Vatsal is a techie and a coffee junkie. Most often he’s caught watching a film with Guinness for company. Preeti loves everything about the mountains. She always has her head buried in a book sipping tea.
We both love traveling and watching films so we decided to document some of it. Hope you enjoy reading as much as we’ve enjoyed traveling and writing about them 🙂
If you want to walk right into an English period drama then a visit to the picturesque region of Cotswold is the place. It is the quintessential English region spread over five counties with acres of patchwork rolling hills stretched as far as the eye can see, array of honey-colored houses, beech woods, ancient inns, stunning castles, classic tea rooms and the country pubs.
Cotswold is like a spa for the travelers, with nothing much to do,
it’s the best place to relax and unwind, seeing it all at the same time.
We visited Cotswold on a cold winter morning in January. The naked and frosted trees line the avenues, the mist, and the fog hang over the hazy setting making it surreal, cobweb with dew hung to the hollies, the air so pure and fresh, tiny glistening dewdrops suspended at the end of berries and twigs, a winter setting so magnificent in its own right that the lack of snow which characterizes the season goes unnoticed. Snug inside many layers of clothing, all we did was walk around aimlessly, soaking up the place as much as we could. The freezing chill in the air got into our gloves and numbed our fingers but that didn’t stop us from our gorgeous walk. If you like walking in the company of others then there are many guided walks to choose from in AONB, yes this is what the area is called- Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the largest in England and Wales.
When ‘half the wealth of England rode on the back of the sheep’
The small quaint villages were unlike anything we’d seen before, with not much to offer but rows of these beautiful honey-colored stone cottages, made from locally quarried stone and huge farmlands where the Cotswold Lions with their golden fleece are reared. During the medieval times, the Cotswold wool was reckoned to be the best in Europe. The wool reared from the sheep was the largest contributor to the country’s economy. Its fine and silky texture made excellent products like garments and rugs. The wool bought prosperity to the area and its wealthy merchants helped built huge churches which now are known as ‘wool churches’ and the magnificent houses which give such a distinctive character to the region.
The villages look like they’ve stood still for hundred of years till you come across a car or get to the market area. It is not surprising that some of the famous films and TV series have been shot in this region like Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Bridget Jone’s diary, Stardust, Speilberg’s War Horses among many others.
William Morris described Bibury as the
‘most beautiful village in England’ when he visited it first.
For a bit of history, take a walk down the picturesque Arlington Row in the village of Bibury, the most photographed streets in England. These cottages were built in 1380 as a monastic wool store and converted into weavers’ cottages in the 17th century. It’s a small village and we walked around the entire village in less than an hour. We got back to the pub on the Arlington row only to find it shut. We were too early. The cold had begun to seep into our bones by the end of our walk and we were waiting to take shelter in the warmth of the pub. Winters are the best time for walks in the afternoon followed by cozying up by the firewood with a glass of mulled wine to keep you warm and happy. And that is exactly how we spent the next few hours amidst happy locals chatting away.
Visiting the War Horse Film set
Castle Combe was the loveliest village situated in the valley and intensely quiet with a sense of serenity in the atmosphere. It is enough to look at the pictures and see why. It truly is a timeless place with very little distraction of the modern world- souvenir shops, satellites aerials or supermarkets. All the structures here are ancient, replacing the cars with horse carriages would take us back to hundred of years. We walked around the village over the stone bridge crossing the River ByBrook which provided power to run the mills back in the days.
The village dwellers leave some home made cake by the window of their houses, you can pick a piece and drop in some change. Now, where else can you experience this? After spending a few hours in the village, we walked back to the car park and saw two tourist buses pull in. We were very happy to have had the whole village to ourselves. Can imagine how busy it must get in the summers. One of the perks of braving the cold 🙂
The village of Broadway has an interesting artistic heritage which includes some well-known artists and writers, William Morris and Henry James are the famous names here. The village gets its name from the wide streets, hence broad-way. It has one of the longest high streets in Britain with an interesting mix of art galleries, designer boutiques, restaurants and inn and even a fish and chips shop. It’s a popular shopping street in the region and makes it lively and vibrant.
We drove down from the village to the Broadway Tower. Standing on the terrace of the tower at 65 feet high, the Broadway tower offers a fantastic view of 14 counties on a clear day and of course on a foggy winter day it’s impossible to see even one. The tower also houses an exhibition about its glorious past on three different floors.
If you are a winter person then Cotswold is a must visit, it’s a different scene when the rooftops and tall trees peep out from the cloak of heavy fog. The thrill of the low cloud moving suddenly and swiftly revealing the beautiful cottages add to the charm of the place. If not, then of course summer is the time to go when the flowers are in full bloom and leaves are found in a riot of colors, beautiful pots hanging from the iron baskets and walls covered with gorgeous climbers and creepers. We have to go back to see this for ourselves.
The area of Cotswold is connected with trains and buses but they are few and infrequent. Driving gives you the flexibility to wind your way through the beautiful streets which are dotted around every turn with quaint villages allowing you to stop where ever you fancy. For those restless souls who would like to do more than just walk around or hang out at tea rooms for some cream tea and scone, there are a lot of exciting activities like horse riding, hiking and biking. They also offer courses in rural skills like rebuilding dry stone walls, thatching and horse logging. Whether you can find your favorite thing to do or not, this place can never be a dampener for anyone, that is a personal guarantee if there are any takers 🙂
Read about the another of our favourites in England here, Time Travel to English Countryside in Lavenham.
Which are you favorite villages in the UK?