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Cotswolds village base

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Jul 24th, 2014, 09:00 PM
  #1
NE
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Cotswolds village base

We are a couple in our 50s taking our 30th wedding anniversary trip to Europe. We are planning to be in the cotswolds for four days in late September. We will have a car and want to spent out time visiting a few gardens, walking the countryside and enjoying the flavor of life in the countryside, albeit for a short while. Please help with where we should base ourselves so that we can easily get around. I have been there before and stayed at Stow-on -the-wold. Don't know if we should stay there again. Please help me!!!!
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Jul 24th, 2014, 09:26 PM
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Burford.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 09:39 PM
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Burford would be wonderful, Chipping Campden would be very nice.

Either one would make a nice base for anywhere in the Cotswolds.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 10:15 PM
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Since you'll have a car you can really stay anywhere, without regard to transport options. Two places come to mind immediately for your special occasion.

In Barnsley, Gloucestershire, the house where famous garden designer, Rosemary lived until the end of her life and had her wonderful garden (still there for guests), Barnsley House, now a country hotel. http://www.barnsleyhouse.com/

In the idyllic hamlet of Clapton-on-the-Hill, beautiful Clapton Manor where I stayed one night while walking through the area. http://www.claptonmanor.co.uk/

One more thought, there are cottages on the grounds of Sudeley Castle on the outskirts of Winchcombe, that can be reserved for 4 night stays. http://www.sudeleycastle.co.uk/cottages/

All well located for visiting the Cotswolds.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 11:36 PM
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It's not quite the case that you can stay anywhere if you've got a car.

Barnsley, for example, is almost completely devoid of human activity from Monday to Friday, apart from one well-known hotel and a "pub" (well: a restaurant with the brand name "Village Pub")) with world-beating chutzpah in price-setting. Clapton on the Hill doesn't even run to that: the B&B recommended above doesn't serve dinner.

Stay in one of these places and you either starve, take out a mortgage to eat (in fairness:an option in Barnsley), or drive along country lanes in the dark after visiting the pubs a few miles away (sunset in late Sept is 1900 BST - and who eats, or rather serves food, that early?). With our windy, undulating and potentially deer-infested roads, even I try to avoid driving at night on unfamiliar lanes.

Walking to the nearest hostelry just isn't an option in these places at night: no motorist has a chance of seeing you round a bend in time to stop, and footpaths across fields are close to unusable after dusk.

The real choice comes down to the microtowns: Burford, Chipping Campden, Northleach, Winchcombe, Tetbury Broadway and, just outside the area of hilly limestone, Woodstock.

All have a reasonable choice of eating and drinking establishments within comfortable and safe walking distance of hotels and B&Bs.
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Jul 24th, 2014, 11:51 PM
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flanner beat me to it. Even when I have a car -- if I have any thoughts of eating out I won't stay in a teensy village. I will NOT drive after dinner. Unless I don't drink at all -- and even then I don't like traveling tiny lanes after dark.

My general rule of thumb -- I try to stay in places w/ at least 3 pubs or restaurants w/i walking distance -- which limits to mostly large villages/ towns mentioned.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 12:06 AM
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OK...for some of the "survival" reasons mentioned by Flanner, we took a liking to Broadway a few years ago, while theretofore shunning it. This time it worked out fine, and for the first time we hiked the hill to the Broadway Tower. From Broadway we found it practical to visit many of the smaller towns, villages and gardens. These pics show all (Bibury, Chipping Campden, Stow, Burton on the water, North Leach, Burford, etc. We especially like the smaller gardens like Mill Dene, close to Chipping Campden. Even ran into a wedding in CC, featuring a Rolls getaway limo wrapped in a ribbon.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 08:46 AM
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Despite what the 2 perpetual nay-sayers above would have you believe, you don't need to stay in a town or walking distance to anything. I've often stayed in the countryside in places that don't serve dinner (an idiotic reason for not enjoying a nice accommodation as most don't, as in B&B) and never minded a short drive to find what I've wanted. Clapton Manor is a wonderful place to stay and I was traveling on foot.

Don't think you need to stay in a town the name of which is familiar to you. In fact it's usually a predictor of sharing what was once a quiet place with the hoards.

Winchcombe is a good choice and why I mentioned it. I've stayed in a couple of B&Bs there, both bad for different reasons and why I suggested the cottages at Sudeley. Of course, if you enjoy sharing with thousands of tourists, any of the towns mentioned will do.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 09:03 AM
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flanner lives in the neighborhood -- I'd defer to his knowledge about whether driving at night is a good idea or not (and I used to live nearby - so no, it ain't just 'towns I've heard of')
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Jul 25th, 2014, 09:26 AM
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NE,
We had a wonderful stay last year (April) in Broadway at the Olive Branch Guest House. Good base for touring the area, a good number of shops, restaurants and pubs. We did a few walks and really enjoyed them. We like to be on foot in the evening as we enjoy a glass or two with dinner and this town offered good dining options.
Have a look -
http://www.theolivebranch-broadway.com/
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Jul 25th, 2014, 09:53 AM
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I realize that my own inclinations are not for everyone. The self-appointed experts here who defy anyone to disagree with them will give you mostly the options with which few will disagree. That doesn't mean there aren't often some better ones for those who prefer to go a bit off the very beaten path.

