Cotswolds Top 50, part 2 Caroline Mills, writer | Posted: 03 May 2016
Self-guided walking holidays in the Cotswolds
Self-guided walking holidays in the Cotswolds
Self-guided walking holidays in the Cotswolds

Part two includes a rooftop spa, places with Shakespearean connections, and a most unusual annual sporting event...

11. ROOFTOP SPA AT THERMAE BATH SPA.
There are lots of hotels with spas around the Cotswolds but the Thermae Bath Spa is extra special, not least for its history relating to the Roman spa baths a matter of yards away. The water is naturally heated and the open-air rooftop spa pool, with magnificent views of Bath Abbey and the hills around the city, is where body and soul can be rejuvenated in the most unique of ways.

12. HALL’S CROFT, STRATFORD.
One of ‘Shakespeare’s Houses’, Hall’s Croft belonged to Shakespeare’s daughter and her physician husband, Dr Hall. The half-timbered house, with its sturdy studded oak front door, is my favourite of the collection cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It sits in a quiet location within Old Town and feels the most lived-in. The garden, complete with a herbal Physician’s parterre, is a lovely place for a quiet sit down.

13. BROUGHTON CASTLE.
Owned by the Fiennes family (of Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross fame) for generations, Broughton Castle is less of a castle and more a fortified manor house. And a glorious one too.  It has played its part in many a famous Hollywood blockbuster but its walls can also tell a tale or two about the English Civil War. Set amid ancient parkland, the moated and castellated house is best seen as the setting sun turns its stone to a pumpkin orange colour.

14. FOOTBALL IN THE RIVER.
The Cotswolds are well known for some eccentricities but this August Bank Holiday event has to be one of the most fun of all. The otherwise tranquil waters of the River Windrush are used to douse the crowds lining the banks while two six-a-side teams from the local football team indulge in a shirt-drenching match amid frivolous decisions from the Referee. Prepare to get wet!

15. SWAN THEATRE, RSC.
There’s no doubt that viewing one of Shakespeare’s plays at the RSC provides a special moment. But watching a performance at the Swan Theatre lifts that moment a little bit more. The intimacy and the woodwork create magic before a performance has even begun. Then the auditorium lights drop down…

More Information & Related Holidays

A Cotswolds Treat

Spend a few days discovering the delights of the glorious Cotswolds, walking from Mickleton to Chipping Camden via that most quintessential of Cotswold towns, Broadway, and indulge in a few treats along the way.

More about our walking holidays in the Cotswolds >

Bradt Travel Guides

Slow Cotswolds is just one of over 200 titles from Bradt Travel Guides.

www.bradtguides.com >

16. THE GREAT GARDEN, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON.
Of all the places to sit in Stratford, the Great Garden is my favourite. The Grade II listed garden is a part of Shakespeare’s estate and the largest surviving part of the playwright’s own garden. Sitting behind New Place, Shakespeare’s family home, the garden is currently being restored and is due to reopen later this year.

17. DOVER’S HILL.
Climbing out of Chipping Campden at the start of The Cotswold Way, Dover’s Hill is the first high point that walkers reach, and a significant part of the Cotswold escarpment. It’s a magnificent place for a short walk irrespective of attempting the 102-mile long distance route, with incredible views over the Vale of Evesham and plenty of spots suitable for a picnic, whether that’s strawberries and cream or a wintry flask of soup.

18. BARCHESTON.
There’s little to see other than a handful of houses and a small (albeit lovely) church in this tiny hamlet. What I love is its connection to the Sheldon Tapestries (from the Tudor period), created in the village and considered to be some of the finest tapestries ever made. You have to travel to either the V&A Museum in London, the Bodleian Library in Oxford or the County Museum in Warwick to see the work produced in Barcheston.

19. VIEWS FROM THE TOP OF BREDON HILL.
A Cotswold anomaly, Bredon Hill is an island of limestone sticking out from the Vale of Evesham, and one of the last outposts of the Cotswolds. It takes a bit of work to climb to the summit but the views, on a clear day, are worth every aching limb. Depending on which side of the hill you walk along, there are views to Broadway Tower, Ilmington Down, Tewkesbury, the Severn Valley, the Malverns and Cleeve Hill.

20. OVER/NETHER WORTON.
Pushing the boundaries of the Cotswolds, the tiny hamlets of Over Worton and Nether Worton lie to the east of Chipping Norton. They are unremarkable for being so miniscule and yet that is what makes them so attractive – a scattering of houses, including the magnificent castellated Nether Worton House (private property), in a hidden rural landscape of undulations. The solitary pair offers a picturesque circular walk either across the fields or utilising the quiet gated lanes. Alternatively, the route provides a quiet and gentle cycle ride with the two hamlets linked by the National Cycle Network Route 5.


 

All photographs © Caroline Mills


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