South Central England. The home of the Cotswolds. In among the winding roads of the far reaching hills, are tiny villages full of personality and quirk. All are worth a visit, but there are 3 in particular that I recommend having a wander around, or near.
Just outside the city of Gloucester there is the little town of Painswick. Little paths a few feet wide and stone walls lead you around this little town, and the cafes are well worth popping in to. In particular, Olivia’s Café, which not only sells delicious food, but has great décor, complete with bicycle out the front.
All the houses and buildings are really old, as you expect in England, and are all made from a light, yellowy coloured brick, called Cotswold Stone. They all have names like ‘The Weavers House’, ‘Coomb House’, and ‘Daisy Corner’. The Catholic Church graveyard in its centre has huge trees which are kept in large oval shapes, rather than left to grow how they may.
With an incredibly British name, Bourton-on-the-Water is exactly what you’d think it would be – a small town with water at its centre. The Cotswold town’s claim to fame (or at least acknowledgement) is the High Street that runs next to the River Windrush. With large, wide greens on either side, it’s a place for picnics, walks and general relaxing.
The river has arching bridges so pedestrians can move from one side to the other with ease, and the shops that line the streets open out onto the green. If you happen to be around at Christmas time, it’s well worth a visit, as the town becomes very festive, and lights up the streets. Something worth mentioning is the Model Village, which is a 1:9 replica of the town, and was built by craftsmen in the 30s. Definitely a sweet little set up.
Perhaps not a main-stream Cotswold village, but Winchcombe’s streets are narrower than a lot of the others, and homes’ front doors step straight out onto the footpath. It’s what’s around Winchcombe that is perhaps of more interest.
Belas Knap is up on Cleeve Hill, and is a Neolithic long barrow. There is also Sudeley Castle, which is known for being the ‘only private castle to have a queen buried in its grounds’(source). It’s a beautiful building, which many gardens, and sweet cottages. The remains of Hailes Abbey are also within a short distance of Winchcombe, and is owned by the National Trust. Outside the remains still sits Hailes Church, which is older than the ruined Abbey, but well worth a stop at.