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What would be your perfect 14-Day Cotswolds itinerary?

What would be your perfect 14-Day Cotswolds itinerary?

Old Jun 9th, 2021, 03:56 AM
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What would be your perfect 14-Day Cotswolds itinerary?

Hi guys, really need you help; I’m all over the place!
Me and my husband are planning to visit Cotswolds in July or August for about two weeks (+/-).
We are looking at an itinerary that would have combination of pretty villages, circular walks, national trust cites, gardens, quaint cafes/pubs, local markets, etc. and also include cities like Oxford and Bath (can totally consider any other city suggestions). The idea is not to rush around trying to cover all "must-see" places, but rather give ourselves a flixibilty of just relaxing some days doing nothing... cafes, maybe in a nice rented cottage etc., while not missing what truly represents (gives taste of) Cotswolds.

This is a basic “skeleton” I've got so far, based on my research and forum threads:

*Arrive to Heathrow (from Belfast, just 1hr flight, hence ok to drive), rent a car and drive up to Oxford
*Stay in Oxford for 1-2 days
* .......

*Finish the journey in Bath. Stay 1-2 days and drive back to London (maybe include some other cities along the way?)
*Villages/places I identified based on my search that are considered among the best: Chipping Campden, Bibury, Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh, Bourton on the water, Burford, Snowshill, Castle Combe, Upper and Lower Slaughter

I’m lost at identifying:
*Places to choose as a base (to explore cites and circular walks from and which are charming and quaint to just stay in if we wanted to just chill)
*What are the best/most beautiful circular walks? (Too many different suggestions online&#129327. I guess this factor would define what places to choose as a base (or not necessarily?)
*Which villages/cities are better to stay at overnight (couple of days), and which ones are better to “cover” with a car (stop by when moving from place to place).
*What are the must see sights/gardens/national trust cites? Again, too much too choose from and it’s makes my brain explode.
*B&B, rent cottages or combination of both? Maybe in some places it makes sense to go for B&B and in some-rent a cottage? I know, it’s usually a matter of preference, but given that it’s quite a last minute arrangement, it might be worth exploring all the options. We are totally flexible with any

I would be super grateful for any ideas and insights!!!

P.S. I read there are some "swimmable" rivers out there; would love to try that!
Totally off P.S. Given that we are quite flexible with time (can stretch it up to 3 weeks total) would it be a nice idea to split our time between Cotswolds and any other area, like Cornwall? Or is it too much of a "stretch" and the Cotswolds deserve good exploration time?

Last edited by Adelya; Jun 9th, 2021 at 04:12 AM.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 11:09 AM
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Dealing with your last query first, July -August gets very busy in Cornwall as it's school holidays plus getting here can take a day out of your schedule each way. And if you are looking at this year it's probably more or less booked up anyway. So if you want an add on to the Cotswolds I'd say that there are several other places closer at hand which will be easier to get to, less crowded and fit in very well with your interests: within an hour or two there are the Peak District, the Shropshre Hills, the Brecon Beacons, the Wye Valley, and North Wales is about 3 hours away as is Exmoor, depending on where exactly you start from.

Moving onto the Cotswolds, i have to confess that I've never stayed there as i have normally taken day trips or driven through. A place I have always wanted to stay though is Tetbury as I've always enjoyed stopping off there and it has some very nice shops and restaurants. It is also close to Highgrove if you are interested in seeing Prince Charles' home [just the gardens, must pre-book] as well as Westonbirt Arboretum, Slimbridge Wild fowl centre, Berkley Castle, Cirencester and the Wye valley.

Further north I know that Broadway is popular and from there there are numerous places to go, including Hidcote, Kiftsgate, Stow, Bourton in Water, and Malvern which has some wonderful hills to walk.

Working back towards your arrival, you probably won't want a car in Oxford so why not get the bus from LHR to Oxford, enjoy your few days there without the worry of parking, Here's the website - it looks at first as if it only runs from Oxford to LHR but if you persist you end up on the right page:

https://airline.oxfordbus.co.uk/book-now/

So you could do a lovely 2-3 week tour starting in Oxford, then Broadway, the Shropshire hills, south to the Brecon Beacons, through the Wye Valley to Tetbury, ending in Bath, returning your car and catching the train back to London.

Happy planning.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 11:45 AM
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The Cotswolds may not be quite as busy as Cornwall this summer but it will be pretty darned busy. You should jump on finding accommodations ASAP.

I personally would not have a car in Oxford -- driving and parking is a b***h. Same with Bath really. Maybe consider something like this: Arrive at LHR and take the Express coach to Oxford and stay one or two nights. Then collect a car for the Cotswolds bit, drive to Bath and drop the car. Stay a night or two in Bath, then take the express coach from Bath to LHR.

