If you are traveling in England, Wales, and Scotland, it is easy to overlook a lot of exciting and fascinating towns and countryside. In this travel guide, we will talk about one of the most under-rated of all English regions: the Cotswold Region.
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You might want to play a few casino games to unwind after a long day of exploring the British countryside or cities. If you do, we suggest Thunderbolt, the most popular online casino South Africa has to offer. You know a lot about Thunderbolt already so let’s get on with our travelogue about the Cotswold Region.
Close to London
Naturally, you’ll want to spend time in London. The Cotswold Region is only about 140 kilometers from London. It takes about two hours by country roads so we suggest getting an early start on day 1 and staying overnight.
Most people who visit Great Britain on a limited time budget focus on London, the coasts of England, the mountains of Wales, and the rugged mountains of Scotland. Everyone who ventures out into the Cotswolds will come back talking about how beautiful the countryside is and how quaint the small villages are.
As you head west on A40, a few kilometers past Oxford is Burford. This town is called the gateway to the Cotswolds and is worth a stop. The main street has excellent shops, and a few nice pubs and tea rooms. Everything in the Cotswolds is quite old so a walk about town here will get your eyes accustomed to anything from a 16th century house converted into a restaurant or pub to 18th century homes.
The River Windrush winds its way through the village. A rest along the river is a lovely way to get refreshed.
Bourton on the Water
The River Windrush winds all through the Cotswolds, and this village is actually named for its location on the river. Bourton on the Water is to the northwest from Burford. You can choose between going forward to the northeast, the northwest, or the southwest from Burford.
There is an abundance of small towns in each direction.
If you choose to go to the northwest, we suggest you get at least as far as Winchcombe where the Sudeley Castle is located and what is left of Haines Abbey. The abbey and the castle together give visitors the feeling that they can feel themselves back in the time when local Lords ruled from their castles and the clergy ruled from their abbeys.
The Sudeley castle has a history of greater than 1000 years. Today it features many gardens on its vast estate. Many couples use the castle as the backdrop for wonderful weddings. You might get lucky and see a wedding party on the day of your visit!
The days of castles and abbeys are long gone but the general rusticness of the Cotswolds serves to bring our imaginations back in time.
There are six excellent hiking trails that run through Winchcombe so it is also a great place to stretch out and then relax over a pint.
Snow on the Wold
Many visitors say that this village is the best in the region for antique shopping. The art galleries are like a giant museum all unto themselves taken collectively.
There are a few towns that sit just enough higher than most so they get snow before everyone else does.
We don’t recommend driving about the Cotswolds if there is snow in the forecast!
Heading into Wales
If you have planned to go to Wales form London, a two-day stop in the Cotswolds is well worth it. Then you simply head west and before long you’ll find yourselves in Wales.
If you are heading west, we recommend going just a little out of the way to the very old town of Tetbury. This town was settled in the eighth century! One of the most fascinating aspects of Tetbury is that it is both older than many of the other villages but also much more modern in many ways.
Tetbury may challenge you to get that eight century feeling but if you do you’ll be well rewarded.
We spoke in very little detail about a few villages. The fact is that once you have traveled the two hours from London, the towns are all a short drive one from the other. Each town has old world charm. The streets are narrow making driving a little tricky.
The narrow roads and very old homes make stopping and walking about town pleasurable. You can explore many towns in two days and you’ll find museums, galleries, shops, pubs, tea rooms, restaurants, and so much more.
Between villages is the rolling countryside. You can stop along the way and take in the cool air, the birds that fly overhead in all seasons, the small rivers and streams, and the general quiet.
The overall impression we get every time we visit the Cotswolds is that here live people who are not impressed that they live a mere two hours’ drive from London. They are happy to live in an earlier time as it were.
Why are the Cotswolds Overlooked?
Some observers have offered two possible explanations. The first is that although some businesses in the region depend on tourists most people simply don’t care.
This dichotomy can be felt in many other areas of the world. For instance, in the countryside of New England in the United States north and east of Boston, many people rely on tourists for their living yet the townsfolk and farmers don’t really care that people come from far away to ooh and ahh at the beautiful change of colours in the leaves!
The second reason observed for why the Cotswolds are overlooked is that modern 21st century travelers often don’t want to see one thousand year old homes. This seems absurd yet there probably is far more than a grain of truth to it.
Who goes on holiday without Wi-Fi? Who goes anywhere without heating in winter and cooling in summer? Who goes away without checking for the location of every one of their favourite fast food restaurants!
It just may be that most modern travelers are too modern for the old, rustic, and time-worn Cotswolds.
If you go to England, slow down your internal motor and make sure to spend two days slowly driving and even more slowly walking in the quaint villages and beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds. Breathe deep and take in the beauty – you won’t regret it.