Whenever I would hear “Cotswolds”, it would conjure images of quaint English villages among misty hills, of pies and scones, pubs and ales, and afternoon tea in a tea room. Our trip to the Cotswolds gave us all that and a lot more.
Cotswolds doesn’t really lend itself to itineraries. The best thing to do is to plot some, or many, of the villages inside the Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – map) and drive from one to another, stopping for pub lunches, afternoon teas, short walks, and many photographs. Here is my Google Maps List with all the villages (and some prominent sites) we had plotted, and many of which we visited. Below are some pictures of some of these places and, where useful, a short description.
We stayed at a place called The Amberley Inn in Stroud. We planned the trip 2 months in advance but apparently accommodation there fills up much sooner. Amberley Inn is a bit more expensive than normal and is not in one of the more prominent villages so it was available. It turned out to be an excellent choice. The rooms were cosy, the staff was friendly and the pub had good food and ales. An added bonus was a pub called The Black Horse Inn (map) just a short walk away that had great views, a nice collection of beers and ales, and good food (especially the appetisers). The baked camembert was delicious.
For accommodation in Europe, I normally use booking.com as it has a wide collection of hotels, B&Bs, Holiday Homes etc. and their interface (app and webpage) is very friendly. We found The Amberley Inn also via booking.com.
The area around the Amberley Inn was quite nice for short walks too, and for picking blackberries by the roadside.
A memorable event for the kids was to watch a cow poop (and for us too…). The cow had its tail up, getting ready to poop and the kids waited eagerly in anticipation of the big event. It took a few minutes but the excitement of watching fresh cow dung emerge was worth the wait!
We were also rewarded with a lovely rainbow right in front of our hotel.
Places We Visited
Castle Combe (map) This was our first stop on a long day of driving through many villages. It was quite early on a cloudy Thursday so there weren’t many people around but I’m quite sure it would be lively on a weekend evening.
Gloucester Cathedral (map) Gloucester is one of the main towns in this area just outside the Cotswolds AONB, famous for its majestic cathedral built in the year 678. We also stopped for some tea and scones at Lily’s Tea Rooms (map).
Broadway Tower (map) was built as a castle in 1799 at the second highest point in the Cotswolds. It also served as an observation post for the Royal Observers Corps during the second world war, and is the site of a cold war era nuclear bunker.
Chipping Campden (map) A village with a quaint name. We just stopped for a few quick pictures.
The Rollright Stones (map) – a complex of neolithic and bronze age stone monuments built between the 4th and 2nd millennium BCE.
Lower Slaughter (map) – a pretty village on the banks of a slow-moving stream (which is actually a river) and two footbridges to cross it which gives the whole place the appearance of a painting.
Arlington Row (map) was built in the late 14th century as a wool store and converted into weavers’ houses in the late 17th century. It is a Grade I listed building owned by the National Trust. It is depicted on the inside cover of all UK passports and is considered to be one of the most photographed Cotswold scenes.
Bourton-on-the-Water (map) – one of the larger villages in the Cotswolds with a lot to see and do. We spent a few hours here browsing the shops, walking along the river, and eating ice-cream. There is also a motoring museum and a model village replica for those interested. I bought a bottle of Cotswolds Gin from the Cotswolds Distillery Shop (map) which was excellent. They also provide tastings of their whiskeys and gins.
And that was it for this trip to the Cotswolds. We went to The Black Horse Inn again in the evening and had the baked camembert while enjoying the views. The highlight of this trip was meeting up with a school mate of mine after 31 years. We both have children now who are the same age as we were when we last met! We had a wonderful time with him and his family in beautiful Cotswolds.