- Countryside Hillsides and honey-coloured hamlets
- Country life Gently does it
More typically English than a bowler-hatted Bertie Wooster whistling Elgar, this chunk of gently undulating and seemingly evergreen countryside is enough to send Anglophile tourists into apoplexy.
Britain’s largest designated area of natural beauty, the Cotswolds covers an area roughly bounded by Oxford to the east, Cheltenham to the west, Stratford to the north and Bath to the south. Long before the tourist invasion, the Romans left their legacy in towns such as Cirencester, and remains of villas and forts can be seen from Bury Hill to Woodchester. Today, besides sheep, the area is home to some of the country’s most scenic towns and villages – all thatched cottages, ducks waddling across village greens and honey-hued churches. Other sensory delights include strolls on the beautiful banks of the River Wye, or following Fosse Way, the arrow-straight Roman road that still pierces through the loveliest landscapes imaginable.
Planes Airports closest to the region are Bristol, where easyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies from Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Newcastle; and Birmingham, which has connections from Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Jersey with BMI Baby (www.bmibaby.com).
Trains Direct trains from London Paddington run regularly to Cotswold stations, including Chippenham, Kemble, Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stroud, Gloucester and Cheltenham. Most journeys will only take an hour or two.
Automobiles From London, the Cotswolds is a couple of hours away along the M4; the nearby M5 offers access from Bristol and Birmingham. It’s worth taking a car to the region: the country-lane driving is unparalleled.
- Taxis The smaller towns have limited taxi services – book in advance. Hotel staff will know the best local firms.