24 hours in the Cotswolds

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Stop for a moment along the Cotswold Way and it’s easy to believe that you’ve left the big cities of southern England far behind you. Yet for most visitors to the UK the Cotswolds are within easy reach of a day trip, being barely two hours from London and far less from Birmingham or Oxford. To fully appreciate the Cotswolds however a longer visit is recommended, allowing ample time to explore the charming villages, quiet lanes and rolling landscapes that have attracted visitors to this part of England for centuries.

Rainbow in the Cotswolds

Rainbow in the Cotswolds

We took the chance to enjoy a couple of days of hiking around the market town of Chipping Campden. Sunny and mild January days can never be taken for granted and yet we were blessed with two in a row, with the only sharp shower ending just as we pulled into the car park before starting our first walk.

Sheep keeping an eye on the weather

Sheep keeping an eye on the weather

The Cotswold Way starts in Chipping Campden and meanders southwest toward Cheltenham. We followed the trail at various points of our two hikes as it passed through traditional villages and across rolling farmland. It is a generally well-signed trail and even in January the mud doesn’t get too deep, although good boots and a pair of gaiters are recommended.

Old cottage, Stanton

Old cottage, Stanton

Our first walk took us through the old villages of Stanway and Stanton, the latter being a great place to stop for lunch. The Mount Inn is the first building you reach as you descend into the village and provided a perfect halfway break on our walk before heading back to our car in Snowshill. Snowshill is well known for its lavender and if you take this trail in the summer months you’ll be treated to a dramatic carpet of colour as you approach the village. Details of the trail can be found here.

Cotswold Way  - a popular way to see the best of the area

Cotswold Way - a popular way to see the best of the area

On the second day we left the car in Chipping Campden and headed for nearby Dover’s Hill. This is the site of the Cotswold Olimpick Games, held every spring and in existence long before the more widely known international sporting celebration. I suspect that the Cotswold version follows the pure ideals of sport far better than the other Olympics do. From Dover’s Hill the views are superb, with the northern Cotswolds spreading out far below and the hills of Wales visible to the west.

Church at Saintbury

Church at Saintbury

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

Eventually our walk took us through the village of Broadway and then up a steep 250 metre climb to Broadway Tower. This 18th century folly has served many purposes over the years, both as a refuge for its eccentric owners and as a military outpost in both the Second World War and the Cold War period. The exhibition on the three levels of the tower is comprehensive if rather disorganised and confusing, but the views from the top make all the effort of the climb from the village worthwhile. Entry to the tower is £4.50.

Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Campden

Cotswold House Hotel, Chipping Campden

We stayed in the Cotswold House Hotel as part of our stay which was arranged through Great Little Breaks.  Staff were friendly and helpful and the gas fire provided a cosy welcome as we settled into our spacious room. The mini-bar stocked with complimentary beers, soft drinks and chocolate was a lovely touch, while the many switches and lighting themes in the bathroom provided us with a novel blend of entertainment and confusion.

Dinner and afternoon tea were included in our package and the food at every meal was excellent.I was particularly impressed by the fact that ‘dinner included’ meant we were at liberty to pick anything we wanted from the main a la carte menu, rather than being provided with a limited ‘special’ package selection. We could have chosen the most expensive steaks and really made the most of our package, but the lamb and veal proved to be wise selections.

I’m not normally the greatest fan of posh hotels, mainly because I can’t stand the way they so often try to relieve you of cash at every opportunity even after you’ve paid the earth for your room. This was most certainly not the case at Cotswold House and they get a big thumbs up from me as a result.

Chipping Campden Market House

Chipping Campden Market House

Disclosure: We received a complimentary afternoon tea, dinner, bed and breakfast package at Cotswold House Hotel through Great Little Breaks, who offer similar deals across the UK at rates that typically offer a big saving against than those you might get by booking direct.

To my knowledge the staff at the hotel considered us regular customers with a Great Little Breaks voucher and were unaware that we were staying on a complimentary basis.

This post is written by Andy Jarosz who owns the 501 Places travel blog.

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6 Responses to “24 hours in the Cotswolds”

  1. Jeremy Branham
    February 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    I think I could spend a week here just exploring and hiking. I love this area!

  2. Ellen
    February 7, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I was only able to do a day trip from London, so I didn’t meet any people or sheep, but I did get some beautiful photos. And now I have a better idea about the home of my favorite fictional detective, Agatha Raisin.

  3. Graham Eason
    February 25, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Beautiful area with loads of places to escape the crowds. And looking very pretty today as spring seems to be getting ready

  4. Paul Thompson (Broadway resident)
    February 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Great photo of Broadway Tower, I have been lucky enough to live in the village my entire life and also have an interest in photograhy

  5. Oxfordshire Cotswolds
    April 24, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Great Blog! But next time please come and explore the Oxfordshire Cotswolds – Rural England at its Finest! :-)

  6. Hilden House Bed and Breakfast
    January 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

    Great post, the pictures are truly beautiful. Our B&B is in Cheltenham and we regularly have guests come stay to walk on the Cotswold Way, a stunning trail – everyone should spend a few days walking it. :)

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