The Cotswolds are gently rolling hills just an hour’s drive from London that are designated as an area of “Outstanding Natural Beauty”. Perfect as a base for exploring Oxford and Stratford, they are dotted with typically historic English villages that have been used in countless films to epitomise English architecture at its best.
Just touring from one stunning village to the next is enough for many visitors, but there are also countless walks and outdoor pursuits, as well as some of the best antiques shops that the UK can offer. There are a number of villages that boast churches 1000 years old, and numerous English pubs to enjoy. The Cotswolds represent perfect English countryside to enjoy and relax in.
We have chosen a lovely traditional semi-detatched cottage in a village with good views of the surrounding countryside that is famed as a start for pretty walks. It’s only 5 miles from the world-famous antiques centre of Stow on the World, or the beautiful village of Burford with its fine restaurants and pubs. But Great Rissington itself is a quiet farming village, off the tourist beaten track, with just a pub and a church. No coach tours here. Just a chance to enjoy a quiet country village at its best.
Great Rissington is mentioned in the Domseday book and parts of the church date to pre-1100. There are three Norman graves in the churchyard. The Domesday Book mentions 38 households, well the village has grown, but is still probably less than 100! Set high on a hill with views across the Cotswolds in every direction it is a peaceful village complete with Village Green, Cricket Club, and pub as well as the Church. The pub dates to the 16th century and serves excellent meals. A gentle stroll around the village looking at the old Cotswold stone houses is a joy. Many signposted walks across the countryside also start in the village. In the very heart of the village is a field known as Heaven’s Gate, open to all, left to the village by a lifetime resident. There are usually Cotswold breed sheep in the field to graze it, but it is totally open to the public.
Nearby Villages and Attractions
One of the most photographed villages in the Cotswolds due to its setting on a steep hill down to the River Windrush. Much of it was built with the wealth of the wool trade, when it was an important market town. There are many buildings from the 15th century, and a wonderful church. One-off shops mingle with antiques shops, tea rooms and pubs. It's somewhere to wander about and explore the side streets. The meadow by the Windrush is a great place just to sit and take stock of the world.
A very different setting. As the name implies, at the top of a 700 feet hill, set around a spectacular village square with magnificent antiques shops. Once upon a time markets with up to 20,000 sheep would be led in Stowe. It was also the location of the last battle of the English civil war. These days it' a rather more tranquil place, but no less interesting! Somewhat less romantically, but very practically, one of the largest supermarkets in the Cotswolds situated on the edge of the village.
As its name implies, on a flat piece of land that is still frequently flooded. Moreton basically consists of one very long street, lined with fascinating shops on both sides. A source of more reasonably priced antiques than the elegant shops of Stow., interspersed with numerous tea shops and excellent delicatessens. The sixteenth century Curfew Tower is worth inspecting. Tuesday is market day, still a lively affair.
A beautiful village on the banks of a slow stream that is best seen early or late in the day. It does get more crowded with tourists than many of the villages and has its share of tourist shops. However the stream running right through the middle of the village, with ducks gently quacking their way around it makes it well worth a visit. There are a number of "attractions" that make it very useful family stop, especially on wet days. My family loved the Cotswold Motoring Museum, which has the original "Brum". The model railway exhibition has four magnificent models, fronted by an excellent model and toy shop. Birdland has an amazing collection of birds, which can be seen at close quarters. The horse riding at Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre is suitable for children as well as adults and abilities of all ages. The Cotswold Leisure Centre has a large indoor pool sauna and spa as well as a fully-equipped gym, all open to the public. It is necessary to ring to check when the pool is open for public swimming as it often closes for school swimming lessons (01451 824024).
Arguably one of the most magnificent of the Cotswold villages, it still exudes an air of wealth that it has had for 500 years! These days it has fewer antiques shops than it once did, but the buildings are so magnificent, that it's worth visiting just to view those. It has a wonderful slightly-exotic air to it.
Drive to Broadway via Fish Hill (known locally simply as "The Fish"), a sharp double hairpin road down the side of an escarpment. This is the main road, an A road, but still a spectacular drive. You will pass Broadway Tower, a strange folly built in 1799 to act as a beacon across the valley below. The views from the top can extend as far as Gloucester and the Severn Valley on a clear day. The Tower is open to the public and features a small exhibition about its past. This features the Morris room in honour of the famous designer William Morris, who lived in the Tower. Broadway itself features a beautiful main street with fascinating designer shops along its length as well as a selection of pubs and tea rooms.
Another neighbouring village that is picture postcard perfect to wander around for an hour or so, complete with beautiful church.
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway "The Honeybourne Line".
Oxford is about a 40 minute drive, as is Cheltenham. Stratford-Upon-Avon, Gloucester and Bath are about an hour away and each one is famous in its own right!