The Cotswolds are a dramatic limestone escarpment stretching from Bath in the south up to Stratford upon Avon in the north a distance of some 110 miles. In the west, the area stretches from the River Severn to Oxford a total of nearly 60 miles. An area of AONB, 80% of the Cotswolds is farmland and covers 6 counties. The region “the most English of all our countrysides” is well known for its pretty villages, centuries-old churches, cute cottages, and dry stone walls that are made of oolitic limestone that glows in the sunshine: Roman Villas; intricate mosaics; thriving arts and crafts; silversmiths; glass making; historical towns and cities; idiosyncratic festivals such as cheese rolling and Olympic games; centuries-old wool industry; fresh locally produced organic food supplying farmers markets and restaurants; magical gardens; rural skills;
The Cotswolds is a large region with so much to see and do. It is impossible to see it all in one day. So please take a look at some suggestions of itineraries that mix some villages, some arts and crafts, some history, and some gardens in one day. Of course, making a 2 or 3-day visit you would be able to see so much more and understand more about Cotswold Life.
The first village on our itinerary is the Venice of the Cotswolds- Bourton on the Water. With its 5 bridges spanning the Windrush, there is much to see. From there we progress to the Slaughters and take a look at one of the Cotswold Icons Lower Slaughter Mill. We might proceed onto Snowshill, Broadway, Broadway Tower and Chipping Campden. In the afternoon we might visit one of the Cotswold Magical Gardens – Hidcote, Kiftsgate or we could visit one of the finest historic buildings in the Cotswolds -Sudeley Castle where Katherine Parr is buried. Finally, our trip might end at Bibury one of the most visited villages in the Cotswolds described by William Morris as the “most beautiful village in England”.
Bourton on the Water
Broadway and Broadway Tower
Stanton House and Fountain
Burford and Minster Lovell
Bourton House Garden
Sudeley Castle Garden
Starting our day in Cirencester, we would drive past Highgrove House, the home of Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and Badminton House, home of the Duke of Beaufort as we proceed to the picturesque village of Castle Combe where we might stop for lunch or tea at The Old Rectory Tearooms. The view across By Brook is one of the most photographed places in the Cotswolds and at the other end of the street is the 14thC market cross. From there we drive the short distance to the beautiful City of Bath designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. A free 2-hour walking tour is available every day around the sites of Bath. Alternatively, the day could start in Bath and we return to the Cotswolds.
Bath: Abbey dating back to 1499, Pump Rooms, Roman Baths,( consisting of Sacred Spring, The Roman Temple, the Romans Bath House Jane Austen Centre, Royal Crescent, North and South Parades, The Circus, Queen Square, and Prior Park, Vaults Heritage Museum.
In the morning we might explore the world behind Oxford’s closed doors. Go inside the University and explore the grounds of one of the famous colleges and enter the world famous Bodleian Library, used in the filming of Harry Potter. Also worth a visit is the University Museum of Natural History and the Pitts River Museum. View the dreaming spires of the colleges from the Carfax Tower. Visit the Bridge of Sighs and the Radcliffe Camera. Or take a punt on the river where you can drift from Magdalen Bridge or the Cherwell Boathouse.
In the afternoon we would visit the Magnificent Blenheim Palace, a few miles from Oxford. Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock and is the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. It is an only non-royal country house in England to hold the title of palace. The palace, one of England’s largest houses, was built between 1705 and circa 1722. Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Bodleian Library, Bridge of Sighs, Radcliffe Camera, Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, Carfax Tower, Ashmolean Museum, Blackwells Bookshop, Sheldonian Theatre, Magdalen College, Blenheim Palace & Gardens and Parkland.
We might start the day from the Quintessential 16thC converted woollen store that is known as Arlington Row (Bibury), or from the Roman Town of Cirencester (Corinium). We would proceed through the dramatic rolling hills of the area around Stroud. Across Minchinhampton Common, 580 acres of National Trust grassland, and descend the winding lane into one of the Cotswolds’ hidden gems – Nailsworth. Our next stop is the Tudor Owlpen Manor, described as “the most beautiful place in England”. Onwards from there, we could marvel at the stunning views over the River Severn and towards Wales from Coaley Point. We then spend the afternoon exploring the beauty of Slad Valley and onto the stunning village of Painswick with its absolute must visit Churchyard with its 99 yew trees. Half a mile away the final visit of the day would have to be the flamboyant Rococo Gardens.
Bibury (Arlington Row)
Quote from Mark Thompson writing in Metrosource Travel Magazine:
“Coddled in the Cotswolds: Given the rolling hills and narrow roads of the five-county expanse of the Cotswolds, one of the best means of enjoying the region is from the comfort of a luxury Mercedes Viano with a private driver and guide from Best Cotswold Tours without the anxiety of driving on the wrong side of the road. Each tour is personally tailored to a client’s requests”.
Usually single-day tours, but 2 -3-day tours are available upon request.
Full-day Tour from as little as £425 depending upon the time of year. All tours are fully inclusive but do not include lunch tea or admission to attractions or sites.
Payment by card on the day of the tour.
Advising and discussing your personal tour
Arranging your personal tour and provision of itinerary description.
Collection and return to your Cotswold Train Hotel or B&B.
Bottled water carried at all times in the vehicle.
Cost of any meals, pub lunches, teas or refreshments
Cost of entry tickets into any sites or attractions