The Cotswolds is an area of England that is quintessentially British and is so beautiful that it draws tourists from around the globe. Most of the Cotswold villages are hundreds of years old and made from a yellowish limestone which unifies the area aesthetically. With the abundance of flora, ancient chapels, stone walls and creeks that often spill through the towns, the charm is undeniable. Many a British period piece has been set in these towns. One has only to remember Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility to complete the vision.
As if the towns weren’t charming enough in their architecture, they bear delightful names such as Chipping Campden, Bourton-on-the Water and Snowshill. From many of the towns, one can walk the Cotswold Way, a national trail that links village to village and extends over 100 miles. Hikers can be seen along the escarpment that serves as the boundary line around the Cotswold area, and you may take a few weeks to walk the entire area or make day trips from the center of any village.
I vacationed in England with a specific desire to visit this enchanting area, located north west of Oxford. As I am huge Jane Austen fan and in fact anything English, I felt that this area would be the highlight of our holiday. I was not disappointed. We chose to hike a section of the Cotswald trail extending from Broadway village to the Broadway tower, the second highest point in the Cotswold ridge and a steep climb from the village. The trail is not clearly marked and we soon found ourselves in sheep pastures that were consecutively connected up the embankment. Each time we entered a new pasture by climbing over a low stone wall, we thought that we were surely lost, however at that moment, we would undoubtedly come upon a hiker descending the hill with assurances that we indeed were making progress toward the tower.
After many sheep chases ( my hubby couldn’t resist!) and many rests, the tower loomed before us.
Once inside, the view of the region was spectacular and well worth the effort. Sixty-two miles of english countryside lay before us and just imagining the herculean effort it would have to be for the entire 100 mile walk made me appreciate the little time that we had left for the holiday. We had experienced the trail , but without an extra couple of weeks to devote to it, we would have to complete the walk another time. It is now one of my life’s goals to return to this enchanting area and continue to complete Cotswold Way.
Another key Cotswald location is the site of Winston Churchill’s birth; Blenheim Palace, located in Oxfordshire. It is a world heritage site and simply spectacular with majestic grounds and spectacular views. When you pay for your admission, you are treating to a castle walking tour complete with animatronic figures that relay the history of the families that ruled this estate, namely the Marlboroughs and Churchills.
There are countless manor houses, castles and estates in this area of England. I highly recommend renting a car as a drive on English country roads is an experience unto itself!
The Cotswalds are a must-see if you want the charming English village experience.