The great news is that the Porch House is now open again after lockdown. Read on for what we thought after our visit on Friday the 13th in March…
We all seem to be drawing up lists of the things we’re going to do when we finally emerge from lock down, bleary-eyed and blinking.
Top three for most people seem to be centred around seeing friends and family, getting their roots done, and getting away for a break.
Whilst The Porch House probably can’t help much with your roots, they can definitely sort out the other two.
We were lucky enough to visit just before lock down began, on a brisk Friday night when it felt like Spring would never arrive.
Arriving early, we took the opportunity to have a drink in the newly refurbished bar.
When we say, ‘newly refurbished’, we actually mean restored to the perfect level of Olde Worldiness, where dried flowers hang from sand-blasted beams, and a maelstrom of textures combine with the common goal of ‘comfort’.
Sat in the window, watching the world go by, the gentle hum of chatter harmonises with background music that is never intrusive, occasionally serving up old favourites that successfully evoke fond memories.
When we’re first seated in the restaurant it’s not busy – that’s not altogether surprising, not only is it Friday the 13th, we’re also predicting the commencement of lock down, and navigating what that might mean.
By the time we leave, however, it’s buzzing and it’s clear that the changes made are already popular. At this stage, social distancing is something we’re still mulling over, not yet has it become normality.
We sit by the unlit fireplace, it’s warm enough without, and one imagines how cosy it will be when roaring. The décor is unforced, bordering on eclectic but never straying into cluttered. The chairs, vitally, are comfortable and remain so throughout the meal.
The menu is an accessible blend of choices, peppered with seasonal produce. We choose a wide array, sharing and tasting each other’s to ensure that the only regret we have is the limit of our appetites.
We treat ourselves to some salt and sage pork crackling and pear chutney, labelled as ‘Morsels’ on the menu, it’s a delicious kick-off dish.
From there we delve into three courses, all worth savouring, ranging from a broccoli and Stilton soup, through to a warm treacle tart with raspberry and milk ice-cream that we agree to share because, frankly, we’re stuffed. It’s all delicious.
The service is friendly and understated, which aligns perfectly with the rest of the experience. The Porch House is the kind of place that you can take the entire family and know that they’ll all find something they like.
Dress up or down, even turn up with two months of root regrowth, and no one’s going to judge you. Take our advice and book a room – enjoy the local beer and kick back. You definitely deserve it.
If you’re interested in us featuring your Cotswolds business then get in touch with us to request a copy of our media pack and find out more about what we do.
When you hear ‘the Cotswolds,’ you might immediately think of traditional villages and picturesque landscapes. Known for its manor houses and historical buildings, the Cotswolds area definitely has more up its sleeve than just the rolling views and English castles.
But we wouldn’t blame you if you would want to go just for that alone!
However, if you’re looking to add more variety to your trip to the Cotswolds, then we have a few suggestions. Aside from the landscapes and villages, this area has other attractions that will appeal to history buffs looking for more than the usual on their holiday.
1. The Roman Baths
Located in Britain’s only hot spring, this is a religious hot spa located in the historic city of Bath. The stone pillars and structures will take you 2,000 years into the past.
Costumed characters wander the halls—walk around enough and you will meet stonemasons, a slave girl, and a typical Roman lady.
The bathing complex still flows with natural water to this day, where tourists can take a dip and take in the ambience.
A Roman museum gives more insights into this period in the country’s history. Paying £16-23 for the entrance fee is practically a steal for the history and culture you will experience. The baths are open every day, except for 25 and 26 December.
2. Antiques shopping in Cirencester
This is definitely the antiques capital of the Cotswolds (although Stow on the Wold and Tetbury might like to have a chat about that claim).
Corn Hall in Cirencester houses over 80 dealers of antique jewellery, ceramics, glassware, furniture, and more.
The weekly Antiques and Collectors Market has been going for over 40 years now and is a good source of Art Deco and vintage pieces from the 1950s and 60s. Entrance is free, and there is ample room for parking.
If you are looking for stand-alone shops, there are also stores like Hart Gold and Silversmiths, Winchcombe Antiques Centre, and the Malt House Emporium.
These are all long-standing shops in Cirencester, with helpful staff and a reputation for being sources of incredible finds.
3. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway
If you fancy a 25-mile round trip between Toddington and Cheltenham Racecourse, you can take a ride on this heritage railway.
The steam railway is perfect for casual sightseeing. You can take in the scenery that the Cotswolds has to offer like Stanway House and the Malvern Hills from the comfort of a train carriage.
