I've been in England for just over a week now and my first few days were spent visiting my old stomping ground, The Costwolds. Due west of London and encompassing most of the 5 counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire, here gently sloping hills (wolds) meet honey-colored stone mansions and cottages providing quintessential villages and towns rich in history, culture and truly rural life. Whilst this was a quick visit, it brought back a lot of memories including that of our family home (below), which we left just over 20 years ago to come to USA.
Top 5 - The Coswold Way
1. The Cotswold Way
The Cotswold Way is a long distance walking trail that runs between the market town of Chipping Campden in the north (above) and the city of Bath in the south. I did not get to hike any segment of it on this trip, but I know it is a stunning multi-day walk which you can enjoy in luxury because of the amazing hotel, inn and B&B options along the route.
2. Farncombe Estate
This 400 acre estate hides 3 hotels owned by the same family and providing wonderfully varied options all within a sturdy hike of the large village of Broadway, one of the Cotswolds best. I don't have enough space to write about them all this week, but please ask if you'd like more details on the Fish Hotel (2 photos above and my choice of accommodation), Dormy House or the stunning Foxhill Manor (photo below).
3. The Unknown Villages - Blockley, Lower Slaughter, Taunton, Swinbrook, Westwell, Hatherop, Winston, Snowshill and Bampton
There are dozens of villages such as those listed above that are truly beautiful. Even on the chilly, gray day that myself and travel buddy Julia Matheson of Travel Julia's Way enjoyed a full day tour with Cotswold legend Robin Dale, we were constantly astounded by the natural beauty of both the countryside and it's architecture. Photos above and below, including the lovely house in Bampton, which, for fans of Downton Abbey was the Crawley House. Bampton was used for much of the outside shots of "the village" in the show.
4. Daylesford (below)
Daylesford Organic has expanded almost beyond recognition from when I last visited 20 years ago. Back then it was a simple organic farm shop, with always absolute top quality products. Today there is accommodation, several restaurants, an expansive organic food store, plus a home and furnishings department. Almost a day out in itself, the shopping and experience are a true English delight.
5. The Full English
There are a lot of declarations pertaining to serving the best English breakfast, but in my mind the Cotswolds can genuinely lay claim to the title. I'll go the whole hog (pun intended) and say that the breeds of pigs farmed in Gloucestershire especially, such as Old Spot and Tamworth, produce the best bacon in the world. Ooh, and the best sausages.
That is one happy chappie in the photo.
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