Composed of rolling hills and idyllic meadows, the Cotswolds is a classic destination for those looking to escape the bustle of metropolitan England. The landscape is dotted with Iron Age forts, castles, pubs, and family owned farms. The Cotswold Way connects the most charming and historic villages of the area, which are famously built with thatched roofs and the distinctive yellow Cotswold limestone. Those walking through the meadows and woods of the Cotswold Way can’t help but feel as though they have been transported into the pages of a fairy tale.
Trekking through the Cotswolds is the perfect way to access the most charming examples of English culture and living. The locals gather in the village pubs and tea houses, where typical pub food is served and tap beer flows freely. The endlessly friendly hotel and B&B owners are often dedicated to serving and preparing the decadent full english breakfast, which consists of eggs, toast, potatoes, pudding, roast vegetables, bacon, ham, or sausage, and a pot of tea or coffee.
The rural lanes and farm roads of the Cotswolds welcome the hiker who is looking to indulge in the comfort and elysian beauty of one of England’s most treasured areas. The hiking winds through these back roads and trails. It is rarely strenuous, as the hills of the Cotswolds are low lying. These trails often visit attractions including everything from some of the oldest churches, gothic manor houses, and burial barrows, to modern follies, cheese rolling hills, and isolated restaurants and pubs. Between the comfort of the local culture and the inviting landscape and walking, the inherent peace of the Cotswolds is undeniable.
The journey through the bucolic Cotswolds really is a journey of destinations. Many of these destinations revolve around the English follies, buildings built predominantly in the previous two centuries to imitate older structures such as castles and towers. Some of the stranger follies imitate middle eastern or entirely fantastic architecture. These follies dot the countryside and add a surreal whimsy to the hills of the Cotswolds. In a similarly silly vein, the route passes by the location of the infamous Gloucester Cheese Rolling Competition, a remarkably quaint and surprisingly dangerous event in which a crowd of locals and tourists chase a giant wheel of Gloucester cheese down a precipitous hill. The winner claims the cheese and, of course, the glory of victory. Some of the more historical sights include a private tour of the Birtsmorton Court, a immaculately preserved manor surrounded by an impressive moat, the gardens of Highgrove – the home of Prince Charles, and Stonehenge itself.
The towns and villages of the Cotswolds are the area’s soul. This trek passes through the villages of Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold, and the city of Bath in particular. Broadway is a strikingly beautiful village predominantly built from the regions iconic golden-yellow limestone, which provides breathtaking contrast to the lush green of the English countryside. Stow-on-the-Wold is the location of the oldest pub in England as well as the Porch House, an infamously haunted hotel constructed in 947 AD. The city of Bath is the final stop of the tour, and is worthy of a visit in itself. Bath has the historic draw of the Roman Baths, which house many of the relics of the first footholds of Roman Christianity in England, as well as many examples of the first iterations of the crescent architecture so critical to the winding streets of European cities. Bath is also home to many luxurious spas and some of the most famous tea rooms in the world.