Nestled in the heart of England, the Cotswolds is a captivating region that enchants visitors with its quintessential charm, picturesque landscapes, and idyllic villages. Dotted with honey-colored stone cottages, rolling hills, ancient churches, and winding country lanes, the Cotswolds offers a perfect escape from bustling cities like London or Edinburgh; and gives a glimpse into England’s rich history. Join 007 and I on a virtual tour as we uncover the highlights of this enchanting destination and discover why it continues to be a favorite among travelers.
A Journey through England’s Timeless Countryside
1. Immerse Yourself in Historic Villages
The Cotswolds is renowned for its captivating villages, each possessing its own unique character. We began our journey with a tour of Chavenage House in Tetbury, a manor still inhabited by descendents of the second owners. We had the extreme pleasure of meeting the owners and touring the house where Poldark on PBS was filmed, among other shows and movies.
I could have stayed there all day long. But we were off next to see a few other enchanting villages in the Cotswolds.
2. Stroll along the quaint streets of small villages dotted throughout the Cotswolds
Bibury, off the beaten path
Our tour guide throughout the Cotswolds was a gentleman named Colin with Cotswold Tours & Travel. As we got out of the van, he had us stop and listen, asking, “What do you hear?” It was bless-ed! Nothing but birds and water flowing, with the occasional bleat of a nearby sheep. It was truly one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever visited. This little village is called Bibury and is definitely off the beaten path.
Our request to Bronwyn with Enchanting Travel was a tour that was off the beaten path. While we wanted to see the iconic tourist attractions in the UK, we also wanted to see how the locals live. Bronwyn truly designed the trip of a lifetime. I can’t recommend her or Enchanting Travel enough. She is the one who scheduled us with Colin, who knew ahead of time what we would most like to see. They took all the headache out of planning each and every day for 2 1/2 weeks in the United Kingdom.
These honey-colored cottages seem to melt into the landscape. And all of the gardens that surround them had me at hello – so to speak. I came home with the desire to dig in the earth, prune hedges and plant flowers from seed. I’m trying to convince 007 to build me a dry-stone wall as a border around our flower beds. We shall see.
There were multiple streams and bridges just like this one throughout the UK. Bridges still standing for pedestrian and vehicle use that are over 200 years old, some even older.
Our next stop was in the village of Coln Rogers.
Colin led us down a path that led to this private home. While I love the view from our back porch on Lake Neely Henry Lake, I can’t imagine waking up to this view every day!
Looking at this stone wall with moss and ivy growing in the cracks, I realized that this kind of beauty only comes with time and age. I guess you could plan and plant moss and ivy, but it’s the natural growth that made me want to take a picnic and join the swan across the moat. I wanted to sit and soak up the atmosphere. I couldn’t help but wonder if, like me, the owners of this gorgeous property are so busy in their everyday lives that they forget to enjoy the view.
Or does the drive up to their home after a long days’ work take their breath away?
Those who know me, know that I fell in love with everything sheep or lamb related during my first visit to the United Kingdom in 2013. I came home with a little sheep figurine that still sits in my living room bookcase. I think I fell in love with the serene pastures and the thought that “we all, like sheep, have gone astray.”
It’s no wonder we are compared to sheep in the Bible. When I shared with Colin how much I love sheep, he said, “Sheep farmers say that sheep are the dumbest animals on the earth. Every morning they wake up with only one thought on their little sheep brains, ‘How can I kill myself today?'”
The good thing about living in a pasture in England though, is they don’t have the predators that other countries have. There are no bears, tigers, coyotes, wolves to sneak in and attack the sheep. The only threats are red foxes, badgers and eagles. The biggest threat to a sheep in an English countryside is their own stupidity! It’s like the phrase, “We are our own worst enemy.” They and we need a shepherd.
It is comforting to think that I have a Shepherd who will go to great lengths to rescue me from myself. The many pastures filled with sheep and baby lambs reminded me of this all through the Cotswolds.
