Great Tew, Oxfordshire
Great Tew is known for its distinctive dark stone and thatched cottages. Originally built in the 19th century by a landscape gardener, there’s only one village pub and shop, but still plenty to explore. Easily reached from Oxford in half an hour, head to the beautiful church which has medieval wall paintings, then visit the Great Tew Estate which is home to over 2,000 acres of farmland and woodland. Trails around the estate are open to walkers throughout the year.
Inside Tip: Stop off at Quince and Clover on the estate for delicious homemade ice-cream or a hearty lunch made with seasonal ingredients.
Naunton sits on the River Windrush, just ten miles east of Cheltenham. One of the most picturesque villages on this list, the best views can be seen from the top of the hill where you can see the church and its famous 17th-century dovecote. Here, the pretty cottages are built from the golden Cotswold stone, while the river runs along the bottom of the village. If you want to stay in the area, Dove Cottage and Oyster Barn are lovely Airbnbs, both of which are suitable for families.
Inside Tip: The Black Horse Inn is popular with locals and serves traditional pub food, like beer battered fish and chips, and Gloucestershire sausages and mash.
With similar architecture to that found in Stroud, Blockley is home to a number of beautiful honey stone houses and quaint cobbled streets that reflect its interesting history. Both charming and peaceful, visitors can enjoy a number of walks – the route from Blockley to Batsford is fairly easy and suitable for both children and dogs. Be sure to visit the village Bowling Green and beautiful Norman church, then make a beeline for Batsford Arboretum, home to 55 acres of botanical gardens. Chastleton House, a stunning Jacobean property which is open to visitors during the summer months, is also worth a visit.
Inside Tip: If you want to bring something back from your travels, the Cotswold Cheese Company is just a ten-minute drive away from Blockley, where you can choose from 80 types of artisan and farmhouse cheeses
If passing through Broadway, be sure to visit Snowshill, known for its unspoilt beauty and views over the Severn Vale. Perhaps best known for Snowshill Manor, now a National Trust property, a lovely afternoon can be spent exploring the gardens and the extensive collection of family heirlooms belonging to the original owner, Charles Wade. Be sure to visit the Priest’s House and second-hand book shop on site, too. During the early summer months, Cotswold Lavender can be seen growing around the edge of the village, while Barnabas Church can be appreciated year-round.
Inside Tip: Snowhill Arms, a lovely, traditional pub has a great takeaway menu consisting of tea, coffee and paninis.
Located close to the Worcestershire border, Willersey is a traditional Cotswold village with a lovely community feel. Set in a Cotswold Conservation Area, there are 28 listed buildings in the village, as well as two beautiful churches and two local pubs. A lovely afternoon can be spent exploring the cobbled streets on foot, before heading on a walk around the Cotswold National Trail which starts in Broadway, just a four-minute drive away. Little ones will love riding lessons at the local horse-riding school, while adults will appreciate the views from Broadway Tower.
Inside Tip: Dormy House is a luxury farmhouse and spa, just a short drive away from the centre of the village – book a room with a free-standing bath or stay in the rustic Rose Cottage for a romantic getaway.
Bagendon is four miles north of Cirencester. Home to the ancient church of St Margaret’s which dates back to Norman times, be sure to look out for the distinctive Saxon tower windows and medieval graveyard. It doesn’t take long to walk around the village, so if you’re after a longer walking route, follow the Green Dragon track which goes through Upper Coberley, Moonstone and Cowey.
Inside Tip: Wheatsheaf Inn, just a 15-minute drive away in Northleach, is a lovely pub with stylish rooms housed in an old coaching inn. Ask for the Cosy Room with the free-standing copper bath.
Just a 30-minute drive from the centre of Oxford, Asthall is small village close to the beautiful Windrush Valley. Once a former Roman settlement, the village is steeped in history – the church dates back to the 12th century, while Asthall Manor, one of the most beautiful buildings in the village, is a Jacobean manor house. If travelling with children, visit Kilkenny Lane Country Park, then follow the scenic walking route to Swinbrook, another quaint village.
Inside Tip: The Maytime Inn at Asthall Manor has a beautiful garden and a well-stocked bar with over 150 different types of gin to choose from.
Lechlade is technically a town, but it’s small enough to be considered a village to many locals. It’s where the navigable part of the River Thames begins – visitors can spot a Neptune-like statue at St John's Lock. When in Cirencester, a detour to Lechlade is best spent visiting Kelmscott Manor, William Morris's summer home, and Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens which has more than 260 different species of animals across 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens.
Inside Tip: Jubilee Hall Antiques has a good selection of antique furniture, paintings and ornaments, all of which can be delivered to addresses in London.
Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire
Located along the River Windrush in Oxfordshire, Minster Lovell is a charming village where the houses are built with traditional Cotswold stone and thatched roofs. As legend has it, it’s the regions most haunted village as ghosts are said to reside at its 15th-century hall. Once you’ve visited Lovell Hall, head to North Leigh Roman Villa, just four miles away, which has a beautiful mosaic floor. If you’re after a bit of R&R, head to Minster Mill, a luxury spa, complete with an indoor pool, rock sauna and aroma steam room.
Inside Tip: After a spa day, book a champagne afternoon tea at Minster Mill or ask for it to be popped into a hamper to enjoy outside in the grounds.
Located to the east of Chipping Campden, Ebrington is full of old-world charm. Visit Ebrington Manor, a Grade II-listed manor house dating back to the 15th century, to walk around the landscaped gardens. Groups can also stay in the house where you can relax in the wisteria-clad front garden, swim in the lake, and fire up the barbecue during the summer months. The award-winning Ebrington Arms is at the heart of village life, another top choice of accommodation, where diners can enjoy hearty pub classics made with local ingredients. Once you’ve seen the village highlights, the National Trust’s Hidcote Manor and private Kiftsgate Garden are a short drive away, both of which are worth visiting.
Inside Tip: The Ebrington Arms does a great Sunday lunch, as well as tasty bar snacks, like Welsh rarebit crumpets, truffle arancini balls, and warm sausage rolls.
For more information visit Cotswolds.com
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