The Cotswolds is thought to be one of the most charming places in Europe. With it being only a couple of hours away from where I live, I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t visited sooner. If you’re not familiar with the Cotswolds, it’s a hilly, green area full of traditional, picturesque English houses. My boyfriend and I have just returned from spending 4 days in the beautiful place.
We decided to base ourselves in Castle Combe which is known as the prettiest village in England. We were certainly charmed by the 14th century village, it seemed to have popped straight out of a romantic English novel. We stayed a few minutes away from the centre in an adorable cottage which reminded me of the one from the film, ‘The Holiday’.
We spent the first day wandering around Castle Combe, taking in all the beauty. There isn’t a large amount to do here, it’s actually a tiny village but it’s simply lovely to walk around. We planned to eat in a pub but when asked if they had any vegetarian dishes, they informed me that there was jacket potato or soup. We decided to buy ingredients to make our own dinner instead and spent the evening sitting by the log fire in our dreamy cottage.
Because of the rain, we decided to save our most anticipated villages and towns for the next day, when the weather looked more promising. Instead we visited Corsham, which was only a 20 minute drive from Castle Combe. It wasn’t my favourite destination in the Cotswolds but there is no denying that there were some beautiful buildings there and I fell in love with this lion’s eyes.
Next we debated whether it was worth visiting a town another 15 minutes away and in the end we decided to go for it. Bradford on Avon ended up being our favourite place we visited (apart from Castle Combe). It was full of charm, cute cafes and traditional buildings. I loved the view from the main bridge, which conveniently happened to be next to where we parked our car.
We stumbled upon the ‘Secret Garden Coffee Shop’ and I couldn’t resist having a hot chocolate in the adorably decorated coffee shop. We had the upstairs to ourselves and sat by the fire whilst surrounded by little butterflies covering the walls and ceiling.
I loved that the owner had made a guide for visiting Bradford on Avon. He stuck in photos and wrote about places to visit in the town. It was a lovely touch and we then visited most places on the guide. We saw the Saxon Church, gold post box among other things. We walked through quaint streets and entered quirky, unique shops. Something I loved about the Cotswolds is that I never saw any high-street brands once. All shops were independent and selling local goods.
We had lunch in an impressive Victorian tea room called ‘The Bridge Tea Rooms’. It serves homemade food from locally sourced organic products and has been voted the UK’s top tea place twice. It started as an antique shop before being converted to a tea room in the Victorian Era. it then became a house before later being converted back into a tea room. Long may it remain a tea room! The food was absolutely delicious. I had stuffed mushrooms with garlic bread, salad and chips whilst Mike had a sausage baguette.
We woke up to see the sunrise over Castle Combe.
Before long we were on our way to Bibury (a 50 minute drive) to see the Arlington Row cottages which are the most photographed place in England. They’ve even featured on the inside sleeve of the UK passport. I felt like I was walking straight into Hobbiton. The advantage of visiting in the winter is that there were a huge difference in the number of tourists. In the summer it looks covered in a sea of crowds whereas we were able to experience it at a quieter time. We didn’t spend long in Bibury as we weren’t interested in seeing the trout farm but the village was worth visiting just to see the cottages.
Next, we headed to Bourton-on-the-Water (20 minutes from Bibury). This is probably the most touristic town in the Cotswolds and known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ due to the water running through it. We visited the Model Village which is a replica of Bourton-on-the-Water. The attention to detail was impressive.
We sauntered through the village, entering little shops along the way. Mike was particularly interested in visiting the Motor Museum where we saw Brum!
Our final day in the Cotswolds started with a short hike around Castle Combe. We walked through squishy mud, icy roads and saw sheep, donkeys and ducks along the way. We ended by walking through the village and up to the Manor House, a 5 star luxury hotel. There’s a gate where pedestrians can enter through. Walk up the steps to the right of the Manor House to get a beautiful view of the architecture.
It’s worth taking a walk through the gardens surrounding the Manor House too. In the village we stumbled upon a coffee shop which we hadn’t noticed before. Apparently they are not allowed to put up many signs so as not to ruin the beauty of the street. Before heading home, we wanted one more visit to Bradford on Avon where we had lunch at an Italian called ‘Ravello’. I had a mouth-watering truffle oil risotto.