Chipping Norton: The Town that Moved Up Hill

Chipping Norton Town Hall

Chippy, as locals call it, is one of the highest towns in the Cotswolds, but this was not always the case.

It began down in the valley of the River Glyme – the earthworks of the Norman castle built to keep the locals in order are still there. But the local lord William FitzAlan had ambitions to make the town a major centre, so he built a huge market square (bigger than area it covers today) up the hill.

Alley way in Chipping Norton

Houses were built to surround the market space, and the long, narrow alleyways behind them remain, showing that these were burgage plots: long, narrow sites that gave every shop a window onto the High Street – this is the origin of the phrase ‘window shopping’.

The medieval buildings around the market place benefitted from a makeover after 1704. The construction of Blenheim Palace down the road made the ornate baroque style fashionable, and lots of Chippy’s main buildings got a makeover with smooth-stoned, symmetrical frontages.

Bliss Mill

However, cattle, horses and sheep were still sold here, as well as wool, which led to the development of the town’s weaving industry and the building of the iconic Bliss Mill. The Bliss family played a huge role in the development of Chippy before they hit hard times and sold up in 1895.

The new management pushed down wages and resisted the rise of the workers’ rights movement. This led to a strike that is famous in trade union history, and one of Chippy’s alarmingly regular ‘riots’ as 50 policeman were needed to hold back picketing strikers when their fellow workers headed to do a shift at the mill.

Bliss Mill, Chipping Norton
Bliss Mill dates from 1872. Its distinctive chimney has been likened to a sink plunger!

Town Hall

Another uprising led to the 1845 trial of a policeman called Charles Knott who was over eager in calming down a belligerent pub customer, bashing him over the head with his cosh. The poor chap was flung into a cell underneath the new Town Hall. When they opened up the next day, he was dead. The policeman was found ‘not guilty’ because his victim, rather conveniently, was found to have an unusually thin skull.

Chipping Norton Town Hall
Mr Slatter, the pub brawler who got bashed over the head, was kept in the cells here in the newly built Town Hall.

Rock ‘n’ Roll

There were 20 coachhouses in Chippy at one time, giving customers and horses a welcome respite from the bumpy roads. When rail took over, many continued as pubs, and legendary drummer with The Who, Keith Moon, briefly owned one here from 1970

Many of his mates from the music industry would have been the other side of the bar, for the town had a recording studio from 1972 to 1997. Its walls echoes to hits such as ‘Bye Bye Baby’ from the Bay City Rollers, ‘Too Shy’ by Kajagoogoo, and ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty.
Today the town is a hidden gem in the Cotswolds, with independent shops, a wonderful ‘Woolgothic’ church, and a terrific theatre that lives in an old Salvation Army chapel and puts on one of the top pantomimes in the country every year.
… Oh yes it does!

A bit about the author

Sean Callery runs regular walking tours of Chipping Norton through his Offbeat Cotswolds guiding operation ( ).
He is a Blue Badge Guide for the Heart of England.


Broadway, The Cotswolds

A quintessentially British getaway

With honey coloured stone cottages and red chestnut trees lining the streets, it’s no surprise that the village of Broadway is one of the most picturesque villages in not only the Cotswolds, but the country. Luring international visitors to the beauty spot each and every year, Broadway is often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ and remains one of the most sought after areas around.

Nestled at the foot of Fish Hill, which was quirkily named by those who say monks used to store fish there in the 18th century, Broadway could be mistaken for an immaculate film set. The ‘jewel’ of a village, which lies in the western area of the Cotswolds in the county of Worcestershire, is within easy reach of places such as Stratford upon Avon, with its Shakespeare Theatre as well as Warwick with some of the finest medieval castles in England and is just a two hour drive from central London. Much of the magnificence is due to its particularly wide high street and the majestic mix of Tudor and Georgian period buildings and with its quiet and relaxed atmosphere, the village has created a pretty picturesque setting for a UK getaway.

