A day in the Cotswolds…oh what a beautiful day it was! I read the oh-so-charming book, You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell and the book inspired an oh-so-charming day trip from London to the Cotswolds. I had never heard of the Cotswolds before and only learned about it when I was looking up Jill Mansell books because if I was headed to London, I knew I had to read one of this British author’s feel-good books to inspire a magical literary date. And that it did. Googled “London to the Cotswolds” and yes, happy day when I learned a day in the Cotswolds could be possible from London.
If you haven’t read my book review of this book, you can check it out here: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell. To give a quick recap, this is a story of a young woman, Lily, who lost her mom at a young age but every year on her birthday, she gets a letter from her beloved mom. Lily turns 25 and it’s bittersweet because this will be her last letter from her mom.
In this final letter, Lily learns about her mom’s one true love and goes on a quest to track him down, which ends up changing things for more than just Lily within her tight-knit community in the Cotswolds. Also, for fun, a hot celebrity takes refuge in the small village as he hides from scandal thus entering Lily’s life much to her childhood best friend’s dismay, Dan. This book features a cast of lovable characters that form a heartwarming community of people who will leave you feeling like you’ve just been comforted by a steaming cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows on top. The humor will also tickle your belly.
A Day in the Cotswolds
As we spend a day in the Cotswolds, we will go to six different villages in the Cotswolds, we will learn about the Cotswolds stone, see an adorable thatched roof cottage and even some sheep, and then we will venture to one of the most picturesque villages in the Cotswolds, and of course, go to Bourton-on-the-Water. A day in the Cotswolds was made possible by the tour group, Go Cotswolds.
Why Go Cotswolds?
When I started researching about spending a day in the Cotswolds, I saw many different options, with lots of tours including other areas outside London to also explore like Stonehenge, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, etc. I’d love to visit those other areas too, but I didn’t want to feel too rushed in any one area so I narrowed down my search to just the Cotswolds.
Originally, I chose a tour that would take me directly from London to the Cotswolds, which sounded easier for someone who doesn’t know the area. However, through a London tips Facebook group, I learned about Go Cotwolds, which is a family-run tour group in the Cotswolds.
I happened to be staying at a hotel near Paddington station, which had the train I would need to get out for a day in the Cotswolds on my own to take part in this tour. For the other tour group, I would have had to meet up at the Victoria train station in London to find the bus that would take me out there. From the reviews I read, it sounded like the meet-up location was chaotic and hard to find. I decided, I’m a New Yorker, I can take a train out on my own and that’s what I did. It was super easy! Truthfully it would be super easy for anyone, not just a New Yorker.
The Go Cotswolds tour also would be cheaper, it supports a local family-run business and was easy to get to from my hotel, so I was sold! Pro-tip: book your train tickets early, so you get a good price.
*This post is not sponsored by Go Cotswolds, I found them on my own, paid, and enjoyed a day in the Cotswolds. I am in no way affiliated with Go Cotswolds. Just want to share my experience with them.
My day in the Cotswolds started out with beautiful panoramic views seen at Dover’s Hill.
Our first stop was an unexpected and peaceful way to start the day. With panoramic views across the Vale of Evesham and the sounds of sheep running past, I was in my element.
Our tour guide told us about the Cotswolds Olimpicks that are held here and have been for centuries. If you attend, you will get to see classics like tug ‘o war, and running races, but the most interesting one our guide told us about is shin-kicking. It’s exactly how it sounds but thankfully is not as brutal as years past when they wore steel toe caps. Now no steel and shin pads are allowed. Still, I’ll pass on that one.
Check out the view from Dover’s Hill:
My favorite part of visiting Dover’s Hill was seeing the sheep but pro-tip, watch out for the poop patties!
If you’re wondering if the sheep are used for their wool, I’d suggest not googling that. They look so happy running around Dover’s Hill, don’t they? They definitely have more than a day in the Cotswolds so be thankful for that.
Dover’s Hill is great for a quick little stop to take in those views and play frogger with the poop patties to get a view of the sweet sheep. Or go in early June for the Cotswold Olimpicks.
If you have a day in the Cotswolds, I definitely recommend this as a great starting point to set the mood for the rest of the day.
I learned from the brochure we got from Go Cotswolds, that many of the buildings in Chipping Campden date from the 14th to the 17th centuries including the St James church that I visited during this stop.
Before we arrived here we first learned about Cotswold stone, which is a type of limestone that has a golden honey color that you will see in all the pictures I share. All the homes in the Cotswolds are made from this special stone including any new homes that are built because it is a requirement that all homes in the Cotswolds need to be made from this stone.
In the picture is an adorable cottage with a thatched roof, which was on a very quiet street in Chipping Campden. All the cottages we visited during our day in the Cotswolds were in residential neighborhoods so as we visited, we were made aware to be respectful of the people who live there. Our guide also told us they are aware that they live in an area that wants to be visited so they seem understanding about it.
On the tour, you’ll learn all about how that thatched roof is made, the cost of it, and the highly skilled people who can do it. Sounds like if you have that skill and live in the Cotswolds, you’re set for life.
Pictured below is St James Church and its surrounding area.
The Secret Cotswolds Village
This secret village in the Cotswolds has a name but since Go Cotswolds refers to it as the secret village on their site, I won’t reveal it here. However, I will reveal that a very popular British movie was filmed right in this quaint, sleepy village. It has fewer than 200 people, a church, a pub, and a red telephone box – our guide said, “What more do you need?” I agree! Well, maybe add a cat café.
