Welcome to The Cotswolds!

I love the English Cotswolds and think everyone should visit this beautiful place at least once in their lifetime. Having lived all over the world and traveled as much as possible, I still think that this little part of England is one of the world's greatest treasures. This site is dedicated to helping spread the word and encourage sustainable travel to the Cotswolds.

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Classic Motoring Holiday

Fancy a day or two of of shameless nostalgia in the world's favourite classic sports car? The spine-tingling growl of the 4.2 litre straight-six as you surge to 60 mph in 7 exhilarating seconds? And how about touring The Cotswolds, the UK's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in such a car?  If you said yes (and who wouldn't?), give Classic Motoring in The Cotswolds a try.  Classic Motoring is the self-drive classic car hire specialist for the legendary British classic- the Jaguar E-Type. They offer only Jaguar E-Types for hire, so you can be assured of exceptional, well-maintained examples of this historic classic car.

Now that you've got the motor sorted, you'll need some ideas of where to go.  Happily, the good people at Cheltenham Tourism have put together a cracking little guide just for this purpose called The Romantic Road.  The two romantic journeys, A Road for Today and A Road for Tomorrow, are each designed to be completed in a single day, at a leisurely pace, allowing time to enjoy the towns, villages and scenery along the way. They will introduce you to some of the places which have proved so popular with generations of visitors to the Cotswolds and also to some less well-known favourites.  The suggested road map is shown here, and a description of the towns each route passes through follows.  But please do order the guide (details at the end of this article), as it's perfect to have in the car with you as you whizz through the countryside! 

A Road for Today
The Romantic Road travels north over Cleeve Hill and down into historic Winchcombe. From here we visit Stanway and Stanton before calling at picturesque Broadway. Chipping Campden, Blockley, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and the Slaughters all feature in this tour of Cotswolds highlights, before returning to Cheltenham. A tour of some 75 miles. 

On the North Western edge of the Cotswolds, just a few miles north of Cheltenham. Winchcombe is a most attractive small town dating back to Saxon times when it was capital of the kingdom of Mercia. Visit Sudeley Castle and its beautiful gardens. Sudeley was the last resting place of Katherine Parr, the sixth and surviving wife of Henry VIII. 

The village clusters around its manor, Stanway House, with its magnificent Jacobean gateway built of honey-coloured Cotswold stone. The tithe barn, built in the 14th Century by the Abbot of Tewkesbury, now serves as a beautiful meeting hall. Stanway is proud of its thatched cricket pavilion, a gift from J M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, who was a frequent visitor to the village.

At the foot of Fish Hill where the Cotswolds join the Vale of Evesham, Broadway is one of the showpiece villages of the Cotswolds. Elizabethan houses, village green and the historic Lygon Arms patronised by both King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell are among its many attractions. Broadway Tower at the top of Fish Hill affords magnificent views over the Severn Valley.

Chipping Campden 
One of the jewels of the Cotswolds. A picturesque village of honey-coloured stone, now carefully restored, with buildings dating from the 14th century. The Church of St James has fine monumental brasses. A feature of its beautiful High Street is the 17th century Market Hall. Visit the nearby Hidcote Manor Gardens, now in the care of the National Trust.

Once a thriving industrial village supplying silk thread to the ribbon trade. Blockley was the refuge of the 19th Century prophetess, Joanna Southcott. Visit Mill Dene Garden, a Cotswold Water Mill garden near the centre of the village.

A busy market town on the northern edge of the Cotswolds. Moreton-in-Marsh grew up on the route of the Roman Fosse Way which runs through the main Street, and the old London to Worcester highway, a prominent coaching route. The old curfew tower still houses its original clock and bell dating from 1633.

The highest town in the Cotswolds, with a beautiful old market square, Stow-on-the-Wold continues to be one of the most popular places in the Cotswolds for visitors. Once famous for its sheep market, it is now a notable centre for the antiques trade. The final battle of the first English Civil War was fought here in March 1646.

The Slaughters 
The beautiful neighbouring villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are located on the River Eye. Picturesque small buildings and footbridges over the river are features of both villages, and at Lower Slaughter there is a 19th century corn mill which houses a small museum, gift shop and tea room.

A Road for Tomorrow
From the edge of Cheltenham, a country road takes you to Northleach and onwards to Burford following the Windrush Valley. Lechlade and Fairford feature on this journey, en route for Cirencester via the pretty village of Bibury on the River Colne. We follow the winding road back to Cheltenham, calling into Painswick, called the 'Queen of the Cotswolds'. A tour of some 90 miles.

A delightful example of an unspoilt Cotswold wool town. Its church of St Peter and St Paul, endowed by wealthy wool merchants of the 15th century, is unofficially known as the Cathedral of the Cotswolds.

Burford contains many beautiful buildings along its main thoroughfare which twists up from the medieval (1322) bridge over the River Windrush. Hotels, inns, tea rooms and antiques shops make Burford popular with visitors, and the Church of St John the Baptist is a fine example of a Cotswold wool church.

This is the highest navigable point on the River Thames: crossing the river into the town centre is the fine Halfpenny Bridge, dating back to the 18th century.

The romance of the town is in the vicinity of the church of St Lawrence, in the market place, where in 1815 the poet Shelley was inspired to write "A Summer Evening Churchyard".

Once an important stage on the London to Gloucester coaching route, the town square contains many 17th and 18th century buildings including old inns and hotels. The 15th century church of St Mary contains fine examples of medieval stained glass windows, while the churchyard contains a memorial stone to Tiddles, a former church cat!

William Morris called Bibury the most beautiful village in England. Set in the valley of the River Coln, the village possesses an outstanding Saxon church, and the 14th century Arlington Row cottages - one of the most photographed scenes in the Cotswolds. Feed the fish at Bibury Trout Farm, or visit Arlington Mill, a folk museum with an exhibition dedicated to the Art and Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds

The ancient capital of the Cotswolds, dating from Roman times when "Corinium Dubonnorum" was the second largest city in Roman Britain, is located where Fosse Way, Ermin Street and Akeman Street converged. Visit the Corinium Museum to view one of the best collections of Romano-British material. Now a lively market town, the street market was recorded in the Domesday book of 1086, and the Parish Church of St John the Baptist is one of the grandest of all the Cotswold wool churches.

'The Queen of the Cotswolds', Painswick is a little gem of a town of silver grey stone houses and steep streets. Famed for its 99 Yew trees in the churchyard of St Mary's, (legend has it that the devil prevents the 100th from growing) and its 17th and 18th century table tombs. Visit the nearby Painswick Rococo Garden and Prinknash Abbey.

To order your copy of The Romantic Road, click here

Happy Motoring!

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