The railway is entirely operated by volunteers, who want to preserve this aspect of life in England.
The train is also among the most accessible railways available; there are provisions for the differently-abled, people travelling with bikes, and those who have animal companions.
4. Britain’s Oldest Inn
The country’s oldest pub*, The Porch House, is in Stow-on-the-Wold.
Though the pub has undergone many changes throughout its existence, its oldest parts are said to date back to the year 947.
The Porch House serves traditional English fare and frequently receives glowing reviews from its customers.
If you’re feeling like spending the night, The Porch House also has 13 charmingly decorated, traditional guest rooms starting at £99 per night.
Whether it is your first time in the Cotswolds or you’ve been here before, there is always something exciting to visit. Take a trip through history by visiting any of these attractions or browse our other articles to discover new places.
We are your one-stop-site for landmarks and things to do in this region.
If you would like more information on the places we’ve mentioned above or other attractions in the Cotswolds, get in touch with us today to find out more.
No matter where you’re from in the world, food enthusiasts will find the Cotswolds a gourmet’s haven as nearly every street is lined up with delectable spots—from farm shop cafes to upmarket restaurants, to rustic country pubs and hole-in-the-wall local secrets.
This makes the rural countryside of England a capital for gastronomic adventures, especially since most hotspots thrive on colourfully varied local produce of the region.
The Cotswold’s aromatic palette is inspired by a fusion of different cultures.
Still, local staples indulge in favourites like a local lamb, Gloucestershire Old Spot pork, Gloucester cheese, fish, and a seasonal mix of fruits and vegetables.
The local cuisine loves to play around with fresh flavours—from sour and savoury to sweet, all presented with flair.
With so much to choose from, the (by no means exhaustive) list below is intended to just give you a flavour of what’s on offer as you taste your way around the Cotswolds:
1. The Wild Rabbit, Kingham
If you want to take a gentle trip back in time, The Wild Rabbit offers a rich slice of Cotswold’s history with its 18-century cottage establishment.
Think of it as an olde-world pub where guests can lodge after a heavy meal, which doesn’t fail to satisfy your taste buds with its menu of grilled meat and quality produce.
The Wild Rabbit is a well-mannered eatery and lodge, in the same village as Alex James (formerly of Blur) presents his annual Big Feastival.
Lady Carole Bamford’s Daylesford farm shop, also nearby is the perfect accompanying enterprise, delivering organic fruits and vegetables to ensure each dish is made with a fresh touch.
Address: The Wild Rabbit, Church Street, Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6YA
If you’re looking to fly off to a far-flung
destination (as soon as such a thing is possible again) that is unlike any
other, the quintessentially English towns of the Cotswolds offer a colourful
mix of rich, cultural heritage, picture postcard perfect architectural wonders,
villages built from the iconic honey coloured local limestone, and vibrant,
natural wonders everywhere your eyes land on.
The idyllic scenery is ideal for those who
want to escape to quiet English countryside that isn’t short on its
entertainment with its selection of restaurants, pubs, sparkling streams, and a
wide range of National Trust sites nestled in between the rolling hills. If you
want more reasons to visit Cotswolds
1. Peaceful Countryside Experience
London is usually rife with the hustle and bustle of popular cities, but the Cotswolds offers both a rural escape where tourists and locals alike can breathe in the fresh air and take in stunning sights, as well as the excitement and energy of popular towns and small cities like Cirencester, Cheltenham, Burford and more.
If you visit during the winter months, you can enjoy the scenery without running into crowds of tourists.
It’s the best place to unwind and take a stroll around the tranquil streets of the Cotswolds villages, where you can relish honey-coloured, stone cottages with lush village greens and distinctive architecture in the background.
Each village provides a different experience, from the slow and serene pace in Snowshill village to the sophisticated and glamorous vibe of Broadway.
Wherever you choose, you’ll find yourself in a
picture-perfect slice of Cotswold life.
2. Cosy Accommodations Abound
In between the lush forest-covered landscape, rolling hills, and quaint villages, there are various rental cottages and pubs that offer a comfortable and charming places to stay for the night.
Of course, there are also luxurious hotels with grand acres of garden space for those who want to elevate their experience.
Either way, you’ll find the ideal place to relax and settle in for the rest of your holiday. Ellenborough Park, for instance, is home to an up-scale hotel set in between Cleeve Hill and Cheltenham.
It’s a perennial favourite as the place has
instant access to Cotswold’s highest point and a world-renowned racecourse,
making it boutique accommodation that is rich in history.
