Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- The Royalist Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold is Britain’s oldest inn, founded in 947 as a hospice for lepers.
- Cirencester was a Roman city called Corinium.
- Several villages include chipping in their names; the word refers to a market.
- The area has more than 3,700 miles of its famed dry stone walls.
- Winston Churchill’s birthplace was Blenheim Palace, outside the village of Woodstock.
Visiting the Slaughters
The Cotswolds area is historically sheep country. It is also a land of gently rolling hills (wolds means hillsides), ancient beechwoods and river valleys, showcase gardens, stone walls, timeless villages and historic market towns. The fact that people have consistently used the locally abundant honey-colored limestone as their building material adds to the area’s cohesiveness and beauty. And, the stone walls fit the landscape so well Mother Nature might have put them there.
In the 14th to 16th centuries, the wool trade flourished and the area prospered. When that trade collapsed, time stopped in this part of England — fortunately for 21st century residents and visitors.
Nowadays, most of the Cotswold landscape is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The protected area extends 787 square miles with its outer reaches roughly marked by Bath, Gloucester, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford; it does not include Cotswold urban areas such as Cheltenham and Cirencester.
On such terrain, popular activities are cycling, horseback riding and walking — especially the walking. The 100-mile Cotswold Way National Trail extends from Bath just south of the Cotswolds to Chipping Campden in the area’s far north. Several other paths crisscross the Cotswolds.
Nothing beats touring the bucolic countryside and visiting the towns and villages with their antiques shops and friendly pubs, slow-moving streams and old mills, carefully tended gardens, and the small churches and houses built of the long-mellowed limestone.
The only tough part is choosing which places to visit. The Slaughters (Upper and Lower) have funny names but are stunning small hamlets linked by the River Eye. Burford is striking with its steep High Street and medieval bridge over the River Windrush. Broadway is famous for its beauty plus its shops, restaurants and hotels, especially the former manor house, the Lygon Arms. Stow-on-the-Wold is an old market town with houses, shops and inns facing its large town square. Its medieval market cross, meant to keep traders honest, still stands. And the list goes on.
Travelers of all personality types rate the Cotswolds highly for as many reasons are there are towns and villages.
Things to do for Venturers
- Walk the 100-mile Cotswold Way National Trail.
- Attend the Cotswold Olympicks in Chipping Campden. Compete in the shin-kicking event if you are willing to risk your support system.
- Book a multiday horseback tour through the Cotswolds. Or, view the rolling Cotswold hills from a hot-air balloon.
- Travel and sightsee your way around on a bicycle. There are six circular routes to choose from, or plan your own.
- Get thee to the Cotswold Water Park for some kayaking or windsurfing. The park also has 74 fishing lakes.
- Attend, or even compete in, the Tetbury Woolsack Races, which involve carrying heavy wool sacks up and down a hill. The races, dating from the 17th century, bespeak the town’s history in the Middle Ages as the site of a thriving wool market.
Things to do for Centrics
- Attend a meeting (a horse race) at Cheltenham Racecourse.
- Visit the Royalist Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold for dinner in 947 AD, the restaurant, and a drink in the Eagle and Child pub. Overnight at the hotel and look for witches’ marks in your room. The marks were meant to fend off witches.
- Have lunch in a pub. Then, buy a sample of a pub cheese called Cotswold; it is a double Gloucester with chives.
- Stay at the Falcon Inn in Painswick, then use its bowling green which is Britain’s oldest.
- Plan a driving tour that includes several of the smaller Cotswold villages. Stop to shop in the small local boutiques, and stop for afternoon tea, too. Don’t forget to keep your car on the left side of the road.
- The Cotswolds were made for walking. Join a walk with a Cotswold voluntary warden. The walks are graded from easy to strenuous. The wardens participate in various projects to preserve the area’s footpaths, as well as conduct guided walks.
Things to do for Authentics
- Carry a good camera and photograph the Upper and Lower Slaughters in evening light.
- Overnight at the Lygon Arms, in the town called Broadway.
- Visit Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s birthplace. His mother was American Jennie Jerome, born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Take in the details of the Tewkesbury Abbey in the charming little village of Tewkesbury, then walk the streets and riverbanks to admire a town noted for its timber-framed houses.
- Ride through 10 miles of scenic Cotswolds, between Toddington and the Cheltenham Racecourse, aboard the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.
- Play golf. There are plenty of courses to choose from.
For more information, consult Cotswolds Tourism at www.cotswolds.com