Today we take a drive through the Cotswolds, returning to Bath in the early evening. Alternatively you may take a leisurely drive to your next destination at the north end of the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds have been described as “Lush, green and in most places utterly unspoiled countryside, rolls with poetic ease from wooded hills and valleys through rich and peaceful pastures across the length and breadth of Gloucestershire.” Ed O’Brien.
Our trip begins today by driving north out of Bath along the A46 through the countryside. After about 25 miles the road starts to wind down into Nailsworth. The meeting place of three valleys with valleys branching off towards Avening, Horsley and Stroud. In times of old, way before the motor car was invented to get in and out of Nailsworth was a dangerous scramble up pack-horse tracks, many of which are still used today. While there is not a lot to do in the town some of the scenery into and through the valleys is spectacular. Evidence of an old Roman villa exists at Woodchester where the spectacular Orpheus Pavement Mosaic is uncovered at (very) irregular intervals. If you are interested it is recommended that you confirm whether or not the mosaic is available for viewing.
After Nailsworth we proceed through Stroud up to Painswick. Every other Cotswold town has been compared with Painswick. It is not necessarily the prettiest, the most unspoiled or the most characteristic small Cotswold town, but it has been used as the standard by which others are judged. The town has even been titled “The Queen of the Cotswolds”. Time for a wander round and some coffee and then on to Rococo Garden. Originally laid out in the 18th century, the garden is set in a hidden Cotswold valley with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.
From Painswick we travel on towards Cheltenham, England’s Regency Spa town. Renowned for its stylish shopping, colourful parks, floral displays, horseracing, festivals and special events. You now have the choice of spending a couple of hours in Cheltenham or continuing on through the Cotswolds. We now take the A40 out of Cheltenham heading towards Oxford. After about 10 miles look for signposts to Casey Compton for the Roman Villa at Chedworth.The Roman Villa is the finest and most completely excavated example of its kind, dating from around 180 – 350AD. Chedworth, set in a beautiful wooded valley, was probably the home of a wealthy landowner. It may have been abandoned in the 5th century when the Roman government in Britain collapsed.
From Chedworth we retrace our steps back to the A40, head for Oxford and then take the A429 to Bourton-on-the-Water. The village is known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ and is in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The village is also famous for its model village. It was opened on the Coronation day of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. Through the heart of the Model Village runs a miniature River Windrush – about a metre wide, it flows from the working water mill, beneath replicas of five of Bourton’s famous stone bridges, on its way to the Thames. The village is built in the grounds of the old-new Inn. If you have not already had lunch this may be a good time to stop for a quick break before driving on to Stow on the Wold.
Stow on the Wold is the highest town in the Cotswolds and was built mainly in the 17th and 18th century. The Battle of Stow – the last battle in the English Civil War, took place in March 1646. The Medieval market cross is a fine example of 17th century stonework. Stroll around and soak up the atmosphere before preparing to return via the A429 passing through Cirencester or Corinium an old Roman centre. For those interested just after Tetbury you will pass Highgrove the residence of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales on your right hand side. Prior to joining the A46 you will pass, on your left hand side, one of the outer gates of the Badminton Estate, residence of the Duke of Beaufort and also location of the world famous horse trials.
Continue on the A46 towards bath and after passing junction 18 of the M4 we reach our final attraction. Hopefully we still have some time left and can afford a visit to Dyrham Park, home of the Blathwayts. Today it is a superbly restored property containing many of the fine textiles, paintings, and Dutch ceramics. The park is well worth the visit as well as the house.
Before proceeding on your trip please check with reception as many of these attractions have seasonal opening times.