3. Interesting Historical Sites
In the midst of your country walks are sites of interesting historical sites and landmarks like the Abbey at Tewkesbury, which is the second-largest parish church in the entire country.
There are also unique choices such as the largest Romano-British villa, which is situated in the scenic town of Chedworth.
If you’re looking for a majestic slice of medieval architecture, Sudeley Castle near Cheltenham stands tall for over a whopping one thousand years.
It’s the ideal place to immerse yourself in centuries of British history, where you can also pay respect to the resting place of Catharine Parr and Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife.
Another significant historical landmark is the Blenheim Palace, which is found in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
It’s one of the most awe-inspiring and grandest houses in England, so much so that it earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 1987.
Conclusion: Visiting the Cotswolds is a Must for Adventurous Travellers
Cotswold’s offers a slice of countryside paradise with its miles of undulating hills, undisturbed footpaths, honey-painted stone villages, and world-renowned heritage sites in between.
It’s a must-visit for history buffs, while tourists or locals who want to take a break from the city can find peace in this quintessential town.
If you’re looking to discover more about the
Cotswolds, get in touch with us to see how we can help!
A trip to the English countryside in the Cotswolds will quickly squash any doubts that you might have, as to why the region was officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Here, you’ll find rolling hills of lush grassland, winding waterways, and a predominantly rural landscape that will seemingly transport you many hundreds of years into the past.
While you could very well enjoy a visit here by exploring what secrets lie in its famous stone-built villages, if you are a fan of the spectacular, some of the more grandiose attractions to go visit, are the large and historically significant castles that are a common sight throughout the area.
In this article, we’ll list some of the best ones that are worth visiting. In no particular order, these must-see castles include the following:
1. Sudeley Castle
Enjoy both a history lesson and spectacular garden views as you make your way around Sudeley Castle.
The castle was once home to many of England’s past royals, and you’ll get to see how they lived their lives in opulence.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped with formal gardens that are fit for a queen.
In fact, Queen Katherine Parr, the last of King Henry VIII’s wives and the only one to survive him, now rests eternally in St. Mary’s Church, an historic landmark that sits in Sudeley Castle grounds.
2. Broughton Castle
This moated manor is privately owned by the Fiennes family, but certain rooms inside the castle are open to the public.
The manor itself is built atop an artificial island that’s fully surrounded by water. If you take the time to wander the grounds, which we advise that you do, you’ll be greeted by well-decorated rooms and scenic gardens that will surely inspire awe.
Although this manor-house/castle is slightly
outside of the Cotswolds AONB it’s worth considering if you are going to be
visiting the area.
3. Berkeley Castle
Another castle that is just outside of the
AONB, this castle was built in the 12th century to be the home of the Berkeley
family and up to this day, it remains under their care.
It’s a family-oriented attraction in that
educational tours and history-inspired performances are a common feature to be
If you’re looking to do more than just explore
medieval hallways and gardens (which you can), Berkeley Castle provides a more
engaging experience than other castles on this list.
4. Beverston Castle
Also known as Tetbury Castle, Beverston Castle was constructed to be a stone fortress that stood tall against invaders.
Today, however, it is considered a ruin, possessing only a portion of its former glory. The grounds are still worthy of visiting, though.
You’ll find stunning medieval architecture and extensive gardens enriched further by the historic significance of the site.
5. Warwick Castle
Historic Warwick castle, in the city of the
same name is a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade I listed building.
The castle is over 1100 years old but has been
restored to its former glory, having survived many attempts to destroy it over
Also just outside the AONB but if you are
planning a visit to Stratford on Avon then it’s worth stopping off here too and
you can even stay here overnight.
With picturesque views and strong links to England’s rich history, these castles are definitely an adventure that you shouldn’t miss.
If you are interested in learning more about the Cotswolds and what you can experience here, sign up for our newsletter today and we’ll be happy to guide you.
Known as the home of England’s finest scenic landscapes and natural experiences, the Cotswolds has established itself as the perfect destination for anyone seeking inspiration and adventure.
The Cotswolds is a countryside escape consisting of 113 towns and villages all within easy reach of all the UK’s major airports.
It may be easy to see how beautiful the Cotswolds are based on images and descriptions of the area’s rolling green pastures and time-travelling villages alone, but what makes the area worth visiting in the first place?
Here are just a few reasons you should consider visiting
If you’ve been meaning to go for a relaxing holiday in a natural paradise, that isn’t too far from home (depending on where you live, of course), here are three reasons you should consider visiting the Cotswolds above all else:
There are dozens of charming and picture-worthy villages in the area
Taking a trip to the Cotswolds and visiting its villages is akin to taking a time machine and getting stuck in the olden days of England when jousting and jesters were still popular forms of entertainment. Actually, if you visit the Cotsowlds Olimpicks you can still see a bit of jousting.
