey-coloured limestone cottages hug narrow streets.
During these cold days, Castle Combe only becomes more lovely. The pub gets cosier with a roasting fire, the views become crisper on icy days, and everything about it is just more, well, lovely. No wonder in August, Conde Naste Traveller named it one of the most beautiful small towns in the world.
If you fancy staying here for a few days over winter, it recommends The Manor House – for its “sumptuous interiors and a foundation dating back to the 14th century, plus quiet gardens just begging you to grab a cup of tea and a book.” For somewhere to eat, head to The Castle Inn, the Michelin Guide-approved featuring “a blackboard of daily specials and dishes that are punchy and full of flavour.”
No new houses have been built in the area since about the 1600s, there are over 100 of the listed buildings in Castle Combe too; nearly all of which are in the Grade II category. This includes two churches and a manor house. So a day trip here can feel like a step back in time to a lost England.
It’s no surprise then that Castle Combe has become a beloved filming location. The village was first used in the original 1967 film Doctor Dolittle, but more recently for a series of Downton Abbey. Other productions shot in the area include Stardust, The Wolfman and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, among others.
Recently, Castle Combe was also voted among the most stylish places to live in the UK, coming in at 12th. The study Furniturebox was based on such things as the beauty of the buildings, scenery and popularity as a filming location. Earlier in the year, Big 7 Travel named it among the top 10 most beautiful places in the country.
Two hours by car, there’s no reason not to visit this quaint Wiltshire village from Birmingham. Wandering through you’ll find honesty stalls selling everything from plants to eggs and flowers; places to grab a pint like at The White Hart; afternoon tea at The Castle Combe Manor; and hampers from The Little Picnic Shop ideal for a lunchtime break.
Motorheads might also be familiar with Castle Combe, which gives its name to the nearby Castle Combe Circuit. Featured regularly on motoring shows Top Gear and Fifth Gear to test cars, it also holds a large number of car shows and track days for all types of vehicles.
The revving of engines won’t bother you as you wander about the village though. This quiet and peaceful village is an ideal getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Birmingham. Castle Combe isn’t the only beautiful village near Birmingham, however, there are plenty of other pretty places to visit too.