Broadway, not to be confused with the New York’s City very own Broadway, has a grand reputation as the gateway to the quintessential English countryside and there are many ways to appreciate the beauty of the village whilst taking in the sights of the surrounding areas. Home to the second highest point in the Cotswold, visitors are able to take in the sights of the countryside at the top of the Tower, built by the Earl of Coventry in the 18th Century, which is easily the best way to take in spectacular views of 12 English countries at a staggering 65 feet high. Elevated above the landscape, the hilltop of Broadway offers incredible 360 degree views of untouched natural beauty. The area is also what many call a country walkers ultimate paradise with several incredible routes around Broadway which showcase the beautiful English countryside. Just a few minutes away from the Cotswolds Way Trail, Broadway is perfectly situated for a stroll through the bluebell woods to the quiet village of Buckland, a walk to the historic market town of Chipping Campden and a jaunt to the old church of St. Eadburgh’s. Whichever route you choose, the rural tranquility of the Cotswolds countryside will be on show for all to see.

Whilst the beauty of the village is certainly a big attraction, it is not the only draw for tourists who arrive each and every month. Broadway has a particularly interesting artistic heritage, with the village at the very heart of creative inspiration for a number of writers and artists in the past including John Singer Sargent, dubbed the ‘leading portrait painter of his generation’, Henry James, one of the key figures of 19th century literary realism and William Morris, associated with the British Arts and Craft Movement. With such a rich artistic history, the village is now home to a number of the country’s best art galleries including The Priory Gallery, Richard Hagen Gallery and The Broadway Museum and Gallery, a community museum that tells the tales of the village through history by displaying stunning works of art.

If you’re looking for a scenic spot to eat lunch or grab a coffee, the village’s high street, named as one of the longest in England, is brimming with high quality restaurants, cafes and bars, with more than enough choice for even the pickiest eater. For those wanting the ultimate British experience, you couldn’t possibly leave Broadway without indulging in an afternoon tea or two, and with an array of quirky and quaint cafes to unwind over a pot of tea and scones, you’re incredibly spoilt for choice! The high street is also perfect for those wanting to indulge in a little retail therapy too, with gift shops, clothing stores and a wide range of high quality antique shops which are sure to strain the old purse-strings! With a fabulous choice of retail therapy combined with great food and drink and an all around laid-back vibe, there really is no wonder Broadway is one of the most popular places in the Cotswolds to visit whatever time of year it may be.

Whilst the historic village can be a perfect place to spend the day with family and friends, it’s also a quaint and quiet place to spend a night or two. There are hotels and B&Bs a plenty in Broadway however one you may have heard of before is the famous Lygon Arms Hotel which is somewhat of a Cotswolds institution, with it’s roots dating back to the 1300s. Centuries old, it is known by many as the home to some rather royal guests including King Charles I, King Edward VIII and guests are even able to reside in the room that Oliver Cromwell spent the night before the Battle of Worcester, so if you’re looking for a little traditional luxury, this might just be the place for you.
The historic Cotswolds village of Broadway is a truly memorable place to visit and stay and acts as the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding areas. The spectacular scenery may lure both national and international visitors each and every year, however Broadway really does have the whole package with a range of high quality gift and antique stores, luxurious restaurants, cafes and tea-rooms as well as fantastic hotels and B&Bs. When it comes to UK getaways, it really doesn’t get better than this – the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ truly is a treasure of the English countryside.


P.S Due to Broadway’s strong and historic art connections, the village hosts a fantastic biennial Arts Festival with live music, exhibitions, events and lectures which is fun for groups of every age. If you are interested in attending this event, make sure you get the date in your diary for next year because it’s definitely an event for art lovers not to miss!






Luxury Hotels In The Cotswolds

If you want a luxurious time, superior values and customary hospitality then you are looking for luxury hotels in the Cotswolds. Cotswold includes a castle, manor houses, and historical inns. If you take pleasure in being a visitor and not just some other room number, these extravagant hotels are for you. Here are some hotels that may be of interest to you.

