Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

June 2015: The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is an affluent rural area of England running broadly in a northeast-to-southwest direction, from just outside Stratford upon Avon to the outskirts of Bath, which takes its name from the range of rolling hills that covers much of the area. The Cotswolds straddles a total of six counties, but lies principally in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

While the countryside itself is undeniably appealing, the real joy of visiting this area lies in the Cotswold villages and small towns. These generally well-to-do local communities, with their characteristic yellow or honey-coloured buildings made from local limestone, have a strong family resemblance, and yet almost seemed to be engaged in some kind of competitive beauty pageant. I got the feeling that over the years, these quintessential English villages had probably graced numerous chocolate box covers and provided the backdrop for many an episode of Miss Marple. And they really did seem like genuinely friendly and thoroughly civilised places, where everybody still made the effort to smile and acknowledge you in the street, and where well dressed elderly ladies congregated in quaint little teashops to catch up on the day's news.

My only criticism was that many of these otherwise lovely places suffered from a severe attack of the very modern ailment that I tend to call 'the car infestation'. This was a fairly muted admonishment, it has to be said, as some villages had been more successful than others in tackling the issue - and besides, I myself was guilty of further aggravating the problem.


Moreton is in Gloucestershire, but is only sixteen miles south of Stratford upon Avon. It proved to be an excellent introduction to the Cotswolds, as there was a village fair in progress.

Chipping Campden

A short distance away is Chpping Campden, with its elegant High Street and arched, 17th-century Market Hall.


Less than five miles from Chipping Campden but across the county line, Broadway lies in Worcestershire. Sometimes given the title 'Jewel of the Cotswolds', Broadway is indeed one of the prettiest of villages, and appeared to have a thriving trade in art and antiques.


Snowshill Manor and Garden - the local pronunciation is more like 'snozzle' - is a National Trust property near Broadway. Externally a typical Cotswold country house, the interior is anything but conventional, being home to an eclectic collection of objects assembled by former owner Charles Paget Wade.


Although Stow-on-the-Wold was the first place visited on my second day in the Cotswolds, it is less than five miles south of Moreton-in-Marsh, where the previous day's programme had got underway.


The exceptionally pretty village of Bourton-on-the-Water lies four miles southwest of Stow-on-the-Wold. The 'water' is the River Windrush, which forms a major feature of the centre of the village, adding considerably to its picturesque appearance. Attractions include a small motor museum.


Burford is only a twenty-minute drive from Bourton-on-the-Water, but it lies across the county boundary in Oxfordshire, 18 miles west of the city of dreaming spires. The central area is set into a fairly steep hillside.


Back in Gloucestershire, the small riverside village of Bibury can be found just over six miles from Cirencester.


Cirencester is the largest town in the area and is often called 'the capital of the Cotswolds'. (The name is usually pronounced 'siren-cester', as you would expect, but I have also heard the entire word rendered as 'sister'!) It's not the prettiest of Cotswold settlements, but does have its moments, one of which is the Church of St John the Baptist, in Market Place.

Castle Combe

Castle Combe lies south of the M4 motorway, about five miles from Chippenham - in the words of a local sign, "where the Cotswolds meet the Wiltshire Downs".

Based at:

Hilton Warwick

Hilton Puckrup Hall, Tewkesbury

Best Western Mayfield House, Malmesbury

Linked reports from same trip:

Cheltenham & Tewkesbury

The Wye Valley

Worcester and the Malvern Hills

Bradford on Avon