Anyone can give you a list of "pretty" in the Cotswolds. And it's more likely than not that's what you want. I appreciate it when someone turns up with possibly more interesting suggestions and that doesn't include a warning to not drive after dark. Yes, I believe everyone knows by this point that flanner lives there. But I seem to have lived to tell the tale.

In any case, one can go with crowd and extoll she who has lived there for her good advice. Or go a bit farther afield and have something that's less "more of the same". Unlike the Big 2 though, I won't criticize anyone who wants to be in the thick of it, although it's long since not for me.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 10:19 AM
  #13
NE
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I stayed in Stow-on-the-Wold last time with my daughter and we had a wonderful time . We didn't have a car so the location was great. We rode the local bus to get to Burton on the Water , walked to the slaughters and took an expensive cab ride to Stanton so my daughter could do a bit of horse riding. I am looking at each of the fantastic suggestions and narrow down the search so I can decide. This area of England is so beautiful.... I want to stay everywhere!
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Jul 25th, 2014, 10:34 AM
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"But I seem to have lived to tell the tale.

Some don't. 25% of traffic accidents after dark round here are fatal: the likelihood is that no-one will spot the car in the field till the following morning. I'm a bore about it because the last (mercifully not fatal to us, though the car didn't survive) one that involved us was caused by an American visitor - unused to winding, undulating, roads, and reacting in precisely the wrong way once the collision started.

The idea that Cotswold microtowns at night are full of "hoards" is wishful thinking (no-one's ever left a hoard buried here): that they're full of hordes downright absurd. We limit accommodation obsessively, and what tourists we get retreat somewhere with more hotels by six pm.

No-one's criticising the whinger. Just her inappropriate recommendations.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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This Whinger's experiences are many, varied and happier the more off the beaten track they become. We don't have to agree here or what would be the point of saying anything, once Those-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed give their usual lectures.

I repeat, if staying in the well-known places is what you want, although not for me, it may be perfect for you, NE. There are many good reasons why they're popular. My disdain here today is for those who ridicule alternate ideas, not for the well-known places.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 12:01 PM
  #16
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Well said MmePerdu, there are too many people who believe what they say is right for everyone, and denigrate anyone who dares to disagree with them or suggest other alternatives.

The comment about 'hordes' needs picking up. What is a horde? To me it is anywhere with more than half a dozen other tourists. The more off the beaten track the better. That immediately rules out all the well known places. What is the OPs take on this? Have we established what sort of accommodation the OP is thinking of?

Before we go down the line of driving/not driving at night we need to establish what the OPs expectations are on this. Does the OP want to eat out in local pubs etc or eat in their accommodation. We usually buy food and do a picnic for our evening meal. There are lots of good bakers, delis etc in the area.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for the support, ESW. I like a traveler who isn't intimidated. Possibly one of the few in these parts.

I, too, am a lunch out/picnic in the evening traveler but in part because I'm usually on my own. I'd expect a couple celebrating their anniversary to want a nice dinner or 2 and leave it up to them to know their own inclinations and capabilities.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 12:41 PM
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PAINSWICK

OK, it's the south Cotswolds but within a 30-40 minute drive of Bath, the Chippings, Slaughters, Stow etc (north Cotswolds). Much less touristy, loads more cute, quaint and pretty villages nearby to visit, great gardens - check out the amazing Painswick Rococo Garden http://www.rococogarden.org.uk/

Painswick has a good few B&Bs as it is on The Cotswold Way, plus more than a few good pubs and restaurants. So great walking as well, and plenty of other footpaths other than the CW.

Few people from other continents venture to the south Cotswold Hills. Here the valleys are much deeper and steeper (forget rolling hills), and lined with trees and fast rushing streams. The stone is greyer,and the houses and cottages cling to the sides of the valleys, seeming to be on the verge of tumbling down...

Are you scared of driving narrow single track lanes? in September they will still be green-lined tunnels crawling up the valley sides. You keep to the left bank at 10 mph, toot your horn at the bends, and back up if you meet another vehicle. And you will pass some incredibly beautiful ancient houses.

Come to Painswick.
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Jul 25th, 2014, 12:53 PM
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Why can't we have an edit function here on Fodors?

I meant to imply that driving the narrow lanes is a delight, because you see such gorgeous things along the way. You rarely meet other cars, and it's not really a problem if you do. Actually safer at night when you can see the oncoming headlights well in advance!

But if you stay in Painswick you have no need to drive at night, unless you want to take me on a pub crawl around the locality!

(I live in Painswick if you haven't already picked up on that! Any further questions/advice, just ask)
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Jul 25th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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Just because Flanner is sometimes abrasive doesn't mean he is wrong.

In this case, he is right AND not especially abrasive.

I lived in this region before most of you were born. Tiny villages had tiny shops, tiny post offices, tiny pubs with some sort of food. You could take a bus from these hamlets to towns which had an ironmonger or a chemist.

Alas, no more since it became a weekend retreat for fund managers and solicitors. It is still beautiful but the infrastructure has in many cases been reduced or is entirely gone.
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