How many days in the Cotswolds?

Jan 13th, 2009, 09:32 AM
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How many days in the Cotswolds?

Hello everyone,

My wife and I are in the earliest planning stages of a trip to the UK.

We are planning to fly into London and spend a couple of days (I've been there a number of times, and so has my wife, but there are a few things we've missed on previous trips) there before going to the Cotswolds.

We would likely take the train from London (Paddington, I'm assuming) and would like to do the trip whilst in the Cotswolds via public transport, if possible.

I am trying to get a good idea as to how many days one should plan to spend in the Cotswolds. I have seen on the Cotswolds website some people have done a day trip from London, but it sounds like at least an overnight would be good. Would 2 full days be adequate? We usually try to visit museums and local attractions of interest, spend time shopping and perhaps finding items native to the area to bring home as gifts, etc.

Thank you so much.

BritishMusicFan is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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IMO - Using public transport, the more time one would need.

That Cotswolds aren't a site you can "see" on a day trip like Windsor or maybe Bath. It is a region of really small towns and villages on narrow winding roads w/ LOTS of walks and public footpaths.

W/ a car you can actually get a bit of a feel for the Cotswolds in a couple of days. Not that you'd want to be in the car all day long - but it just makes getting from place to place that much easier/faster.

there is bus service between some of the villages - but it isn't the most convenient for touring. More for getting into to town to shop and such.

So, if you are dependent on the buses - you'd probably do better to just pick a town or village w/i a reasonable bus or taxi ride of Moreton-in-Marsh, or Charlbury, or Evesham (all have rail service) and just stay there and walk about to get a feel for the immediate area. Chipping Campden or someplace like that would fit the bill.

Or perhaps Woodstock - not technically in the Cotswolds - but it is near Oxford and Charlbury and has good bus service.
janisj is online now  
Jan 13th, 2009, 11:12 AM
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Totally agree with janis (as usual)... that's the one area of the country that you really should have a car to see.
With a car, 2 or 3 days is OK. There are so many lovely little villages that you would miss out on without a car.
taggie is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 11:18 AM
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Maybe consider a place like the Lake District where you can go to Windermere by train and then have all sorts of public conveyances from open-air double-decker buses to 4-wheel vehicles to get everywhere. Indeed a plethora of public transit options in the Lake District - paucity in Cotswolds compared.

that said i stayed in Cheltenham Spa once and did take buses to several places in the Cotswolds on that nice city's door.
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 13th, 2009, 11:41 AM
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You spend either one day or a lifetime in the Cotswolds.

"One day" means, there are not many "tourist attractions" in the area - what you usually do is that you drive through half a dozen villages or so, visit one or two churches and one or two (minor) museums and stroll through one or two towns. This can easily be done in one day - provided that you are in a car. Forget the Cotswolds if you rely on public transportation.

If you have two days you have the opportunity to follow a more relaxed pace - but you will not see more. (The villages are pretty similar.)

"Lifetime" means it is a very charming area to live - which is different from visiting it like a tourist.

My recommendation is: to take the train to Oxford, to rent a car there and to drive into the Cotswolds. Stay overnight there (my favourite place would be Chipping Campden) and return the car in Oxford and return to London by train.

BTW, Oxford is also a very attractive place to visit and has more attractions than the Cotswolds.

Another option for a two-day trip out of London would be Bath.
traveller1959 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 11:50 AM
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Cotswolds to me is really more of an image... of old stone cottages with fireplaces and gardens couched behind hi walls.

For the average tourist there are much more interesting places that are much more easily done by public transport.

Even the famed Cotswold wool towns are hopelessly inundated with tourists IME in summer.

