Stratford-upon-Avon is an historic town on
the river Avon in the English county of Warwickshire, best known as the home town of the great English
playwright and poet, William Shakespeare. Today, it is a major theater-going destination
as the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. As such, it represents one of the most popular
tourist destinations in the country. Stratford-upon-Avon has its origins in the
Saxon culture of medieval England (the name “straet-ford” indicates that it was a river
crossing). For many centuries it was little more than a small market town on the road
to London; even today, it has only 24,000 permanent residents. Though it has developed
some industrial capacity, Stratford is now known mostly for its association with Shakespeare.
The town benefits tremendously from the resulting tourism and cultural activity, and has gone
to great lengths to preserve those buildings that have survived since Shakespeare’s time.
As a result the centre of town is quaint and attractive, drawing many thousands of tourists
each year to its cultural and historical amenities. Cycling is a great way to see Stratford and
the surrounding area. The Stratford Greenway is 5 miles of traffic free cycle track just
on the edge of town. Stratford upon Avon is a small compact town and it is very easy to
walk to all the shops and attractions. The daily guided Stratford Town Walk passes the
major attractions, including a visit to Holy Trinity Church. This is a good way of understanding
the layout of the town. There is also an open top bus tour taking in some of the town centre.
It then travels out of town in the local countryside to see Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery
and Mary Arden’s House in Wilmcote.