Wiltshire Tourist Guide

Salisbury City Circular Walk - Wiltshire

Starting in the centre this Salisbury city circular walk takes in historical, cultural and geographic landmarks including some of the riverside.

This walk can take as little as an hour and ten minutes or all day depending on the number of fascinating distractions you find enroute.

By far the most convenient and simple means of visiting the city is by using Salisbury’s wonderful park and ride system. There are five park and ride sites around the perimeter of Salisbury covering all directions into the city. If visiting the city by car you can be sure you will pass a park and ride on the way in.
These park and ride systems are second to none in Southern England your rarely need to wait more than 10 minutes for a modern eco-friendly bus to whisk you into the centre. Before leaving any of the park and ride sites it is advisable to check the last bus departure time from Salisbury and the time the park and ride site closes.

Other alternatives are parking in the Central Car Park but if you really appreciate a great panorama view of the Cathedral use the Culver Street multi-storey car park (tip: check the location before arrival) off the Churchill Way bypass and head there. If you park and walk up to the top deck of the car park you will be greeted with a spectacular view of the city with the Cathedral Spire dominating everything.
All park and ride buses arrive in the city centre (check where your bus leaves on arrival as just too confuse and in true English tradition different park and ride routes arrive and depart at different locations) Otherwise head for the Market Place in the centre of Salisbury to start the walk.

If you are visiting on Tuesday or Saturday there is a thriving weekly market in the Market Square. On the left hand side of the market place as you face inwards there is the Guildhall. This is a particularly interesting old building, the fourth such built on the site since medieval times and has been renovated to a high standard. You are welcome to visit the public areas inside free of charge. It now houses Salisbury Council and often hosts functions and exhibitions within.

There are many interesting objects and places within the building including the old courtroom and the cells below it where the prisoners were held. This is particularly fascinating for children and our daughter insisted on sitting in the magistrate’s seat and addressing the court. There are several paintings of interest and again to the fascination of children an enormous silver spoon in a glass cabinet. Leaving the Guildhall turn left and walk to the far end of the market and across into Silver Street.

There is an historic pub The Haunch of Venison was established in 1320 and the present three-storey building is mainly 15th Century. There is of course a resident ghost of The Grey Lady and a rather grisly artefact, a mummified hand, kept in a locked case. The hand was lost by a card player found to be cheating. It was stolen in recent years then found again and we are unsure where it is now. The restaurant floor is very ‘interesting’ and you will take on a permanent list when walking across it. Cross the road and you will see the Poultry Cross.

The Poultry Cross is the last remaining architectural remnant of the original market established in 1227 where there were crosses marking the centres for trades and goods, e.g. Livestock Cross, Wool & Yarn Cross etc. You will note the names of the streets around the market place such as Butchers Row, Silver Street, and Ox Row after the trades to be found there.

Go throughh the narrow alleyway off Butcher Row opposite Poultry Cross into New Canal and you will come see a very remarkable building, the Odeon Cinema, on the opposite side of the road. If open take a peek inside and you will be amazed by the sight within. The foyer of this very unique cinema is an original and typical hall of a 15th century wool merchant John Halle with his coat of arms and merchants mark above the stone fireplace. The hall features stained glass windows and you can even go and see a film if you wish!

That’s Salisbury, something interesting lurking around every corner. You must remember to keep glancing upwards, particularly to see the very interesting architecture that abounds in Salisbury. The shops’ modernised frontages at eye-level completely disguise the original structures above and within, timber framing, brick, original beams with carpenters marks still in them from hundreds of years ago.

Facing the Odeon walk right up New Canal and turn left at the junction into the pedestrianised High Street. You will note that Salisbury was a ‘new’ 13th century town the origins of which were the cold and draughty Old Sarum site 3 miles to the north which was abandoned after the start of the Salisbury Cathedral construction in 1220. For that time the streets were laid out on the ‘modern’ grid design and predated such cities as New York by about 650-700 years. It was quite the fashion in many of the ‘new towns’ of England. Continue walking along the High Street past the entrance to The Old George Mall shopping arcade, a modern creation, and ahead you will see the main North Gate to Salisbury Cathedral Close. Again check out the architecture above the shop windows as you go.

Continue through the gate in the wall that encloses the Close and the and past The Matron’s College immediately on your left, erected in 1682 as almshouses. The close occupies 83 acres and is considered the finest in the Britain. Apart from the magnificent cathedral and its spectacular spire the Close is lined with beautiful and substantial houses whose architecture reflects hundreds of years of evolution, reconstruction and development. Original buildings have over the years been replaced and updated and although many of them have their origins in the 16th, 17th and 18th century there are many original features, both internal and external stretching back to the 13th and 14th century.

Notably the Cathedral Choir School in The Close is one of the oldest educational establishments in the world. Its origins were its foundation in 1092 by the nephew of William the Conqueror at the original cathedral site at the aforementioned Old Sarum. It presently occupies the 13th century buildings and grounds of the Bishop’s Palace in the Close.

Continue your walk through or around the Close and leave via Harnham Gate at the south side to enjoy a relaxing walk via De Vaux Road then immediately right into the original village of Harnham just outside the cathedral. Then over the bridge across the river Avon taking in the views which at this point is a substantial river.

Bear right at the fork in the road where the traffic lights are situated in this quiet part of town and past the Legacy Rose and Crown Hotel. This 4-star riverside hotel was originally a 13th century coaching inn and has recently undergone much refurbishment and provides excellent service and restaurant facilities with all the latest amenities and stunning riverside views of the Cathedral.

A hundred yards further on turn right along a busy road and sidewalk (unavoidable) for about ten minutes and you will soon reach the Lower Road. Lower Road is the third turn on the right after Watersmeet (next to the church) and St Marys road, a much quieter road.

Take the second turn on your right into the Town Path and you are immediately at the Old Mill, a picturesque pub and restaurant overlooking the river with a history stretching back to the days of the Magna Carter and a copy to prove it. A lovely spot to sit outside with a drink, watch the ducks and the world go by.

The Town Path is a lovely quiet walk across the Water Meadows, used by cyclists and pedestrians alike, the spot from which Constable painted his famous views of the Cathedral.

You enter the town centre again through the attractive Elizabeth Gardens and following one of the many paths that meander through the gardens to Crane Street by the river bridge. Cross the road and take the riverside walk north where there are plenty of seats and river views up to Fisherton Street. Nearing the end of your Salisbury Circular City Walk you will see the old ‘lock-up’ with its clock tower on the other bank where you meet Fisherton Street.

Turn right along the street and in a few minutes you will be at Poultry Cross and Market Square. If you came in on the Park and Ride bus you will recognise their unmistakeable green livery. All other local buses are red.

Salisbury City Circular Walk