The Best of the Cotswolds
Happy New Year from all of us at Cotswold Walks! We wish you all good health, happiness and a wonderful year full of adventures.
This will be a special year for us as Cotswold Walks is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023 and we look forward to marking the occasion by introducing new holidays.
But first, we wanted to start the year by celebrating our most popular self-guided tour of 2022, the Best of the Cotswolds, by sharing an excerpt from our clients’ journal. We hope you enjoy reading about their Cotswold adventure as much as we did.
Many thanks to Kenric (Rick) Edwards and Elisabeth (Lissie) de Snaijer for allowing us to share excerpts from their journal.
(The above photo is for illustrative purposes only and is not of Rick and Lissie.)
Parts 1 and 2
Wednesday, September 21
After a taxi ride to the train station in Oxford, we took the Worcester Line to Moreton-in-Marsh (pop. 4,480), one of the many hyphenated town names in the Cotswolds, where town founders took a delight in adding geography to their residences.
After a brief walk with our luggage from the train station to the hotel, we dumped our bags and took to the streets, in hopes of exploring the local shops. Alas, shops were closed at 5:00 PM and we could only comfort ourselves with a pint of ale and nibblies at the White Hart Royal Hotel, known to have housed guests since the 1600s (including Charles I while on military manoeuvres), with parts of the structure dating back to the 1400s.
We enjoyed this hotel bar so much we decided to also have dinner there a bit later. We found the food excellent (best Chicken Supreme ever!), although a party of eight (work colleagues) seated next to us after a bonding experience made for noisy neighbours. We were forced to treat ourselves to a delicious toffee sundae for consolation. Our toffee scarcity in Canada seems irresponsible.
We spent some time inspecting the ancient fireplace, ceiling beams, and noting some of the well-executed architectural modifications that have occurred over the years.
After our meal, we retired to our very comfortable lodgings at the Redesdale Arms and watched a few minutes of Doc Martin before slumber took us away.
Thursday, September 22
A breakfast of porridge, breads and yogurt braced us for the first walk (7.5 miles) to Stow-on-the-Wold, and we then prepared our bags for their 9:00 AM pick-up that takes them to our next hotel. Yes, our luggage has wheels… no, we are not rolling our luggage all across the countryside. A efficient delivery service will advance our bags as we traverse the Cotswold hills and vales. Life as it should be…
Departing our hotel, we ambled through a few quaint Moreton-in-Marsh shops before commencing our first walk around 10:30. A late start, but Lissie saw some items that she admired and wanted to visit a couple shops. Not a strong shopper myself, I opted to investigate some online sites regarding local geography and flora in hopes I might recognize something, anything, that might impress a fellow traveler that we had done more background research than was actually true.
After some purchases in the local shops, our first walk started out somewhat ingloriously as Rick became turned around and we proceeded out of the Moreton-in-Marsh village at the butt end. After uttering rather incoherent statements about the sun coming up on the wrong side of the ocean, Rick was convinced by a nice postman (and the evil eye from Lissie) that we should retreat from town at the other end to start our adventure. It was time to start using the handy phone app that will guide us on the way…
The outside air was still cool (130), but our trek in the warm sunshine was lovely amid many leafy hedgerows and neat pathways, passing by the heritage homes (above) constructed of local stone. We saw sheep, cows and horses aplenty, and enough berries every mile to fill a swimming pool, although this would not be their best use. The lanes were absolutely covered with red berries, yellow berries, blueberries… but mostly blackberries or “brambles”. I snacked on a few handfuls until it occurred to me that toilet facilities in the countryside were few and far between.
A little after noon, we came to our first village, Longborough (pop. 471) and stopped in the village’s only pub (Coach and Horses at L) to enjoy sandwiches on the best-ever bread (R – roast beef; E – brie and chutney), topped off by a treacle tart with salted caramel ice cream. Treacle is the residue left behind after the processing of sugar and the dessert tasted mostly like pecan pie filling.
Pretty darn good; just ask Harry Potter (his favourite)!
Our journey continued after lunch, with one more stop in Broadwell for coffee and beer before arriving at our destination of Stow-on-the-Wold (a “wold” is like a moor, hilly and uncultivated). Our lodgings at the Old Stocks Inn were exquisite and we felt deservedly pampered. Lissie took to the streets shortly after arrival and Rick made mental journal notes while he tested the bed for comfort. It passed with high recommendations.
Dinner was taken at the King’s Arms (L) just after dark, a delightfully dodgy and noisy pub seating about thirty at full capacity. I ordered a Fish and Chips and Lissie built a salad with her favourites as the pub slowly filled with people. Even with tight quarters, some Brits still bring in their dogs, many who are a healthy size and create a significant tripping hazard. Pets are greatly loved in the UK; most establishments seem to have an official cat (think of Larry at 10 Downing Street), and some patrons apparently include the dog in their party when making dinner reservations.
After dinner, some discussion ensued about a dessert option… Rick asked the waitress, with considerable delicacy, to describe the “steamed spotted dick” – a menu specialty. The response was that this traditional English dessert is a spongy cake, nicknamed “dick” in some localities as it includes raisins (the “spots”) and is typically served with custard. Tempting as it was, we passed and chose the pear and apricot crumble. We were disappointed not at all.
After our walk back to the Old Stocks Inn, we lounged about our expansive room, reading and listening to the classical music station that was playing through the sound system when we first entered. There’s something about the sound of a symphony work playing in the background that makes one feel somewhat more respectable and important than is actually the case. The feeling may not last, but it is refreshing at times.
In these elegant surroundings, the music fit the context as we showered or soaked our tired limbs. Luxurious linens were cherished for scant seconds before unconsciousness took over. Day 1 complete; a raging success.
|Husband and wife team Andrew and Elizabeth Guppy lead Cotswold Walks, specialising in customised self-guided and guided walking holidays in the Cotswolds. Living and working in the Cotswolds is an essential part of what makes their company special. As avid walkers, they can often be found walking the routes with their dog Indie. |
Andrew and Elizabeth are passionate about what they do. They strive to take you on a tour that showcases the best of the Cotswolds, from iconic gardens and fabulous local food, to sweeping vistas over the emerald green countryside dotted with honey-coloured cottages. Through careful planning and attention to detail, the mission of Cotswold Walks is to ensure you have complete peace of mind, so you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the Cotswolds and create lasting memories.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France, England and other European countries.
Lovely article and photos. Very enticing, Andrew.