3. Enjoy a delicious lunch in Guiting Power
We stopped ahead of lunch to take in the view of the village where we were headed. The yellow fields were rapeseed plants used to make canola oil. These fields were all over the Cotswolds and were quite striking.
This was such a fun and nourishing stop! I thought the restaurant was named “The Old Post Office” because perhaps it used to be the village post office. But, no. It is still the village post office with a delicious restaurant, too. We had the coronation quiche, sweet potato soup and a marinated slaw that was divine!
The owner and staff were very friendly and food was excellent. This little restaurant is a hidden treasure within the Cotswolds.
After lunch, we took a stroll. There’s just one scene after another of beautiful streets with quaint little cottages, lovely gardens and patriotism and/or support for the new king.
Continue your journey in Bourton-on-the-Water, often referred to as the “Venice of the Cotswolds” due to its charming low bridges spanning the River Windrush. Stroll along the quaint streets, admire the traditional stone buildings, and visit attractions such as the Model Village and the Cotswold Motoring Museum.
5. Bourton on the Hill
We enjoyed a tour of the gardens at Bourton-on-the-Hill. In particular, I came home with a wish list a mile long. Topiaries, arbors trailing with ivy, blue bells for my garden, and a lilac tree. Unlike other UK gardens, the Bourton House Gardens features enormous beauty in a relatively small footprint. You can see this unmatched, botanical eye-candy in less than an hour. After this amazing tour, be sure to visit their cafe and gift shop.
Tulips and Bluebells
6. Delight in the Beauty of Stow-on-the-Wold
Continue your exploration to Stow-on-the-Wold, a market town with a rich history. Admire the ancient market square and its impressive stocks, a reminder of the town’s past. Take a leisurely walk along Sheep Street, lined with delightful antique shops, art galleries, and cozy tearooms. The impressive St. Edward’s Church and the medieval Stow Castle are also worth a visit.
7. Discover the Majesty of Broadway
Known as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds,” Broadway offers breathtaking views and stunning architecture. Take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque High Street, adorned with an array of unique shops, art galleries, and charming cottages. Visit Broadway Tower, an iconic landmark with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The nearby Capability Brown’s garden at Hidcote Manor is a must-see for horticulture enthusiasts.
8. Unwind in Chipping Norton
Steeped in heritage, Chipping Norton boasts a history that dates back to the medieval era. Its iconic medieval market square, flanked by elegant Georgian houses and cozy cafes, remains a hub of activity and a reminder of the town’s past. Visitors can explore the local museum to delve into the town’s historical significance, a small version of Stonehenge with a circle of very old stones outside of town that span centuries or just drive through small lanes and country roads throughout the Cotswolds.
9. Explore the charming village of Castle Combe
Nestled in the picturesque countryside of Wiltshire, England, Castle Combe stands as a timeless gem that seems to have been untouched by the passage of time. Often referred to as one of England’s most beautiful villages, Castle Combe enchants visitors with its quaint charm, historic architecture, and idyllic setting. The village’s centerpiece is the stunning Castle Combe Manor, an ancient structure that exudes medieval grandeur, while its cobbled streets wind their way past centuries-old cottages adorned with colorful blooms. Surrounded by lush greenery and meandering streams, the village’s natural beauty is equally captivating, making it a haven for photographers, nature lovers, and those seeking a peaceful escape. As you wander through Castle Combe’s enchanting streets, it’s not hard to see why this hidden treasure has captured the hearts of visitors and remains a timeless reflection of England’s rich heritage and rural allure.
Touring the Cotswolds is like stepping into a postcard-perfect English countryside. With its quaint villages, rolling hills, and historic landmarks, this region captures the essence of traditional England. Whether you’re fascinated by history, nature, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the Cotswolds offers a truly enchanting experience. So, pack your bags, embark on an unforgettable journey, and let the Cotswolds weave its spell around you.