When a housesit appeared in the beautiful Cotswolds for 3 nights we jumped at it. Louise had a tiny old sportscar and two little dogs who would sit on my lap and at my feet. By the time we got to Cheltenham the sportscar had broken down and been replaced with a normal small car, but this still provided us with great transport to explore!
Cheltenham is a large town with a population of over 116 000. This lovely church close to our housesit is so typical of the colouring of the Cotswolds.
Pepper and Talullah a pug and pug cross were happy companions on our travels. Since we had two free days I did lots of research and came across the Romantic North and South Loops. We changed the standard South loop to shorten it and cross through more scenic farmland.
The name Cotswolds is reported to come from ‘cot’ meaning sheep enclosure and ‘wold’ meaning hill. The Cotswolds renowned for the beautiful sand and stone-coloured houses are filled with lovely villages to explore, castles, manor houses, and famous gardens. I love gardens but there was no time on this trip to visit some of the famous gardens like Blenheim, Highgrove or Painswick. That will have to be for a later trip in 2023 or2024 and since a dear friend has recently bought a house on the edge of the Cotswolds that might be sooner than later!
There is quite a lot of confusion about what to see. After trawling Tripadvisor I found a North and South loop with Cheltenham as a base.
On our North loop, we planned to stop at 5 different places.
The first was the lovely town of Winchcombe. We stopped and let the doggies have a wander. I thought the bicycle with the fresh bread was a lovely touch. The North Bakery is quite famous and was opened in 1967. It is older than I am!
Stanway was mentioned as one of the lesser-known but most beautiful villages. It was just lovely, wealthy houses, and even horse riders passed us in the street.
Broadway tower is set on an ancient beacon site. It was built for the 6th Earl of Coventry in 1978. It is an iconic viewpoint overlooking many counties. We stopped here to let Pepper and Talullah run around a bit in the nice grassy areas.
We then drove through the lovely towns of Snowshill and Moreton-on-Marsh (cutting out the top part of the loop).
Louise had suggested we add on Bourton-on-the-Water and we wanted to get there for a late 3pm lunch. It is known as the Venice of the Cotswolds. But it was so overcrowded with tourists and there was just no parking available. We decided to call it a day and headed back to Cheltenham via Upper and Lower Slaughter to the pub Louise had recommended.
The next day great weather beckoned and we set off on the South loop. Painswick (A) was the first stop with the lovely St Mary’s church. The old avenue of yew trees were amazing. There was an art exhibition in the church hall which Adu and I visited. We both had to vote on our favourite painting 😀 It’s a local painting group and the art was lovely. I then sat there and had a cup of tea and chatted to some of the locals about our travels. Doggies were so good just sitting at my feet. Adu wandered off to do a nearby geocache.
We then drove through Cirencester (B) which is a larger, well known Cotswold town. Our destination was Bibury which is well known for the Arlington row (C). Oh my goodness it was so busy. There was a wedding at the nearby lovely church. Photos were being taken and the famous Swan Hotel was closed off. We parked some distance away and managed to see the church from the outside and the famous Arlington row. Then we stopped at a bench and ate ice creams.
The route back D-E-F as shown cut through some farmland and was ever so pretty. It was suggested on Trip Advisor. We passed some smaller villages Winson and Colin Saint Dennis. Then back to Cheltenham to collapse and rest.
There is so much more to explore, but we saw a great deal in our two lovely days. Royal Wootton Basset and Wotton-under-Edge will also have to be part of future travels!