If you have ever seen the movie The Holiday and envied Drew Barrymore’s little English cottage and town, then you need to start dreaming of going to the Cotswolds. Though the movie itself was based out of a town south of London and the cottage was built on set, there does lie an essentially quaint, picturesque area called the Cotswolds just a short trip west of London.
The Cotswolds have numerous tiny towns dotting the English countryside and public footpaths that connect them all. There is actually a National Trail called the Cotswolds Way that takes you 100 miles from Bath, where you can soak in ancient Roman baths, all the way north to Chipping Campden. The public footpaths are most often nicely labeled but when in doubt, you can find a kind local who will gladly help direct you on your way.
Our walk through the Cotswolds on public footpaths was quite an adventure. I had already booked train tickets out of Paddington Station London for 7:00 am. Drinking wine the night before may not have been the best idea as we were frantically rushing to take the tube to the station and find our platform. But we succeeded and nursed our hangovers on the hour long train out to Oxford.
We then had to find the bus station and figure out how to get to Burford. It was then I learned how amazing England’s bus systemis. I always knew about the ease of train travel in Europe, but I never dreamed of how convenient buses were! If you do proper research before your travels, you can find bus schedules to make it easier for yourself once there. After speaking with a very helpful ticketeer, we purchased two tickets to Witney where we were to transfer onto another bus that would take us to Burford. From there, we walked. We walked a total of about 15 miles on public footpaths through rolling hills, farms, sometimes muddy paths, creeks (to clean your boots), and towns.
This walk through the country on public footpaths was always how I’d dream England would be. The hills and stones fences, the little gates and flocks of sheep. The paths lead as far as your feet can take you. We followed public footpath signs, and when that didn’t work, we just asked. We asked a postman, a man walking his dog, a dad with two children enjoying the unusual April weather, and a bartender at a small pub where we popped in for a cold drink. Our feet made it only to Bourton-on-the-Water, a tourist hotspot (especially on a sunny day) for its little creeks and tiny bridges. The streets are lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. But even with the crowd, you could easily find a spot on the grass or a bench and relax, which was much needed after our trek.
After a satisfying lunch of fish and chips, I borrowed a phone from the cashier and looked up a bus schedule. We still needed to make it to Stow-on-the-Wold, but were in no shape to continue walking. 30 minutes later and we were checking into The Kings Arms, a quaint hotel in Market Square where King Charles I had stayed in 1645. We headed to The Porch House for a well-deserved pint (or sometimes half-pint in my case- thank you England for selling half-pints!) Though Stow-on-the-Wold lacks creeks and bridges, it does boast a simple square that surrounds a large building that has been converted into a library. We restaurant-hopped along the square through the evening, splitting a small plate at each stop, and grabbing some pints as well. We only had one night and decided to make it worth it. The next morning, we grabbed a full English style breakfast at Lucy’s Tearoom and walked the square again. We stopped for a photo op in front of the true hobbit door. It was on these very grounds that J.R.R. Tolkein looked at that door and imagined a hobbit living behind it.
Check-in was around the back.
A hobbit hole window over the town.
Our hobbit window from the outside.
Attic stairs to our room.
People were much smaller in the 1600’s I believe…
If only I kept track of how many times Jarrett hit his head on that beam.
We then utilized the library and looked up the bus schedule to take us to Moreton-in-Marsh where the train would take us to the next stop on our travels, Whitby, England. Two days and one night was not enough to enjoy all of the Cotswolds and its public footpaths. I dream everyday of returning. It is a magical place with stunning beauty, and amazingly kind people. It is truly picturesque England and I am sure any town your feet may stumble upon will be delightful, so start planning your next public footpath adventure in the Cotswolds.