Cotswolds is one of the most authentic and unspoiled regions of England where you can only fall in love with the uniqueness of it!
You all know the story of Hansel and Gretel, don`t you? With the gingerbread houses and all that. Well, Cotswolds seems to be the place from that story.
Prepare yourself to be fascinated by the rich history, culture and the natural beauty of limestone villages, the beautiful gardens, majestic historic castles and impressive homes.
All these make Cotswolds such a cozy place to stay!
What about Cotswolds ?
The unique region officially covers an area of 790 square miles in the upper part of the southwest region of England and is the country's largest officially designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' ( AONB ).
The spine of the Cotswolds runs southwest to northeast through six counties, particularly Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and southern Warwickshire. The northern and western edges of the Cotswolds are marked by steep slopes down to the Severn valley and the Avon.
The area is characterized by attractive small towns and villages built of Cotswold stone , which is esentially a yellow limestone. This limestone is rich in fossils. In the Middle Ages, the wool trade made the Cotswolds prosperous. Some of this money was put into the building of churches, so the area has a number of large, handsome Cotswold stone "wool churches". The area remains rich and has attracted rich people who own second homes or have chosen to simply retire here.
Cotswolds lies just 176 km East of London and the easiest way is to just rent a car and drive, as we did. Alternatively, you could use buses and/or trains but this will make your options quite limited, mostly if you don`t have so much time to play with.
Cotwolds has a large number of gorgeous cottages where you could choose to stay. However, during summer peak times, it might be a bit difficult to find something, therefore it would be very useful to book in advance.
Nice towns/ villages to look for accommodation would be Burford, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-water, Northleach but if you cannot find, don`t despair as all the villages in this area look nice! ☺
We stayed in Bourton-on-the-water at Trevone B&B and it was absolutely fabulous. It is a very local and traditional guest house with proper English breakfast freshly made each morning from organic products. Trevone, the host, keeps the house very clean and tidy and made us feel like home over there. In August 2016 we stayed for 3 nights and paid around 60 £/ night, including breakfast.
Alternatively, in the same town, you can visit Bourton-on-the-water information website where you can find more B&B`s. We also tried to book a room at Holly House B&B but there was no space available.
What to do
If you stay in Bourton-on-the-water, first go for a walk and have a look at this cute little village. There are plenty of coffee houses, pubs and terraces along with cozy alleys. You could also take a look at the Cotswolds Motoring Museum.
But you cannot truly experience the nature and the tiny villages in Cotswolds if you don`t go for some biking around the area. Which, by the way, is just fabulous!
Hartwells Cotswold Cycle Hire, located just in the heart of Bourton-on-the-water, gives you the possibility of renting a fully equipped bike at a reasonable price.( approx. 16£ for a full day ) However, they ask for a deposit of about 50£ for the duration of the rental.
We initially planned for 2 days of cycling around, but due to the proper British weather we only managed to do the first one. And of course it started to rain even on the way back. But I suppose it`s part of the fun! ☺
Our biking track started in Bourton-on-the-water and finished in Cirencester via Cold Aston, Turkdean and Northleach, but you could choose any other combination as there are so many small roads that cross each other. The distance for us was approximately 25 km one way and it is pretty flat.
All the roads pass along farms, fields, forests, tiny villages and mansions.
We also visited Burford which is a bigger and more touristy town compared to the others but was lovely! Here, you can find many restaurants, bars and pubs where you could grab a bite, a beer or a coffee.
After that, we went to Stow-on-the-Wold, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, all looking fabulous!
Since you are in the area, you might want to have a look at Harry Potter`s filming locations in Oxford or the Georgian buildings in Bath.
We spent one day in Oxford and one day and one night in Bath. Bath tends to be slightly more expensive that Cotswolds with lower standards but it is manageable. We found a place to stay on Booking.com at University of Bath campus for about 70 pounds including breakfast. Being in the middle of the summer, the place was empty and clean. If you are looking for some budget accommodation we suppose that`s ok but you can find decent hotels for a higher price, as well.
Oxford is famous for its University, its architecture featuring many styles ( from Neoclassical, English Gothic, Saxon and Baroque to Modernism ) and Harry Potter`s filming locations.
Although quite crowded and touristy, it is nice to walk around the city center and taste the city flavors.
Bodleian Library ( Uk`s second largest library ),Radcliffe Camera, Oxford Castle, Bridge of Sighs, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Covered Market are some of the places people should visit in Oxford.
If you fancy some kayak ride, Magdalen Bridge Boat House offers kayak rental along the river next to the Botanical Garden.
Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture.
It seemed to be a more local city and a bit less touristy.
Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, Thermae Bath Spa, Royal Crescent, Jane Austen Centre as well as the city center are the main points of interest here.
Next is our photo gallery for which we used our Olympus OM-D M5 ( 12mm, 25 mm, 75 mm prime lenses ). Ion`s short movie from above was shot with Samsung NX-1 camera (16-55s mm ).