Cotswolds - a picture perfect and delicious tour through the northern Cotswolds: perfect views from Cleeve Cloud, delicious cream tea at Winchcombe, fun for kids, stunning villages and lovely wal
There is so much about the Cotswolds that make them special: honey-coloured stone cottages, delicious cream teas, farm-fresh produce wherever you go, fantastic farmers' markets (especially in the artistic town of Stroud on a Saturday).
Our tour starts just outside Cheltenham at Cleeve Hill - the highest part of the Cotswolds. The first part of the journey leads you to secret parking in the middle of Cleeve Cloud. Take the B4632 towards Winchcombe and follow the signs to Cleeve Cloud Golf Course. Go straight up the hill until you see a sign 'no through for cars and motorbikes'... BUT you are allowed to go through. Turn left after the cattle barrier and there it is... the prettiest car park in England in midst of a golf course. Take a walk in either direction of the Cotswold Way and enjoy the view. This spot is also recommended if the sun and clouds allow you to have a fantastic sunset.
Our next stop is Winchcombe, a stunning little village with a medieval church. Don't forget to go for tea, brunch or lunch at Juri's in this village (Juri’s - The Olde Bakery Tea Shoppe & Restaurant, High Street, 01242-602-469 - http://www.juris-tearoom.co.uk), a family run Japanese but English tea room. It is relatively pricey but well worth the healthy speciality teas and don't look further for better scones and their delicious ham and cheese sandwiches (sounds simple but tastes not like supermarket stuff). Best to park is at vineyard street (unlimited and free parking) From there you can walk through a beautiful alley, across a bridge up to the famous and romantic Sudeley Castle (www.sudeleycastle.co.uk), which is well worth a visit (Tesco Vouchers are accepted there as well) with its stunning gardens, exotic bird show and a massive wooden castle for the kids with slides and swings. It has a coffee shop for light lunches and snacks, but I still prefer Juri's.
Carry on on the B4632 and your next stop is Broadway. A wonderfully maintained village. You arrive in picture-postcard England, with an historic sweet shop, once you get out of your car. Should you require some exercise other than going shopping, follow the signs along the highstreet to the play area - a magnificent playground for young AND old will await you.
For National Trust members: Hailes Abbey close by. Either three miles on foot through lovely paths and fields or a short drive towards Broadway, follow the signs for Hailes Fruit Farm (great fresh farm fruit, also to pick yourself in season and most delicious chutneys and jams - all homemade).
Should you opt out of Hailes Abbey - the next destination is Upper/Lower Slaughter. Turn off the High Street in Winchcombe into Castle Street and follow the signs to Guiting Power and carry on to Upper/Lower Slaughter. Have a wander around in those picture-perfect Cotswold villages. Should you feel like high tea the Lord of the Manor Hotel serves a fantastic high tea in a lovely setting. Take the Wardens Way footpath to get to Lower Slaughter - it's shorter by foot than by car and more than worth it.
Still not satisfied? Carry on to another picture perfect village - Bourton-on-the-Water - with its absolutely sparkling river flowing gently through the village. Try some Lemon-Meringue Ice Cream at one of the home-made icecream parlours.
Enjoy and indulge in the Cotswolds.