Chargingworth Manor

Charingworth Manor is a beautiful escape. The views are commanded over calm rural Gloucestershire Countryside for over 700 years. Perfect for exploring this gorgeous part of England, Charingworth Manor is a peaceful location for vacations to important conferences. Enjoy yourself in the 26 bedrooms that have been newly refurbished to the highest standard offering modern style, all-new beds and duvets, plasma TVs, internet available, and extraordinary bathrooms. Enjoy a relaxing walk through stunning gardens, open country side, and more.

Dine in the intimate AA rosette restaurant with seasonal menu that make the most excellent of fresh Cotswold produce. Unwind in Cotswold spa with its own gym, sauna, steam room and pool. The heart of England is on their doorstep with historical houses and renowned gardens to explore. There is Shakespeare’s Stratford to discover and Broadway and Burford just is just a short drive away. Charingworth is a pet friendly hotel and welcomes your dogs to stay.

Thornbury Castle

Want a romantic getaway to the past? Then visit Thornbury Castle where Kings and Queens have stayed, Courtiers have flirted with ladies-in-waiting in the very old yew hedged gardens, and service girls have whispered in the halls. Thornbury is the only Tudor castle in England to be open as a hotel and still resonates with history. Nevertheless, step behind heavy oak doors and you will find a splendid hotel with roaring fires, extravagant bedrooms, holistic and massage treatments suitable for men and women.

The lunch menu changes on a daily basis enabling the Chef to integrate the freshest seasonal produce. Walk the grounds and benefit from the open air where Kings of England once walked. Enjoy a royal night’s sleep in the Duke’s Bedchamber where King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn slept. If you favor the Cloucester Bedchamber, wake up to a view of the oldest Tudor gardens in England.

The Goring

If you are looking for a historical getaway then The Goring is your place. Built in 1910 flanking to Buckingham Palace it is ideally the location you want to stay. You can gaze on the historical castle of the Queen. It is within walking distance of the Royal parks, London’s major shopping areas and the spirit of the West End. The Goring has luxurious bedrooms and one of the first to have personal spacious bathrooms.

Lounge in the bar with elite access to the private gardens, dinning on the Veranda during the season of summer, private dining rooms for meetings and special occasions, approved membership to local health club with full access to pool and gym, high speed internet, internet on TVs with infra-red keyboard, and much more. The Goring is one of the oldest but elegant hotels in London but is one of the most updated.

Hotels in Bibury

Bibury is the quintessential country village with beautiful Cotswold stone buildings surrounded by meandering rivers and sporadic, overgrown birch trees. If you are looking for a country weekend getaway then read on for recommendations on the top 3 hotels in the area.

Cotteswold House

A beautiful Cotswold stone bed and breakfast. Commended with a Four Diamond Gold Rating by the AA, it assures quality similar to a Mayfair hotel, but maintains a personal touch expected from a family run business. If you prefer a more flexible stay, you can stay in one of the self-catering spacious cottages. The Cotteswold House is definitely a place for the luxurious country getaway.

Bibury Holiday Cottages

If you prefer a traditional 17th century country cottage then this may be for you. These highly sought after cottages (there are only four) are situated on the edge of the River Coln – a calm river separating the village. They may have been built over 300 years ago but the interior is very much modern fitted with modern day heating! Each cottage sleeps up to 4 people. In the summer, the glorious sun shines on the neatly kept gardens surrounding the cottages. A few minutes down the road and you can reach 2 fantastic restaurants serving only local produce and a picturesque country pub serving local beverages. Visit Bibury Holiday Cottages here.

Bibury Court Hotel

For the ultimate country getaway, stay at the Bibury Court Hotel situated in over 6 acres of land. The country house offers exquisite afternoon tea in the most magnificent Cotswold scenery. The hotel is bound by the River Coln with many paths for gentle strolls. Take a look for yourself at Bibury Court Hotel.

