Any advice for my Cotswolds itinerary?

Aug 26th, 2007, 07:57 PM
Original Poster
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Any advice for my Cotswolds itinerary?

Hello dear Fodorites --

My DH and I are heading to England in mid-September and would appreciate some advice regarding the Cotswolds portion of our itinerary. If you have suggestions for specific sights around the destinations listed below, or if you see something missing from the list, I would love to hear it! We are open to anything. Please note that our B&B reservations are made, so we're sticking to them. =)

DAY 1: Arrive in Stow-on-the-Wold by lunchtime. Walk to Bourton-on-the-Water and the Slaughters. Sleep in Stow.

DAY 2: Rent a car for the day. Drive to:
Blenheim Palace
Sleep in Stow.

DAY 3: Move to our B&B in Chipping Campden around lunch time. Walk to Hidecote Manor to visit the gardens. Sleep in Chipping Campden.

DAY 4: Walk from Chipping Campden to:
Broadway (visit the Broadway Tower)
Sleep in CC.

DAY 5: Back to London in the morning! =)

Also, we are foodies, so restaurant/pub suggestions are welcome, too. Thanks in advance!

ciao, Heather.
hlocke1 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2007, 08:08 PM
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Most of your itinerary sounds like a lot of fun, but I thought Blenheim Palace was ostentatious and not worth visiting. My husband liked it better than I did.

We had a very good cream tea at the Bantam Tea Rooms in Chipping Campden.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Aug 26th, 2007, 08:19 PM
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Lovely itinerary - you've got some long-ish walks there but all are doable.

Lee Ann and flanner (hopefully he will see your thread for maybe some up to date restaurant suggestions)have the same opinion of Blenheim . But I personally think you'll regret not seeing it. It really is a beautiful bldg. and there is nothing else like it on your itinerary. Enroute from Blenheim to Burford stop for a bit in Bladon and visit Churchill's grave in the churchyard.

Do be sure to leave enough time to explore Hidcote - even in mid-Sept it wil be really lovely.
janisj is online now  
Aug 26th, 2007, 10:46 PM
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I don't give recommendations for restaurants round here because there isn't a single one I'd go out of my way to eat in. That's not to say they're awful: it's just that if you're a foodie, you're not going to find anything memorable here except by getting a train to London or a plane to Lyons. And, with the incredible speed of staff turnover, any recommendations you do get are likely to refer to completely different workers and management from whoever's there when you go.

More importantly, how are you planning to get back to Chipping Campden from Winchcombe? It's 16 miles or so, and the route finding isn't straightforward - so it's at least 5 hours each way, and actually few of us would manage better than 6. There IS a convoluted bus service, changing at Broadway, but you're going to be pushed to get to Winchcombe on time (timetables at
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 26th, 2007, 11:00 PM
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PS: One rarely visited place.

Bladon's practically the only bit of the Blenheim area I've got any time for, but that's just me. The really interesting thing is to compare the preposerous fuss John Churchill made of himself for his part in a battle everyone's long forgotten about with the extraordinary modesty his infinitely more distinguished and important descendant insusted on for his burial place.

Worth comparing Winston's grave too with the pomposities some countries give to the frauds whose egos inflicted so much misery on them - like Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and, worst, of all Mao and Napoleon

However, as a result Bladon does get a fair few visitors. Now instead of taking the A44 to Burford, stay on the A 4095 to Witney, which hardly anyone ever visits. Go into the town and find the main chiurch. Hideous inside, it's set in a glorious close, looking like a mini-cathedral: really one of the loveliest settings in England. THe setting is actually the logo of the local council, and you'll find it on all the bins for the next 20 miles.

Navigate your way, when going on to Burford (there really is little else to detain you in Witney, though it's remarkably handsome) to Swinbrook. Research the Mitfords beforehand, and prepare to have your gob completely smacked by the tombs of the Fettiplaces in the church.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:29 AM
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I am a Blenheim fan but understand those who are not. The park is incredible.

