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Cotswolds Tour Advice and Quick Itinerary Check

Cotswolds Tour Advice and Quick Itinerary Check

Old Jul 18th, 2010, 03:05 PM
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Cotswolds Tour Advice and Quick Itinerary Check

Hi, Fodorites.

I'm beginning to plan a trip to the Cotswolds (then Bath and London) in mid-Sept and would love some feedback.

Arrive 15 Sept.. to Heathrow. Bus to Cheltenham.
16th - Walk Day: Bus to Chipping Campden (?) via Moreton-in-Marsh; Walk Cotswold Trail to Broadway; Bus return to Cheltenham.
17th: Bus to Winchcombe (?). Walk. Return to Cheltenham.
18th: Bus to TBD. Walk. Return to Cheltenham.
19th: Bus to Bath.
20th - 22nd: Explore Bath
23rd: Bus/Train to London
24-25th: London
26th: Depart LHR.

I hope to do lots of long-distance walks. Initially I thought of doing the entire Cotswolds Trail, but I didn't want to spend a whole week and pay all that money for the tour and baggage transfer services. I'm hoping I'll get enough of a feel for the countryside and the villages with a few days of walking and basing myself in Cheltenham and Bath.

Besides feedback on the itinerary above, I'd love some locals to weigh in on some of the villages below to help me choose my walks. Here are some circular walks that I can do.
Chipping Campden to Broadway
Winchcombe and Belas Knap
Cleeve Hill
Cranham Cooper and Beechwoods
Selsley Circuit
CamLong Down and Uley

Are there any villages here that are among your favorites? Winchcombe and Woton-under-Edge looked really nice. Any advice you can offer would be very appreciated.
Many thanks!
ChgoGal is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2010, 02:09 PM
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Hi again! As I've firmed up my plans, I'm hopeful someone might weigh in on THIS question:

I can choose two of the 3 locations below to hike around & visit:
Stanton and Snowshill (and Snowshill Manor)
Winchcombe (and Sudeley Castle)
Bourton-on-the-Water, Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter

(I will have seen Chipping Campden, Broadway, Painswick and Kings Stanley also -- but these walks are set in stone due to travel limitations.)

Snowshill looks so incredibly atmospheric (and less crowded), but I think I might love Sudeley Castle (as I loved visiting Chatsworth) and Bourton-on-the-Water and Upper and Lower Slaughter seem to be on everyone's "must visit" list.

I'm sure I'll love all three places -- but are there any locals that can weigh in with a recommendation?

As always, thanks in advance, Fodorites!
ChgoGal is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2010, 06:10 PM
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I am not a local but have been to the Cotswolds a few times.

My vote goes to the Stanton/Snowshill combination and Winchcombe. I love Snowshill but not necessarily the Manor itself, in fact I preferred the tiny cottage where the owner slept as I felt semi-claustrophobic in the Manor House surrounded by all that stuff.

Having not actually been to Winchcombe and Sudeley Castle it has my vote as I really did not care for Bourton-on-the-Water. Too crowded and, in my opinion, overrated much as that vulgar Blenheim Palace which seems to be on everyone's "must visit" list.

We did try to find Sudeley Castle but had a poor map and became quite lost - found instead the Chedworth Roman Villa and quite a bit of fascinating history there.
Mrs_Wilde is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:53 AM
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Almost anywhere, be wary of advice from someone complaining a place is too crowded: all it tells you the advice is coming from someone with very limited experience of the place concerned. In the Cotswolds, NOWHERE'S crowded, except a few honeypots and even then ONLY between 1100 and 1600 during summer weekends, bank holidays and the weekends between Mothering Sunday and Whit.

You're not here then. Even when they're empty (95% of the year), personally I find Bourton on the Water and the Slaughters too much the kind of place recommended by third-rate tourist guide books, like the one sponsoring this site.

Sudely/Winchcombe, as a place to walk, has far the most interest: go east from Winchcombe, just to the south of the Castle, and after about 2.5 miles you hit a totally unprotected, unrestored Roman villa: go north and you're surrounded by llamas - but before that, the church (not the ruined abbey) at Hailes has some of England'sa best surviving medieval paintings. Don't expect a mini Chatsworth at Sudely: it's much more a standard old English residence, repeatedly knocked about, than the carefully-managed and manicured mini-Blenheim but with a smattering of taste and respect for its landscape that the Devonshires have developed in Derbyshire.

Stanton/Snowshill has rather less of interest for walking: lots of quite steep (by our standards) exhilarating paths (one chap spent the day teaching his collie sheep-management the other week when we were there: amazing to watch), but little more than lots of Cotswold scenery really worth talking about. Apart, of course from Snowshill Manor, which can be exhausting (and, to be honest, eccentric even for us) to go round. Because it's self-guided, make sure you listen to the potted history given on the lawn outside every 45 mins or so. But the gardens are great - and, as autumn gets autumnier, they're getting better right now: the orchard's groaning under the weight of the heaviest crop I can remember.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Thanks so much for the feedback.