The Typical English Cottage

Great Britain is famous for its scenic countryside and cottages. Here the refreshing greenery and cleanliness of the air are really amazing. The countryside is also characterized by a pristine beauty including green hills sloping down towards rugged mountain ranges with hundreds of waterfalls, inhospitable gorges, sand eddies, cliffs, subtropical vegetation and numerous lakes. It is a romantic setting composed of endless pastures and wheat fields. For certain aspects it reminds of Tuscan landscapes; may have this been the reason why in the Eighteen and Nineteen-hundreds English literates moved to and celebrated Tuscany in their accounts and works?

Typical hedges and stone walls delimit the landscape. Here the heritage is without any doubt the pride of this friendly people. An important part of the history of the place are the worldwide famous English cottages, especially those in the Cotswolds area. But it does not matter from what cottage you depart, in Britain there is always a bit of nature to discover.

The impressive castles, beautiful churches and stately country houses surrounded by beautiful gardens should not be left out from your program of visits. It would be a pity not to discover the ancient British traditions: cricket tournaments and horse races. But let’s not forget the afternoon tea; this is a lovely tradition that you can enjoy organizing a tea party yourself when renting a home or cottage. Most of the times you will find a typical English tea set for your personal use. And how can you say no to having an abundant English breakfast, a “Full Monty”, perhaps in the garden, during a beautiful summer morning?
The English countryside is also famous for its small but lively pubs, still rooted in the ancient rural traditions. Having a pint with the locals adds so much flavor to your vacation!

As a matter of fact, cottages started out as humble rural homes, although nowadays they are quite prestigious homes. The term indicates the typical country house of British provinces, intended for one family. Almost always cottages still in use are the result of subsequent additions and enlargements from what the original nucleus used to be. This was carried on to satisfy the growing needs of a family. The resulting structure is very picturesque due to the combination of various colors and textures, but the most common appearance is composed of stone or bricks.

Wherwell cottage

The typical cottage architecture and look can not only be found in private homes for rent, but also in many hotels, and summer and winter resorts. Nevertheless, private cottage villas are the best way to enjoy a self catering holiday in the Cotswolds. Just imagine staying in a cozy and quaint English-style cottage. Rooms are fully furnished and comfortable, while fireplaces and fully equipped kitchens provide all the necessary for a romantic holiday in any season.
The intimate and romantic atmosphere of a cottage is ideal for a honeymoon or even just a weekend. These small country houses surrounded by nature are perfect to switch off and recharge your batteries.

A Walk in the English Countryside

3 Must-See Attractions in Castle Combe

Castle Combe, otherwise known as the Prettiest Village in England, is nestled in the southernmost corner of the Cotswolds. Visiting this sleepy, rural community is like stepping back into the 14th century. Elegantly crafted stone houses, weavers’ cottages, stately gardens and narrow byways combine to create a traditional and picturesque English village. While the castle on the hill made famous by the Normans no longer exists, the village of Castle Combe is a beautifully preserved example of the way life used to be in the English countryside. If you are out on a walking tour of Wiltshire, be sure to stop here to have a pint and explore its ancient sites and quiet charm. Here are three must-see highlights.

1. A 14th century Market Cross can be found in the centre of the village. These stone landmarks were used to signify the market squares in medieval times. Adjacent to the Market Cross, you will also find a Buttercross. This stone structure is where traders and market goers would tether their horses.

2. Located in the centre of the village, St. Andrew’s Church was built in the 13th century. The tower was added in the 15th century. Wealthy wool merchants funded the tower. The tower’s clock, which was designed by a local blacksmith, is the most famous attraction at St. Andrew’s Church. The clock is not only faceless, which makes it unique, but it is also considered to be one of the oldest working medieval clocks in England.

castle combe church

3. Take a stroll from the Market Cross to By Brook. By Brook is the river that powered Castle Combe’s wool industry in the Middle Ages. The Town Bridge and the Roman Bridge both span this river, and they are charming, well-preserved relics of a bygone era.


