FOLLOW THE COTSWOLDS WAY
Glittering fields of dew-spangled grass. Piles of red and orange leaves lining woodland paths. It’s easy to see why the Cotswolds takes centre stage in England’s countryside. And as the crisp autumn air takes over from summer, it’s time to lace up your hiking boots and explore the surrounding landscape and villages. Then warm up with delicious food and drink served up at some of the best boutique hotels in the Cotswolds. Here are a few lovely walking trails to get you going…
WALK ONE: A STROLL FROM BROADWAY
J M Barrie found inspiration for Peter Pan while living in the village of Stanway, near the honey-stone village of Broadway. You can follow (or fly) in his literary steps by taking a half-hour stroll downhill to the Farncombe Estate entrance. Beyond this 400-acre woodland sanctuary, it’s an easy two to three-hour circular walk to the historic market town of Chipping Campden.
Trail markers help guide you through shaded woodlands, meeting the odd deer, sheep and pheasant along the way. Then go through fields to Broadway Tower. Created over 200 years ago by Capability Brown, Pre-Raphaelite artist, William Morris made it his country escape. It’s also home to the famous printing press of Sir Thomas Phillips. Discover more in the museum, before climbing to the rooftop platform for panoramic views of up to 16 counties.
Rest weary feet at the contemporary Morris and Brown Café and Shop with a hazelnut hot chocolate in front of the log fire.
BE REELED IN BY THE FISH…
The Fish Hotel offers a luxurious, back-to-nature escape (there are even contemporary treehouse suites and hillside shepherd’s huts). Its curious name comes from the tale that a local monastery used to store fish within the cool caves under its hillside setting. By day, archery, off-roading, Segway safaris and a woodland playground will keep the whole family busy. The staff can also equip you with complimentary maps, wellies and raincoats for those muddier autumn days.
WALK TWO: HEAD FOR THE HILLS
Dover’s Hill, northwest of Chipping Campden, is an 80-metre climb to the amphitheatre shaped rim. From here, the golden glow of the stone buildings below come alive under the autumn sun.
Or pick up a map for a more challenging 6-mile circular trail south of Broadway. Dogs will have a ball running free across the open countryside as you head towards Snowshill Manor and Garden. Stop here for lunch and a look at the extraordinary toys and treasures collected by Charles Wade.
Continue westwards over hilltops, through kissing gates and down valleys to the picturesque village of Stanton, filled with proper old pubs. It’s then about the same distance again back to Broadway and the comforts of your boutique hotel.
WALK THREE: EXPLORING GLOUCESTERSHIRE
There are lots of walks in and around the village of Lower Slaughter. From here, follow the River Eye to the 19th century Old Mill and Upper Slaughter – where John Milton is believed to have penned Paradise Lost in Eyford House. Leckhampton Hill in Shurdington promises another exhilarating route up to a classic Cotswolds spot overlooking Cheltenham, and views as far as Malvern.
Other ways to travel
The Cotswolds is made for walking and cycling. But if you fancy letting a horse do the hard work, there are plenty of riding centres in the area and delightful routes such as the Sabrina Way, which starts near Cheltenham.
BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN THE COTSWOLDS
As well as The Fish, two other boutique hotels are set on Broadway’s sprawling Farncombe Estate. Foxhill Manor pairs retro style with truly personal service – you can even ask the chef to prepare exactly what you want to eat. Nearby, is the award-winning, 17th century restored Dormy House Hotel featuring a state-of-the-art spa that Foxhill guests are also welcome to use.
The Greenway Hotel & Spa on the fringes of Cheltenham, is the epitome of vibrant Regency décor, complete with an award-winning French inspired restaurant, hydrotherapy pool and wide range of spa treatments.