A few months ago, as I was browsing the monthly magazines, I spotted a little guide to Witney in Glamour Magazine. As my hometown, I was both surprised and proud. When you grow up in a place, you take it for granted; I just saw it as the town where I went to the Odeon every Orange Wednesday, drank at the pub at the weekends and mooched around the Boots on my school lunch break.
So I set out to try and see it through a tourist’s eyes and found that it is perfect for a day trip to this quaint part of Oxfordshire to explore. Here is my take on how to spend 24 hours in the town of Witney…
The first thing to do is grab a morning coffee at UE Coffee Roasters. It’s all home-brewed in the town, with their roastery in the industrial parks on the outskirts. It’s the first hipster cafe of the town, with the usual exposed brick walls and low light. Yet the difference here is all in the service, as the baristas were happy to chat to me for most of the time about the coffee, the cafe itself as well as all of the coffee and teas on offer from the local areas. Of course, the retro telephone and gas mask made it super edgy, and being the only place in town with matcha lattes and alternative milk options makes it perfect.
Wander around the beautiful old buildings to learn about the history. Witney has some deep roots within Oxfordshire with its fame originating in its blanket manufacturing (and something that has delightfully themed the local Wetherspoons) as well as some of the schools dating back to the 1600’s. Also head down to the River Windrush; not only is it a beautiful place to sit in the summer, but it is also where the World Pooh Stick championship is held, so grab a stick and get throwing.
For lunch, everyone knows to head to Sandwich de Witney. Winning awards, this sandwich place is notorious for its fresh baguettes as well as overfilling them to get your money worth. My favourite has always been chicken and crispy bacon, but their daily specials are worth a peek. Just beware, as they shut at 3pm due to popular demand every day…
Whilst various Starbucks and department stores have popped up, there are still a lot of boutique shops to get a shopping fix. Lily’s Attic is perfect for gifts (both for others and for yourself), with unique pieces as well as brands including Katie Loxton. Otherwise, The Old Pill Factory is great for vintage homeware to update your humble abode. Of course, fresh local food can never be ignored so organic Wates Delicatessen is for anyone wanting to pick up some fresh fruit and veg, organic crisps or spelt pasta.
A fairly new addition to the town is Hunter’s Cake Cafe. I’m proud to have known the man who opened it as I went to school with him, and can say it’s the perfect addition to the town. It’s quaint and chic interior and whisk lampshades make it a beautiful place to lose some time but it’s the cakes that you will always return to. Every month is a new addition but always deliciously light and rich (and of course beautiful looking). Even their savoury cheese scones and puy lentil salads made the cut for a delicious snack.
End your evening one of two ways; local pub The Hollybush for a beautifully cosy pub with heavy wooden benches inside and fairy lights in the garden, or cocktails at Hackett’s which often has live music and delicious dinners alongside.
Witney will always be my childhood but for out-of-towners, a day spent here is one that is easily done.