I lived in Witney as a child in the 1950's, and it is not as nice as it was then, but the green is still as good as flanneruk describes it. Though the famous blanket mills are long gone, I was amazed to see two years ago that many of the shops, apparently with the same owner, were in the same places as they had been in 1957 when I left!

On the way from Witney to Burford, get off the main road to go to Minster Lovell. Nice pub, and you should visit the ruin and the church on the banks of the River Windrush, then drive to Swinbrook on the tiny road along the Windrush. You will have dropped back about 50 years in time. After visiting the churchyard, you can continue on to Burford on this same lane.
Ackislander is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:02 AM
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We enjoyed touring Blenheim on our way to the Cotswolds last September driving from LHR.

We aren't "foodies" in the stereotypical sense but we enjoyed the meals at our hotel in Broadway, Russells but since you are on foot I'm not sure you'd be there at dinner time anyway but thought I would mention it nonetheless.

I think you'll particularly enjoy the walks and hope you have a great trip.
Dukey is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:17 AM
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I personally loved Blenheim Palace and its landscape designed by Capability Brown. Try to approach it by the road through and out of Woodstock. Reading some history of the Churchill family might give you a good prospective on this place. Churchill was born there, rather by accident, as his mother and father did not own the palace but lived nearby.

Also, try to do a walk around Chipping Campden to see the church and the castle ruins nearby, which are being turned into a museum or something. A nice walk from the church yard, through fields, to Kiftsgate Garden and Hidcote Garden. I doubt whether you can do the walk from CC, after arriving there at noon, to Hidcote and have enough time to enjoy everything.

My opinion again--Broadway Tower is not worth the walk up to it. The view is nice from the top if you need to do that.

Loved Snowshill--funky place.

Margo is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:33 AM
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I should also add to be sure to check the open times of Snowshill. It is a National Trust property and not open everyday and sometimes just half a day. Check NT website.

Also it was Winston Churchill that was born at Blenheim "by accident" (those are my words!)

Margo is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 06:20 AM
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More about Minster Lovell - just a wonderful place. The ruins of the Old Hall on the banks of the River Windrush, an intact doocot (dovecote) - be sure to go inside, and the church next door. Here are a few photos of it

Definitely stop by on your way to Burford. There is a small car park and then you have to walk a couple hunderd yards to the Old Hall/church
janisj is online now  
Aug 27th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Hlocke, what B&b do you have in Stow? Is it the Southhill Farmhouse? If so, it is great. Sian and Mark are really nice people. It is an easy walk to town from the B&B.

That being said, you might want to reconsider walking to Bourton. Since you have the car, drive. If I remember correctly it is about 5 miles each way, up and down some hills.

Eagle & Child is a good restaurant in Stow. We had lots of fun there. Be sure to have your waiter show you the mantle piece and give you the witches story.

Have a great time!!

daveesl is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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Snowshill seems to be open Wednesdays to Sundays, afternoons only, which hopefully fits your schedule:
Nonconformist is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 07:21 AM
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Sounds like a good plan but quite a lot of walking. The Stow Lodge Restaurant would probably be your best bet for a nice evening meal. Otherwise there are pubs and at least one Indian place in Stow. Winchcombe has better choices of restaurants. We really enjoyed Blenheim Palace and the gardens there. I can't imagine skipping it. Being a Churchill admirer I really regret not visiting his grave in the small cemetery in Blaedon. Hidcote Manor Garden was wonderful and the tea room there is good for lunch. We did not see Snowshill Manor until our fifth visit to the Cotswolds and it is definitely worth seeing. If you go there from Broadway be sure to stop by the church of St Eadburgha on the Snowshill Road. It dates back to 962 and is very quaint and interesting if you enjoy old churches. Bourton on Water was not a favorite village but there was a nice tearoom, antique shops, and a laundry that has quick service. Bibury was okay but I would not go out of my way to see it. If you go there is a good little restaurant there called Catherine's Wheel-- great place for lunch. If you will have a car (not sure since you mention extensive walking) there is a tiny hamlet not far from Stow called Ford and the Plough Pub there is very good and we will include it for sure in a future visit to that area. Have a great trip.
nini is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 08:04 AM
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PalenqueBob is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Hello again, everyone --

Thanks to everyone for such great suggestions thus far! =) Bladon and Minster Lovell sound particularly interesting. Your restaurant and pub suggestions are appreciated, as well.