I've been torn about not going to Bibury, Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water but I think I will choose Winchcombe and Snowshill. They do sound more to my taste. And I am sensitive to "crowds" so I appreciate any feedback there, too. I won't expect anyplace to be very crowded where I'm going -- but, coming from Chicago, where there's no escaping all the friggin' people every minute of every day, the fewer people the better.

I do hope I'm not too late in the season to enjoy the gardens and fruits -- thanks for that extra bit of info to entice me, flanneruk. I'm going to make a note to include the Hailes church and the Roman villa.

The bit about the llamas surprised me, though. I plan to keep to the trails, but as this is my first time hiking in your neck of the woods, at those times when I might veer close to a flock of sheep or cows or llamas, should I expect to be able to circle around their pens?

And in those times when you are crossing someone's land, how do the local landowner's feel about all these folks traipsing across their property? (The whole English "right of way" is such a foreign idea -- in American we're confined to our national/public parks for our hikes.) This must be a sensitive issue in the area, at times. Will my presence as an American tourist with a backpack and trekking poles annoy the locals?
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 12:55 PM
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There's a lovely walk from Bourton On The Water (no crowds once away from the main street & shop i.e 200 yards from car park) around the Slaughters. I wouldn't fret about missing Bibury. It's pleasant enough but, apart from the much photographed row of cottages, there's not much else. I'd be more concerned about the availability of public transport to fit in with your walking. I assume you have checked this out? Have you thought about staying somewhere actually in the Cotswolds rather than journeying backwards and forwards to Cheltenham?
bellini is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 01:01 PM
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If you start "traipsing across their property", the landowners may indeed get angry, and rightfully so. If you follow the designated footpaths or bridle paths that cross their property, whether they get angry or not is irrelevant, since you are within your rights, whatever your nationality.

The paths may or not be signed. If they are heavily used, their location will be obvious. If they are not heavily used, you will have to take guidance from the detailed trail map you are using or your Ordnance Survey map.

A short lesson in British English. You will be walking, not hiking. You will likely have a rucksack on your back and you will be using walking sticks, not trekking poles. Have fun.
ron is offline  
Old Aug 31st, 2010, 02:16 PM
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Some of the marked trails go right across a pasture. Be prepared to meet the locals.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 02:55 PM
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"when I might veer close to a flock of sheep or cows or llamas, should I expect to be able to circle around their pens? "

Pens??? I know Americans lock more human beings away than any civilised society. But surely you don't extend this control freakery to four-legged mammals as well?

Pens are for the oppressed. This is a free country. We no more pen law-abiding animals up than we ban our fellow citizens from travelling to the country next door.

Sheep will run away from you (though male lambs sometimes go through a stage in the autumn when they try to challenge you. Just stare them down and walk through them. They always give way). Foxes steer well clear of you, and deer usually keep even further away. Llamas will just ignore you, but keep their distance. Cattle will probably come up and have a chat: if they do, just make sure you don't get between mums and their children. If they're hanging round a field exit you want to use, just tell them to move away. It's up to them whether they do or not. Generally speaking, the older cows do: but young heifers are often too curious about you to move, though they will if you assert yourself sufficiently. Pretend you're the District Commissioner's wife somewhere in the Raj when the natives were being uppity. Above all: don't flap.

For your peace of mind: bulls may be kept in a field through which there's a right of way only if there's a big enough harem in the field to keep them placid. The few cattle-related casualties each year are all inflicted by cows reacting to what they see as a threat to their babies. Cattle cease being babies in their mothers' eyes at about the same age (and therefore at a dramatically greater physical size) that Italian men achieve a similar status.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Sep 1st, 2010, 08:54 AM
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Thanks for the laugh, flanneruk. And for the advice on the animals. I'm a bit surprised about how "free range" the animals may be, but the information is duly noted and I shall be cautious. We've got "free range" and "cage free" eating-animals here in the states, of course, (for those who prefer to imagine their food is treated humanely up to the point of slaughter), but the animals are still wandering about in pens. (How else do you know where all your stuff is?)

Ron -- Thanks for the feedback, will keep to the trails and paths. But don't you agree "hiking" and "trekking poles" just sound so much more robust? And "rucksack" is just a silly, ill-formed word when spoken in a flat, midwest American accent. Rook-sack? Ruk-sack? Neither pronunciation improves the word. But I get your point and will use the correct word if called upon to do so.

bellini -- I actually did consider other towns to base myself, but the public transportation options seemed to be best when basing myself in Cheltenham. I believe I've worked out the schedules, and I think I'll be all right. The only difficulty I found was scheduling my Sunday, and had to schedule my Painswick-Kings Stanley walk THAT day as this was the only option for public transportation (from Cheltenham, that is). Even renting a car would be difficult/expensive for a Sunday as the agencies in Cheltenham had limited hours or were closed Sun/Mon. I'm going to hope for the best relying on buses and trains, and will try not to screw up.

Thanks, all!
ChgoGal is offline  
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