Have you visited the Cotswolds? With so much happening in London it is easy to forget there is lush green countryside so close by. But sometimes you need a break from all the hustle and bustle. On a bright autumn weekend we took to the road in search of the rolling hills, fields with hedgerows and pretty villages of the Cotswolds.
Where are the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds spans an area of 800 square miles and 6 counties of England. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an easy 2 hours drive to the west of London and even closer to Oxford. Major towns of the region include Bath in the south and Cheltenham to the north.
Things to do in the Cotswolds
Ramble or walk the country pathways
There are over 8,000 paths to follow around this beautiful countryside including public footpaths across farmland where you cross lush green fields and babbling brooks. You might also come across some friendly horses. Check out this fantastic listing of local walks for visitors of all abilities.
Visit picturesque villages and market towns
The villages of the Cotswolds look like they are straight out of a Constable painting or a movie. I lost count of how many villages described themselves as “the prettiest in England”. Truth be told they were all remarkably beautiful. As were the bustling market towns located on the cross roads of ancient trading routes. Much of the charm lies in the golden Cotswold limestone used to make so many of the buildings and the many colourful hanging baskets, flower pots and gardens. This is the England those of us who grew up on Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy imagined.
Castle Combe has been featured in the movie ‘The War Horse’
Pretty Biddestone – the village where we stayed
Bourton on the Water – a charming riverside village
Lacock – a market town of half timbered houses
Enjoy a pub lunch
When in England and in the countryside you must enjoy a pub lunch. If you are visiting on a Sunday you will always find roast beef with all the trimmings including Yorkshire pudding and gravy on the menu.
Fossick for antiques and local produce
Part of the charm of this part of the world is you feel you have stepped back in time to an era where people took time to chat over the garden fence and lend each other a cup of sugar in exchange for blooms from their garden. I have a feeling this neighbourly spirit continues in the Cotswolds. As you visit the villages you will notice some houses have set up little stalls selling homemade jam, lemon curd and cakes. If you fancy a unique souvenir from your visit to the Cotswolds then you simply leave your payment in the letterbox or tin provided.
I also spotted many antique and brocante shops along our journey through the Cotswold villages. This shop in Lacock sold vintage military uniforms and clothing as well as items dating back to the Georgian era.
Indulge in cream tea
If you haven’t enjoyed a cream tea then you are missing out on one of the finer aspects of English food culture. Typically comprised of scones with jam and whipped cream this afternoon treat is accompanied by tea served in a proper tea pot. There are hundreds of tea rooms in the villages and towns of the Cotswolds. The Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford on Avon serve their award-winning cream teas in this beautiful 17th century building made of Cotswold stone.
Where to stay in the Cotswolds
If you are traveling with your partner, there are some wonderfully romantic luxury hotels and bed and breakfasts to be found all over the Cotswolds region. As ours was a trip with the extended family we chose to stay in a cottage we found on AirBnB.
We arrived at the picture perfect village of Biddestone in the late afternoon sun and were thrilled to find our perfect little cottage overlooking the village green. The cottage was just a few steps from a quirky pub and a thriving duckpond. We felt like we had stepped right into a storybook. Inside the cosy bedrooms and roll top bath completed the picture of an idyllic stay in the country.
There are a wide range of cottages available across the Cotswolds. Read my article on finding the best cottage rentals on booking sites such as Booking.com. If you are keen to try AirBnB for the first time you can use this AirBnB discount code.
Why visit the Cotswolds
If your idea of a relaxing break includes country walks, long lunches in quaint pubs and exploring picturesque villages then look no further than the Cotswolds. I am kicking myself that we had not visited sooner and am already pining for some of the delicious homemade lemon curd that seemed to hold the essence of the countryside. I am looking forward to exploring the Cotswolds again very soon.
Do visit the Cotswolds official tourist site for more information on what is on and places to visit in the Cotswolds.
Have you visited the Cotswolds? What areas or towns did you most enjoy visiting?
This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own based on personal experience
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