The Cotswolds have always been one of our favorite areas of England. Maybe it’s because it feels like home to us. We lived just outside of Oxford years ago and the Cotswolds were our “local area”. We had not been back since leaving 30 years ago and we hoped to rekindle the joy and warmth we had felt all those years ago. We divided our stay into two parts; keeping our fingers crossed for some good weather to go on countryside walks and visiting some of the small Cotswold villages – picturesque and peaceful. Our first stay was near Chipping Norton in the town of Churchill.
Our drive from Wales was a beautiful one. The skies were blue and the countryside wide and green. We made a short detour to the Forest of Dean. A natural area of recent fame from the Harry Potter books. Lunch at Speech Housefor a soup and a pint and then on to Churchill and our Bed & Breakfast. We did make a short stop in Lower Swellfor a visit to our first of hopefully many Cotswold stone villages. We stayed in the small town of Churchill at The Corner House. Only three guest rooms, but a wonderful Cotswold stone home. It was the Monday of a Bank Holiday, the restaurants and pubs were booked, so we drove down to the small village of Bedlington and had a wonderful meal at The Kings Head. It had rained briefly and the resultant rainbow was gorgeous.
The Cotswolds area is well known for its “walks”. Walks are countryside trails that go through, around and past the local countryside. Most of them traverse private property and are publicly accessible. Lots of kissing gates, stiles, and pathways. There are a lot of resources to help find where to walk. We used a site called The Cotswolds: Area of Outstanding Beauty. The walk we chose was The Magic of the Rollright Stones. Not only was it spectacular, it was just what we were looking for. The day started a little overcast, but cleared up, then showers, then clear, then showers. It was another damp walk but well worth it.
We started the walk in the small town of Salford. The first 2 ½ miles was through and across fields and along tree lines. It sprinkled on and off and we ended up in and out of raingear until we finally gave up and just wore it. The countryside was so peaceful and scenic. We arrived at our main destination, the Rollright Stones, an area of three sets of megalithic stone sites; the Whispering Knights, The Kings Men stone circle, and the King Stone. The most popular legend of the stones is about a witch who turned an invading king and his army into three sets of standing stone. At our first stop, the Whispering Knights, there was a folk group dancing there and just celebrating life. The stone circle has superstitions about walking around it three times. We had a snack at the King Stone with great views of Little Compton.
Our walk back was through the fields again, past some very small villages, and along streams. There were kissing gates and stiles to walk through. This portion of the trail was slightly elevated from the outbound leg and we could see a long way. But once again, rain gear turned out to be the call of the day.
We had lunch at the Red Lion in Little Compton, the town we saw while we had our snack. We headed out and decided to try our luck exploring more Cotswolds villages. We always loved the “Slaughters”, Upper and Lower. Their name comes from old English ‘Slohtre’, which has nothing to do with killing things and means, simply, ‘Muddy place’. Lower Slaughter was busy with construction, a film crew and tons of people, so we drove on to Upper Slaughter and hit the jackpot. There were very few people about. We found a place to park and walked around the village. It was all we remembered from 30 years ago. There is a small river that runs through town and wonderful Cotswold stone homes.
After a wonderful supper at the local pub in Churchill, The Chequers, we took a stroll to finish this first part of our Cotswold visit and enjoyed exploring the lanes near the B & B.
We really enjoyed our time in Churchill. It reminded us of the “olden’ days and visits when we lived near this area all those years ago. We could not wait for the rest of our visit.