As soon as you enter the area, the Cotswolds instantly greets you with dozens of cottages that were built with the characteristic local limestone and outfitted with colourful flower boxes, and sometimes tricky-to-pronounce place names (we’re looking at you Guiting Power).
If you’re looking to take a trip back in time and enjoy some of the most aesthetically-delightful examples of old-English living and architecture, then a visit to the Cotswold’s villages is a must-include in your itinerary.
The rich history of the region itself makes it perfect for any history nut
Speaking of old English history, the Cotswolds has also established itself as a premier tourist destination thanks to the fact that its origins extend as far back as five millenniums ago.
With an expansive 5,000-year history that covers the Neolithic and medieval periods, it’s no secret that the Cotswolds is the perfect destination for any type of history buff.
For instance, heading over to the Avebury Stone Circle (like a slightly less famous version of Stone Henge) will throw you back to 2850 to 2200 B.C., long before Christianity came to England and was subsequently adopted.
Aside from pre-Christian monuments, visitors can also appreciate the Cotswolds’ rich history by visiting the 15th-century Sudeley Castle, which sits on the outskirts of Winchcombe.
On the other hand, visiting history nuts can also visit the Hailes Abbey ruins and observe the remnants of what the Earl of Cornwall founded in 1246.
You Can Get Around by Bike
Despite its large(ish) total area, the Cotswolds lends itself to exploration by bike, especially for the keener cyclists.
Thanks to the fact that many key spots in the Cotswolds are within close proximity to others, guests can explore the region itself by mountain biking to see the countryside in full splendid detail.
For instance, the place is outfitted with dozens of extremely-popular mountain biking and cycling routes, such as the Winchcombe Circular route and Burford Circular Ride, all of which guarantee to provide priceless experiences!
With its splendid landscapes, rich historical origins, and beautiful villages, it’s no secret that the Cotswolds are a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore one of the best English regions.
Aside from the key points mentioned on this list, however, there are several more reasons to visit the Cotswolds once you arrive in the area itself, all of which can be best enjoyed with a tour.
The Cotswolds are arguably Britain’s worst kept secret.
Quintessentially British and England at its best. An extended holiday or even just a short break will leave you mesmerised and wanting more, making you plan for the next trip back the moment you return home.
The Cotswolds runs through five counties – Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, and Oxfordshire – and covers a vast area of almost 800 square miles.
Many travellers would take delight in exploring different areas in Cotswolds, each with its unique identity and defining features—the golden stone, and the rolling hills or “wolds” that give the region its name.
Marvel and explore quintessentially ‘English’ villages, made up of cottages built from honey-coloured stone, walk through marvellous landscapes along historic trails, visit some of the country’s amazing castles, palaces, and country-styled houses, or simply relax in its lake-land area with its own inland beach.
The present-day Cotswolds, as with other fairy-tale regions of Europe, is the product of economic success that ultimately waned. The rise and then subsequent collapse of the woollen industry.
The once-wealthy towns fell into a distressing time warp. Today, the Cotswolds has become an enchanting part of the world and visitors can have a fascinating time enjoying a harmonious mix of nature and man.
Planning Your Trip to Cotswolds – Getting There
The Cotswolds is an array of tiny and time-passed villages and bustling towns, nestled in the English countryside and is about two hours by car (in good traffic) west and slightly north of London.
Most of the places are near each other, with Bath about an hour and a half to the south, Stratford-upon-Avon just about half an hour to the north, and Oxford an hour to the east.
Trains are available departing from Paddington Station and getting off at Moreton-in-Marsh.
However, once you’ve arrived, getting around the area without a car can be a bit tricky. Despite the fact that public transport is available, buses have limited schedules, although they are the best and the only way to get from one village to another.
If you can, rental cars are also available and would give you more convenience getting around, but expect traffic congestion during the warmer, peak-season months.
For those travelling in a short period, be wary of tour operators offering stops in too many places in a single day.
A full-day tour with promises of trips along Warwick Castle, the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford means shorter stops and seeing the majority of the Cotswolds villages from a bus window.
For those film buffs out there, you might want to include this gorgeous village of Lacock in your itinerary.
It is famous for being the set location of classic movies and TV series, ranging from BBC’s Pride and Prejudice to Downton Abbey, Fantastic Beasts, and of course, Harry Potter.
