Appreciating tiny Cricklade

By Edna R.S. Alvarez
This item appears on page 15 of the July 2020 issue.
Edna R.S. Alvarez in Cricklade in southwestern England.

If you’re searching for an off-the-beaten-track, quintessen-tially English village, one with a few contemporary twists but not chock-full of camera-carrying tourists, I can heartily suggest the Saxon village of Cricklade, England.

Listed in England’s 11th-century Domesday Book, the town is located in north Wiltshire, about 90 minutes west of London off the A419, just south of the Cotswolds.

I learned about Cricklade from my daughter, who drove both of us there in August 2019. Should you not have a car, do as the locals do and take a train from Paddington to Swindon, then a 20-minute taxi ride.

Cricklade is tiny! It (happily) lacks the usual English market town chain stores. There is one short commercial street, High Street, with independently owned shops, cafés and pubs plus businesses like butcher shops (three!), a dentist’s office, doctors’ offices, a knitting shop and a pet shop. Residential lanes spread out from High Street, and there’s a large (and free) parking lot easily accessible.

Yarn for sale in a knitting shop in Cricklade. Photo by Edna R.S. Alvarez

According to the town’s well-done and extensive website
(, “The town boasts 112 listed buildings” of which 40 are included in a lovely, detailed village walking map. The map is available on the council website and is posted throughout the village. The website also describes in detail many of these points of interest.

At the edge of town, visitors can access the Thames Path National Trail, which, according to the town council’s website, runs for 184 miles and is well posted. I walked a small bit of the trail and saw that it was well maintained and easily walkable.

One pleasant surprise was how vibrant the village is while not being geared toward tourists. The Cricklade Club (38 High Street) — a contemporary casual café with a wide variety of modern coffee drinks, 10 craft beers, artisan sourdough bread and many vegetarian dishes (avocado toast, for example) — reflected a thriving village.

On our day’s outing in Cricklade, my daughter and I enjoyed a tasty meal, then wandered for several hours. We saw many interesting buildings and learned a bit of history.

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Entrance to a typical home in Cricklade. Photo by Edna R.S. Alvarez