( . . .Another option would be to drive directly from LHR to your base in the Cotswolds and do Oxford as a day trip from there, using one of the Park & Ride lots on the outskirts (like the Pear Tree). You could do the same thing for Bath - do a day trip from your Cotswold base using one of the Bath park & rides . . .)

As for where to base -- you have endless possibilities and the deciding factor at this late date may be where you can find accommodations in your price range. You almost can't go wrong where to base. For a stay of more than a couple of nights I probably would want one of the larger towns/villages to give you a variety of places to eat, shop, etc without having to drive especially after evening meals. I'd eliminate Bibury and the Slaughters (though definitely visit all three). I'd first look at/near Burford, Stow on the Wold, and Chipping Campden. Burford would be my firat choice.
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Old Jun 14th, 2021, 12:04 PM
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Oh -- I meant to add - with 14 days and having such a short travel time from home I'd also consider something like 7 days in the Cotswolds and 7 days in another region (somewhere like Somerset/Dorset, or Kent/East Sussex, or the Peak District or annhig's suggestion of Shropshire/Hereford/bits of Wales). Probably not Devon, Cornwall, or the Lake District which will likely be really (like REALLY) busy this year.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 07:18 AM
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Following this thread as I've got a trip planned for 15 people to the Cotswolds next year. We'll be staying in Bourton on the Water for 2-3 nights. The idea of adding Tetbury, Highgrove and Cirencester to my itinerary sounds quite tempting.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 07:41 AM
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You'll find https://www.traveline.info/ useful to use buses all over the place. A car in Oxford is a pain, if staying in town get as central as possible. Student rooms might be good deal but don't assume they come with a parking space. Bath is far less interesting than Oxford. I'd give Bath a day and Oxford 2. Broadway is a good base.

There are thousands of miles of footpaths in the UK. Hard to advise but lots of free links on the web to maps
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 09:40 AM
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A couple of warning notes about travel in the area this year:

1. It doesn't take much right now for Oxford food & drink locations to hit social distancing limits very quickly: less of a problem in rural places where there's much more outside seating. Those rules will now apply till mid-July - and I know few medical professionals who really believe they won't be extended beyond July. The problem isn't unique to Oxford (or Bath), so moving location won't help.
I'd suggest you pre-book outside space for all meals and drinking opportunities in urban areas this year. Otherwise, you may get VERY frustrated

2. I wouldn't river-swim in those Cotswold rivers that drain into the Thames. The health and safety controls by their operator are appalling, and there is a distressing number of maladies many of us attribute to Thames Water PLC. There is no serious likelihood of government intervention in the near future, and the convoluted way river safety is managed makes it impossible for local authorities to intervene.

Otherwise: I've never seen the area look so burgeoningly green.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 12:13 PM
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As you are going for 14 days, you may want to see more than pretty villages, gardens and stately homes. One good place to visit is Chedworth Roman Villa, between Bourton on the Water and Cirencester. Chedworth has the usual Roman features of mosaics, baths and hypocausts, but it is the situation which is most impressive. You can really see and feel how the Romans, and their successors, must have enjoyed living there. You have to find your way down narrow lanes.

If you want to know more about the Romans, for whom Cirencester was the second largest town in England, then visit the Corinium Museum in the town. Circencester is the largest town within the Cotswolds, is a real place, and has a lot of history.
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 01:03 PM
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Chartley - I should have remembered Chedworh as I used to drive past it on the way from Cornwall to my mum's in Coventry plus it was the traditional lower third summer outing from my Coventry school - such excitement! Though I think I remember more about feeling sick on the coach than the site itself.

I also used to break my journey in Cirencester which I liked a lot, though I'm not sure I'd want to stay there. But you're right, the museum is well worth a visit.
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Old Jun 18th, 2021, 07:28 AM
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HI, Adelya.

I don't know what's open post-covid, so you'll need to research all that, but here were some memories I have of my trips to the Cotswolds:

Moreton-in-Marsh
I really enjoyed Sezincote (near Moreton-in-Marsh). I hiked there from the village, circling back through the Batsford Arboretum. Note: if you hike there, the house requires you remove your muddy hiking boots (as one should), but I wandered around in my socks very happily.
https://www.sezincote.co.uk/

On a rainy day, I booked a secret cottage tour, which I really enjoyed.
https://www.cotswoldtourismtours.co.uk/

Chipping Campden to Broadway walk
This was my favorite walk in the Cotswolds. Not circular, but you can take a bus from Broadway back to where you need to go. I use https://www.traveline.info/ to figure out public transport.

