If you are going to London for a visit for a few days or more, it is truly worthwhile to use one of those days to make a day trip to the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds is a picturesque area in the Mid-Westlands situated 85.6 miles or about 2 hours bus ride from London. It covers 787 square miles and is well known for its gentle rolling countryside and honey-coloured stone buildings. Its name popularly means ‘sheep enclosure in rolling hillside’, however I believe has other meanings as well. If you have ever read the well-known village books by the author, Miss Read, you will know about this lovely area.
I decided that I would visit the Cotswolds using one of my precious 4 days in London. It is a decision I didn’t regret. There are various companies that make these tours and your travel agent can make a booking for you. My tour would include a lunch at an inn.
My bus was huge ‘like a plane’ the driver remarked, and we had our own accompanying tour guide. We left at approximately 8.30am and settled into relaxed mode gazing out the window as our guide provided general information on London landmarks that we passed until we were in the green countryside. Commentary continued as we drove past different features and places including Oxford, known for its famous university.
The first village we stopped at was Bibury where we parked outside the dearest little school, of course built of the golden stone and with a golden stone fence. In fact, nearly all the buildings in the village and in the whole Cotswolds area are built of this beautiful Jurassic stone. William Morris, the English Victorian Poet, novelist and textile designer described Bibury as ‘the most beautiful village in England’. We explored dinky shops and had tea and scones with homemade jam and clotted cream at the dearest café which was warmed by a log fire. It was like stepping back in time where life was slow and cosy.
Next we headed to the little town of Burford arriving there 40 minutes later. Here we had a lovely lunch (yes, my stomach did have room) at The Swan Inn. I sat at a round table with two Australians, four Americans, a young woman from Singapore along with my New Zealand travelling companion, and the chat was open and friendly. After lunch we had time to walk around the area outside where there was a large pond and yes, it had a white swan paddling in it. We admired the lovely stone bridge going over it and a whole row of about 8 attached stone cottages.
Next we drove to the villages of Stow-on- the-Wold and Burton-on-the Water. Burton-on-the Water is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds. The River Windrush trickles through the town centre contradicting its own name.
All the villages we visited catered well for tourists and had quaint little shops, cobbled streets, tearooms and village churches. I managed to buy a flowered umbrella, some pretty cotton handkerchiefs, a local print to frame when I returned to New Zealand, a tiny china rabbit and a Cotswolds tea towel.
As we headed back to London a gentle rain descended creating a soft atmosphere over the countryside. We arrived back in the busy city at approximately 6pm grateful to our calm driver and informative tour guide. With our Cotswolds purchases and our memories, we caught the subway back to our hotel in Paddington. It was a wonderful day.