Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Monday, January 29, 2018

the charm of the cotswolds...an easy daytrip from london!

One might imagine that entering a town that is brushed an overwhelmingly uniform shade of taupe would lack in something, but let me tell you that Stow-on-the-Wold has an abundance of colour oozing out of its rich history and character.


Sweet, curious cottages are the first thing I notice. They hang out on seemingly every corner. An imposing market cross stands at attention in the middle of the square - erected in the middle ages as a constant reminder for the sheep traders to remain fair and honest in their dealings.


Pubs abound, like they do England, everywhere. But, Stow-on-the-Wold is also internationally reknowed for its antiques...therefore you'll find no shortage of galeries and shops here.


Charming, charismatic, and outlandish...like in an 'Outlander'-type way (although I know that the TV series is filmed in Scotland) are inadequate words I would use to describe this town and its surrounding romantic hills.


Sitting atop the highest 'wold' in the Cotswolds, Stow-on-the-Wold's medieval church spire can be seen from miles away. This area, deeply affected and infected by the remnants of Henry VIII and the Tudor reign, the bloodshed of the first English Civil War, and Britain's obsession for the best wool to be had, makes a visit here feel like stepping back in time.


During the civil war, Stow remained fiercely loyal to the crown, which is evidenced by plaques to the fallen and buildings still proudly bearing royal names, such as the King's Arms in the market square; a 500-year-old former coaching inn. Coming here by train is the perfect day trip from London, but on my next visit I will definitely stay the night in a quaint and cozy inn, like the King's Arms, for a quick and easy break from the city.


Stow-on-the-Wold, one of many incredibly cute and picturesque market towns of the southern midlands, located in the northern Cotswolds, held for centuries the largest livestock market in Britain.


Long, narrow lanes, called "chures", run upwards to the market square from the large holding pens below, where the sheep were driven through and counted as they came to the square to be sold on market days.  Upwards of 20,000 sheep were sold on good days!


The middle ages was an incredibly prosperous time for Stow due to the high demand across the country for the special, long-haired, woolly Cotswold sheep, still a precious breed today.


The entire Cotswolds region is a maze of lovely walking trails through the high and lowlands...


among fields of sheep and horses, which connect towns with low-lying stone walls and tree-lined paths.


Just a mile from Stow is the former sheep estate called Maugersbury, which once upon a time supplied the vast amount of animals for Stow's successful market days.


Now a hamlet, it is home to the cutest stone cottages nestled among what look to be high-end, grey-stoned villas.


The architecture style of the area became known as Cotswold Vernacular, stemming from the original building method, which was wood with wattle and daub, until wood became scarce and the area's limestone was put into use. This resulted in everything from homes and foundations, to roof tiles and fences covered in coursed rubble walls.


Some of the original methods can still be found in Stow, including Tudor House on Sheep Street, dating back to the 1500's.


The town also boasts "England's Oldest Inn" according to the Guinness Book of Records. The Royalist Inn, along with The Porch House, on Digbeth Street dates all the way back to 947 AD. Isn't this the perfect place to have a pint?


The Cotswolds are England's largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) stretching from Stratford Upon Avon down to Bath. Personally, I can't wait to get back so that I can spend much more time hitting the region's meandering footpaths and combing through the treasures of its stone-walled villages.


Trust me, if you're looking for a different kind of High Street - a quieter, more peaceful one - then the Cotswolds are a perfect break from London.


If you go:

From London's Paddington Station trains run every hour to Moreton-on-March (a 1.5 hour journey). From Moreton's train station take a 20-minute bus ride to Stow-on-the-Wold.

Travel by train at 'super, non-peak' hours to get the best deal on tickets (www.thetrainline.com) which are very easy to book ahead online.

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