Wanting a mini-break, not wanting to go too far and wanting to choose somewhere that I’d not been to previously, I booked a last-minute break to a hotel just outside Stow on the Wold, The Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds has always been an area that I’ve passed through, rather than particularly stopped at, not for any particular reason, but just that I always happen to be going somewhere else. I decided to rectify this when a free weekend came up at last. So, off we headed in torrential November rain for a bit of rural relaxation.
Although the weather really was against us for a long walk when we arrived, we braved the elements to explore the small market town of Stow on the Wold. Despite the weather, there was still quite a buzz to the town. Ducking in and out of shops, we were welcomed by friendly shop keepers. We took in the aromas of the chocolate shop (they make their chocolates on-site) and popped into a friendly tea room that was tucked up a small walkway having both concluded that a cream tea is an excellent way to counteract the British weather!
I loved exploring one of Stow’s antique shops, at first thinking it was just two rooms before discovering nooks and crannies all over that were filled with antiques. There was many a tourist visiting as well picking up some unique souvenirs of their visit to England.
Wanting to warm up and escape the relentless rain, we decided the time was right to head to our hotel for the night, just a short drive from Stow. We were told by the tea shop owner to expect extensive views from our hotel but unfortunately we had to take his word for it as it was very rainy still. That said, the forecast for the following day looked promising so we were hopeful that what he said was true and we’d be surprised on the Sunday!
After an enjoyable 3-course dinner the previous night, we woke on Sunday morning, and we saw the sun was shining – yay! It was time to see if what the tea room owner said was true and sure enough, there were vast vistas across the Cotswold hills from the main building of the hotel… simply beautiful!
After a hearty Full English, we donned our walking boots and set out for a walk suggested by the hotel’s reception staff. Starting in the hotel’s grounds, we soon found ourselves descending a narrow country lane and coming across a field with a herd of alpacas before following a muddy bridleway as it criss-crossed some of the Gloucestershire countryside. At this point, there wasn’t another person in sight, just the odd jay or two flying across the sky.
We travelled along a pathway across farmland before picking up a gravel driveway that led us to the pretty Cotswold village of Wyke Rissington. It’s the kind of village that looks familiar from films such as Bridget Jones (when she goes on Christmas to the Cotswolds) and The Holiday. Gorgeous honey-coloured stone cottages lined the road and a beautiful village pond could be found. The only sound we could hear was the church bells ringing in the distance. I thought to myself, I could live here quite happily!
In the village, we then picked up a footpath that took us back up a steep hill back towards the hotel. There was plenty of wildlife along the way including goldfinches, more jays and a large bird of prey (possibly a buzzard).
After clocking up 2.5 miles not long after breakfast I felt pretty refreshed for our next stop of the day, Bourton-on-the-water.
Although another popular tourist area, I’d been recommended by a friend that Bourton shouldn’t be missed. Parking up in one of the small town’s car parks I was pretty surprised by just how busy it was but when I saw the path leading alongside the river and the quaint bridges that flanked it I wasn’t surprised why.
The autumn colours on the leaves reflected off the water and the sun beamed down on us. There was many a walker out with their four-legged friends and also many shopping popping in and out of the independent shops.
We decided to be big kids and headed into the Model Village. For a small fee (about £4 per person), you can wander through the miniature streets of Bourton-on-the-water, pass over the river and peek into some of the buildings that can be found here. Although the model village was small (in more ways than one), it was interesting to see how some of the buildings were made out of the Cotswold stone and to take a slightly alternative look at the village. Plus, pretending you are a giant is always fun even if you are in your thirties!
It was soon getting on in the day and time for us to venture back towards Hampshire. Although we were only away for a night, it was a great opportunity to have a taste of the Cotswolds and to have discovered some of the small towns that I’d heard so much about.
I’m sure it won’t be too long before I venture back this way and I’d love to take on more of the walks and views around the area.