Purse-Friendly UK Getaway
By Alice Briggs
Us Brits are pretty bad at exploring our own green and pleasant land. Perhaps it’s too close to home, or maybe we’re too darn lazy. But if, like me, you're short on funds and suddenly desperate for a break from fast-paced city life, then there’s no better tonic than a cosy weekend break in the Cotswold countryside - it’s also just bagged top spot on a list of the UK's top 'happy places’, so what better excuse? Most of us are aware that the Cotswolds is home to some of the most idyllic villages and breathtaking scenery, but honestly, it’s not just for the over 40’s.
It wasn’t until my visit a few weeks ago that I quite appreciated the charm of the place.
When you first approach the area you feel as though you may have wandered into a fairytale dream of charming landscapes and rural pastimes. This is in part due to the pretty honey-hued buildings in the famous Cotswold limestone, unique to the area. I stayed in a beautiful little Air B and B in Stow-On-The-Wold (AKA the chocolate box village of my dreams) and felt rather like I was on set in The Holiday, although Jude Law was notably absent.
Then there’s the landscape, the English countryside of your dreams; Rolling hills, wild meadows, ancient woodland and gentle, meandering streams. I’m not pretending I’m an accomplished rambler, but you have to take to the footpaths to experience it properly. Everywhere you turn you’ll be knocked sideways by the picturesque landscape. There’s a ton of routes to explore, take a look below for a few suggestions. Just be sure to breathe in that fresh air because yes, it'S a rare sensation for a city dweller like me.
You can replace those burnt off calories quick as you like as the Cotswolds region now boasts a thriving foodie scene, in part due to the incredible produce on offer. Cosy up in a village pub when it’s chilly or sit and enjoy the views on a balmy summer evening. Most eateries will offer up traditional British dishes with a twist and, you’ve got to taste the local specialities like Gloucester Old Spot pork, Tewkesbury mustard, Stinking Bishop cheese, Hobbs House bread and Bibury trout. The Cotswolds Gin and locally-brewed beers are an added boozy bonus.
Without sounding like the Gloucestershire tourism board, it has to be said that the Cotswolds is a seriously special area of the UK, no matter what the season.
The Cotswolds Way, one of the most well-known routes walking routes. You’ll take in glorious countryside, picturesque villages and ancient landmarks. The full route takes 10 days to complete so you might want to take one of the smaller routes.
The Cleeve Hill Ring Route, a shorter walk at six and a half-miles. It will take you up to the Cotswolds’ highest common, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views out to the Malverns and even across to Wales on a clear day.
The Painswick, a beautiful old country house style hotel, looking out onto rolling hills and ancient woodlands.
Daylesford Organic, something of a Cotswolds institution. Daylesford’s farm is the perfect spot for a leisurely brunch with a picture-perfect grocery shop, flower stand, coffee shop and restaurant.
EAT & DRINK:
The Old Stocks Inn in Stow-on-the-Wold, a real taste of the Cotswolds, with a fresh take on classic pub grub with hearty, locally sourced fayre.
Cotswolds Distillery one of the smallest but arguably the prettiest distilleries in England, producing artisan whisky and gin with a local twist.