Cruising around the Cotswolds

Having a visitor from abroad is a good excuse for lots of day trips and exploring. It is easy to forget that your own country also offers some of the same adventures as those places you might travel to whilst on holiday and it is often nice to step back and appreciate the beauty of your own surroundings. My friend Laura recently visited us from Germany and her presence allowed me to do exactly that. Our first trip of the week was a bit of a road trip, heading up country, through Oxfordshire and into the Cotswold Hills.

The Cotswolds are in central southern England and, as mentioned above, are the location of the rolling Cotswold Hills. As well as the beautiful countryside, the area is especially famous for its traditional honey-coloured limestone villages, an example of which you can see below.

burfordthecotswolds

The first stop of our trip was the medieval market town of Burford, known as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’. The town’s main street is set on a steep hill which leads down to the peaceful River Windrush. In my opinion Burford is one of the Cotswold’s prettiest towns; the main street is lined with picture perfect cottages, built in traditional stone with the almost obligatory climbing rose or wisteria addition creeping up and over the front door, quaint shops selling a variety of goodies, ranging from local products to antique books and furniture, as well as a handful of historic buildings from the old town hall to the country house, Burford Priory.

IMG_8986

After wandering around the town we all hopped back into the car and set off for our next stop, Bourton-on-the-Water. The drive took just under thirty minutes and we were soon parked up and back on our feet, ready to see what the town had to offer. Much like Burford, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most visited towns of the Cotswolds and has been given the name of the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ due to the fact that the River Windrush flows straight through the centre. The shallow river, alongside the attractive low bridges which provide a path from one side to the other, gives the town a particular charming feel, and and seems to be popular with tourist and local alike!

This stretch of water is also where one of the Cotswold’s most bizarre festivals takes place – a six a side football game, played knee deep in the river. Strange, eh?! To find out more click here.

IMG_9006

We continued along the babbling river into the heart of the town, where we found a number of shops, pubs and tea rooms. We stopped for a short refreshment break .. sightseeing can be so tiring 😉

Once we were suitably refreshed, we continued our tour and popped into a few of the small shops in search for any good bargains or souvenirs. Although we came away empty handed, we were impressed with the shops – for the unique products that they were selling and the relatively low prices!

After a spot of lunch it was time to say goodbye to Bourton and get back on the road. Our final destination was in the direction of home and the trip gave us time to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. Eventually we arrived in Lechlade, home to an all year Christmas shop and the young River Thames.

christmasshoplechlade

Lechlade is another old market town, centered around the market square. It is also worth noting that English poet Percy Shelley composed a piece whilst sat in the town’s churchyard – ‘A Summer Evening Churchyard’.

lechladechurch

Our day out in the Cotswolds was quickly at an end, but I am positive that I will be returning again to this wonderful area of the country very soon!

 ***

There are so many things to do in the Cotswolds, below I have picked out a few of my favourite.

  • There are so many towns and villages which can be classed as ‘visit worthy’ – such as Cirencester, Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stroud – for a full guide click here.
  • For animal lovers, why not visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park nearby Burford or Birdland in Bourton-on-the-Water, or for a collection of rare breeds visit the Cotswold Farm Park at Guiting Power
  • Historians, or archaeology fanatics might be interested in visiting the Roman Villa at Chedworth 
  • Fancy a stroll? Why not enjoy a walk amongst the country’s largest collection of trees and shrubs at Batsford Arboretum, Moreton-in-Marsh
  • To view a quintessential Cotswold village, call in at Bibury where the backdrop encapsulates earlier times.

(This website has plenty more ideas)