PUBLISHED: 11:22 08 September 2010 | UPDATED: 15:09 20 February 2013
World-famous for its blankets, Witney is a harmonious blend of the modern and historical. Situated on the banks of the River Windrush this vibrant market town is the largest in West Oxfordshire.....
Visiting Witney - a word from tourism development manager Hayley Beer:
What makes the town a great place to visit?
Witney is a traditional market town set within the West Oxfordshire which is branded as the Oxfordshire Cotswolds and really is Rural England at its Finest. The town is growing rapidly, welcoming new facilities such as the development of Marriott's Close, retail and leisure development with five-screen cinema, cafes and restaurants, yet it still manages to retain its charm and traditional feel. It is of course world-famous for Witney Blankets and history of the woollen weavers plays a very big part. There are nearly 30 pubs in Witney so it is a great place to socialise and try the local ales, in fact Witney is home to its very own Brewery - Wychwood Brewery.
What must visitors definitely see before they leave?
One of the town's most distinctive landmarks is the Buttercross, so-called because it was where neighbouring villagers would gather to sell butter and eggs. It is a medieval building off market square and features a clock dating back to the 17th century. The town still holds a market every week and a Farmers' Market every month showcasing locally produce foods and drink. Visitors should also walk the Witney Wool Trail which takes you round the history and heritage of what once was a thriving industry in this town.
What's the transport like for getting around the town?
Transport is excellent around Witney and the surrounding areas. There is a good bus route from local surrounding villages into Oxford and good local rail networks. We are blessed in Witney with free car parking anywhere in the town which is indeed a rarity in this day and age.
Food and drink - what does the town provide?
The town has seen a wealth of new places to eat out or have a drink over recent years and it is fair to say that the quality and standard is certainly getting higher. There are some nice restaurants serving great food such as the Fleece on Church Green and the Hollybush on Corn Street. There is also The Royal Oak on the High Street which serves good quality pub food and I'll be surprised you can finish your meal as the portions are renowned for being large! A new bar called Hacketts opened last year just behind Wesley Walk and offers a contemporary relaxed atmosphere great for relaxing and catching up with friends. There are also many flavours from the east with choice from Indian, Chinese and Thai.
The new Witney Wool Trail guides visitors around the town to explore the history of Witney and its most famous product - Witney blankets. The tour takes visitors through the traditional parts of town and the surrounding countryside to show how Witney came together. Cogges Manor Farm is also a must-see attraction as it is a unique working farm that shows how life used to be in Victorian rural Oxfordshire. Educational visits allow visitors to meet the traditional breeds of farm animals and regular demonstrations of farm work include handmilking and buttermaking. Witney is also well-known for its real ales and The Wychwood Brewery, also home to Brakspear Beers, stands on Corn Street. Guided tours take place every Saturday and take visitors through the brewing process before sampling the legendary beers and bitters fresh from the cask. The Witney and District Museum houses a selection of displays covering the history of Witney through the ages, including local industry, life in Victorian Witney to local industry including blanket making and brewing.
Where to stay?
There is a great selection of hotels, guesthouses and self-catering options in the town. Visit www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org/site/accommodation for more details on accommodation in the area.
What about a night out?
There is a new music venue in Witney called Fat Lil's which features new bands during the week and plays Jazz on a Sunday afternoon. For a lively night out there's Izi's Bar and The Palace Nightclub. Witney also has a few gastro pubs and a variety of great restaurants. Evening culture in Witney revolves around great eateries and popular drinking venues. There is something for everyone.
Best for retail therapy?
There is a great selection of unique shops in Witney as well as the usual High Street shops. There are many independent businesses such as a fantastic bag shop, clothes boutiques and a varied selection of unique shops. When Marriotts Close is developed in 2009 there will also be a wider high street offering.
Best for activities?
Witney is a beautiful place to visit and there are some lovely walks in the surrounding area and along the River Windrush and Witney Lake and Meadows (known to the locals as Ducklington Lake) which features a managed nature reserve and is named as one of the most important sites for plants and wildlife in the Windrush Valley area. Witney also boasts some lovely cycle and walking routes which takes you through the lovely surrounding countryside.
For more details contact Witney tourist information on 01993 775802.
For information on attractions, activities, accommodation, events, eating out and much much more visit www.oxfordshirecotswolds.org which highlights everything there is to see and do in Witney.