Books I've Read

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Cotswolds...Part Two


Back to the Cotswold story...sorry to leave you hanging for SO long. Day two dawned bright and beautiful. The day promised to be even nicer than the day before. We had our second lovely breakfast this time I had scrambled eggs and smoked salmon YUMMY! While Mark had his second full English. After a brief chat with our hosts and a second consultation with the oracle of all things we were off. The second day's journey was decided to use the map only despite the missed turns and the momentarily lost moments from the day before. We had had SO many adventures minus Mrs. Garmin so we left her locked in the glove box.

Goals for the day were to find Broadway Tower, Rollright stones, and Burton-on-the-Water using as few main roads as possible. So leaving Charlton Kings we headed first towards a place called Guilting Power after going through Guilting Power we got lost! We ended up in Winchcombe. Whoops!! Turned out to be a great mistake though  as there was a lovely castle, Sudeley Castle (which was closed) and a few beautiful vistas. We walked round the outside of the castle and took a few photos before getting in the car to then try and figure out how to get back on the right road to Broadway tower.

Historic Houses in Winchcombe

Our view of Sudeley Castle
Queen Katherine Parr's view...while minus Mark!

Well I know you will find this hard to believe at this point but rather than stay on the main road we left Winchcombe found a single track road and got on it. Now I had no idea how to get from where we were to Broadway tower, but neither of us wanted to go on the boring main roads. So winding our through beautiful English countryside through Temple Guilting (which is almost due north of Guilting Power...meaning we completely doubled back on our selves...hehe), up to Cutsdean Ford, and then Snowshill. Snowshill was a beautiful tiny little village boasting of a few houses, an iconic phone box and a pub. A booming metropolis compared to Taddinton, long may these villages remain less discovered!
Snowshill church yard
Snowshill Pub
 Sometime after Snowshill I directed Mark down the wrong road yet again, which took us into the town of Broadway. Now we were planing on going to Broadway but not until after Broadway tower. But it REALLY didn't matter. Broadway is a gorgeous village with the kind of shopping that Mark and I were expecting in Cheltenham. It was full of odd little shops in ancient buildings. More than once even I was ducking to avoid low ceilings! It was amazing to get to see the inside of some of these buildings. From the outside the look very straightforward and simple but the inside of them is a maze of adventure, massive wooden oak ceiling beams, and the oddest angles of ceiling meets wall meets floor! It was hard to focus on the beautiful things for sale as these shops gave you a free tour of the inside of the classic Cotswold stone houses!

Broadway tower was next. As we approached it there were also signs for a Nuclear bunker, but being out of season it wasn't open. Broadway Tower was, but we decided not to pay the extra money to climb the tower as the view from the ground were stunning. Besides with no wind cover it was VERY chilly and as we were now beginning to start to be conscious of the distance (calculating getting lost once or twice) that we needed to cover IF we were going to make it to all our other stops. So it was a whirlwind walk round the base of the folly before jumping into the warm car. 
Capability Brown's Tower (aka Broadway tower)

View from Broadway Tower 

Supposedly you can see as many as 16 different counties from here, but it was too chilly to stop and try and figure out how many I could see. Next was on to the Rollright stones. Due to the fact that our day was quickly coming to an end we decided it would be best if we stayed on the main road. I know boring, BUT there were too many things that I wanted to try and see in such a very short time. So down the A44 we went stopping for a quick shop in Merton on the Marsh were we found a lovely old book store with a resident dog so you know it was a good shop! and had a quick bite to eat. Then on to Little Compton where we had to leave the main road in order to get to the stones.

Most people have heard of Stonehenge and want to visit them. What less people are aware of is that there are lots and lots of stone circles all over England. Most of which are not the major tourist attraction that is Stonehenge. I have been lucky enough to actually get to see Stonehenge many times (hard to miss as it is on the side of a main road on the way to Salisbury). Even more lucky I have also been to see Avebury which is a stone circle that goes around an entire village! As well as the Woodhenge which is thought to be an earlier Stonehenge. Well according to the great oracle the Rollright stones are the third most famous stone circle in England. First thing to say is that the difference between most famous and third famous means that we

A Rollright stone
completely missed the signs and the stones the first time we drove past. Now this might be understandable if there was lots of other things around this area, but the ONLY thing on this small little road is the Rollright stones and we still missed them...I think  we must have been tired as there was in fairness to the national trust a BIG green sign. Now as for the stone circle; legend has it that it is not possible to count all the stones and if you manage to do it you get a wish full fulled. The sun was fading and the stones were pretty but to be honest I wasn't feeling the magic of these stones. Avebury definitely something special about those stones, and the same for Stonehenge but not for me for Rollright. Maybe I'm getting a bit to used to this sort of special thing and maybe for me they are just old stones now...hehe...Am I becoming a "local"?

The next town answered that question for me rather quickly! Burton-on-the-Water has to be one of the prettiest little village I have ever seen! If it was in America you would think it had been constructed just for the tourists. It was very easy to imagine it HEAVING in peak season. Thankfully we were there in off season so we had to share it with locals only. I tried to take some pictures of it but didn't really mange to fully capture the essence of the place.
Instead bear with me as I try to describe it. There is this village made from honey coloured stone. Its buildings are simple rectangles and yet there is a beauty in the clean lines that have stood for hundreds of years. There is a waterway which divides the town. It is clear and shallow and mainly serves as a place for the local ducks to pretend to hunt for plants and algae while secretly hoping for small children to feed them bread. Across this waterway at what seems like ridiculously close distances are picturesque arched bridges. Some for cars, some for pedestrians and some I think merely for the beauty of repetition. We happily strolled thought this impossibly perfect village and managed before the shops closed to get our  tourist magnet, a teapot (in the shape of a VW van), and a spice rack! Don't ask....

Where else but England is the "new" part of the in from 1938?
After Burton-on-the-Water it was time to head back to Detmore house. As we drove though more little roads I relished in the views. Here more than any other place that that I have visited so far in England, it is so easy to see and believe in the England of the Bronte sisters as well as Jane Austin. The land was still visibly divided up in manors and small pretty villages that sprung up to support the wealthy in those manor houses. Here being wealthy meant being a landowner and having others farm the land for you. I felt like I was gazing into the past.

Our final day in the Cotswolds started the same as the others sunny with a fabulous breakfast. This time I had the cooked full English and Mark had the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. We left Detmore house having had a restful wonderful time. We made our way towards home once again winding through tiny roads taking in the view. Stopping for lunch in Cirencester another beautiful Cotswold market town. We slowly wound our way back to Surrey. As the landscape changed and the buildings changed from honey stone into redbrick a part of me felt that I had been to another country not just a new county and was now returning home!

If you ever go to the Coltswolds, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. As scary as it might seem, turn of you chosen GPS device, pull out a map (even if it is old and out of date) and just have fun! You will get lost, but by doing so you may be as lucky as we were: and find a countryside full of nodding snopdrops in full bloom, hidden villages unknown to the multitudes of tourist that frequent the area, and meet a goose who thinks he is David!

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