A Guide to Cirencester

When you are looking for great holiday ideas for a getaway, check out Cirencester, in the Cotswolds, United Kingdom. Located Northwest of London, near Bristol, Cirencester is a very historic part of Britain and is a great place to learn about British history and architecture. Cirencester will provide you with a fantastic travel experience.

Cirencester, the capital of the Cotswolds, has been around since the days of Alexander the Great and during the Roman Empire it was the largest city in England next to London. The city is filled with amazing architecture like St. John the Baptist Cathedral, built in 1490 and the Corinium Museum with many historical artifacts from the Roman Empire.

The photo above shows St. John the Baptist, Cirencester.

Image Source:

Image Courtesy:

Cirencester has a number of great attractions for you to enjoy including Cirencester Park with its lush geometric landscaping, the Cirencester Street Market and several walking tours that highlight the amazing landscape around the city. The Gloucestershire Way walking tour features a 100 mile walk through the Cotswold farmland. The walking tours are a great environment for taking photographs and just enjoying the fresh air.

Other attractions in the area include the Broadway Tower that was built in 1799, the Abbey House Gardens, Batsford Arboretum, Mill Dene Garden, the Bristol Aero Collection, the Chedworth Roman Villas, Rodmarton Manor, the Brewery Arts Centre and the Cirencester Amphitheatre.

The Corinium Museum features many great artifacts that go back to the prehistoric days as well as exhibits from the Roman Empire that range from tombstones and mosaics to sculptures, artwork and more. There are also relics and artifacts that have been unearthed by archaeologists around the area and examples of Victorian lifestyle during the 1800′s. The museum is open every day during various hours and an entrance fee is charged for admission.

The photo above shows a view of the Corinium Museum, Cirencester.

Image Source:

Image Courtesy:

The Bristol Aero Museum in Cirencester features a number of aircraft exhibits from the Bristol Aeroplane Company as well as displays of British Aircraft, missiles and aircraft engines. The Bristol Aero Museum also features several events throughout the year that display the company’s business practices and industry projects.

Cirencester also features many activities such as ballooning, cycling, horse riding, golf, fishing and more. There are also a number of artistic classes like pottery, wood turning and furniture restoration classes that you can take to learn various crafts.

County Cotswold is known for its great shops and arts and crafts heritage, where you can find British antiques and many art galleries that showcase the artists around Cirencester and County Cotswold.

The city of Cirencester also includes many Cotswold villas that provide very comfortable lodging during your stay in Cirencester. There are also several cottages, hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area for you to stay. If you enjoy camping, there are some campgrounds nearby that offer spaces for tents as well as caravans. There are also several car rental agencies in the area that can provide you with a vehicle to get you around the area.

When you are ready for a great experience in the English countryside, check out Cirencester for your next holiday getaway.

5 Tips to Save Money on Your Travels

Traveling is associated with a lot of expenditure these days. As a result, either drop the idea of traveling or have reduced the number of travel destinations on their lists. However, if you properly plan your trip and take some precautions during traveling, you can easily reduce the expenditure involved while traveling. This post covers 5 tips to save money on your travel. If you follow these tips during traveling, you can keep the costs involved in limit without comprising the quality of the tour.

Do not Travel in the High Season

It is a known fact that high season is associated with higher prices for everything involved. For instance, during peak season, you will have to pay more for the hotels, transportation will be costlier and entry fees to the parks, museums and other attractions will generally be higher. As a result, traveling during peak season can cost too much on your pocket. In order to save money, you should consider traveling in the shoulder season or just after the high season. You will find discounts at these times and an added bonus is that places tend not to be as busy, so you don’t have to deal with the kind of crowds that you’ll encounter at the busiest times of the year.

Compare the prices online

You should check the fares online and compare the prices offered by different airlines. Also plan your trip in advance and book the tickets one month before as it comes with discounted prices. You will be surprised to know that the difference can be as much as half the cost of an immediate booking.

