Take a journey through the Cotswolds – the heart of rural England. Meander through the lanes of tranquil villages, tucked away down hidden valleys, nestled among the gently rolling hills of this quintessentially English countryside. Or visit the ancient market towns where you can pursue antique shops, tuck into a traditional English cream tea or enjoy the sunshine in one of the beer gardens of an old English pub.
First stop, let me introduce you to our home village of Castle Combe – considered to be the prettiest village in the Cotswolds. Once an Iron Age hill fort, it was then occupied by the Romans, turned into a castle by the Normans and, oh, was recently featured in the Stephen Spielberg film War Horse!
After that maybe we could head up to Alderton? It is a traditional, sleepy little village well off the tourist trail, but happens to be home to a village duck pond typical of the South Cotswolds. Grab a couple of bread rolls from the breakfast buffet and we can feed the ducks
A mile up the road is Luckington, home of a 12th century church. Not only does it hold a special place in our hearts, as it is where the Cotswold Chauffeur got married this year, its somewhat more famous for being the church where the BBC filmed the marriage scene for it’s adaption of Jane Austens’ Pride and Prejudice. Sadly though (for the ladies) you won’t see Colin Firth staggering out of the lake!
The village of Luckington backs onto the famous Beaufort eatate, home of the Duke of Beaufort. It is also where you will find the quintessential “estate” village of Badminton, home of the famous Badminton Horse Trials and incidentally where the game of Badminton was invented. We can maybe take a stroll through the deer park, or visit the pub, a local for the Princes, William and Harry in their teenage years.
And a visit to “Royal” Gloucestershire wouldn’t be complete without a drive past Highgrove, the home of Prince Charles. We could then visit Prince Charles’s very own shop in Tetbury that sells produce from the Highgrove Estate as well as painings by His Royal Highness himself. And while in Tetbury why not indulge in its popular antique shops, quirky deli’s and delicious cafes.
Heading further north, you could visit Bibury, also voted one of the most beautiful villages in England. It’s a great place for a spot of lunch and a walk around the village, or even visit the trout farm and feed the fish!
After lunch you might like to see the Roman town of Cirencester, often referred to as the Capital of the Cotswolds. It is now a pretty jumble of medieval and Georgian architecture, with a traditional wide Cotswold “chipping” – an ancient market place – at its centre. It was once one of the most important Roman settlements in Britain and if you really want to get to feel for how the Romans’ lived here almost two thousand years ago, the fascinating Corinium Museum is definitely worth a visit.
After Cirencester you could visit the ancient borough of Malmesbury. Believed to be the oldest borough in England it is home to the fabulous Abbey, and, long before King Canute marched through, it was seat of King Athelston, regarded by historians as the first King of All England. On a lighter side it was also where “Elmer the flying Monk” spectacularly failed to live up to his name from the top of what was then the tallest building in England.