I appreciate everyone’s input on the distances and letting me know what to expect in terms of the walks. That is so helpful! Fortunately, we are a very active couple in our 30s who enjoy the outdoors quite a bit. We hike and rollerblade in summer, and ski in the winter. We live in Seattle, so hills shouldn’t be too much of a shock. So, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I think we are up for these distances. =) We will rent a car for one day, but plan to keep the contact info for local car services with us on our walks (just in case).

To Dave: We are staying at Number Nine in Stow. The farmhouse sounds wonderful, though! I will file that away for future trips.

So far I have a lot of suggestions for our drive on day 2. Are there any other special things we should include that fall near our path on Day 4?

ciao, Heather.
hlocke1 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:20 AM
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Yes, but I really don't see how you're going to walk at least 33 miles on day 4, in daylight, in mid-September, when there are only 12 hours to play with.

However used to hills you may be, you do NOT want to be finding your way on English footpaths when it's dark. And if you're not used to wayfinding across recently ploughed fields, you'll be flabbergasted at how slowly you'll progress.

Or have I missed something?
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:29 AM
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Very few itineraries are either written in stone or strictly adhered to once you actually get there!
Dukey is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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Our family has spent a good amount of time in the Cotswolds, including an eight day circular walking trip a few years ago exactly in the area you're planning to visit.

Day 1 - The walk to the Slaughters and Bourton on the Water is a pretty one, but the round trip may be too much if you're just arriving at lunchtime and will want to see Stow as well. Maybe skip Bourton on the Water and just make your way to the Slaughters and back?

Day 2 - We liked Blenheim Palace a lot. On our day trip to Blenheim Palace (from Stow) we stopped in Minster Lovell for lunch and also visited the tiny village of Swinbrook, where two of the Mitford sisters are buried. (Totally agree with the comments about the church!) Burford would seem to fit on this itinerary, but isn't Bibury somewhat out of the way? You could also consider skipping Burford and Bibury and driving up to Stratford-on-Avon... it's not really very far.

Day 3 - I love Hidcote gardens. Just down the road is Kiftsgate gardens, also well worth a visit and doable on the same trip.

Day 4 - I know the route you're talking about. We walked from Winchcombe to Broadway, stopping on the way to see Hailes Abbey, which is well worth the stop. There is a fair amount to see along the way. This was a long day. With stops at Broadway Tower and also possibly Snowshill (which will take some time), I agree with others-- regardless of what shape you're in, I don't see how you could possibly make the round trip on foot from CC to Winchcombe and back unless you run part of the way. (Part of the time you're going through fields of sheep and making your way through fences too. And the directions can be tricky.) I'd strongly recommend getting a taxi from CC to take you to Winchcombe and doing the walk back to CC or making arrangements for a ride back from Winchcombe. You'll want to look around Winchcombe a bit too.

The walking in this area is lovely, and there is always so much to discover along the way.

KathyWood is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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I don't understand why you don't rent the car for the entire stay. How are you getting to Stow on Wold at the beginning of the trip? If you're coming from London or Heathrow, it would be easy to stop at Blenheim on the way or on the way back.
mclaurie is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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I agree the gardens and other landscaping at Blenheim are lovely, but the house is just too much.

I would have loved to have visited Bladon, but it's probably just as well we skipped it - it would have made our traumatic journey to the hostel in Stratford-upon-Avon later and darker.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  

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