This post is a travel journal + guide for a visit to the Cotswolds in the United Kingdom!
When we first arrived in London (about a month ago), a few colleagues told me that we should try to make it to the Cotswolds before the summer was over. After a bit of research, we decided it was a good place to visit for the long bank holiday in August.
I found a dog-friendly AirBnB in Winchcombe and booked it; I really didn’t know that much about Winchcombe or where to stay, but it turned out to be a good village to use as a base for our exploration of the Cotswolds.
Winchcombe was quiet, there were multiple restaurants/pubs in town, and it had its own castle (Sudeley Castle, which we never actually went to, but outside the castle grounds were great for the dogs to run around!) There actually weren’t a ton of places available to book for accommodations by the time I was looking either, since we were planning our trip a bit last minute compared to most Brits, so I was happy to find a place at all, and then I was especially happy to find a place where Ruth and Matilda could join us. The AirBnB was a one bedroom, one bathroom charming little cottage right on the Winchcombe high street. Worked just fine!
We took Friday, August 26 off of work. We did our long runs (for Amsterdam marathon training) in London, and then Dustin walked across London Bridge to pick up the rental car. He came back to our temp flat by the Tower of London and we loaded up our bags and the pups and hit the road!
Dustin did all of the driving; he’s more experienced with driving on the “wrong” side of the road, so I was happy to let him drive!
FYI, we don’t have a car here in London; Dustin thought we’d want to buy one right away, but now that we’re here, we aren’t sure yet. Our rental was a cute little BMW wagon that isn’t available in the States, (the BMW 118i). It was a cute little car that would probably be a perfect size for us if we did buy a car here.
We arrived in Winchcombe around 5:30 pm, took the dogs for a decent walk and then stopped for dinner at the White Hart Inn right down the road from our AirBnB (dog-friendly, like almost all pubs, though we ate outside because it was lovely weather. We lucked out with the weather the whole weekend!)
Saturday, August 27:
Our first stop of the day was the village of Broadway (in Worcestershire), which was very close to Winchcombe. We arrived there around 9 am. Per Google maps, it looked like the walk from the village to the Broadway Tower would be about 3 miles, so we hit the path to the get there when it opened.
Right away, we passed by sheep pastures, which caused Ruth to convulse with excitement (seriously…)
I don’t think she ever stopped going nuts every time she saw livestock, whereas Matilda really wasn’t all that concerned. Matilda gave them a little bit of attention, but most focused on her walkies. Ruth on the other hand…she was overwhelmed with excitement.
I don’t have any pictures, but the pups also had close encounters with horses, alpacas, and cattle. The cattle were the scariest to me, because I didn’t know if Ruth’s barking would trigger them to stampede!
Fortunately, it did not…
We arrived at the tower (after a few wrong turns) right around 10 am, right when the tower opened for tours. I recommend visiting early as it looks like it can get pretty busy, and there’s only a narrow spiral staircase inside, so it would be less enjoyable to visit with crowds. Dogs aren’t allowed inside the tower, so Dustin and I took turns exploring it, with the other waiting outside with the dogs.
Tickets were £12 each and included an audio guide.
The Broadway Tower isn’t a castle; rather it was built as a bit of a “folly.”
However, people did live there over the years. In fact, history shows that they used the rooftop as an open-air bathroom!
After getting our fill of the tower, we headed back into the village (another 3-ish miles.)
After about a 6 mile walk, Matilda was ready for a little break, so we grabbed lunch in Broadway at the Crown & Trumpet pub.
After lunch, we drove to Bourton-on-the-Water, which is called “Venice of the Cotswolds” because of the little river that runs through the town with several bridges over it.
Matilda enjoyed a cool-down in Venice of the Cotswolds; it was quite warm by then.
