Mellow, Gold and Peaceful : The Cotswolds in Autumn
Summer 2019 will be remembered fondly – so many warm and even super-hot sunny days. Barbecues a-plenty, festival-goers revelling in the warmth abandoning the usual wellies and raincoats. While we reminisce about summer, we also look forward to those cooler and crisper days of autumn. We think not of the beach but of our plans to visit inland gems, such as The Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds is an all-year-round destination, but as autumn rolls in and summer crowds are gone, the honey-traps of Bourton-on-the water, Broadway, Stow on the Wold and the Slaughters come into their own. It’s not just easier to park it’s easier to get a table at a favoured café too. In autumn, step off the beaten track for a weekend break in a local holiday cottage to experience a real slice of Cotswolds living.
The south-eastern corner of the Cotswolds is often overlooked but easily has enough to keep you captivated for a week, let alone a weekend. Food, history or more active rural pursuits: this corner of the Cotswolds has it all.
Lechlade-on-Thames is a great place to start. As the name implies – the Thames ambles by. You can hire a boat and live-out your Three Men in a Boat dream, but a walk along the river’s edge is a locals’ secret.
Kingfishers, swans and herons fill this reach of the river, and as the morning mist rises, you get a glimpse of the magnificent spire of Lechlade’s St Lawrence church. This is an easy amble, but you should still reward yourself with breakfast at Lynwood café in the town square. Lynwood opened here but have since opened cafes in Fairford and Burford. Open all day, you’ll enjoy a fine coffee or a meal and pick up a freshly-baked sourdough loaf.
Cotswold Wool, Crocodiles and a Dragon
A short drive from Lechlade takes you to the hamlet of Filkins. Renowned for its Woollen Weavers Museum, a celebration of the Cotswolds’ “riding on the sheep’s back”. The sale of woollen fleeces in the 1500s was the basis of The Cotswolds’ wealth. Those hugely valuable fleeces funded the magnificent honey-coloured manor houses and churches spread across the countryside. Today, the Filkins Woollen Museum is a free museum and retail haven; get your Christmas present buying off to a stress-free start with some unique gifts.
Next stop, a must for more exotic animal lovers, is the Cotswolds Wildlife Park just ten minutes drive from Filkins. A little further on again, take the evocatively named Hen and Chicks Lane via Shilton, to visit Crocodiles of the World. More than just crocs they’ve got Meerkats, Otters and a Komodo dragon too. An irresistible collection.
With your animal fix sorted it’s time to head to Downton Abbey. Well, Bampton village which served as Downton’s village in the TV and film series. You’ll recognise the church, the hospital and many other village scenes.
The Historic Secrets of Eastleach Turville
If stepping back in real-time is more your thing, visit the market town of Fairford. A countryside drive which takes you along Roman Akeman Street and through the picturesque village of Eastleach Turville. Set on the River Leach, Eastleach is famous for its ancient clapper bridge and its two churches. Fairford church is your destination this time though – where you can still see the oldest medieval stained glass in England. Don’t miss the window depicting the Devil - still brilliantly vibrant in red glass.
Peckish again you could stop at the Bull Inn in the market place or back-track to Southrop and lunch at The Swan pub.
If you love gardening, a post-lunch visit to Burford Garden Centre is a must.
Multi-award-winning, this is no ordinary purveyor-of-plants. It also sells homewares, art, designer clothing and all things horticultural. At this time of year, the spring
bulbs are displayed in colour-coded swathes. It is a great place to take afternoon tea.
Medieval Burford town is five minutes away and definitely worth a mooch around the shops – there is so much more to discover just off the usual tourist track.
Recommended Places to Stay
Eco Chic Cottages have two Luxury five-star holiday cottages in the area. These luxury eco-cottages are available for weekend, mid-week or longer stays and are open all year, (click on the cottage names for further information).
The Chestnuts at Shilton (Sleeps eight) just five minutes drive from Burford.