Eat Your Lunch during the Afternoon

When you are traveling, you should take your lunch at about 3 o’clock as the prices are lower during that time in most of the restaurants. You can take snacks before if you feel hungry. The food served during this time is of the same quality and you even get more attention from the restaurant staff as there are less people. Moreover, no reservation is required for such timings and thus you need not pay any special fee. You can save a lot of money this way depending on the number of days involved in the whole trip.

Use City Buses and other public transport

One of the easiest ways to save money during traveling is by using city buses. The fares in the city buses are quite low in comparison to cabs and taxis. Thus if you are tight with the budget, there is no harm in using city buses instead if a private cab. If you travel a lot, you can even get a weekly or monthly pass to save more money. Having proper knowledge of the local places and distances will also ensure that you do not get overcharged for transportation. Thus make a proper if you are traveling to a new place.

Get a Travel Reward Credit Card

In case you travel frequently, you should get a travel reward credit card. These cards provide you some points on every purchase made using it. You can later redeem the points for cash or another purchase. Thus in the longer run, it is just like discount on the overall expenditure done through the travel credit card. However, you need to be careful while selecting the card offers. You need to have a card that offers services useful to you in exchange of the accumulated points. The best option is to choose a travel credit card that offers some cash back for the points accumulated.

B&Bs in the Cotswolds

Located in the west-central region of England, the Cotswolds is 90 miles long and 25 miles across. Known for its beautiful hills and lush scenery it is one of the most magnificent areas in the UK. The Heart of England consists of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Warwickshire and Worcestershire counties. If you have been thinking about surprising your partner with a weekend getaway, pack your bags and head to the Cotswolds as it has some of the most delightful B & B’s in Britain. These are my personal favourite five and, although they may be popular, you are guaranteed to have some of the nicest B & B stays of your life!

The English countryside

Byfield House

Painswick is just a two hour drive from London and is known as the gem of the Cotswolds. Featuring limestone buildings that date back to the 16th century, it is home to one of the most popular Bed and Breakfasts in the UK. Byfield House proprietors Brett and Jill Hutton welcome guests and will make you feel like you are part of the family. If you are unsure of the area they can help you find antiques in the village, or point you in the right direction for an afternoon walk. Stay in the charming Garden Suite. Enter through your own private entrance and have a cup of tea in the delightful garden. Fully self-contained, the suite has a fully-equipped kitchen. Bring the family and stay on the second floor which has a second bedroom available. Take a walk and explore the village and have a bite to eat at a traditional English pub.

Kissing Gate

The name says it all, and if you are looking for a romantic getaway in Ebrington for you and your better half spend a weekend at Kissing Gate. Upon arrival you will be treated to afternoon tea. Kick up your feet in the sitting room and decide how you are going to spend your time at Kissing Gate. You can relax on the patio with a glass of Pimms, or warm your toes in front of the cosy fireplace. Challenge each other to a game of Scrabble in the conservatory or take a walk through the beautiful garden. After a good night’s sleep you will be treated to a traditional breakfast. Expect locally grown produce with a full range of breakfast items to choose from. If you hire a car you will be able to spend the afternoon driving around the Cotswolds before you head back to your B & B.

Bowers Hill Farm

Shakespeare fans will undoubtedly know that Stratford-upon-Avon was the writers old stomping ground and if you want to walk in his famous footsteps, book your holidays at Bowers Hill Farm which is only twenty minutes away. Owned by the Bent Family since 1904 this delightful B & B is the perfect accommodation for you and your family. To this day Martin and his wife Sarah make sure that every guest feels right at home on the farm. Every room features a comfy bed, and families are also accommodated for. When you get up in the morning you will be treated to a full English breakfast which features locally sourced food including pork sausage, succulent bacon, tomatoes ripened by the sun and delicious eggs from the hens that call Bowers Hill home. Indulge in fried bread, black pudding, porridge and scrumptious French toast. The B & B also serves fresh fruit, yogurt and cereals.

