The Cotswolds: a weekend guide for non-hikers
The Cotswolds has been on my list for ages, but until last week I had never managed to get there, instead always choosing to jet off anywhere other the UK. But coronavirus is here to stay, so for now I’m exploring what Britain has to offer. And so far it’s been a very pleasant surprise!
I spent the weekend exploring the Cotswolds from the base of Evesham. It’s close proximity to the Cotswolds area was the reason we chose to stay here, plus it’s a big enough town to have plenty of dining options (and pubs!) for the evening after long days adventuring.
During the weekend we explored with a mix of walking and driving. I’m certainly not a big hiker or anything so thought it would be fun to split this blog up by sharing an easy walk, a moderate walk and a non-walk (driving to different towns!)
I did each of these activities on the 3 days I was in the Cotswolds and found it to be a really nice mix of everything the Cotswolds has to offer.
So without further ado, I will jump in with my easy walk....
An easy walk:
Mickleton to Hidcote
4 miles / 6.4 km
To make this route even nicer, I’d highly recommend starting with a hearty breakfast at Decade’s Café. The owner Bob made us feel really welcome and cooked us an amazing full English breakfast with locally sourced bacon and sausage. I digress…
This circular 4-mile walk starts at the church in Mickleton where you can park. The start of the walk is marked and then it’s down to you to follow the map which you can find here. The instructions are kind of fun, they are a bit riddle-like but easy enough to follow and we managed to find our way!
The route takes you through Mickleton Wood, this is by far the steepest section and thankfully is over pretty quickly. Then it’s flat or downhill the rest of the way! From the Woods you reach Hidcote Manor and Hidcote Bartrim where there are many cute cottages typical of the Cotswolds. Hidcote Gardens are also here, to see the gardens you have to book in advance through National Trust. Next there’s a series of farmer’s fields to cross, before following Baker’s Hill Wood downhill. This wood is single-track and can get pretty muddy! The walk is varied but easy, and super fun to follow all the points called out in the map.
A moderate walk:
Bredon’s Norton to Bredon Tower (up Bredon Hill)
6 miles / 9.6 km
Start a Bredon’s Norton, and find somewhere to park. It will probably be a grassy verge on a very narrow street, but hey that’s what Cotswold villages are like! We parked by the Farm Shop and followed the road up to the farm itself. Walk through the apple orchard, and from there the farmer described the directions to us as ‘follow your nose’! He wasn’t wrong, you simply follow the path up the hill – and don’t stop when you think you are there, as there’s a whole load more to come!
Each section of the walk is really different, from farmer’s fields, stony path’s, woods to single track. There are some magnificent views of Worcester and beyond after only 5 minutes of walking. The ever-changing scenery throughout the walk keeps it interesting and distracts from the fact you are walking uphill for quite a lot of the time!
The views from the top are incredible, and completely different from the first viewpoint as by this point you are all the way over the other side of the hill. Walk for long enough and you will get to Bredon’s Tower, but don’t expect anything grand, its more like a communications tower. Still at this point I had a sense of achievement at reaching it, and can take in the views and the fresh air! Follow the same path back down to where you started, or descent down one of the many paths to a different town.
A drive through some of the Cotswold’s most picturesque towns: Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water and Bibury.
64 mile / 100km round trip from Evesham
Starting at Evesham, first stop was Stow-on-the-Wold a 16 mile / 25km drive away which takes about half an hour. Stow-on-the-Wold is a pretty hamlet with the main feature being the market square which has quaint shops, pubs and restaurants surrounding it. After a wander we carried on to Bourton-on-the-Water, (only 10 minutes down the road or 4 miles / 6km) which was a bit of a show-stopper! This gorgeous town has a lot more going on and as the name alludes to, is all on-the-Water. A stream runs through the town which on a sunny day had everyone paddling in it. Cute little bridges cross the stream and there are plenty of great places to eat. I’d recommend Bakery-on-the-Water which served the most insane banoffee pie pastry.
From Bourton-on-the-Water our final stop of the day was another 20 minute drive (12 miles / 19km) to Bibury, every stop in the Cotswolds seems to be 20 minutes away... Famed as one of the Cotswold’s most iconic hamlets and once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village’ in England. Now I don’t know if it was this hype that made me feel slightly underwhelmed, but really every little town in the Cotswolds is lovely and this one, no more of less than anywhere else! Still it was worth checking out Arlington Row which is the iconic image of the Cotswolds – a row of 14th century cottages, even if the view is obscured by many an Instagrammer posing. My recommendation would be to stop, but visit other places as they are just as nice.
This was the end of our day and we circled back to our hotel in Evesham, there would be plenty of time if you set off early to make some more stops, I’d definitely add Cirencester to my list next time.
Finally a quick note on where we stayed in Evesham, The Wood Norton hotel. This was a great find and looked particularly grand but was super reasonably priced. Try out their Espresso Martinis at the bar 😉 you won’t be disappointed!