Snowshill
A lovely village, and Snowshill Manor is worth a visit. I did the circular walk from Stanton to Snowshill, and enjoyed that one. However, I was using public transport--there may be a better circular walk into Snowshill.

WInchcombe/Sudeley Castle
Sudeley Castle is a very easy walk from Winchcombe. And Winchcombe is a nice village with a lot of circular walks. I've thought about basing here the next time I visit the Cotswolds.
https://www.winchcombewelcomeswalkers.com/

Splitting time
Bibury, Tetbury, Upper Slaughter were all very pretty, but at a point, they all sort of blend into each other. If you like hikes and statelies (which is my jam), would you consider splitting time up in the Peak District? Bakewell is lovely, and the Monsal trail is nice. A trip to Haddon Hall, Chatsworth, Renishaw, Eyam village? My favorite national trust was Calke Abbey, though it's sort of out there on its own. Maybe on the way to/from Peak District?

Have fun planning! Envious of your trip this year.
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Old Jun 18th, 2021, 08:57 AM
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Iím envious too, have been planning a Cotswolds trip for the past two years but it never happened! Now it doesnít look likely before 2023, but thereís lots of useful tips here and Iím bookmarking this thread, thanks all!
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 05:27 AM
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Thank you all for your comments and suggestions! This really inspires me to become better at planing, well, I’d say at least START planning trips and not leave everything last minute. I’m so bad at this to the extend that a big scale planning becomes stressful for me. Big part of it I guess is me being a perfectionist, which makes me stuck at every small detail, and take forever to make decisions. Coupled with not having too much free time to sit and plan, the whole experience of planning which is supposed to be enjoyable, becomes draining.

After reading forum threads and suggestions for booking places early, especially this year, due to high number of expected “staycations”, I panicked and thought I’d better get bookings sorted first, and then work on bits of pieces. Must confess, couple of days after creating the thread and not getting any interaction I thought to myself that my planning must be so stupid that people don’t even want to comment, haha

So, suggestions were totally right and 90% of places ARE fully booked. The only time I came across something like this was when once I tried planning Christmas holiday 10 days before Christmas



I had an idea in my head to book a cottage and use it as a base, but I haven’t even imagined that there are so many absolutely stunning cottages to rent in Cotswolds, form cozy and quaint to very luxurious. All of them are fully booked indeed…most of them up to NYE and even next summer. Also I discovered that apart from cottages there are many beautiful boutique hotels (we love those), which also fully booked.

So I started frantically searching for places to stay, that are least somewhat nice and quaint (after knowing that there are all those gorgeous cottages, its not easy to settle for whatever type of accommodation , and rightly or wrongly I decided that availability of accommodation would define our moving direction within Cotswolds, since we don’t have a precise plan, plus, I’m taking into consideration that distances are not far between towns/villages. I managed to find 2 night availabilities in some recommended accommodations and some I just “blindly” booked.



Our circumstances changed with regards to period of stay, having left us with 12 days in total, so we are looking at Cotswolds only. Oxford is out as well. (We have recently moved to Norther Ireland so I'm not too upset as I'm looking forwards to other trips to explore parts of England!).



There were some other “hiccups” as well with planning, so we are not able to start from South East Cotswolds and move down West, towards Bath, as we were planning initially. Instead, will do other way around.



So we got our accommodations booked and this how the rough itinerary looks like:


  • Arrive to Heathrow, rent a car and drive to Alderton, near Chippenham. We booked 4 nights there, at the Manor Farm Alderton; it's basic, but looks nice...maybe I'm building up high expectations as usual I’m not quite sure about this one..we still have time for cancellation. janisj, “For a stay of more than a couple of nights I probably would want one of the larger towns/villages to give you a variety of places to eat, shop, etc without having to drive especially after evening meals” - this makes me double question my choice again; valid point. ................The main places I’m interested in this area are Bath and Castle Combe, but the accommodation options I like either too expensive or not available for our dates. So I thought the above option could work to have day trips from there: to Bath, Castle Combe and Lacock Abbey, do Castle Combe circular walk, etc. (still researching other places worth visiting nearby). Do you guys think we better off booking something in Bath?
  • After spending four nights in Chippenham area we are doing to head to Painswick; booked 2 nights at the cute shepherd’s hut there, with a spring water hot tub, fire pit, sun lounges…overlooking the Painswick valley. Should be nice There are some gardens to see nearby and also I’m thinking we could drive up to Winchcombe to see Sudeley Castle, Hailes Abbey and maybe go for a circular walk? Not sure, its like a 35 min. drive there…otherwise just chill at the hut.
  • The next stop - 2 nights at The Old Stocks Inn in Stow on the Wold. Wish could stay longer here, without moving around too much, but can’t get more that 2 night booking in places I liked. Explore Chipping Campden, Broadway, and maybe Moreton-in-Marsh from here. Sites on my list: Hidcote Manor Garden, Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Dover’s hill, Chipping Campden circular walk, Broadway tower, Broadway circular walk, Snowshill Manor and garden...read smth about Lavender fields….still working on this part. chartley thanks for pointing Chedworth Roman Villa out; I'll check it out! ChgoGal , Sezincote sounds great, thank you! Also excited about other places you mentioned; they are all on my list!
  • Last stop - 3 nights at Old Swan in Minster Lowell. Rough plans - day trips to Bibury, Slaughters, Bourton-on-the-Water…also working on this part. flanneruk Thanks for the insight about swimming in Cotswolds' rivers; well noted!

