Tag Archives: broadway

#Take12Trips Challenge, Trip One: The Cotswold Way and Heart of England

 

After spending Saturday night filling up on excellent wine and generous portions of steak and triple-cooked chips and dark chocolate and salted caramel cake at The Bell Inn in nearby Willersey, we awoke slightly groggy, in need of a good breakfast and long walk to revive us. In what I liked to think was a stroke of good planning but more likely luck, the Cotswold Way ran right past our hotel, and was our route of choice for the day. This national trail, running for approximately 100 miles between Bath and Chipping Campden, takes in the Cotswolds’ most postcard-perfect villages and landscape, and so we eagerly wolfed down bacon sandwiches and started on the trail.

cotswold-way-sign

 

In another stroke of good fortune, the weather was cool and misty, a small respite against hiking up hills with hangover sweats. After slipping and sliding our way up Fish Hill, we sped past Tillbury Hollow, normally an excellent picnic site in good weather, and continued onwards.

The terrain was invariably flat farmland on this portion of the Cotswold Way, but with those dry stone walls iconic to the Cotswold region lining the walk and a random abandoned Cotswold cottage thrown in for good measure, the walk had a romantic, ‘old English’ feel you would expect.

Eventually we reached Dover’s Hill, home of the original English Olympic Games and the rather painful sport of ‘shin-kicking’ (I don’t understand it either). The National Trust spot is a natural amphitheatre with a Roman vineyard nestled away in its landscape, making it an ideal spot to rest.

 

dovers-hill-color

 

dovers-hill-antique

 

But not for too long, as Chipping Campden is only a mile or so away, and arguably the quaintest of all the Cotswold villages we had seen so far.

 

chipping-campden-high-street

 

Having reached Chipping Campden in breakneck speed, we decided that four miles wasn’t enough hiking, and with the day still early trotted off to the tourist information board for recommendations of nearby hikes.

It was quite good we did really, as otherwise we would not have discovered what was one of the most beautiful walks I’ve ever taken in southern England: The Heart of England Way.

 

heart-of-england-trail

 

heart-of-england-house

 

Measuring 100 miles in distance, the Heart of England Way links the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Staffordshire, with the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Gloucestershire, and a healthy amount of mileage in rural Warwickshire thrown in for good measure. Encompassing remote English villages off the track of the main Cotswold Way, to dramatic hillscapes and historic monuments, the Heart of England Way is an excellent choice for hikers wanting a varied scenery, or lots of stopping points for food and drink.

 

broad-campden-cottage

 

We embarked on the eight-mile stretch of the trail between Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh, stopping in Blockley to refuel. Almost immediately on the trail, we were led through achingly beautiful English hamlets and gently rolling hillsides. The small village of Broad Campden in particular was so serene and picturesque I had to stop for a few minutes and appreciate the view. With its thatched-roof cottages, regal manor house and fields dotted with flocks of grazing sheep, it so perfectly encompassed the Cotswold stereotype I had expected on our trip.

 

broad-campden-church

 

 

 

broad-campden-house

 

The scenery only improved the further we journeyed on the trail. Woodland and farm fields gradually changed into small villages, and in the hilly village of Blockley the lovely folk at the adorable Blockley Village Shop and Cafe gladly refilled our water bottles for us.

 

heart-of-england-trail-house

 

Our journey continued on through more forests and villages, until we reached our final destination, Moreton-in-Marsh, managing to catch the train with two minutes to spare!

Breakdown of our weekend in the Cotswolds:

Return train tickets from London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh for two: £52.00

Bus fare to Broadway for two: £6.20

Two nights, including breakfast, at the Farncombe Conference Centre in a double superior room: £115.00

Total: £173.20

If you are interested in trying the walks out for yourself, we used the Pathfinder Guides’ The Cotswolds Walks for our first hike to Broadway Tower, and the National Trails‘ website for information on The Cotswold Way. For the Heart of England Way, it is listed on the Ordnance Survey EXPLORER maps, but is also clearly signposted on the route. Otherwise, The Heart of England Way guidebook is available on its website. PLEASE NOTE, the Heart of England Way does NOT pass through Moreton-in-Marsh, it ends in Bourton-on-the-Hill. To follow our route, follow the signposts for the Heart of England until just after Blockley, then follow signage for The Monarch’s Way.

Have you done any of these trails? Tell me about your experiences below! 

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#Take12Trips Challenge, Trip One: Broadway, the Cotswolds

 

When it came to choosing a destination for my first #Take12Trips challenge, the choice was easy.

Only 1 1/2 hours on the train from London, with beautiful scenery, food and cozy pubs to escape the torrential rain, what better choice than the Cotswolds to celebrate the Valentine’s weekend?

The village of Broadway in particular, with its busy (for the Cotswolds, anyway) high street, central location to popular walks and cultural centres, not to mention great choice of pubs,  was the winner and so it was on Friday afternoon we giddily left work early and trundled through the countryside from Paddington.

Despite there being only one main street, we managed to get lost soon after our arrival in Broadway, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the weekend. Fear not, as a hard slog up Fish Hill soon brought us to our accommodation, the Farncombe Conference Centre.

Situated on its own 400-acre estate, the Farncombe offers rustic-styled accommodation at decent rates. However, it’s the estate’s panoramic views of the Cotswolds countryside and Broadway village that’s the clincher.

 

Farncombe Estate

farncombe-estate-tree

See?

Our day began with a four-mile circular hike to Broadway Tower, a Victorian folly created by Capability Brown and a favourite of artists such as William Morris and Rosetti. With the night’s rain suitably muddying our trousers and boots, we doggedly followed the slippery trail up to Broadway Tower.

The muddy ground didn’t stop others either, as some of the Tower’s locals ventured out from their huddle to meet us.

cotswold-sheep

 

 

kirsten-broadway-tower

After veering slightly off the trail, we discovered a deer enclosure nearby, and spent several long minutes quietly creeping up to the fence for a peek.Our efforts were eventually rewarded though, as we spied a group of them gathered under the tree before they sped off upon sight of us. My piece of advice for seeing them? Keep your eyes peeled and your footsteps soft, as the deer sightings are a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment!

broadway-deer

Further down the trail is a paddock of horses, which were earnestly chowing down on their breakfast and only paid us the slightest bit of attention in hopes of more delicacies. Now, I was never the kind of girl growing up that desperately wanted a horse, but these little ol’ guys were so sweet and friendly I couldn’t resist stopping to pet and feed them.

feeding-horses

broadway-horse-closeup

feeding-horses-landscape

Wandering down the trail, we came across an endless series of gurgling brooks, melodically flowing streams and quaint manor houses and cottages that are iconic to the Cotswolds.

farmhouse-gate

flying-bird

cotswold-house

Arriving at the end of the walk, Broadway High Street, we quickly scouted for a lunch stop and settled for Tisane’s Tea Room. With cosy nooks to take the weight off your feet, roughly 342342541 varieties of tea, and friendly staff, we quickly tucked into hearty portions of beans-on-toast and quiche, finishing just in time for the afternoon’s main event.

 

broadway-high-street

 

The rugby.

Watching England beat Italy was only improved by our surroundings in the Crown and Trumpet pub, a quirky and fun-loving establishment that was voted CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in 2012. With its good selection of beers, ales and ciders, friendly staff, and their own pub-cat, it is the type of place that makes you yearn for somewhere like it closer to home.

After getting ourselves in a suitably jolly state for woodland ramblings, we continued to explore the surrounding Broadway countryside, eventually stopping on the hillside to admire the view.

cotswold-way-field

 

 

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