The village of Downton, just six miles outside Salisbury in Wiltshire, has a history stretching back to the Neolithic. A motte and bailey castle, built in the early 11th century, forms the basis for eight acres of landscaped gardens next to the River Avon, which are open to the public and free to visit.
They make a great place to visit for a walk, or as the starting point for one of the many longer river walks in the area.
Evidence of the origins of The Moot can still be seen in the gardens today, and although it can be quite difficult to make out what is what in terms of the old castle, the earthworks and series of mounds and ditches are clearly visible and fun to explore, making a fascinating backdrop to the layers of wildflowers, formal planting and trees.
Bounded by the River Avon on one side, a road on one and houses on the other, the grounds are about eight acres in total. A mixture of open space, woodland and waterway, they make a lovely place for a stroll, a picnic, ball games or just sitting and appreciating the birdsong.
Regular events are held at the Moot and it is a popular place for locals and visitors alike. Christmas tree markets, activity afternoons and all sorts of other events are held there at various times throughout the year. It leads onto some lovely river walks, and is also a good stop off point for anyone walking the Avon Valley Path from Salisbury to Christchurch.