Cotswolds of England
England hides, beyond its crowded metropolises, a charming rural environment where you can have a truly authentic experience of British life. The Cotswolds area is full of villages as if taken from old English novels and looks like the time stood still, and everything was petrified!
From small, chic villages with only a few hundred people, such as the charming towns of Cornwall, to Roman seaside resorts with stone architecture and historic baths such as Somerset - England boasts some stunning slices of traditional rural perfection that is worth exploring.
Cotswold or Cotswold Hills - a mountainous area in the west-central part of England, which falls mainly in the counties of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. The Cotswold stretches along a narrow strip of about 25 km along the left bank of the River Severn for about a hundred kilometers. On its eastern slopes originates the most famous river in England - the Thames. The Cotswold is an officially recognized "Area of Exceptional Natural Beauty".
Charming villages with old stone houses and colorful tile roofs, imposing cathedrals, and hundreds of years old inns - all less than three hours from London, the Cotswolds attract visitors with the promise of a holiday in the middle of nature, in the most authentic English style! Regardless of whether you go on vacation with friends or as a couple, it would be good to spend at least a week here.
Here are 5 of the most beautiful and picturesque villages you can visit in this country.
1. Castle Combe, Wiltshire
Considered by many to be the most beautiful and authentic village in England, Castle Combe stretches along a valley in the Cotswolds, surrounded by dense, evergreen forests.
Dating back to the 15th century, this village with charming stone buildings seems to be the perfect place to get rid of the stress of modern life for a few days.
Stroll from Market Cross to By Brook and admire the hundreds of years-old Cotswold houses where artisans used to live while the village occupied an important place in the wool industry during the Middle Ages.
The charming village has appeared in several famous films, such as "Doctor Doolittle", "Stardust" and "The Wolf Man".
Don't be surprised if you see foxes, rabbits and squirrels walking freely in the streets of the village; wild animals love this place as much as tourists because it is in a conservation area, and both the countryside and the buildings are protected by law.
Nothing has changed in Castle Combe in the last 400 years, since 1617 no new buildings have been built. Maybe that's why I thought this village looked a little more sophisticated than Bibury, the other star town in the Cotswolds.
This does not mean that Bibury does not seem to be a locality detached from stories, but Castle Combe seemed to me somehow more romantic and with a greater variety of landscapes.
When you arrive in Castle Combe the first tourist attraction you will meet is the Church of St Mary, located behind The Market Cross. After that, walking on West Street you will reach the architectural masterpiece of the town - Manor House. This is a luxury hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant. The hotel’s gardens are beautiful, and spring or summer is probably the best time to visit them.
After returning from Manor House you must make a stop at the ice cream shop in The Market Cross. The ice cream there is made at a nearby farm (Marshfield Farm) and is one of the finest in England.
Then I invite you to go to one of the attractions of the town - the bridge over the river Bybrook. It's like you always expect a hobbit to pass by… Or at least a carriage with dukes and duchesses. This may well be the most beautiful place in the whole Cotswolds area.
2. Bibury, Gloucestershire
Described by the writer William Morris in one of his 19th century works as "the most beautiful village in England", Bibury has now become a rural tourist destination, with stone houses lined up, bordered by narrow streets and a river crossed by a nice bridge.
With a typical Cotswold look, Bibury is best known for its charming Arlington Row and its 17th-century weavers' cottages. Here you can also visit Bibury Trout Farm and St. Mary, as well as the nearby Rack Island, which is populated only by wildlife.
Bibury is home to the famous Arlington Row and is the most photographed place in Bibury. The British are so proud of Arlington Row that they have included a drawing of houses on the inside cover of British passports.
In addition to Arlington Row, the Church of St Mary is also worth a visit in Bibury. On the land where this church is located, it seems that there was a holy place from the 8th century, of Saxon origin.
Do not think that the area is not frequented by tourists. I really don't know how the inhabitants resist with so many visitors swarming around their houses every day. The small and narrow streets of the villages are crowded from the early hours of the morning and become too small for the many coaches, cars, and tourists, eager to get the most Instagram-able pictures.
Stow-on-the-Wold is another charming town in the Cotswolds, with a population of about 2000 people. It is among the most visited localities in the area, as far as I understand, for the antique shops here.
But the reason I wanted to get here is St. Edward's Church. This church is famous for its tree-lined door. I had never seen anything like that before, maybe only in movies. In fact, it is believed that the door of St. Edward’s inspired Tolkien to create The Doors of Durin (Lord of the Rings).
The Cotswolds region is the zero zone of English fairytale villages, but some of them seem overwhelmed by a large number of tourists.
Painswick, a quiet hilltop village with charming sloping streets and only a few visitors. If you get here, don't miss the colorful Painswick Rococo Garden, a park that appeared around 1740, but also the chance to walk around the city because there are many places to get lost walking.
Is only 8 miles south of Glocester, a beautiful town with amazing winding streets.
When you are there be sure to also visit the Church St. Mary which was built in the 14th century.
Gloucester, a historic city, is worth a visit, especially for the Cathedral and the picturesque docks - which house the National Waterways Museums.
If you want shopping, the outlets are very close, on the quays. Lunch options are endless: Café Rene offers the traditional pub menu, but if you don't have the time or inclination for an extended meal, you can opt for sandwich bars like Peppers and StanMan's Kitchen.
6. Warwick Castle
The castle looks more like a fortress with thick and high towers and defensive walls, having an approximately rectangular shape.
On either side of the entrance are 2 towers: the one on the right is called Guy and dates from around 1395, being 39 m high. The one on the left is called Caesar and is about half a century younger than his brother, but also about 5 meters taller.
It was originally called the Tower of Poitiers because it was built with the money obtained from the ransom of the prisoners from the battle of Poitiers (1356); in fact, this was a common practice of raising income for the nobles of that time: whoever paid — well, whoever did not — would only rot in the dungeons of the castles.
The name Caesar was given to the tower at the end of the 15th century, after he was a "host" for several years to King Edward IV, during the War of the Roses.
There are two smaller and younger towers on the right side, a short distance from each other, called Bear and Clarence.
The rooms of the castle are on the left side, along the river, arranged on two levels, between the Caesar Tower and another smaller, unnamed tower. On the opposite side of the entrance is The Mound, a small hill covered with vegetation, on which rises another small fortification.
7. The lavenders fields of Cotswolds
The villages with chic houses, built of white Cotswold stone, with gardens full of flowers and grass cut to the millimeter in front are a delight. The Cotswold is one of the most beautiful and idyllic areas in England, where many of the richest people in this country have a holiday home.
Lavender farm is a family business of people who know how to make money from lovers of beauty and nature. I'm not saying that once the word 'organic' is added to the products there, the price increases exponentially. The ticket costs 4 pounds for adults and 2 for children. You can spend an afternoon at the lavender fields, you can have a picnic, go for a walk and let the little ones unleash their energy.
At the entrance are presented the cultivated varieties, so you know what awaits you. I didn't even know there were so many kinds of lavender until I got here.
Despite the capricious weather, England is a very welcoming country, and the culture and history you find here are among the finest in Europe.
If you want to visit England, you don't have to go to London, the splendid capital of the United Kingdom, but you can go to lesser known but equally fascinating destinations.