When I saw the pub, I wished I could stay for a pint. I was completely charmed by this little village. Just look at this rose cottage door…
Here’s the church too…
When you spend a day in the Cotswolds, you definitely need to visit this village! Find me on Instagram to DM me at @literary_dates and I might tell you the name of it. 😉
Stow-on-the-Wold is where we got to stop and eat lunch. We had a few spots to choose from in this market town that is filled with lots of independent shops and restaurants. This looks like the area where the locals might come when they need to get some shopping done.
I was in love with the restaurant I chose to eat at.
If you read my Here for the Drama literary date then you know I missed out on the afternoon tea at the Kensington Pavilion. I’m happy to report that I made up for that misfortune here. It was quite a deal and quite a delightful meal!
That scone with coddled cream and jam was delicious! I’m not even a fan of raisins in my baked goods but I wasn’t mad about it in these scones. Yummy is the word! Did you know that while in the US we call them biscuits but in England, they are called scones? I love all the slight differences between England and the US.
Huffins Cotswolds bakery and tea room is a spot that I could see being the trendy spot to go to if the whole of the interior was transported directly into…Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Yes, folks, the hipsters would go wild for it. The artwork inside would be of Cotswolds villages. I can totally picture it!
I bought my sister-in-law some Cotswolds tea here and she loved it so much she didn’t share.
If you wanted to stay in the Cotswolds for more than a day, I think this could be a great spot. With all the nearby shops and places to eat, it could be a great base camp for exploring the rest of the Cotswolds. However, I do think I want to come back one day for a few days in the Cotswolds and then head to Bath also for a few days. Our guide suggested in that case, staying at our meet-up spot Moreton-in-Marsh could be ideal for that plan due to the ease of travel to Bath from there. One day! Travel dreams are the best.
Venturing out to experience a day in the Cotswolds would not be complete without a stop at Bibury to see the most picturesque spot in the Cotswolds, Arlington Row. Even though the Cotswolds attracts a lot of tourists, I noticed in all the villages, I felt a quiet sense of calm. Chirping birds, the feel of a warm breeze, and the sounds of foot steps crunching along a path of quaint cottages with doors adorned with potted plants and roses…beautiful.
Here’s another look at Arlington Row…
It doesn’t get any more beautiful than this, does it? One of the great things about taking this tour with Go Cotswolds, was hearing the stories our guide told us. Our guide told us a great one about this village and a yellow car.
Next time I’m in the Cotswolds, my dream would be to be invited in for an afternoon tea in one of the cottages. Forget some fantasy meal with the hottest celebrity, I want scones with coddled cream on Arlington Row.
Bourton-on-the-Water is known as the “Venice of Cotswolds” for the stone bridges that cross the River Windbrush, which goes down the center of the village. I could have stayed here all day! Lots of shops and eateries surround this area. It’s also the perfect spot for a picnic. You can throw a blanket down or sit and relax on one of the many benches that line the river. If you have a day in the Cotswolds, this is a must-see.
I sat by the river to enjoy some delicious black currants in coddled cream ice cream…
Fun fact: they have an annual football match held right in the river. Yes, you read that right, in the river. That must draw quite the crowd!
Our guide gave us two choices when we got here, we could either explore the shops in the village centre along the river or we could go with him to his secret, hidden, hard-to-find, less populated and beautiful spot. Yup, I chose the second option.
And we landed at this beauty of a spot. Don’t you want to live in that house or at least spend a weekend there? That would be the life!
It was absolutely amazing to spend a day in the Cotswolds, it was an actual dream day! Here’s a video of my whole day for you to enjoy:
Pros & Cons of a Guided Tour through the Cotswolds
- Won’t get lost
- Don’t have to navigate through unfamiliar roads
- Friendly and knowledgeable guides who tell great stories
- Meeting people in the tour group
- Ease of planning
- On the tour group’s timetable
- Have to stick with the tour group’s itinerary
- Thankfully my group was absolutely lovely but you could have rude people in the group
I honestly can’t think of many cons besides the fact that you can’t leisurely explore an area since at each spot you have to stick to the allotted time you’re given in the area. For instance, I could have stayed at least three hours in Bourton-on-the-Water but we had about forty-five minutes. However, with this schedule, we got to see a lot of the Cotswolds and now I know what I’d like to do if I ever go back.
In fact, a mother-daughter duo in my tour group who were staying in the Cotswolds decided they would go back to the lavender fields we passed during our tour. A tour can give you a nice taste to help plan out the rest of your trip. It was also a perfect day trip from London. It was so nice getting out into the countryside without having to worry about how I’d get around. I did it on a Wednesday so loved having that peaceful and refreshing day in the middle of my more touristy London trip.
I also enjoyed it as a solo traveler. I was the only solo person in the group so I got to sit up front next to our tour guide, he jokingly referred to me as the navigator throughout the day. It made me chuckle! People in the group were so nice and it was nice to be around some people for the day to chat with. One person helped me plan my itinerary for my last day in London and I will forever appreciate that.
Our tour guide, Colin, was also awesome. So knowledgable and friendly, took individual time with everyone in the group and made it a great day. He told the best stories!
Go Cotswolds has multiple tour options and offer private tours as well. If I ever get to go back, I would do their walking tour and then also explore on my own. I’d also like enough money to hire a private driver, please. Still dreaming!
Now back to the book that inspired my day in the Cotswolds – You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell. If you would like a charming and romantic, feel-good story with very likable characters who will make you laugh then I highly recommend this book.
Buy the Book: Amazon
Thank you to Jill Mansell for inspiring a day in the Cotswolds and thank you to Go Cotswolds and awesome tour guide Colin for an incredible day in the Cotswolds. If you all ever need a full-time navigator, I’m your gal! 😉
To learn more about their tours, you can head to their site here: Go Cotswolds.
Also, before you go, check out some of my most popular literary dates:
And my other literary dates in London:
Also, I’m sharing more from my London trip on my social media, so make sure you are following me!
Facebook: Literary Dates