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Cotswolds A Week in the Cotswolds, May 2021

Pauline

Forums Admin
Friday May 14

In the UK we are now allowed to travel in the country. Vacation rentals and camp sites (without shared facilities) have been open for a month. Hotels and B&Bs open in the next phase, which starts Monday. We are both fully vaccinated so thought we would take the brave step and leave our immediate area. On Friday we drove 3 hours north to the Cotswolds.

Since we returned from Switzerland/Italy at the end of last September we have been at home in various states of official lockdown. It was difficult for me to get organised for the trip because it has been so long since we’ve traveled. I filled the car with petrol (gas) for the first time since October - and it wasn’t even empty.

We drove up to the Cotswolds and the roads were busy. The motorway rest area was as busy as it would have been in pre-Covid times. We visited friends (in their garden - current restrictions don’t allow you visit inside) near Stroud in the north Cotswolds, where we lived for five years. It has been two years since we’ve been back and I was shocked by how beautiful everything is. It is different from Dorset where we have the sea and more open spaces. The Cotswolds is all rolling hills and charming stone cottages. I really loved living there and sometimes wonder why we left. But I like Dorset too.

After our visit we drove an hour up to the north Cotswolds, the part that is more popular with tourists. I booked this about six weeks ago. We are staying in a cottage at Broadway Manor Cottages where we stayed once before, in 2009. I’ve kept in touch with the owner and I know she keeps these places beautifully and I wanted to stay some place that I knew would be good for us. The estate is right on the Cotswold Way and we hope to spend the week hiking.

By trying to avoid heavy traffic in Cheltenham we ended up on too many narrow Cotswold lanes, but the drive up was beautiful.

We unpacked. I brought food for the week, not wanting to go into a shop. We had our car-fridge in the car, brought our Nespresso machine for morning coffee, and even brought my new small Instant Pot that I have big plans for on our summer driving trip to Switzerland. All this food and I forgot to pack rain hiking trousers and a brush to clean our boots even though the forecast is rain followed by more rain.

In the evening we walked into Broadway for a look around (12 minutes across fields). All looked normal with people sitting outside for drinks and meals. Starting Monday restaurants and pubs can serve inside.

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Our cottage on the left, Stables Cottage.

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Sheep in the field across from us.
 

ElizaN

10+ Posts
Pauline, beautiful photos! I'm still deciding where to stay in September in the Cotswolds. I won't have a rental car. Which is more accessible: Broadway or Chipping Campden? If you had to choose between them, what town would you stay in if you only had 3 nights?
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
The bus service here is worse than ever!

I like Broadway because of the walking trails that start here but Chipping Campden is a more interesting village and there is a nice walk to Broad Campden, or another one to Dover’s Hill. CC is closer to the gardens - Hidcote and the other one. You could easily spend a day exploring CC.

I saw your post about tours in Ireland. Maybe you consider a one day tour here where you could go with a small group to a few places - Sudley castle, Lower Slaughter, etc.

I will think about this during our week here and get back to you with bus schedules and tour ideas.

I was thinking of you today because I remembered your Cotswolds plans!
 

ElizaN

10+ Posts
Thanks Pauline! I've researched one day Cotswolds tour and really liked Go Cotswolds. Do you know of any others? I'll probably stay in Chipping Campden at Badgers Hall B&B.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Saturday May 15

It is very quiet here. We went to bed earlier than usual and both slept very well. I’ve always slept well except for this past year. Pandemic panic I think. At home we have construction going on next door (extension to neighbor’s house) and it was nice to not wake up to a cement mixer.

Today started out overcast with drizzle and continued with drizzle on and off all day. There was a bit of sun. We waited out the morning rain then did a nice hike.

Hike: Broadway on the Cotswold Way to Broadway Tower and back through fields and woods to the Snowshill Road. 5 miles, 800 foot climb, 2hr40min.

The Cotswold Way long distance trail passes by the cottage we are in. We walked on it through town, then a long climb up to Broadway Tower. It wasn’t really raining but was overcast. The walk was up through sheep fields. The rain started when we got to the tower but only lasted 20 minutes. We saw a herd of deer.

We walked back down another way on a bit of a muddy path but through woods covered in garlic flowers and bluebells. Beautiful!

We brought sandwiches thinking we would do a longer walk but ended up having them back at the cottage. It wasn’t the best weather for sitting down with a picnic.

