This time last year? – The Cotswolds

If I’m honest, the Cotswolds is somewhere that had slipped my notice. I had heard of it in passing and on tv shows but not paid attention – pre-COVID, my mind had been on excursions further afield, outside of the UK. The pandemic forced me to look closer to home for adventure and this is when the Cotswolds popped up on my radar.

After being at home and in lockdown for many months, I was desperate to go away and explore somewhere new. The chance came in December 2020, in-between lockdowns. I launched into researching, planning and booking so we could make the most of our long weekend away. As a result, we managed to see quite a bit of this beautiful British patch.

So where did we go and what did we do…?

Blenheim Palace

We started off at Blenheim Palace – what a place! With its stunningly high painted ceilings, striking fire places, suitably old ancestral portraits and huge grounds – it wasn’t to be missed.

We walked the ground floor and then grabbed a hot chocolate and pasty to explore the grounds – over 2000 acres of them! Needless to say we did not walk the whole park in an afternoon.

Due to the timing and uncertainty around COVID, we were limited with the indoor access we had, and although it was Christmastime, there wasn’t a tremendous amount going on. However, the architecture and the grandeur of the place really spoke for itself and we had a lovely time regardless. A definite ‘must-return’!

Warwick Castle

In the evening of the same day, we travelled up to Warwick Castle for the Christmas Light Trail. I had fond memories of a day trip to Warwick Castle when I was a child, so I was eager to return. The fact that I love all things history and particularly medieval only added to my excitement.

And I must say, it really did surpass expectations. The vast array of multi-coloured lights and range of displays put together were really quite breath-taking against the castle’s backdrop and made for fantastic photos!

Top tip: The car park is a good 15 minute walk from the castle entrance (at the top of the hill) so make sure you get there well ahead of your slot! The trail also had to be booked in advance, online.

The Old Post Office at Guiting Power

A cute and incredibly picturesque village that just so happens to have an old post office serving delicious breakfast. Top tip: It’s very small and I don’t think they take bookings, so get there early as it’s a favourite among the locals.

The wood burning stove was alight and it made for a wonderfully cosy morning.

They also sell homemade cake, so we grabbed a slice for fuel on our afternoon walk!

Winchcombe

We found a walk online that took us in and around Winchcombe. It’s a great place to walk in the Cotswolds – we passed through countless fields of sheep and trudged many gloriously muddy tracks that ran alongside babbling brooks. Our walk also took us past Sudeley Castle, which was unfortunately closed at the time due to COVID. We took a break and had our cake near there, in the neighbouring field – past the play area. A magical spot for a picnic!

The Hollow Bottom at Guiting Power

We went here for a slightly classier dinner than your average fancy pub food and we thoroughly enjoyed it. In particular, I can recommend the Scotch egg starter, (the best Scotch egg I’ve ever had) I never knew a Scotch egg could be so…posh? So delicious that it was demolished long before the camera came out.

Side note – I’ve just remembered, this was back in the time when you could only have an alcoholic drink at a pub if you were eating a meal, and I believe it was a max of 2 alcoholic drinks too. What a crazy rule and a crazy period in our lives. As things feel mostly ‘back to normal’ now, the thought of this is quite mind-blowing.

Bourton-on-the-Water

A must-visit if you are staying in the Cotswolds. A lovely village with lots going on. Many pubs, tearooms and shops – where I managed to pick up a few Christmas presents! There’s also the Motoring Museum – a nice way to pass an hour, particularly if you have an interest in cars/motors. It’s also the home of Brum! I used to love watching Brum when I was small, so that was a happy surprise 🙂

Cirencester

We popped into Cirencester for a mooch around on our last day. We continued the Christmas shopping and stopped for a nice coffee. It’s a lovely historic market town with lots going on and well worth a visit.

There were many other villages such as Chipping Norton and Moreton-in-Marsh that we passed through on our trip that I would have loved to explore if we’d had more time. These are definitely on the list for return visits, although they may be a bit busier, now that Jeremy Clarkson has put the Cotswolds on the map with his Amazon tv show and Diddly Squat Farm Shop! (A slight annoyance but in all seriousness, a great show 🙂 ).

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