Lacock boasts a romantic, old English feels and stunning Georgian villages—the reason that Hollywood prefers this place. Check out two of the village’s loveliest places—the wonderful Bowood House and Lacock Abbey.
Visit England’s prettiest village—Castle Combe
Lacock is not the only village in Cotswolds famous for being on Hollywood’s list of favourite movie sets.
With its marvellous stone houses and bridges lining meandering streets, this is probably the quaintest place in all of the Cotswolds. Which is saying something given the ample competition for this title.
There are just so many things you can do in the region, and it would be no surprise if you keep coming back for more.
If you want to learn more about the culture and rich history of the Cotswolds, get in touch with us today!
The Cotswolds – fantastic views, endless displays of culture, and rich history, a place that has established itself as one of the must-visit locations for travellers visiting the UK.
Regardless of whether you’re a nature lover, or someone who’s looking to explore the parts of the UK further afield than just London for the first time, this is an area that you should not miss.
As amazing as it may be to travel to the wonderful area of the Cotswolds, whether for your first visit or a returning trip, it’s worth noting that going by car isn’t always the optimal choice.
Anyone who has visited during the summer months, or who lives locally and is merely trying to go about their daily business, will know that the roads struggle with the high volume of traffic.
Many of the roads in the smaller towns and villages were never intended to cope with the volume of modern day traffic and, sadly the UK’s traffic situation is only getting worse.
This begs the question: are there any other ways to reach the Cotswolds from starting points around the UK?
If you want to approach your next trip to the Cotswolds differently, by leaving the car at home and going for something more exciting, or just different, here are three other ways you could potentially reach the area:
1. By train
For travellers who fancy a quick and scenic journey
The romance of travelling by train might not be quite what it was in the golden age of steam.
However, when compared to most other ways to get to the Cotswolds, taking the train has been proven to be the fastest and easiest method available (although with the ever increasing cost of rail fairs, certainly not the cheapest).
This makes it perfect for first-timers and impatient travellers who can’t wait to get to the area, and for whom budget is less of a concern.
Travelling by rail to the Cotswolds makes for a far less stressful and generally much quicker journey than driving, as you essentially skip the entire experience of being stuck in frustrating holiday traffic and wasting your time, energy, and fuel in the process.
If you’re looking to travel to the area by train, there are a certain number of towns and villages that have stations, either on the main lines, or ones that can be reached by connecting services, including but not limited to Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, and Bath.
Be prepared to have to change trains, depending on your ultimate destination.
Try this handy travel planner to explore different options to get to the area:
You will also still need to seek alternative means of travel locally once you arrive (maybe by horseback?) at your destination.
2. By bus
For travellers who are looking for a cheaper way to get to the area
Another quick and convenient way to reach the wonderful Cotswolds area is taking a direct bus from various further flung regions of the UK.
While it may not necessarily be as fast as taking a train, going by bus to the Cotswolds is still a great, cost-effective, and comfortable option that’s perfect if you’re looking to save a few £s and relax, without the stress of driving yourself.
Before you head out and travel to the Cotswolds by bus, however, it is worth noting that you’ll need to be a bit prepared and do the necessary research on which stations and price points are most applicable to your needs and budget. Aside from the element of preparation, another important reason you should do the necessary research is that buses going to the Cotswolds are not necessarily available all the time as they don’t run frequently.
(A piece of advice: If you’re keen on travelling to the Cotswolds by bus, make sure that you avoid making the trip on public holidays and Sundays to ensure that you don’t end up running late!)
3. By foot
For travellers who trust their feet and want to lower their carbon footprint
This one might come as a bit of a surprise but given that the Cotswolds are England’s walking and exploring capital, why not set off on foot?
Admittedly, this is not the option to go for if you have limited time.
You will also need to be in reasonably good shape, with a sturdy pair of walking boots but what better way to explore an area famed for its walking routes?
Although it may not nearly be as quick as taking the train or as comfortable as taking the bus (possibly depends on the bus), travelling to the Cotswolds by foot is an absolute treat worth considering because of all the available routes that you can take.
What this approach lacks in comfort and speed it more than makes up for in experiences.
Making the journey on foot affords travellers the time to take in the views on trips through villages and other paths in the region that might otherwise be missed.
You’ll understand why the region is an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty.’
If life is about the journey, not the destination, then perhaps the same could be said of travelling to the Cotswolds. This is especially true if you choose a more intriguing and less direct way to get to the area.
By following the tips listed in this article, you can bring yourself to the Cotswolds in more ways than one—exciting!