Hiking is great but otherwise i do not think the cozy hype of the Cotswolds in your mind's eye is easily fulfilled once there.

just an opinion to be sure based on several visits.
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 13th, 2009, 02:05 PM
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What I did this past June was take the train from Paddington to Bath, where I stayed at a B&B for 2 nights. From Bath, I took a Mad Maxx Tour of the Cotswolds as far as Stow-on-the-Wold. This was a lunch break for the tour, so for a small fee, the bus driver drove me (and others) to Moreton-in-Marsh (about 10 min)where I stayed at another B&B for 2 nights. Mad Maxx uses minivans and is able to travel on the narrow roads to the small villages, where a regular bus would not be able to. It was also great that my luggage was able to be stored on the bus, leaving me free to sightsee. I found MinM quite delightful and I was also able to catch the local bus to other villages. From MinM, I took the train to Heathrow. I would have loved to have had at least 1 more day, preferably 2, in MinM so I could have day-tripped to a few more villages. As it was, I had a great trip and loved the beauty and quaintness of the area.
baglady is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 03:02 PM
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You asked about museums in the Cotswolds--here are two National Trust Properties that are very interesting.

Snowshill Manor is near Broadway, there may have public transport up to Snowshill village or most likely a taxi service from Broadway. The manor is in the village:

"Snowshill Manor contains Charles Paget Wade’s extraordinary collection of craftmanship and design, including musical instruments, clocks, toys, bicycles, weavers’ and spinners’ tools and Japanese armour.

"Run on organic principles, the intimate garden is laid out as a series of outdoor rooms, with terraces and ponds, and wonderful views across the Cotswold countryside."

The second NT property is Chedworth Roman Villa--it's 9 miles from Cheltenham Spa, which is a rail stop.

You can find more about both the above on

Finally, I love the Whichford Pottery ( which is near Shipston-on-Stour. They throw small pieces you could carry home to those large enough for someone to hide inside. Lovely place with gardens displaying their wares and tours of the pottery.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 03:11 PM
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Just wanted to thank baglady for the practical idea about getting about without a car. I've heard good things about MadMaxx also.
azzure is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 03:52 PM
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Thanks so much. These are just the questions I've long wanted to ask--and the answers I was hoping for.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 04:14 PM
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IMHO to do the Cotswold you really need a car and to spend at least one night - we spent two and still didn't see a lot we wanted. (Trying to do via public transit I think you will find very limiting and frustrating.)
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Hi, BMF~

I've been researching the same thing. I've been to the Cotswolds before, but rented a car. I'm now planning another trip by train/bus to hike in the countryside and between towns.

You can definitely do it by public transportation, but it will take careful planning and more time than just renting a car, as others have mentioned. Read the schedules carefully, some towns only have bus service once a day.

This is a handy web site for bus lines in the different regions:

Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the Wold have the best bus connections. From there, you can easily reach Chipping Camden and a few other good towns, then go on to Stratford, if you desire.

The suggestion of using Mad Max Tours out of Bath is excellent, I'm considering the same thing.

I would leave as much time as possible for the Cotswolds. It's such an incredibly beautiful area, the towns are lovely and you will wish you had more than 2 days, I swear. Have fun!

NanBug is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 09:14 PM
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As NanBug says, the costswoldaonb site has a full set of train and bus timetables. THE best way to see the area is walking, and I'd allow a few days to make time for a couple of days' proper walks. There's limited value in seeing lots of the Cotswolds (things don't vary much), but a lot of value in getting to grips with one or two places.

The railway line will be subject to disruption from July 18 to August 30 this year(, and details of what that disruption will be aren't yet available. There'll be replacement buses, but meticulous connections with other buses might go awry.

The reason services are going to be disrupted then is that's when demand is at its lowest. So ignore PalQ's nonsense about how packed the area is in summer. A few towns get busy for a few hours at weekends: if you're travelling around you'll hardly notice.

Virtually none of the National Trust properties in the area are accessible by public transport (though Blenheim is). Almost all of them, though, are on footpaths and make a great break as part of a nice 5-10 mile day's meander.

The only railway station with decent bus connections really suitable for visitors is Moreton in Marsh. The only remotely serious museums in the area are Court Barn in Chipping Campden ( and the Corinium Museum in Cirencester ( the listings under "museums" on the cotswoldaonb site are all a bit - well, minor. Oxford is usually a good museum centre, but its major museum, the Ashmolean, is closed most of this year: it's due to reopen in November.
flanneruk is offline  
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