I just returned from a “mother-daughter” Cotswolds adventure that was one of the best experiences of my life! My mother first introduced me to England a number of years ago, and now that I’m middle-aged and she’s in her 70s, we decided it was time we took another trip together, “just us girls.”
We arrived at Heathrow early on the morning of March 9 and picked up our rental (a nice little Toyota hybrid) at Enterprise. Although I have driven in the UK before, it’s certainly not something that is intuitive for us stateside residents, so it was a bit unnerving for the first couple of days until I got the feel for it again. We spent our first two nights at a B&B near Marlborough in Wiltshire, as we were visiting friends in that region. On March 11 we drove to the Cotswolds and settled into our cottage in the tiny village of Bourton-on-the-Hill, which is just about two miles outside of the market town of Moreton-in-Marsh. We had selected Slatters Cottage after viewing numerous self-catering rentals online, and hoped it would live up to our rather high expectations. It did. It suited us perfectly and I’m missing the charming, perfectly appointed, absolutely sweet little cottage that we called “home” for the week.
We discovered the Horse and Groom gastro-pub in the village on our first night and stopped in for drinks and/or dinner most evenings during our stay. Being Cheltenham race week, the pub was never without a booked table, but the staff were most accommodating and always had a table for us in the bar area. We enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the “horsey” set!
Every evening we established our itinerary for the following day. A couple of times we just allowed the road to take us where it would, but for the most part we did have a plan. Following is a snippet of info on where we went:
Bourton-on-the-Water – Very busy with tourists, but enjoyable nonetheless. We strolled from shop to shop until we experienced “cute overload”, and just soaked up the ambience of this charming village.
Snowshill – Extremely picturesque, sleepy little village.
Broadway – Beautifully kept and a delight to walk down High Street in the sunshine, taking in all the shops, stopping for ice cream, and having tea in the conservatory of the Broadway Hotel.
Lower & Upper Slaugher – Lovely and very quiet during our visit. We enjoyed lunch at the new restaurant at The Old Mill in Lower Slaughter, where it was *almost* warm enough to sit at one of the riverside tables, but we opted to dine inside.
Bibury – Walked along the river and marveled at the size of several trout swimming in the clear water. Explored Arlington Row and had a lovely cream tea in the charming drawing room at the Swan Hotel.
Batsford Arboretum – On the warmest day of our visit, the daffodils were just coming on in a profusion of happy yellows, and the snowdrops and crocus were lovely as well. If we’d been about a week later, the trees would have been bursting with blooms, and we lamented the fact that we were a bit early for what will surely be a breathtaking sight when they do.
Chipping Campden – Enjoyed strolling through the village, having a snack at The Noel Arms, poking into various shops, and gathering a wonderful assortment of fresh veg (I have never had such wonderful Brussels sprouts!) in a delightful produce shop on the High Street for our dinner later at the cottage.
Stratford-upon-Avon – Very busy with tourists, as I assume it always is. Went into the beautiful church where Shakespeare is buried, nipped into the Garrick Inn (I understand the building dates from 1595) for a coffee for Mom and a pint for me, then shopped ‘til we (almost) dropped! We intended to tour Anne Hathaway’s cottage, but managed to arrive just as it had closed so were only able to take a few photos outside before we had to be on our way.
Longborough – Just a short drive from our cottage, but a delightful place that we wish we could have explored further. We drove through then made our way to Stow-on-the-Wold, where once again we shopped and dined, walked through the church (which is one thing we did in all of the villages we visited – the churches are fascinating to us!), and as on previous days, just enjoyed being there!
Our drive back to London was slightly harrowing as we managed to get lost and then stuck in late afternoon traffic (and all the while I was attempting to return the car to Enterprise as empty of petrol as possible, since I had prepaid for a full tank when I picked up the car - so you can probably imagine my nervousness as I watched the gas gauge dip towards nothingness!), but all was eventually well and even after an unexpected overnight stay in Chicago (our flight returning from London was late so we missed our connection), we are now back on home turf.
The Cotswolds truly provided everything we hoped for on our mother-daughter trip, and we are now left with the lasting memories of an indescribably special place that we had the privilege of sharing together.
I wish you all happy travels!Edited: 22 March 2011, 15:11