I’ve been to the Cotswolds a surprising number of times. In one of my past jobs, we would take primarily American university students out on day trips from London and the Bath/Stonehenge or the Oxford trip usually involved a detour to see this beautiful part of Britain. We’d go to Bourton-on-the-Water most often.
So when we were thinking of beautiful and idyllic places between York and London to spend with our friends for “Friendmas” so many options kept appearing in the area. It was a sign that we were meant to spend the holidays in the Cotswolds. We ended up outside a tiny village not far from Circencester (which we nipped in to and explored for a Boxing Day drink).
On the way down from York, we made sure to allocate time to stop by some of the most picturesque places the Cotswolds had to offer, and after hearing me talk about it for years, Sam finally got to see Bourton-on-the-Water for himself! Bourton calls itself the “Venice of the Cotswolds” which I’d been jokingly repeating to Sam for ages so it was a laugh to see him and Harold on some of their hugely picturesque footbridges.
I’d really wanted to see Stow-on-the-Wold so we made sure to squeeze that in as well. Stow-on-the-Wold means “meeting place on the uplands” which I love as the name of a village! And just by pure accident, I stumbled upon the famous door in St Edwards Church in Stow-on-the-Wold, flanked by two massive tree trunks, giving the church the appearance of being some sort of hobbit hole or magical grotto. In fact, some Tolkien fans swear that this door is the inspiration for the door into Moria (the Doors of Durin if you’re a true nerd), but there’s no proof that it’s true.
The area is famous for its natural beauty (it’s the biggest of the 38 areas of outstanding natural beauty in England and Wales) and it’s small hamlets and villages comprised of Cotswold stone (the really noticeable yellow oolitic limestone); but there are lots of quirky pubs, thatched cottages and other quintessentially “twee” English sights. When you step foot into the area, it truly looks like you’ve stepped back into a different century.
And if you’re a fan of Laurie Lee’s classic, “Cider with Rosie” then seeing his inspiration must be high up on your life “to-do” list. The Cotswolds also make for some surprising celeb sightings: the Royal family has a home there, as does Kate Moss, Kate Winslet and Elizabeth Hurley.
I recommend making time to see the following villages:
Mickleton (***rumoured to be the inspiration for Tolkein’s “Weathertop”)
Harold was a huge hit in the area! Lots of people were out walking their dogs (particularly in Bourton-on-the-Water) but nearly everyone stopped to coo over what a nice boy he was. So I’m definitely biased towards the area now. (If you love Harold, you automatically have a tick in my good books!)
Have you ever visited the Cotswolds? What’s your favourite part to visit?