So overall, not sure whether this itinerary makes sense. If things go against my "romantic" built-up expectations of how the ideal Cotswolds trip should unfold, at least both of us are flexible, ready for unplanned explorations and able to find positive aspects in everything I'm gonna try finding other options for our first 4 nights...not convinced with what I booked. What do you guys think? Maybe any interesting ideas to add to the itinerary?
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 05:52 AM
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Your plans and bookings look fine especially considering the difficulties with accommodations.

The only one I'd even have concerns about is in Alderton. It is a tiny village and I doubt there is even a pub (not sure about that) so a 4 night stay might be 2 or 3 nights too many. Probably not worth worrying about it though. You can always keep the booking as insurance and keep looking. But, as I suspected, you might have no luck.

Minster Lovell, Stow-on-the-Wold and Painswick are all great. S-o-t-W and Minster Lovell are only about 15 miles apart so anything you can visit from one you can visit from the other so no need to fine tune daily itineraries. I'm familiar with both properties in S-o-t-W and Minster Lovell. Painswick is a lovely place that is quite hilly and terrific views.

I'm on my way out for several hours so I'll look over your details later today
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 06:42 AM
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Painswick is on the Cotswold Way & there are no doubt some nice circular paths there, too.

Here are some of my England blog posts, several in the Cotswolds, which may give you some ideas:
https://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/portmoresby-in-england
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 06:51 AM
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@Adelya: Good luck with the planning. I think we may be travel twins in both our interests and our panicking/perfectionism in planning with little time. Just real quick: The Chipping Campden walk to Broadway sticks in my mind due to the mile long 'carriage drive' that you get to walk on, and that really appealed to my imagination. I enjoyed it very much, but if you find it's not working well with your itinerary, don't stress too much on leaving that off the list. If you do the walk up/around Broadway Tower, that is the highlight for most walkers, I'd imagine. Assuming you'll still carry a compass and an Ordnance Survey map, just in case/in addition to whatever gadgets some walkers may have. I never trusted the tech/reception enough to rely on those. Hope you have a great time!
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 07:08 AM
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Thank you janisj , that's what I'm thinking, keep the booking as insurance and keep looking. If I was going to pick Bath or Chippenham as a base, which one would you suggest to go for? Or any other area in between which is in a good proximity to Bath and Castle Combe?

On another note, do you think it makes sense to split up those 4 nights in 2 places, or it's too much moving around? We crossed Oxford out mainly because of that logic, that it might be tiring to move in and out every two days. But seems like finding 2 nights for sure easier than 4 nights
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 07:11 AM
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Aha! Didn't think of circular walks in Painswick! Will explore that, thanks MmePerdu !!!
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 07:15 AM
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If you walk to Broadway Tower, Snowshill Manor & Garden is very nearby, one of my favorite National Trust properties. I detoured off the Cotswold Way to include it before walking down to Broadway.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sno...nor-and-garden
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 07:31 AM
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Yes, the Chipping Campden walk sounds amazing ChgoGal ! It immediately landed on my list along with the Broadway walk, and the Snowshill one.

MmePerdu I was trying to remember right this second before you wrote, whether Snowshill is a part of broadway circular walk! Hopefully can do them all!

I guess my only concern is being able to cover all those during our 2 night stay in Stow-on-the-Wold. Would've made sense to spend more nights somewhere central since there is so much to do in that area.
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 07:37 AM
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In case you don't know it, this is my favorite UK mapping site, uses OS maps (the absolute best) especially useful when combining drives & walks:
https://www.streetmap.co.uk/

As an example, this one shows Broadway, Broadway Tower & Snowshill Manor with paths the red broken lines:
https://www.streetmap.co.uk/map/idld...&st=4&mapp=map[FS]idld&searchp=ids&dn=733&lm=0

Pay particular attention to the choices of map scale ("zoom control") & "map size" which will get you to the large one I linked. Scale of 1/25,000 is the one I like for footpaths. Shown above is 1/50,000. I always print some when buying maps is overkill.

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