10 charming things to do in Castle Combe, The Cotswolds

Misty Morning in Castle Combe

Castle Combe encompasses everything that a beautiful Cotswolds village should be. It’s quaint, picturesque, full of charm and character, and shares a friendly atmosphere and bags of history.

It is, most definitely, one of my favourite places to be in the world, as well as the UK. Castle Combe holds a piece of my heart – and that of many others who visit this pretty Cotswolds village.

When it comes to things to do and places to stay and eat, how does Castle Combe feature? From pubs and restaurants through to events and shops, my Castle Combe guide has you covered.

I’ve visited this village many times as I can’t seem to stay away! I’m here to help you discover everything you need to know about this UK village, ensuring you can maximise your visit. 

This may be a tiny village, which many travel itineraries see you scooting through in just an hour. But hopefully I will convince you why it’s worth a longer and more relaxed visit.

And yes, you may recognise it from films like War Horse and various television series.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Castle Combe – what you need to know

Let’s kick off with a sublimely wonderful fact about Castle Combe. There’s a very good reason why you feel like you’re stepping back in time here: there have been no new houses erected here in 400 years!

If you want to see what England was like in the past, this is the place to do it.

Unsurprisingly, that means that you won’t find large scale modern hotels or a convenient multi-storey car park.

You won’t even see a satellite dish – all utilities including phone lines and TV cables travel underground.

Expect to feel like you’re experiencing a classic English village in its heyday, because you are. And that’s why I love it so much.

Discover the best hotels in Castle Combe for a dreamy place to see.

Where is Castle Combe?

Castle Combe village is in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in northwest Wiltshire. The closest town is Chippenham which is about five miles to the northwest.

There’s been human settlement here since at least the 1100s when a castle gave its name to the village. The castle is long gone, but its legacy and name remains.

This area of the Cotswolds is about two hours away from London by car, or only a stone’s throw from nearby Bath.

To be honest, I highly recommend having a car for visiting Castle Combe. Getting there is quite tricky otherwise.

However, if you’re dependent on public transport, you can get a train from London Paddington to Chippenham. Then there are occasional buses from there to Castle Combe.

If you’re coming from the West, then Castle Combe is about 30 minutes from Bath by car. 

If you don’t have a car then you can book a tour of The Cotswolds from Bath, which includes a pickup service.

What about Castle Combe parking?

If you’ve brought your car, you’ll need to know about Castle Combe parking. They didn’t have the motor car 400 years ago and you don’t want to be the one to spoil the beautiful views in this village!

Indeed, you’ll be encouraged not to by all the double yellow lines. Only residents can park within the village itself.

Cottages by The Manor House

There is a free car park on Dunns Lane just outside the main village and within walking distance (although watch out for the steep incline).

It takes about 10 minutes to walk into the village centre if you’re taking your time.

Alternatively, choose accommodation with parking. There’s a small amount of parking by the pubs too, on a first-come-first-served basis.

It’s popular to cycle to Castle Combe and avoid parking altogether! Another option is to visit nearby and take in Castle Combe as part of a longer walk.

Get access to my Cotswolds travel guide

I have curated all of my Cotswolds knowledge and recommendations into one comprehensive guide, complete with an interactive map, filtering options and itineraries. 

It’s available to buy through Rexby and you can preview parts of it for free. Get in touch if you have any questions about my Cotswolds guide!

10 best things to do in Castle Combe

When it comes to things to do in Castle Combe, the beauty of this village is that it encourages ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.

You can slow down, go at an easier pace, and simply enjoy the ambience of this iconic village.

Beyond purely soaking up the atmosphere, here are my top recommendations for things to do in Castle Combe:

1. Snap photos

Without a shadow of a doubt, you’ll want to capture this blissful place on camera. The Street beckons, with the stone bridge covering the stream – see if you can spot trout in the waters bubbling below.

If you want to be sure of a snap that’s relaxed, without tourists in the background, then make sure you catch the early morning light, or visit around dusk.

With the golden stone of the surrounding cottages, this will look even more magical anyway!

2. Castle Combe walks

Castle Combe is surrounded by beautiful rolling Cotswold countryside with lots of walking options.

A favourite walk for of mine is the circular walk from Castle Combe to Nettleton Shrub finishing back in the village. It is about three miles and fairly easy.

Don’t forget your picnic from The Little Picnic Shop! 

An amble around the village will only take you around 15 minutes. Of particular note is the captivating and quirky market cross which you’ll find right in the village centre.

Bridge in Castle Combe

It’s a covered cross, which itself is unusual. This was once the spot for selling cloth, as long ago as the 14th century. Now it’s a great place to enjoy a pint!

Another lovely and gentle walk is the four mile circuit taking in the village of Ford which will showcase to you some of the best Wiltshire countryside.

Again, the walk starts in the village centre and it takes you through Danks Down – a beautiful untouched meadow, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, where you’ll be able to spot lots of wildlife.

Stop off in Ford at the pub before beginning your return.

3. Play a round of golf

If golf is your thing then don’t miss out on playing a round at The Manor House course. 

Nestled within its sprawling grounds, The Manor House boasts an 18-hole championship golf course.

Drone Shot of the Manor House

Unsurprisingly given the setting, it’s a particularly beautiful course complete with lush fairways and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.

After your round, consider stopping by the club’s 19th hole to enjoy a refreshing drink and bite to eat.

4. Watch the world go by

From the pubs, or simply a wall in the market square, enjoy some delicious food or a drink and watch the world go by.

There aren’t many more relaxing things to do than sit outside one of the pubs enjoying your favourite tipple in spring or summer sunshine, watching the goings on of this sleepy village.

