by Janis on 3rd August 2018 / 2 comments

Enchanting villages dotted across the English countryside

And there are so many more to explore

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.

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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.

Our 8 Cotswolds choices

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).
A family gathered on a small stone bridge over the By Brook in Castle Combe. The road leading over the bridge he is flanked on either side my beautiful stone buildings in the traditional Cotswold style of a golden sandy stone.
Beside the brook in Castle Combe
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.
A classic Morgan sports car driving through the Cotswolds village of Castle Combe
Touring through the Cotswolds
Looking down 'The Street' in the picturesque village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire
The Street, Castle Combe
As you wander through you’d be forgiven if you were tempted by the local pub which sits opposite the 14th Century Market Cross.
The Market Cross at the centre of Castle Combe in Wiltshire, at the Southern end of the Cotswolds
The centre of the village
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.

Where to stay in Castle Combe

- The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club - A stunning location in the heart of Castle Combe offering the ultimate experience - If you deserve it, then why not?
 - The Castle Inn - A traditional 12th Century Inn with bags of period features & private parking

Parking Info

If you’re driving, park in the car park at the top of the village, and stroll down. Parking is very limited along the narrow roads.

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Bibury is a charming little village, with a lovely river running along the roadside, and branches off every so often into streams.
The River Coln flowing under a stone bridge in the beautiful Cotswold village of Bibury
On the banks of the River Coln in Bibury
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.
Looking across a field to the Cotswold stone terraced cottages of Arlington Row, Bibury
Across the field to Arlington Row, Bibury
If you don’t mind the admiring public, you can apply to the National Trust to become a tenant.
Looking down at the stone cottages of Arlington Row in Bibury
Arlington Row, Bibury
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.
The rose surrounded, green door, of Number 5, Arlington Row, Bibury
Number 5 - Arlington Row
A petite pretty little Cotswold cottage at the top of Arlington Row, Bibury
A pretty little cottage in Bibury

Did you know?

In 1966, the Cotswolds were designated to be an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB).
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.
The Kingsbridge Inn next to the River Windrush that flows through the Cotswold town of Bourton-on-the-water
The Kingsbridge Inn
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.
Looking across the River Windrush to the War Memorial in Bouron-on-the-Water
The war memorial across the River Windrush
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.
The exterior of the motor museum of Bourton-on-the-water, housed in several historic Cotwolds buildings, including the mill and the Blacksmith's workshop
The Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection
People enjoying the green at Bourton-on-the-water, next to the River Windrush
The River Windrush
I would just like to add that Bourton-on-the-water is one of the most visited places in the Cotswolds.

More Info

Why not check out Bourton-on-the-Water's own site

Where to stay in Bourton-on-the-water

- Chester House Hotel - A contemporary country-style house close to the centre of town with parking available.
- The Mousetrap Inn - A beautiful Cotswold stone inn a short walk from the centre of town offering homely accommodation. Free Parking available

Timing

If possible I would advise visiting some of the popular villages early or later in the day.
What Lower Slaughter lacks in not having a beautiful sounding name, makes up for it ten-fold in its incredibly enchanting surroundings.
An idyllic Cotswold scene of a very shallow, slow flowing, river in front of a Cotswold home and a water mill with a tall brick built chimney In a village called Lower Slaughter
On the River Eye
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.
The River Eye flowing through the centre of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds
Idyllic life in Lower Slaughter
Stone cottages on the banks of the River Eye in Lower Slaughter
Cottages in Lower Slaughter

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.

Where to stay in Lower Slaughter

- The Slaughters Country Inn - Set on the riverside, this beautiful Cotswolds stone Inn offers an excellent bolthole to get away to, yet an ideal base to explore the wider Cotswolds. Excellent food, and a necessity for our road trips, available parking (free in this case)

Escape for a few days

So, you'd love to visit the chocolate-box towns and villages in the Cotswolds, and you’re in search of a tranquil hideaway to unwind in.

Take a peek at the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.

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.
Historic Cotswold stone building in Northleach
Peter House in Northleach
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.
The half-timbered W.J Castle butcher's in Northleach
The Butcher's in Northleach
A quiet Cotswold stone cottage in Northleach
A quiet cottage
The Northleach Church of St Peter and St Paul in the Cotswolds
The Northleach Church of St Peter and St Paul
What amazed me about Northleach was the incredible size of the church, for what would have been a relatively small market town.

Tempted to?

Discover the beautiful Cotswolds for yourself & tour the picturesque English countryside. Perhaps you’ll cover all six counties. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.
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.
The view of the church & graveyard at Snowshill in the Cotswolds on a bright sunny day
Across the churchyard, Snowshill
We enjoyed a pub lunch, in the Snowshill Arms, then had a little stroll around after. The population of Snowshill is under 200.
The pretty homes in the Cotswold hamlet of Snowshill
Towards the pub in Snowshill

Have You?

Visited the Cotswolds and found any little gems for yourself, we’d love you to share them with us?
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
The beautiful Cotswold stone village shops of Broadway, Worcestershire
Village shops
Take a stroll through the High St and enjoy the bustling cafes, galleries and little boutiques hidden behind the golden facades.
The high street of Broadway lined with shops, cafes, restaurants & the occasional boutique hotels
The High Street, Broadway
A red Routemaster bus travelling through the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds
The red bus runs through the village
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.

More info

For more, why not check-out Broadway's own site?

Where to stay in Broadway

- The Broadway Hotel - This 16th-century hotel is full of charm & history, in an excellent location in the centre of Broadway. Stylish, modern, but with a nod to the past - and ideal stay.
- Crown and Trumpet Inn - A gloriously traditional Inn, offering cosy rooms in an excellent setting. This is a proper English pub, in the finest of traditions, and you're guaranteed a warm welcome

Back in Gloucestershire is Chipping Campden a small market town full of history.
A beautiful Cotswold stone cottage on a bright sunny day in Chipping Campden
Picture perfect, Chipping Campden
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.
Looking along the high street of Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds
Strolling along the High Street
St James' Church of Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds
The village church
The war memorial, constructed from the same Cotswold stone as all the other buildings in Chipping Campden
The war memorial
Inside the 17th-century stone Chipping Campden Market Hall with its timber-framed roof
Market hall, Chipping Campden
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.

More info

There's a visitors guide to Chipping Campden available for more info

Where to stay

- Noel Arms - This delightful 16th-century hotel is located in the centre of the charming Market Town. Full of character, luxury rooms and free on-site parking.
These are just a few of the towns and villages we chose to stop at over a couple of days we toured the Cotswolds, there are so many more to find and enjoy.

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