Based on the Northern most edge of the area we provide tours through one of the most breath-taking areas of Britain. The duration of our Classic Tour is approximately four hours and takes the following route.
Starting at Stratford-upon-Avon we travel through the following towns and villages on our tour – Welford on Avon, Mickleton, Hidcote, Chipping Campden, Broadway, Stanton, Stanway, Upper and Lower Slaughters, Stow on the Wold, Moreton-in-Marsh, Blockley, Broad Campden, Ebrington, Ilmington and back to Stratford-upon-Avon.
We are able to arrange your personal tour for either half a day or a whole day. Please let us know if there are any particular sites you would like to visit.
There will be many opportunities for video or photo shots along the way.
Buildings and villages are not for everyone though and, at its western edge, the Cotswold escarpment can hold its own for lovers of wide views. From Dover’s Hill down to Uley Bury, you’ll see faraway Wales, the Forest of Dean and the Malvern Hills, as well as catching some fine panoramas of the Cotswolds themselves rising up from the Severn Plain and Vale of Evesham. The Cotswold Way National Trail follows this edge for much of its 101-mile (163km) route.
Vernacular architecture in the Cotswolds undoubtedly provides many of the stars of the built environment, but there are some grand houses too. There’s nothing here on the scale of Longleat or Blenheim, but you’ll find Sezincote and Compton Wynyates delightful nevertheless. Church buildings are also an impressive part of this legacy. The romantic remains of Hailes Abbey sit quietly at the foot of the escarpment and are best seen from the footpath near Beckbury Camp. Here Thomas Cromwell surveyed their destruction for Henry VIII. Among the outstanding churches, Chipping Camden is a tribute to the wealth of the medieval wool trade and the twin churches at East Leach Turville and East Leach Martin eye each other across the River.
This is the land where Laurie Lee grew up, made famous by his evocative childhood memories in Cider with Rosie. Here Arts and Crafts pioneers rediscovered pre-industrial values in design and created everything from glassware to revolutionary gardens. A century before, the Industrial Revolution transformed the local woollen industry, bringing great mills to the Stroud Valley and poverty to the old weaving villages. Much of the Cotswolds’ history is tied to the fortunes of wool. At one time this was the wool capital of Europe and the elaborate medieval churches are testimonies to the wealth of their merchant patrons.
But it is the idyllic stone-built villages that attract visitors to all parts of the Cotswolds, and on these tours you will find out why. In Snowshill, Bibury, Castle Combe and Stanton, the impossibly lovely buildings will take your breath away. And in Chipping Campden, you’ll feel you have found the epicentre of this vernacular wealth. The townscapes are sublime too, as you’ll find at Bradford-on-Avon, Corsham and Burford. There is an intimacy about the warm buildings of Gloucestershire in Stow-on-the-Wold, Ilmington, Broadway & Stanway, all part of this tour which never fails to thrill and inspire locals and visitors alike. You will not be the first to experience the uplifting charm of the Cotswolds. Thousands of years ago ancient peoples were moved to commemorate the burial of their dead on these undulating hills. At Belas Knap, you’ll find one of the best preserved remnants of such burials, and at the Rollright Stones you may wonder at what insights these early folk possessed when they lined up their megalithic arrays with the midsummer moon.
Approaching the Cotswolds from the north east, you’ll notice the scenery begins to change in subtle ways. The half-timber and thatch of ‘Shakespeare Country’ begins to give way to a honey-coloured stone which defines the borders of the region. This is the oolitic limestone that tilts down from west to east. In the east the gradually rising profile is virtually indistinguishable. One is only vaguely aware that the surrounding countryside is gaining in altitude. This is open, arable farming country punctuated by dark stands of trees and rivers flanked by water-meadows. Here you will find the source of the mighty Thames. Although the watershed is hardly apparent, the presence of two great east-west canals hints that it may have once presented a formidable obstacle to transport. These waterways – the Thames and Severn and the Kennet and Avon canals – provide some of the best level walking in the southern Cotswolds and cut through the very heart of the suddenly dramatic valleys that emerge on the western side.
For many people the Cotswolds epitomise a vision of rural England. Here are pretty golden-stone villages, huddled in tranquil wooded valleys, bisected by sparkling brooks and surrounded by ever green farmland. The whole region is protected by the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at 790square miles (2038sq km) the largest area in the country to be designated in this way. In the East these ‘official’ Cotswolds reach surprisingly deep into Oxfordshire, to the North they point green fingers into both Warwickshire and Worcestershire, in the South, Wiltshire and North East Somerset claim their portions, but the lion’s share of this beautiful landscape falls in Gloucestershire.
We hope this information has given you some ideas.