5. Visit St Andrew’s Church

The village church, St Andrew’s, is very pretty and dates from the 12th century.

This is also a good place to come and see photos of the various filming experiences that have used Castle Combe as a location.

Additionally, you can use their smartphone tour to learn more about the history and architecture of the church.

St Andrews Church Castle Combe

The Church also sells postcards of the village so grab one and take it outside to write and then post in the village.

Again, doing something so steeped in vintage character is all part of the experience!

6. Enjoy afternoon tea

Castle Combe is known for its quintessential English charm, and nothing says English quite like a traditional afternoon tea.

The Old Rectory pop-up is a great option for those looking for authentic afternoon tea experience inside one of the homes of Castle Combe. 

Only available for private dining, you need a minimum of six in your group to have afternoon tea here, and you must book in advance. 

For those in pursuit of a more luxurious afternoon tea experience, I’d highly recommend The Manor House.

Situated in an elegant historic building, surrounded by impeccably manicured gardens, this luxurious hotel offers a refined setting for afternoon tea.

Indulge in an assortment of gourmet finger sandwiches, artisan pastries, and a wide selection of loose-leaf teas.

The Manor House takes pride in using only the finest ingredients, many of which are sourced locally.

The ambiance, complete with antique furniture and stunning views of the gardens, makes this a memorable experience and one of the best things to do in Castle Combe.

7. Enjoy honour shopping

Castle Combe has such a friendly atmosphere and this is really evident in the informal kerbside honour-based shopping available.

Locals often set up small tables outside their homes and offer things such as fresh cakes and cookies.

Autumn in Castle Combe

I’ve seen these plus bunches of flowers, loaves of bread, eggs, crafts, second hand books and plants for sale.

There may be a box right there to pay, or there may be a sign telling you to pop the money through the post box.

It’s such a novel experience for many of us, but restores our faith in human nature.

8. Gather speed at Castle Combe Circuit

For adrenaline junkies or anyone looking to add a dose of excitement to their Castle Combe itinerary, the Castle Combe Circuit is a must-visit.

The famous race track can be found just outside the village, and juxtaposes with the village itself. 

This renowned motor racing circuit offers a unique opportunity for visitors to get behind the wheel of some of the world’s most iconic supercars.

There are lots of different individual experiences available here, from laps in a classic car to tackling the rally course.

There is a jam-packed calendar of events too, so look out for race days to enjoy.

9. Take in the film locations

Film lovers can bathe in all sorts of wonders in Castle Combe Of course, with no modern buildings, it makes for a perfect film location!

You can wander around the village trying to spot locations from films such as Dr Dolittle (1967), Stardust (2008), Wolfman (2009) and War Horse (2010).

Cotswolds Cottages

It’s also been used for TV shows like Poirot and Robin of Sherwood.

Film buffs may also like to head to nearby Lacock where some scenes for Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice were filmed.

10. Pause for lunch

There are a handful of eateries scattered around Castle Combe, from locals serving snacks to high-end fine dining. 

For one of the best things to do in Castle Combe, indulge in a spot of fine dining at The Manor House – I had a truly superb meal here in the Michelin-starred restaurant.

Or if laid-back dining is more your thing, simply opt for a bacon butty at The Old Stables.

For a bit of alfresco dining, why not cobble together a picnic from the treats on offer outside the locals’ homes.

Discover my pick of the best pubs and restaurants in Castle Combe.

Good to know: There are some public toilets in Castle Combe if you walk a little way down from the bridge over Bybrook.

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A brief history of Castle Combe

So much of Castle Combe’s charm and appeal lies in its rich history that’s been beautifully preserved.

The origins of Castle Combe can be traced back to the Roman era, with remnants of Roman settlements found in the vicinity.

However, it was during the Norman period that the village began to gain prominence. The Normans erected a wooden castle on a nearby hill, giving the village its name – Castle Combe.

Over time, the wooden structure was replaced by a stone fortress.

Misty Morning in Castle Combe

The Middle Ages witnessed a period of prosperity for Castle Combe, primarily driven by the wool trade., and the village’s position along the Bybrook River allowed it to become a hub for wool merchants.

The market cross, which still stands in the village centre today, was a focal point for trade, with merchants gathering to buy and sell their goods.

Next up, the 13th century saw the establishment of St. Andrew’s Church, which remains one of the village’s most significant landmarks.

It’s known for its faceless clock, believed to be one of the oldest working clocks in England.

While the wool trade began to decline in the late medieval period, Castle Combe’s charm endured.

Its timeless beauty caught the attention of filmmakers, with the village serving as a backdrop for movies like ‘Doctor Doolittle’ and ‘War Horse’.

Recognising the historical and architectural significance of Castle Combe, preservation efforts have been paramount.

Today, the village stands largely untouched by modern developments, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the essence of medieval England.

Where else to visit when visiting Castle Combe?

Castle Combe is unquestionably one of the most iconic and beautiful villages in the Cotswolds, but don’t limit yourself to only visiting here.

Nearby there are lots of other wonderful places that will also win you over. I’d recommend exploring the beautiful bridges of Bourton-on-the-Water or discover the cosy cafés of Stow-on-the-Wold.

If you’ve got the village exploring bug, then check out my guide to the best Cotswolds villages to visit.

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Have you got any recommendations for Castle Combe or did you find this guide useful? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on social media.

Get access to my Cotswolds travel guide

I have curated all of my Cotswolds knowledge and recommendations into one comprehensive guide, complete with an interactive map, filtering options and itineraries. 

It’s available to buy through Rexby and you can preview parts of it for free. Get in touch if you have any questions about my Cotswolds guide!

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


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