Tim & I enjoyed a relaxing couple of days away in The Cotswolds mid April, staying in a 16th century coaching inn located in the quiet village of Kingscote, not far from Chippenham. It had a cosy feel about it, exposed beams, open fires and traditional English fayre. Our comfy room was located in the converted stable block, which was perfect for us. The only issue we had was struggling with a very weak shower, even I had to turn round in it to get wet!

We experienced varied weather conditions (this is Spring in the UK after all!) ranging from warm sunshine to blustery winds…more on that later.

Tim had researched somewhere for breakfast, which meant that we needed to leave home early on Sunday morning (how rude, I didn’t know travelling at 7am on Sundays was a thing!) Our destination was The Black Shed, which is near Slimbridge and we were lucky to have an easy drive across country to be there around 11.30. He gratefully tucked into a Full English (although he did cause some confusion by ordering the Vegetarian Option but with a meaty sausage!) and I had locally sauced, fresh poached eggs. This fuelled us up nicely for a post-breakfast walk.

Our circular walk of approximately 5 miles took us along the Glloucester & Sharpness Canal, across some very boggy fields through the pretty village of Slimbridge and headed back to the car park. It was a beautiful, varied walk but in all honesty I’m not great with really boggy, lumpy terrain. I have very hypermobile ankles which can result in me doing very bad Bambi impressions, not elegant!

After cleaning off our muddy boots as best we could, we headed over to Newark Park, which is a National Trust property high up in the hills. Dating back to c. 1550, it was built by an attendant of Henry VIII, Sir Nicholas Poytnz as a state-of-the-art hunting lodge and hosted some riotous parties. Since then, every new owner has added their own stamp on the place before it was handed over to the National Trust in 1949. It’s a beautiful spot, but we were caught up in the tail end of Storm Kathleen which meant it was a tad blustery. The cafe marquee, provided for shelter in inclement weather, was closed due to high winds, meaning we had to sit outside in the elements. Imagine Tim’s indignation when a freak gust of wind blew his scone off his plate! Yes, he did chase after it and yes, he did eat it!

By then it was time to check into our accommodation, which the Sat Nav wasn’t too sure about and took us right into the village of Kingscote. We’re glad it did as it’s a very typically pretty Cotswold stone village, of just a few cottages and an old church dating back to the 13th century. From the outside it looked gorgeous, but we didn’t feel it was very welcoming once inside. It was very dark and had a very dense, heavy energy about it. We didn’t stay there very long.

We had packed a lot into our first day and were ready for our dinner and wine that evening!

After a leisurely breakfast on Monday we visited Castle Combe village. I had wanted to visit for quite a few years as I had seen it on various chocolate boxes and biscuit tins. It has been described as “the prettiest village in England” and it’s easy to understand why. 

And Castle Combe presents this charming scene,
of hill, woods and meadows cloth’d in green.
Here grand terrestrial scenes, almost celestial nice,
makes Castle Combe, sweet vale, an earthy Paradise.

Edward Dowling (19th Century)

The properties are hundreds of years old, and I think I read somewhere that there hasn’t been any new builds since the 1600’s. We loved its unique atmosphere and were lucky to visit on a quiet morning before the tourist season had truly kicked in. Neither of us could imagine living there during peak season!

We couldn’t resist popping into the nearby racing circuit (which is still privately owned by the Strawford family who had strong links with my old employers the British Racing & Sports Car Club). We watched a few Westfields, BMW’s and a classic Porsche being put through their paces before driving over to Lacock, which is another National Trust location consisting of a ruined Abbey and a village.

The Abbey was built on the foundations of a former nunnery and its historic cloisters and medieval rooms provide a strong sense of its monastic past. I believe the cloisters were also used in a Harry Potter film.

Lacock village was also the home of Henry Fox-Talbot, famous for his contributions to the invention of using negatives for photography and there is a fascinating little museum telling his story. The village consists of timber-framed buildings, bespoke small businesses and shops. We found a perfect property for us, a characterful house with an outside barn/workshop that Tim could tinker around in to his heart’s content and a studio/workshop for me attached to the house. According to the National Trust, the village hasn’t changed much in over 200 years. Well worth a visit.

And then it was time to head back to our hotel, freshen up and enjoy a delicious dinner before travelling back home to Kent the next day. 

There is so much to see in the Cotswolds, it’s not just about chocolate-box villages. The rolling hills are fresh and green with stunning views just waiting to be discovered. I’m sure we will go back.

The Coddiwomple Lady