The Old Post Office

Lovingly restored in 2007 this luxury Bed and Breakfast used to be an old post office, hence the name. More than a B & B, The Old Post Office serves delicious dinners that only source locally grown meat, fruit and vegetables. Upon request proprietors Christopher and former chef Nicola will prepare you a delicious two or three course supper. Of course if you would like to get out and about The North Cotswolds has plenty of gastro pubs, eateries and restaurants to satisfy your appetite. Breakfast is served in the main dining room and offers guests delicious home-made scones, pastries and even porridge and kippers. Do not be surprised if you wake up to Eggs Benedict and bacon with fried tomatoes and toast. Situated in Adlestrop, The Old Post Office is ideal for walkers. Take a tour of the old church or explore the Gloucestershire countryside. If you feel like relaxing, book a massage at the Hay Barn or opt for a body wrap or scrub. Although most people like to relax on their holidays you can take a cooking class at Davleford Organics farm shop.

Yew Tree Cottage

Turkdean is home to this delightful cottage style Bed and Breakfast which offers guests the modern comforts of home in a unique and traditional cottage setting. Anytime of the year is perfect at Yew Tree. Enjoy a cup of tea in the garden during the warmer months and snuggle up in front of the open fire in the winter. This recently refurbished cottage provides visitors with a relaxed atmosphere and authentic home-style English cooking. You can expect home-caked cakes and breads using only the freshest local ingredients. There are quite a few local pubs and eateries where you can enjoy a bite to eat if you prefer to get out and enjoy the day. Yew Tree Cottage recommends the Horse and Groom, The Fox Inn and The Golden Ball among many others. If you do decide to dine in let the owners know ahead of time as they can prepare a delicious supper. Although only one main dish is served you can choose from traditional Steak and Kidney Pie, Pork Cutlets, Beef Stroganoff or Roast Lamb.

If you fancy splashing out on accommodation then Cowley Manor near Cirencester and Cheltenham is a place a supreme luxury. A more traditional place would be The Fleece Inn – a 15th century inn with a scriptures of history.

If you have been dreaming about the Cotswolds consider hiring a car for the trip. You can tour the countryside and indulge in activities that would be impossible if you travelled by tour bus. Spend the afternoon at the shooting range or shop for antiques in the local shires. Take the family to the Cotswold Wildlife Park where you can get up close and personal with birds, reptiles and mammals. Cotswold is called the Heart of England for different reasons, but the only way that you can find out why is to discover them yourself.

The Wye Valley

The Wye Valley is home to one of the finest woodlands in Britain, some of the most atmospheric ruins, and several rare wildlife species. It has been popular with visitors from Victorian times but it’s rarely crowded, and the position on the southern border between Wales and England makes it very easy to get to by car or by train.

The area is best known for gentle walking along the banks of the Wye and in the wooded hills on either side. Several long distance footpaths wind through it- Offa’s Dyke Path is probably the most famous but the Wye Valley walk is just as spectacular. It runs from Chepstow all the way up to the river’s source in the hills of Mid Wales, 136 miles away. Day walkers will find plenty to see too, from the high crags of Symonds Yat Rock to Tintern Abbey. There are castles, caves, traditional pubs, and panoramic hillside views.

Tintern is a typical Wye Valley town. It’s perfectly picturesque, from the restored water wheel to the village cricket green to the Old Station- once a stop on the Victorian rail line, the Old Station has been transformed into a museum and picnic spot. It was recently voted Britain’s favourite park. The Abbey lies right beside the river on the edge of town. The ornate arches of the Cistercian monastery really make this ruin stand out from the crowd and it’s hard not to be impressed by their huge scale alone.
If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling than a walk or a picnic, canoe and kayak hire is available at Symonds Yat or Ross-on-Wye. Rock climbers come to the Wye Valley from across the UK but complete beginners are welcome at the local adventure schools. There are a wide variety of ways to enjoy this part of the world.

Even a casual wanderer will almost certainly see some kind of wildlife, even if it’s only the swans on the river. Lucky ones might also see kingfishers or catch a glimpse of a shy otter. Those that venture into the woods might spot roe, fallow, or red deer, peregrine falcons, and even wild boar and polecats.