If you read my last blog post about my Shepherd’s Hut Airbnb experience, you’ll know that at the start of April my boyfriend and I ventured to The Cotswolds for a 2 night break. We decided to make the most of exploring the area while we were there so we jumped in the car for a day long mini-roadtrip through many of the surrounding towns and villages. We had a really enjoyable day so I thought I’d fill you in on what we got up to!
Our beautiful little Airbnb was located just outside Naunton, so we ventured into the village itself to see what it had to offer. Situated at the bottom of a valley on the River Windrush, Naunton is a bit more off the tourist trail. However, the village is only 6-miles from the very popular Stow on the Wold. Think lots of little chocolate-box cottages, a proper local village pub, a lovely church and plenty of footpaths to explore!
As we had a busy day planned, we didn’t head onto any of the footpaths, but we did spot some signs pointing us to a 17th Century Dovecote so we thought we’d take a look! The Naunton Dovecote is situated in some fields right next to the River Windrush, a really relaxing spot away from the road. We also stopped by the village pub, the Black Horse Inn. The staff were so friendly and the interior really epitomised the feel of a good old English village pub, great for a bite of lunch or an afternoon drink!
Stop 1: Hailes Abbey.
After exploring Naunton, we set off on our trip and made our way to Hailes Abbey. Hailes Abbey was built in the 13th Century by the Earl of Cornwall and is simply a spectacular site. The abbey is owned by the National Trust and managed by the English Heritage and there is also an on-site museum, although this was in the process of being renovated when we visited so we didn’t get to look inside. There are audio guides on offer as well as many information boards dotted around the site, which really allow you to picture just how grand the abbey must have originally looked. If like me, you love somewhere to get some good arty photos then this will be right up your street!
Price: £5.60 for adults and £3.40 for children although National Trust members go free.
Stop 2: Broadway Tower
The next stop on our trip was Broadway Tower. The tower was created by Capability Brown in the 18th century (who was also the creator of Stowe Landscape gardens, mentioned in my blogpost here) and is situated on a hilltop providing an amazing view. The Royal Observer Corps also used the unique vantage point to track enemy planes over England throughout the 20th century and later constructed a nuclear bunker here during the Cold War.We didn’t get to go inside the Bunker but we did take the trip up the winding staircase to the top of the tower, although we didn’t stay at the top for very long as it was extremely windy!
Price: £5 to go up the Tower and £4 to look around the Bunker.
Stop 3: Chipping Campden
Now, this town has to be my favourite of all the towns and villages we visited whilst in the Cotswolds and you’re about to find out why. Chipping Campden is an old medieval town and is very well known for it’s long terraced high street. The High Street has an almost infinite stretch of honey-coloured Cotswold stone buildings in varying shapes and sizes, there are many little stone cottages as well as some more incredible townhouse style buildings with very ornate facades. Chipping Campden also has several tea shops and lots of quirky independent shops so it’s a great place to just aimlessly stroll through, which is exactly what we did!
Just as we were nearing the end of the High Street we spotted a small stone arch way, so of course we went in to take a look. Inside we found a beautiful walled garden that we later found out was in memorial of Ernest Wilson the plant collector and was planted with many of the plants that he introduced to the UK from China. We were the only ones in the garden and it was a great place to sit and relax in the sun, and being a walled garden it did almost feel like a different planet to the town.
Price: The garden is free, but donations can be left in the box at the entrance.
Stop 4: Stow-on-the-Wold
We didn’t spend very long in Stow-on-the-Wold as we were getting to the end of the day but it’s one of the more popular Cotswold towns and is full of lovely antique and little independent shops. We’d heard about Huffkins, which is said to be one of the best tearooms, so we thought we’d head over and check it out for ourselves. I mean, what could be better than afternoon tea in one of the most British settings imaginable? We were not disappointed. The house blend tea put bit of a herbal spin on the traditional English Breakfast and I had one of the biggest slices of carrot cake I have ever seen! It. was. delicious. If you fancy a good afternoon tea, Huffkins is not going to let you down.
Stop 5: Bourton-on-the-Water
Bourton-on-the-Water is a must visit if you head to the Cotswolds, but prepare for it to be touristy. The “Little Venice” of the Cotswolds lives up to it’s name with a series of elegant low bridges and tiny stone banks. The town has lots of little gift shops and cafes as well as several attractions including Birdland, the Dragonfly Maze, the Motor Museum and the Model Village. We visited the Model Village, a one-ninth scale replica of the town and the only Grade II listed model village in the country. We also discovered that it does in fact have a model of the model village inside it too! Mindblown.
Price: It costs £3.60 to enter the Model Village but I’d definitely take a look if you’re in the area.
If you’re looking for food, Bakery on the Water is a lovely artisan bakery right by the river and they also do great coffee. It has a very instagrammable interior too, so it’s bit of a win-win!
Final Stop: The Slaughters
The last stop on our little roadtrip was The Slaughters. The twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter are two of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds and aren’t at all touristy, bit of a breath of fresh air after Bourton-on-the-Water. You might be thinking “Slaughter, like killing things?” but the name actually derives from “Slohtre” meaning ‘muddy place’, so there’s no sinister background there! The villages have quaint little bridges over the river and beautiful churches and are also surrounded by fields so make another great place to park up and just have a wander about!
So that was our Cotswold Day Trip. It’s fair to say we both slept like babies by the time we got back to the hut, there’s something about being in the fresh air all day that just wears you out! The northern part of the Cotswolds has so much to offer and makes a great day trip or a little weekend break away and we had a fab time whilst there!
Let me know if you’ve been to any of the places mentioned and what you thought of them!