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Visitor’s guide to Swindon this summer

Posted on 20th May 2016

Started as a small market town, Swindon grew to local prominence when the Great Western Railway made its appearance in 1840. Today, this northern Wiltshire gem is the perfect destination for history buffs, adventure seekers, and those looking for some great shopping.

There are some great destinations and activities to fill your days and nights whilst enjoying your well-deserved cottage holiday in Wiltshire. From inspiring country walks and iconic Neolithic sites like Stonehenge, to the majesty of Salisbury Cathedral, the county has so much to offer. To witness England’s industrial heritage and its cosmopolitan effects, the city of Swindon is your perfect choice to enjoy.

Here are some things to think about when planning your visit to Swindon:

Museum of the Great Western Railway

Image Credit: Ben Salter

STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway

Housed in a meticulously restored Grade II railway building, this museum heralds the building of the Western railway. For visitors, they can learn the stories of the men and women who built, ran and used the railway. It tells the story of all those who made western England great.

STEAM is a tribute to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose innovation and engineering prowess helped build the Great Western Railway – still regarded as one of the world’s most advanced rail networks. There are locomotives on display, as well as rolling stock like Queen Victoria’s Royal Saloon from 1897. To honour the centenary years of World War One, the museum currently offers a special exhibition looking at the railway during wartime.

Lydiard Park

Set within more than 250 acres of land, Lydiard Park includes Lydiard House, a church and a fantastic walled garden. There is a children’s play area, as well as a delightful cafe and tea rooms. There is also a number of outdoor picnic and BBQ sites on the grounds. With regular events and education programmes too, the park is the perfect day out for families.

At the heart of the park is Lydiard House. Built more than 500 years ago, it was the long-term home of the St John family. The house is open all year round, and visitors can view period furniture and portraits. The House is also hosting a special exhibition this summer in honour of World War One.

Lydiard House

Image Credit: Tony Walmsley

Jungle Parc

For high-flying adventures, Jungle Parc is a great family experience. The park is part of the Lydiard complex. There are over 40 activities to keep you entertained, including tree trekking, rope swings, zip lines and wobbly logs. The park’s X-Plorer course can be set up in different ways to provide a great experience for beginners, but also challenge the more advanced thrill seekers as well.

Coate Water Park

This is the ideal family destination. On a 54-acre reservoir, Coate Water Park contains so many things to do that you will have to come back a few times to enjoy all it has to offer. There is a wildlife preserve, a golf pitch and putt, mini golf, a splash park featuring water-shooting dragons and flowers, a children’s play area, and a miniature railway.

After a nice walk in the park’s woodlands, you can eat at the on-site café, or cook up something hot and fresh with the use of one of their permanent BBQs. For more information and equipment hire options, please visit the park’s website.

Coate Water Park

Image Credit: Brian Robert Marshall

Swindon Designer Shopping Outlets

For those who want to get their shop on, Swindon fits the bill. Part of the Great Western Railway works, the McArthurGlen Swindon Outlets offer great variety as well as great deals. This shopping destination has 90 stores and savings of up to 60 per cent on items. The outlets offer amazing brands like Ted Baker, Polo Ralph Lauren, Clarks, LK Bennett, Osprey London, and Superdry.

This covered shopping centre is perfect rain or shine, and also has a number of cafés and restaurants. There is also a children’s play area.

Swindon Outlet Stores

Image Credit: Brian Robert Marshall

The Richard Jefferies Museum

Dedicated to the literary and artistic life and times of Victorian writer Richard Jefferies, the museum is in an old farmhouse. It has gardens, an orchard, and even outhouses. Jefferies was passionate about nature, and the museum tries to capture this spirit. Located near the Coate Water Park, the museum helps transport visitors to the Victorian times.

For opening times and special events, please visit the museum website.

Richard Jefferies Museum

Image Credit: Brian Robert Marshall