Didn’t do much the rest of the afternoon because it was raining a bit more. Weather forecast is rain again for tomorrow but better after that.

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Looking back down the trail to Broadway where we started.

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Deer at Broadway Tower.

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Walking back through the woods.

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Garlic flowers.

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Interesting house in Broadway.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Sunday May 16

Woke up to sun and had sun for most of the day. Rain started in the late afternoon, well after we finished our walk. It is pouring down now as I write this.

Walk: Stanton to Stanway Walk from my old Goldeneye book. 5 miles, 2hr45min, 800 ft ascent. We’ve done this walk many times.

Today we drove to Stanton, 10 minutes south of Broadway. Stanton is a chocolate box town, a perfect Cotswolds town. Perfectly expensive and perfectly ultra-posh, but really beautiful. They have a car park for walkers. As soon as we got out of the car, people riding horses went by. Lots of horses in this area.

We walked on the Cotswold Way climbing about 800 feet to the top of the escarpment. Most walks here start with this climb. Similar to yesterday’s but it didn’t seem as bad. It does make me realise that our walks in Dorset have much less climbing. There were people out walking, and a group of 10 bikers passed us at one point, but it was not crowded at all.

The weather was perfect going up the hill (took under an hour) but was threatening on and off the rest of the way. But it did not rain. The trail was muddy in spots but we’ve seen worse.

The trail goes along the escarpment for a bit, then heads into woods where you walk back down. Lovely garlic flowers and bluebells in the woods. Then through Stanway, another picture-perfect town, and back to Stanton across big fields with some big trees. Beautiful!

Again, that was it for the day. We brought lunch with us on the hike but never stopped thinking we would get caught in the rain, so had our lunch back in the cottage. By the time we were ready to head out again it was raining so we called the day off. We really only came to do some walking and we’ve seen everything around here many times, so I don’t mind doing not much.

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On the escarpment.

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Starting into the woods.

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Bluebells.

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Bikes passing us on a muddy bit of the trail.

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Walking through Stanway.

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Stanway House.

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Walking across the fields back to Stanton.

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Stanton.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Monday May 17

Hike: Broadway to Stanton on the Cotswold Way, return on lower route through Laverton and Buckland. 7.5 miles, 4.5 hours.

This is my favourite part of the Cotswold Way, from Broadway to Stanton. We’ve done it a few times. The last time was with Kathy and Charley where we had one car in Broadway and one in Stanton so we didn’t have to walk back. I think we did this with Barb and Art once. And we did part of this walk with Cheryl. We’ve done it on our own the two times we walked the Cotswold Way, walking further and taking a taxi back.

The day started out sunny and warm as we climbed up the escarpment. This is an easier climb because it is in two stages. First you climb 600 feet, up beside fields of horses and then into woods with bluebells. Then there is a long flat stretch until the next 200 foot climb.

During the second climb, the clouds moved in and it rained for about 20 minutes. We had our rain jackets. The rain stopped when we were at the top. It is beautiful up there with big fields and views to Snowshill on one side, and out towards the Severn valley on the other. You can drive up here from Snowshill and we talked with an older guy who had driven up to check out the area for hiking. He is 91, but fit as a fiddle and looking much younger, but he had just put his wife into a home and was trying to distract himself with exploring new areas. He lives on the other side of the Cotswolds. He was so interesting and charming that I could have talked with him for hours. I love the people you meet out walking.

We walked to just above Stanton, where we were yesterday, then took a different route down to Stanton. We had not seen many other walkers but we saw a few here.

The weather was still dry, and remained dry, but the sun was back and forth. From Stanton we headed back following the Winchcombe Way, another long distance path. The path to Laverton went through beautiful fields along the side of the hill. From Laverton to Buckland it was a very good stone path.

The last 30 minutes from Buckland to where we are staying was horrendous! It started out nice, climbing up fields to a woods. There were flowers everywhere and more bluebells. But once we got in the woods it was really, really muddy. Really muddy. People tried to make paths around the worst bits but they were bad too. There was a big fallen tree across the path that you could have crawled under, except for the mud, so we had to climb over it. Eventually the mud ended and there was one last field until the end.

The rain started again as we reached the cottage. It has been on and off since then. Our boots are washed, our trousers are washed and a big cup of tea warmed us up.

