Our trip to the Cotswolds over Christmas was a perfectly cozy holiday getaway. Located a few hours west of London, the Cotswolds is nestled in the English countryside and is classified as an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" (AONB) - it looks exactly how it sounds! The Cotwolds is full of charming towns and lush farmlands, lined with quintessential cottages with thatched roofs, scattered about the area’s various rolling hills. We chose to stay in a cute village called Chedworth.
Things to do in Chedworth
Walk the Public Footpaths
The walking paths through the Cotswolds are definitely one of the best ways to spend time in the countryside. Using an online map of Gloustershire county's public footpaths, we walked through various public footpaths that pass through rolling hills of mixed vegetation and roaming sheep, horses, and alpacas. Be sure to keep an eye out for the red telephone booths. Some have been converted into Defibrillator stations and there is one in Chedworth that has been transformed into a book sharing station (take one, leave one) -- such a cute idea!
Tips: Bring waterproof boots or wellies with you as there tends to be a lot of moisture and mud! Pick up a pair at the Countrywide Country Store (in nearby Bourton-on-the-water) if you forget to bring some (starting at £10). Bring or download a map of the public footpaths (a comprehensive online map can be found here). Most of the paths are marked with signs that say “Public Footpath” or “Public Bridleway”, but it can be quite easy to get lost or lose the path.
Seven Tuns Pub
A cozy 17th century pub right in Chedworth that serves locally brewed ales and quality gastropub style food. The Seven Tuns is full of warmth and charm; you can either warm up by the fire with a newspaper or book, or sit outside and enjoy the sun on the terrace. Whether for food or drinks or both, a great place to stop in (maybe more than once!) when in the Chedworth area. Also, they are dog friendly!
Tips: Book a table for dinner beforehand (especially on weekends) as they can get booked up!
Chedworth Roman Villa
Although closed for the winter, we were really excited at the prospect of visiting the Roman villa located in Chedworth. Known to be one of the largest (and grandest) in Great Britain, it is now a part of the National Trust. There is also a woodland trail located behind the villa that offers great views of the archaeological site and the surrounding area. Be sure to check that it is open before you drive or hike out to the valley to visit.
Chedworth Farm Shop
A local farm shop that has all the essentials, including farm fresh eggs, beer/wine, milk, and baked goods. You can also buy things like toothpaste here if you need it. They also have a butchery and cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. Buy the garlic and rosemary frozen bread to take home with you -- mouthwateringly amazing!
Tips: Be sure to check the hours of businesses in the Cotswolds. Most do not stay open late, so you might want to plan ahead for that.
Where to stay in the Cotswolds
We stayed in a cute cottage called Brooklands in Chedworth, a small town in Gloucestershire, about 8 miles northeast of Cirencester. Our cottage was the epitome of cozy: inglenook fireplace with a wood burning stove, reading chairs, knobbly wood beams, etc. There were (llamas) alpacas grazing on the farm across from our cottage, and we had a great view of the town of Chedworth from our window.
Other things to do and places to visit in the Cotswolds
The Cotswold Way
A part of the National Trails, the Cotswold Way is a 100+ mile footpath that runs through the Cotswold AONB between Bath and Chipping Camden. It passes through rolling hills offering views of beautiful valleys below, famous historical sites and picturesque towns and villages.
Tips: If you are feeling adventurous and have the time, you can backpack the entire route and stay at local inns in the nearby towns. You can also pick up the Cotswolds Way at various points throughout. We chose to pick up the path at Leckhampton Hill, near the famous limestone formation called Devil’s Chimney. Leckhampton Hill offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and the town of Cheltenham.
Arlington Row is quite possibly the cutest little row of cottages we've ever seen. The picturesque row dates back to 1380, and you can tell -- the cottages are quite small with doors less than 6 feet tall. Later in the 17th century, the cottages were homes to local weavers who worked at the nearby Arlington Mill. Definitely a must see!
Burford is located about 20 miles west of Oxford and is a great way to get introduced to the beauty and charm of the Cotswolds -- it has been dubbed as the ‘Gateway to the Cotswolds’. High Street is made up of rows of Tudor and Georgian style stone cottages that lead down to local shops, including antiques, as well as cafes and restaurants. The town also boasts a medieval bridge.
A quaint village with a picturesque High Street flanked by greenery and the River Windbrush. Several stone arched bridges connect the village and add to its charm. A great place to grab a cup of tea and sit outside to watch the ducks and geese along the riverbed in this so-called ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’. (Countrywide Country Store is located in this village and the place to grab some last minute wellies if you need some!).
Upper & Lower Slaughter
Nicknamed the Slaughters, these villages are connected by the small River Eye (more like a stream) with pretty villages, and are common spots for filming. Located close to Bourton-on-the-Water, you can walk to these villages from there. Lower Slaughter boasts The Slaughters Manor House, abeautiful mansion, and The Old Mill (and cafe) which is a great stop for lunch. Upper Slaughter is considered “sainted”, meaning no one in the village died during WWI. Don’t forget to stop at The Cotswolds Brewing Co on your way from Bourton-on-the-Water for some local craft beer!