Certain destinations make it into our consciousness at a young age. For me, the Cotswolds in the countryside of England was one of them. Before I was even born, my parents went on a trip together to the region. Upon returning, they created a scrapbook of their trip that sat in a small bookshelf in their bedroom.
As a kid, I remember laying on the floor of their room, flipping through the pages of that book—seeing pictures of my mom, in a flowy dress, the wind blowing through her hair, as she posed in front of a stunning countryside landscape. I remember seeing a shot of my dad with a goofy smile, walking through a town that seemed so old the streets and homes were made of stones.
Because of that book full of vacation photos that are now faded and dull, the Cotswolds has always been on my bucket list. And this summer, I finally traveled there myself.
In the morning, I arrived at Birmingham Station by train from London. A driver from Great Escape Cars was waiting for me there—ready to take me on an exciting adventure. The car he drove was a 1965 Jaguar MK 2—green and in wonderful condition.
Once we cleared the city limits, we were gliding through that iconic countryside. The sun pierced through the clouds making the green grass and foliage glow as it extended out for miles. The scene made me think of those pictures of my mom.
The Cotswolds is made up of nearly 100 towns and villages just a couple hours north west of London. The homes and structures of these towns are built with a yellow, Jurassic limestone sourced in local quarries. And many roofs are plated with slate and dotted with moss. Many front yards of homes, hotels, and other areas open to the public have green gardens with flowers blooming in all shades. Some towns have rivers and creeks, and feel tranquil. Others are bustling with local life, shops, and markets.
When traveling from one town or attraction to another, you can compare and contrast their similarities and differences, almost like in a museum viewing art. On my trip, I visited a handful of beautiful towns, only just scratching the surface.
My first stop was Broadway Tower, it is a stunning and almost magical-feeling tower looking out over the region. Right nearby is a lovely cafe with outdoor seating where you can grab a bite to eat and pick up something locally crafted to remember your trip by. To see more pictures, watch my video.
Next I found myself in the town of Chipping Campden. Here you feel the fight, or rather the interplay, of old and new. The old streets and architecture are housing busy, modern life restaurants, shops, markets, and the Church of St. James.
Viewfinder Tip: When visiting the Cotswolds, be sure to give yourself multiple days to thoroughly explore towns on foot.
For lunch, I stopped in Lower Slaughter. In contrast to the former, Lower Slaughter is a town with a much slower pace. It has an iconic canal lined with small homes that look straight out of a fairytale adorned with tall shoots of hollyhock flowers and foliage. After meandering, I enjoyed an upscale, pub lunch of baked white fish with a puree of potatoes and roasted vegetables on the outdoor patio of the beautiful Slaughters Country Inn.
Then it was back to the Jag to ride over to the town of Broadway—one of the most well known towns in the Cotswolds. Here the wide main street is lined with stores to peruse and restaurants in which to dine. Also, Broadway is rather legendary for its antiquing.
And finally, the last stop on my one-day Cotwolds tour was Painswick, where I spent the night at The Painswick Hotel. This town felt nearly devoid of tourists and it gave me the feeling of experiencing what life might be like if I actually lived in the region. Painswick itself sits on a small hill. And narrow streets lined with yellow limestone homes give way to rolling green hills in the distance.
The complexity and the beauty of the Cotswolds is truly enchanting. But one of the best parts of finally visiting them was knowing that my parents had been there before and I was likely walking in their footsteps.
What destinations in the British countryside are on your bucket list?