As I am writing this people are up the hillside across the road shooting at things. Not pheasants I think, too early. But I can’t figure out what. Many people, many shots and it has been going on for 30 minutes. Ah, the Cotswolds.

Today’s hike was the reason for this trip and it was perfect, except for the mud. But that didn’t ruin it.

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Rain moving in.

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Up on the escarpment, looking back on the trail.

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Big trees.

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Looking back to Stanton on the lower trail.

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Walking to Laverton.

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Bluebells before the mud started.

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After the walk, the sheep that live across from the cottage. They are shooting further up that hill.

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The cottage is on the left.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Tuesday May 18

Hike: Winchcombe to Postlip Hall Circular, 7 miles, 4 hours, 900 feet ascent

Woke up to sunshine, drove 15 minutes south to Winchcombe and parked in the Long Stay Car Park (always cheaper when staying more than 2 hours). Winchcombe is a lovely town and less twee than the other north Cotswolds towns. We stayed here for a month in 2004 and when we moved to the Cotswolds looked for a rental here but never found one. Several long distance trails pass through the town so it is excellent for walking.

Clouds moved in as we set out. The first 30 minutes of the walk is flat as you walk through fields out of town. As we started the climb up the escarpment the rain started. We stopped and put on rain jackets, pack covers and wool caps. It got much colder. For the next 45 minutes we slogged up the hill in pouring rain. We walked through a big sheep field. A group of 10 sheep were clustered together under a tree for shelter. I would have liked to take a photo but my phone was deep in the pack away from the rain.

When we reached Belas Knapp, a prehistoric burial mound on the top of the escarpment, the rain stopped. Rain jackets off! They went back on an hour or two later, but it didn’t rain, so they came off again.

We followed the Cotswold Way almost to Cleeve Hill, then took a shorter route back to Winchcombe. This was a beautiful walk. Part of it went through woods full of bluebells. I wanted to take a trail along a small river but the mud was so bad we took the lane instead.

After the hike we walked around Winchcombe a bit, the drove back to Broadway. We went into a shop for the first time here. Broadway Deli is a fabulous shop but is in an old building with lots of small rooms where they allow only two people at a time. Difficult to navigate.

We usually hit the tea rooms when hiking in the Cotswolds. But even though they are open, it doesn’t seem worth it to me. We had a cup of tea back at the cottage.

Again I spent a lot of time putting things out to dry, hand washing the muddy bottoms of our hiking trousers, washing the mud off our shoes.

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Belas Knapp, prehistoric burial mound.

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Looking back to Belas Knapp.

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Bluebells in the woods.

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On the Cotswold Way looking to Postlip Hall and Cleeve Hill.

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This pig was very friendly.

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Walking back into Winchcombe.

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Dent Cottages, historic almshouses near the church.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Wednesday May 19

Hike: Haresfield Beacon Circular, most on the Cotswold Way. 4 miles, 2 hours.

We drove 50 minutes south to do a hike we loved to do when we lived in that area and to visit friends in Painswick. When we left it was sunny and beautiful. Then we drove through a major rain shower. When we got to the car park it was sunny again. So we started in sun. Within 10 minutes we had to put on our rain jackets and it rained. Then it stopped. Then huge lightening and thunder and a 20 minute hail storm! Thankfully we were in the woods then. Sunny when we finished.

It was a great hike and nice to do such a familiar route. This whole week has been a walk down memory lane.

We visited our friends outside in their garden but the rain started again so went into their house. This has only become “legal” this week and it is the first time I’ve been in someone’s house in over a year. It was great to see them again and great to do a normal activity.

We drove back to the cottage in the sun, taking routes that we have driven so many times.

This is the end of our holiday. We head home tomorrow a day early because the weather is turning truly dreadful! Rain and high winds. Even with all this rain we really had a great time. Good hiking on gorgeous trails!

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View from Haresfield Beacon. You can see a huge incinerator in the center. That is the reason we moved away. A huge incinerator was built 4 miles from where we lived. Bad air!

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Historic stone bench on the Cotswold Way. Can’t remember the historic details! But we had lunch here as we’ve done many times before. Those trees have slipped over since the last time we were there.

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Pauline somewhat socially distanced from Ric and Marie.

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These 3 sheep live across from our cottage. This evening we met a local couple who bring vegetables to them every day. This close one, Muffin, is very friendly and woolly.
 

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