Think of Quintessential England and what do you think of? Rolling green pastures, honey coloured thatched cottages, cream teas, friendly country pubs, stately homes, pretty market towns and quaint villages?
Yes? Well, if so you can do no wrong by visiting the Cotswolds, where quintessential England is really showcased at it’s best. My recent trip to the Cotswolds to test out our Cotswold Trail tour exceeded all my expectations of this beautiful part of England and more!
Only an hour and a half after arriving into London Paddington, I was transported to the quiet countryside for my first night in the attractive market town of Moreton-in-Marsh. One of the gateway towns to the Cotswolds, Moreton-in-Marsh gives you just a glimpse of what is to come, with its wide high street lined with tea shops and welcoming country pubs and hotels.
Leaving Moreton-in-Marsh behind, you immediately feel another world away as you walk through quiet farmland and rolling green pastures and on to the pretty village of Stow-on-the-Wold. It is here I stopped for the first of my daily cream teas which became quite a bad habit for me whilst in the Cotswolds! Tearing myself away from the intriguing little gift shops and boutiques (once a shopaholic, always a shopaholic!) I carried on to Bourton-on-the-Water.
Bourton-on-the-Water is affectionately named as ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, and as myself and my friend walked down the High Street alongside the canal lined by honey-coloured buildings and tearooms in the glorious autumn sunshine I can’t really argue with that expression.
The following days walk from Bourton-on-the-Water to Winchcombe was one of my favourites mainly due to the variety of different areas you pass through including peaceful woodland estates, tranquil valleys and finally up on to the Cotswold escarpment with fantastic views looking down over the rolling countryside and Winchcombe and the beautiful Sudely Castle.
From Winchcombe, on to yet more idyllic villages, Stanton and Stanway. Of course, it would have been cheeky not to stop off at the Mount Inn in Stanton which has a fantastic location looking over the rolling countryside for some delicious pub grub! Broadway was our next stop for the night. And we were in for a treat tonight as we got to sample one of our ‘In-Style’ hotels, the Broadway Hotel. With its big comfy beds, and luxury toiletries to enjoy, it was actually pretty hard to drag ourselves out for dinner that night!
A rewarding climb out of Broadway the following morning took us to Broadway Tower with its fantastic views. From here it was a really nice gentle stroll to Chipping Campden. This is what makes the Cotswold Trail really enjoyable – some short stiff climbs are rewarded by some nice gentle walking – leaving you with plenty of time to simply relax and take in the views safe in the knowledge that you are never far away from the next honey-coloured village.
To reward ourselves for (almost) being finished we treated ourselves to a delicious curry at one of Chipping Campden’s welcoming country inns, the Volunteer Inn, which handily has its own very fine Indian restaurant attached! So you see, it’s not all cream teas in the Cotswolds!
Finally, a nice short day took us back to Moreton-in-Marsh for one final night in the beautiful Cotswolds before heading back home. The combination of beautiful scenery and pretty villages and towns make the Cotswolds Trail a fantastic walk and one which is sure to leave a lasting impression on me!