One of my oldest and best friends from Sydney, Amy, brightened up the first few days of autumn by coming to stay with me in London.
When someone’s trekked across the globe to see me, I take it pretty damn seriously, and I’d put together an itinerary of my favourite things to do in London for our weekend together. I’ll try and cover my favourite haunts another time (I didn’t take enough photos because I was too excited to be catching up with my bestie), but part of the itinerary also included a few days off work so we could take a little trip out of town to the Cotswolds.
I’d never been to the region and was dying to go, and the trip was also was my belated birthday present to Amy. The Cotswolds sounded like the quintessential collection of pretty English villages and rolling countryside, and I was excited to show Amy a different side of England, away from the madness of London.
We picked up our hire car on a Monday morning and set off down the motorway, heading for the village of Stow on the Wold. Being a Monday, we seemed to have the whole place to ourselves, which only made the honey-coloured limestone town seem more magical. Arriving at lunchtime, we stopped by The Bell at Stow for lunch, a gorgeous pub covered in beautiful red ivy and ripe for a photoshoot.
I’d used this website to track down a couple of circular walks, and after a lunch of moules frites, hot smoked salmon salad and cider we began our walk towards Maugersbury Manor and soon found ourselves surrounded by quaint houses and rolling countryside. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and our walk took us over bridleways and white wicket gates galore, passing through a farm, an equestrian field and bushes with ripening blackberries.
After a couple of hours of beautiful scenery and that incomparable countryside stillness, we made it back into town and took a seat at The Porch House (built in 947 AD!) to catch our breath over a glass of cider.
We stayed the night in a little stone annexe a 5-minute drive away in Upper Oddington, which happened to be right next door to a rather cosy pub, perfect for dinner.
The next morning, with grumbling bellies tempting us out of our cosy bed, we drove into Moreton in Marsh for breakfast. Unbeknownst to us, Tuesday was market day in the town and it was bustling with people for so early in the day. We filled up on tea, coffee and eggs, before setting off on another circular walk. We got lucky with the weather again, and the sun was shining as we skipped through kissing gate after kissing gate.
I’ve long had the romanticised dream of picking my own sloe berries and turning them into sloe gin, and when we walked past a bush heaving with them, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. By a stroke of luck, I had an empty Tupperware container in my backpack, so Amy and I filled it with juicy sloe berries and felt pretty proud of our foraging skills.
After passing a deer farm, chicken coops and fields full of sheep and cows, we came to the end of our walk.
The next town on our agenda was Chipping Campden, which I’d read was a picturesque old wool merchants town, about a 20-minute drive away.
As we drove into the storybook town, we were greeted with the most stunning row of houses I’ve ever seen. Many of them had thatched rooves and beautifully-kept gardens, with manicured hedges that looked like fluffy green clouds.
We weren’t quite ready for lunch, so we walked along the high street until we came to what looked like a cosy little café for a hot drink. Our plan to save lunch for later fell away as we looked at the menu at Huxley’s, and it seemed criminal not to order some food and a glass of wine. We shared the antipasti board, which came out as an enormous plate of delicious marinated vegetables and a selection of cheese, served with chewy sourdough bread. A wood-burning fire was lit in the corner of the room, and we snuggled into sheepskin throws as we ploughed through our feast.
After one last walk through the old town to browse the shops and explore the backstreets, we said goodbye to the dreamy Cotswolds region and drove back to London’s big smoke.
I’d thoroughly recommend a visit to all of the towns we visited and walks we went on in the Cotswolds! It was a perfect and refreshing mini-break from London.