For mine and Davids four year anniversary, we treated ourselves to a little stay-cation, a beautiful weekend in the glorious Cotswolds. The Cotswolds cover a wide area in south-west England, spanning over many counties, that means you are spoilt for choice on places to explore. Here are just a few places that we visited during our stay.
Using Cheltenham, a city located in the northern part of the Cotswolds, as our base to explore, we visited one of the most popular north Cotswold towns, approximately a 25-minute drive away from the city. We arrived at 10 as we wanted to avoid the crowds, which allowed us to have a gentle stroll through the village, walking along to waterfront and admiring the bridges, quaint cottages and quirky tea-rooms.
There’s plenty to do at Burton-on-the-Water apart from having a walk; there is a bird and wildlife sanctuary and also a motoring museum if that’s your type of thing. There is also plenty of quirky little shops where you can buy souvenirs and absolutely tons of tearooms and restaurants to have something to eat.
We spent our time just having a wander around, stopping for a cream tea before our next stop on the journey!
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Avoid the crowds by going early in the morning, it starts to get very busy at lunch time. There is a car park at the end of the village that is reasonably priced, near ‘Birdland’ (a wildlife sanctuary).
There are plenty of tea-rooms to try, but we were recommended Smiths of Burton and were not disappointed. It’s a lovely, quaint tea-room that is hidden away, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for it! They serve delicious cream tea and have a selection of cakes and savoury options. If you go, make sure you sit near the window so you can people watch.
A quick five-minute drive away from Bourton-on-the-Water, you’ll find the stunning Lower Slaughter, a much smaller village that doesn’t attract the same kinds of crowds the more famous Bourton-on-the-Water does. This is the perfect picnic spot and is full of the classic Cotswolds cottages.
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Drive all the way through the village and you’ll find free parking along the side of the road. Lower Slaughter is tiny, so doesn’t attract as many crowds, but is a stunning place that is well worth the visit!
Due to it being so small, you don’t need to spend a lot of time here, but there is a hotel which has a bar and serves food if you don’t have your own picnic.
If you have the time, visit Upper Slaughter as well as nearby Kingham, more classic villages that are good to stroll through and get the classic Cotswold Cottage shot!
Saving the best until last, we visited Castle Combe the next day as it was on the way back home. Castle Combe is an hour drive away from Cheltenham and about 30 minutes away from Bath. Castle Combe is unlike any place I have ever seen before, a fairy-tale village that looks like something from the Shire.
There’s not a lot to do in Castle Combe except admire it. Quaint cottages and a pretty church are all that is here, and there’s a few little tea-rooms dotted about and a hotel that serves an excellent afternoon tea, I have been told.
It may be small, but you need to head to Castle Combe for the ultimate Cotswold experience, it really is beautiful.
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There is a free car park at the top end of the village, but it is up a hill. Fine on the way down, but if you have trouble walking it’s not suitable on the way up, it is about a 15-minute walk.
Castle Combe is a very popular destination so make sure to arrive early, to avoid crowds. We arrived at about 10:30 and the car-park had about 10 or so cars. After leaving the car park at 12:30, it was nearly full, so make sure to avoid the crowds ruining your photos!