Sorry about yesterday’s rant; a little information would have gone a long way. Back to deliriously happy Retired Martin today.
One of the joys of travel is finding you were badly wrong about a place you’d thought had little discernible merit.
Calne is a place I’d written off on the basis of one previous trip from Bath in search of a Chinese takeaway, which 10 years on still seems likes a bizarre idea, and it didn’t even have a Beer Guide pub back then.
Based on that fly-by visit, I had it down as a poor man’s Melksham, a place of run-down light industry and pound shops.
I remembered the traffic flow and takeaway (Lucky Boat, 8 out of 10), but nothing else. From the spectacular flower displays and views up Market Hill, to the gorgeous almshouses facing St Mary’s, the heritage quarter was stunning. And I had it all to myself in the Sunday sun.
Clearly it’s not quite Lacock or Bath, but the stroll around The Green revealed ancient houses and flora the equal of any other Somerset town. The lack of any real shopping facilities is a bonus, and there were enough ups-and-downs to give great views over the town.
I particularly recommend the circular walk up Castle Street and back along the canal towards town. The park there is a joy reminiscent of Clare’s country park, and well used by locals.
As was the surviving Beer Guide entry, the equally wonderful White Hart Hotel. I guarantee after a visit you won’t know if this is the scruffiest or smartest place on earth.
I genuinely couldn’t work out if the rooms full of Banksys, Egyptian statues and weird plants is the product of a genius mind or a disorganised clutterer. I was highly tempted to stay the night and find out.
The public bar was very much the locals bar, and the busiest place I saw in town. Box Steam Tunnel Vision was served cool (NBSS 3) in a place dominated by lager and Thatchers, but vibrant with chat.
WhatPub records only six remaining pubs in town, plus a vast Arkells hotel apparently reserved for residents. That’s quite a drop on April 2007 numbers, and a Wetherspoons would be a welcome addition, given that even Melksham has one.
The latest casualty is the Woodland Club, the other Beer Guide entry but looking very forlorn, which isn’t something you can say about Calne.