We didn’t actually spend that much time in Bourton-on-the-Water, as it was very busy with tourists and felt a bit less charming that the other Cotswolds villages, mostly due to the crowds. I have read that off-season, its really lovely, but it was quite crowded when we were there, so we quickly made our way to the path that would take us to Lower Slaughter (about 1.5 miles away.)
Lower Slaughter was very quiet and beautiful.
We chilled for a bit in Lower Slaughter before walking back to Bourton-on-the-Water. The Cotswold are really all about the walks (or runs, as we tried) and the charming pubs and villages.
Bring your walking shoes! Actually, most of the time if you visit the Cotswolds, you will probably need hiking shoes or something waterproof for footwear, as generally it’s very muddy, but since the U.K. has been so dry this summer, those weren’t really necessary for our visit. I mean, I walked it all in a dress, ha! (An athletic dress from Oiselle, that is, but a dress nonetheless.)
Visiting Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Way, and Lower Slaughter, with all the walking + lunch was a relatively full day, so we drove back to Winchcombe after that, where we took the dogs to this big open field by Sudely Castle to run off-leash for some time and burn off more energy.
They had a blast and were fully tired by the time Dustin and I got ready to go to a nice dinner at 5 Restaurant right in Winchcombe (1/2 a block from our cottage.) Dinner was lovely; I recommend it if you are ever in Winchcombe.
Sunday, August 28:
We spent the morning on a fun trail run up to Belas Knap Long Barrow, which is a “particularly fine example of a Neolithic long barrow, with a false entrance and side chambers. Excavated in 1863 and 1865, the remains of 31 people were found in the chambers.”
Pretty cool! The run was about 5 miles round-trip and included quite a bit of uphill (and walking for me.)
Then some lovely downhill…
After a post-run shower, we headed out again to visit some more Cotswolds villages, starting with Chipping Camden. Chipping Camden was probably the prettiest village we visited; if we go back to this area, I hope to find a place to stay in Chipping Camden!
My pictures don’t do it justice. It’s really lovely. Visit this site for more information.
We spent some time walking around the village with the dogs before stopping for lunch at Eight Bells Inn and Pub. (Most restaurants in the Cotswolds are pubs + inns.)
It was here at Eight Bells that I ordered a lemonade with lunch and got a Sprite. Apparently Sprite is a British “lemonade!”
After a nice lunch and a belly full of Sprite, we continued our exploration with a stop in Hook Norton to try to visit the Hook Norton Brewery. It was featured on the “Hidden Villages” documentary. The brewery is famous for the horses that deliver the beer! Unfortunately the brewery was closed for a wedding when we arrived, so we couldn’t visit. Instead, we stopped by the Wild Rabbit in Kingdam for a quick beverage and snack. The Wild Rabbit was quite posh (and is another restaurant + inn); we were only there for a short while before making our way to check out Stow, yet another charming Cotswolds village.
We didn’t cover quite as much ground the second day (just 6 miles of walking instead of 10+!) but Saturday’s walks took a lot out of our senior dog, Matilda, so I think it was for the best. Both dogs still had some energy left for a bit more off-leash time when we got back to Winchcombe to zip around by Sudeley Castle!
Monday, August 29:
Time to depart the Cotswolds. But first, one last trail run, and this one was a doozy. Lots of climbing over fences and running through herds of cattle (kind of scary!)
This time we covered 6 miles with Ruth and wow, was it an exciting run for her! There was a section where we ran through an apple orchard and there were a TON of pheasant popping out among the fields. Vizslas are bird dogs and she really did want to hunt those pheasant! So fun for her. She was so wound up, it was kind of funny to see how much of that birding is in her, even without training. I guess those bird dog skills are in her blood!
We had to depart from the AirBnB by 11 am, and we were back in London by 2:30 pm (with a short stop for snacks and potty breaks for the dogs.)
All in all, a really fun long weekend. I hope we have the opportunity go back to the Cotswolds again!
Have you been to the Cotswolds? Anything I missed? We definitely want to make a separate trip to the southern side to visit the village of Bath!