The Cotswolds has been at the top of my UK bucket list for quite some time. Instagram has a bit to answer for here, for sure. Some of my favourite accounts (@Monalogue, @KatyaJackson & @Instabritain to name a few) are based down south and share incredible photos of the Cotswolds and the surrounding countryside. Having seen all their gorgeous photos, I was so excited to spend a weekend in the Cotswolds exploring it for myself. Fortunately, the real deal definitely lived up to my expectations! There’s something really quite magical about these tiny, unspoiled English villages, with their quirky, crooked cottages.
We stayed in a lovely village called Stow-on-the-Wold, which sounds a bit like somewhere you’d expect to find in a children’s storybook! The village is full of lovely boutiques, pubs, coffee shops, and a gorgeous bookshop. We were staying in a little holiday cottage so we ate in a few times, but we did have a lovely meal at the Queen’s Head pub (which was fill to the brim with locals – always a good sign!) If you’re staying nearby, I’d highly recommend a visit to Daylesford Farm Shop which is just a short drive away. It’s has to be one of the most gorgeous shops I’ve ever been in! Although the prices are on the steep side, be warned. Still, it’s a lovely place to mooch about and windows shop.
No trip to Stow is complete without a visit to the magical doorway at St Edward’s Church. Head through the graveyard and follow the path round to the back. Tucked between two giant yew trees is the most magical looking door I’ve ever seen. Rumour has it, it provided the inspiration for the door to Moria in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
We had a car so were fortunate enough to be able to visit quite a few different Cotswold villages over the course of the weekend. As well as Stow-on-the-Wold, we went to Burford, Upper Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water – all of which I’d highly recommend. They’re all so picturesque and full of Cotswold charm. One thing I would say though, if you’re planning a trip, is to consider the time of year you’re visiting. We went in December, so very much off-season. That meant that everywhere was very quiet and peaceful – if freezing cold! In the summer, the Cotswolds are a hugely popular tourist destination and things can get very busy and crowded. It’s just something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of booking a trip!
“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Madhatter Bookshop, Burford
I am always blown away by the generosity of people on Instagram. Whenever I ask for travel advice or tips on places to visit, the number of messages I get back is incredible. When I asked about where to visit during our weekend in the Cotswolds, so many people told me to go to the Madhatter Bookshop in Burford. You all know me so well! Wherever I go, the first thing I do is make a list of all the bookshops to visit. And let me tell you, Madhatter is one of the loveliest. It’s actually a rather fine hat shop which happens to sell books! It has all the things a good bookshop should: a cosy charm, squishy armchairs and friendly, knowledgable staff. Burford is such a gorgeous wee village too – would highly recommend a mooch down its charming high street. Every shop is more picturesque than the last!
Hope you enjoyed these snippets from my weekend in the Cotswolds! I will definitely be returning to explore more of the Cotswolds. I feel like we barely scratched the surface! I’d love to see it in the spring or autumn, too. I can just imagine the villages would look even more picturesque!