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Salisbury's Historic Trail

A gentle urban stroll around the streets and ancient pathways of one of England's lovliest Cathedral cities.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs (longer if visiting attractions)

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Pavements and metalled footpaths

Landscape City streets and water-meadows

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 130 Salisbury & Stonehenge;AA Salisbury streetplan

Start/finish SU 141303

Dog friendliness Not suitable for dogs

Parking Central car park (signed off A36 Ring Road)

Public toilets Central car park, Market Place, Queen Elizabeth Gardens

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© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

1 Join the Riverside Walk and follow the path through the Maltings Shopping Centre. Keep beside the Avon tributary stream to reach St Thomas Square, close to Michael Snell Tea Rooms and St Thomas' Church. Bear right to the junction of Bridge Street, Silver Street and the High Street.

2 Turn left along Silver Street and cross the pedestrian crossing by the Haunch of Venison pub to the Poultry Cross. Keep ahead along Butcher Row and Fish Row to pass the Guildhall and tourist information centre. Turn right along Queen Street and turn right along New Canal to view the cinema foyer.

3 Return to the crossroads and continue ahead along Milford Street to pass the Red Lion. Turn right along Brown Street, then left along Trinity Street to pass Trinity Hospital. Pass Love Lane into Barnard Street and follow the road right to reach St Ann Street, opposite the Joiners' Hall.

4 Walk down St Ann Street and keep ahead on merging with Brown Street to reach the T-junction with St John Street. Cross straight over and go through St Ann's Gate into the Cathedral Close. Pass Malmesbury House and Bishops Walk and take the path diagonally left across the green to reach the main entrance to the cathedral.

5 Pass the entrance, walk beside the barrier ahead and turn right. Shortly, turn right again along West Walk, passing Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Discover Salisbury (in the Medieval Hall), and the Regimental Museum. Keep ahead into Chorister Green to pass Mompesson House.

6 Bear left through the gates into High Street and turn left at the crossroads along Crane Street. Cross the River Avon and turn left along the metalled path beside the river through Queen Elizabeth Gardens. Keep left by the play area and soon cross the footbridge to follow the Town Path across the water-meadows to the Old Mill (hotel) in Harnham.

7 Return along Town Path, cross the footbridge and keep ahead to Crane Bridge Road. Turn right, recross the Avon and turn immediately left along the riverside path to Bridge Street. Cross straight over and follow the path ahead towards Bishops Mill. Walk back through the Maltings Shopping Centre to the car park.

Salisbury, or New Sarum, founded in 1220 following the abandonment of Old Sarum and built at the confluence of four rivers, is one of the most beautiful cathedral cities in Britain. Relatively free from the sprawling suburbs and high-rise development common in most cities, the surrounding countryside comes in to meet the city streets along the river valleys. Throughout the city centre, buildings of all styles blend harmoniously, from the 13th-century Bishop's Palace in The Close, the medieval gabled houses and historic inns and market places to stately pedimented Georgian houses and even the modern shopping centre. You will discover a host of architectural treasures on this gentle city stroll.

Salisbury's skyline is dominated by the magnificent spire of the cathedral, which makes a graceful centrepiece to the unified city. An architectural masterpiece, built in just 38 years during the 13th century, the cathedral is unique for its uniformity of style. The tower and spire, with a combined height of 404ft (123m) - the tallest in England - were added in 1334, and the west front of the building is lavishly decorated with row upon row of beautifully carved statues in niches. The rich and spacious interior contains huge graceful columns of Purbeck stone, which line the high-vaulted nave and many windows add to the airy, dignified interior. You will find the impressive tombs and effigies in the nave, the fine cloisters and the library, home to a copy of the Magna Carta, of particular interest.

Beyond The Close, Salisbury is a delight to explore on foot. You can wander through a fascinating network of medieval streets and alleys, lined with half-timbered and jettied houses, enjoying names like Fish Row, Silver Street and Ox Row. On this city walk you will see St Thomas' Church (1238), noted for its 15th-century Doom painting, believed to be the largest painting of the Last Judgment in existence, and pass the hexagonally buttressed 15th-century Poultry Cross, the last of four market crosses in the city. Note, too, the timbered medieval houses, John A'Port and William Russel's (Watsons china shop) in Queen Street, and the Joiners' Hall with its superb Jacobean façade in St Ann Street.

Away from the hustle and bustle, your riverside stroll through Queen Elizabeth's Gardens and along the Town Path to Harnham Mill will reveal the famous view across the water-meadows to the cathedral, much admired by many an artist.

Where to eat and drink

Old pubs, tea rooms and restaurants abound around the cathedral and its close. Try the excellent Le Hérisson café and deli in Crane Street, Michael Snell Tea Rooms in St Thomas Square, the historic Haunch of Venison in Minster Street, and Apres LXIX, a bistro offering modern British food, in New Street. Enjoy a civilised afternoon tea in the garden of Mompesson House in The Close.

While you're there

Discover more about Salisbury's fascinating history by visiting the award-winning Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, housed in the 14th-century King's House within The Close. In the Medieval Hall, also in The Close, Discover Salisbury offers a big screen presentation of the city's history and attractions. Climb the steps up the cathedral tower for a bird's-eye view across the city and surrounding countryside.

What to look for

Go into the foyer of the cinema in New Canal to view John Halle's 15th-century banqueting hall. Composer George Frideric Handel is thought to have given his first concert in England in the room above St Ann Street Gate. While in the cathedral, look out for the 14th-century clock, believed to be the oldest working clock in the world.

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