Discovering The Cotswolds; the Essence of England
After a very difficult month at work I decided that I needed a quiet and well-deserved break for a couple of days; since I did not want to go through the stress of boarding a plane and all that, I decided for a “home vacation” in England; since I needed a tranquil and beautiful area the first place that came to my mind was “The Cotswolds”; I loved the idea of visiting the idyllic and picturesque villages, the castles and lovely river valleys.
I have to admit that exploring this rural part of England was absolutely fantastic; even if I have never thought about it, the first thing that came to my mind was “this is where I want to get married”; the picture-postcard villages and the harmonious landscape is unique.
The Cotswolds is the largest area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England; covering 40km across and 145km long; it extends from the countries of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire; depending on where in the area you want to go, it would take around two hours’ drive from London.
My visit started in the outstandingly beauty ruins of the15th century, Minster Lovell Hall; it used to be a riverside manor house and although the river is still there; only picturesque ruins of the house remains – no entry fee. After one hour I was back on the road.
Burfod was my second stop; there are charming cottages, many of them dating back to the 17th century; the main street is lined with independent shops and pubs owned and managed by local people; it was a pleasure to stroll about the town and have a proper cup of coffee. In my opinion the highlight of the town is the impressive 15th-century Church; the chapels and monuments are one of the finest in the area.
I arrived at Cheltenham at around 4pm; it was my first time in the area but I used to associate Cheltenham with the Regency period; probably after reading a few history books and travel guides. I was definitely not disappointed; the town is filled with elegant town houses, glorious gardens, and beautiful squares. It was wonderful to see the handsome streets with Regency-style terraces and stylish shops and restaurants.
The town can be admired and explored on foot; I particularly enjoyed the view of the broad and leafy Prom, the architecture of the Town hall and the Pittville Pump Room (one of the best examples of Regency architecture) but was also fascinated by the Art Gallery and Museum.
Gloucester was where I spent the night; this is a beautiful city, full of history and interesting museums; it is known as “The historic waterfront city”; it was originally founded by the Romans; after having breakfast and stepping outside the hotel I realised that I needed a whole weekend just to discover the wonders of this town, so I was selective and decided to visit the Gloucester Folk Museum, the City Museum and Art Gallery and the Cathedral; since I had two other villages in my list to visit I had an early lunch and was back on the road.
I was glad I did not spend the whole day in Gloucester (although I am planning a second trip there) – visiting the Village of Broadway was my perfect gateway from the city of London; Broadway is lined with honey-coloured cottages, houses dating back to the 16th century, horse chestnut trees and an atmosphere of tranquillity an beauty difficult to find anywhere else; just wandering around the beautiful town was delightful; visiting the art galleries and having a look at all the antiques shops was unbeatable if you just want to unwind from the stress of your normal life.
Just when I thought that no place on the Cotswolds could beat Broadway I arrive to Lower Slaughter; my last stop (I was not sure about the name); it is an idyllic and small village; there is a beautiful river spanned by footbridges; a 19th century corn mill with a working waterwheel and steam chimney; cottages that are the envy of the neighbour towns and two hotels that are perfect for a wedding venue or any special occasion (The Lower Slaughter Manor Hotel and the Washbourne Court Hotel; this is where one of the best dinner during my holiday); visiting the church was also a good experience.
I can honestly say that I have fallen in love with the Cotswolds; the magnificent rolling countryside with the traditional thatched cottages offers a wealth of fantastic tourist attractions. It was a break that I enjoyed and definitely will repeat as there were many little towns that I want to explore.
Other Places to Visit in England:
Battersea in South London has one of the most beautiful parks in central London; considered a hidden and undiscovered germ by many people, has a lot to offer to the visitors.