And there are so many more to discover
Ahhh the Cotswolds, so quintessentially English, flowing streams ambling by the golden-stoned cottages, little churches perched on a hill, the village square for locals to have a chatter and the traditional log burning fires in the cosy inns. This is not a dream, this truly is the Cotswolds.
So, with this beautiful region spanning across six English counties how do you choose which village or market town to visit?
To be perfectly honest, if you just jumped in your car and toured around from one village to another, across the tranquil countryside, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
As a taster of the Cotswolds, Gary and I decided to take a mini road trip around a couple of the perhaps lesser-known spots and also to a few of the ones that attract the higher number of visitors.
We touched on three of the six counties that the Cotswolds cover, which was Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. The other three are Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Somerset.
Castle Combe, Wiltshire
We chose Castle Combe for a couple of reasons, firstly for the quaint photos we had seen of it and secondly as we are motor racing fans, couldn’t believe this tiny village has a racing circuit (and it did).
Castle Combe really is a beautiful place, village life revolves around only a few roads here, one being ‘The Street’ which winds by immaculately kept homes to the meandering Bybrook river below.
As you wander through you’d be forgiven if you were tempted by the local pub which sits opposite the 14th Century Market Cross.
This little village has been used numerous times for filming, a few of which are War Horse, Stardust and the English period drama Downton Abbey.
Bibury is a charming little village, with a lovely river running along the roadside, and branches off every so often into streams.
While the whole village is picturesque, the main draw in Bibury is the very attractive Cotswold stone cottages along Arlington Row. These were built in 1830 as wool stores, then in the 17th-century converted to weaver’s cottages.
If you don’t mind the admiring public, you can apply to the National Trust to become a tenant.
This is most certainly picture postcard territory; however, it also attracts a significant number of tourists. You may recognise it from scenes in Bridget Jones’s Diary.
If you are visiting the Cotswolds, then you would recognise the name of Bourton-on-the-water. This large village just shouts charm, even the River Windrush that ambles through the centre has a pleasant name.
Bourton-on-the-water has a lovely village green by the river, where families young and old gather to enjoy a picnic or just feed the ducks. On hot summer days, you can even cool off by taking a paddle in the water.
In and around the village you’ll find, a motor museum, a model village, some quaint tearooms and of course a couple of welcoming inns.
I would just like to add that Bourton-on-the-water is one of the most visited places in the Cotswolds.
Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire
What Lower Slaughter lacks in not having a beautiful sounding name, makes up for it ten-fold in its incredibly enchanting surroundings.
The River Eye weaves its way through the little village with beautifully kept sandstone cottages, alongside. There’s a stone footbridge joining the two sides; however, I think the ford looked more fun.
Considering Lower Slaughter is only 1.7 miles (2.7km) from Bourton-on-the-Water there were very few visitors. I think as the roads are relatively narrow it may keep the coaches away.
Northleach is classed as a market town and has heritage back to AD 780. I really enjoyed strolling around here, it may not be instantly as picturesque as some of the other villages or towns, however, I felt a warmth to the place.
Locals were going about their everyday lives not concerned with tourists. It was very easy to park up, so we jumped out and took a wander around the quiet lanes and squares.
What amazed me about Northleach was the incredible size of the church, for what would have been a relatively small market town.
Now, Snowshill village is tiny, there’s a manor house here that is open to the public; however, the quaintness of the village is not to be missed.
We enjoyed a pub lunch, in the Snowshill Arms, then had a little stroll around after. The population of Snowshill is under 200.
Here is where pop into Worcestershire, just into the southeast corner of the county. You instantly see the attraction of Broadway as it truly has some wonderful examples of the honey-coloured Cotswold stone, throughout its main street
Take a stroll through the High St and enjoy the bustling cafes, galleries and little boutiques hidden behind the golden facades.
Although Broadway is a village, it has the feel more of a town and has lots to offer, if you use it as a base to tour the area.
Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire
Back in Gloucestershire is Chipping Campden a small market town full of history.
Chipping Campden was a prosperous wool trading centre during the Middle Ages and in the early 20th-century played an important role in the Arts and Crafts Movement.
As you stroll through the main street, there are lots of examples of the Cotswold charm. Including a Market Hall built in 1627 which your eye is immediately drawn to.
These are just a few of the towns and villages we chose to stop at over the couple of days we toured the Cotswolds, there are so many more to find and enjoy.