Wednesday, September 14, 2016

To the Cotswolds

Day 10:  Bath to Burford

After a lovely break in Bath, which still ranks up there as one of our favorite places, we packed and loaded up the car to head to Burford for our first visit to the Cotswolds.  We had a lovely breakfast before we went.  Harry and Douglas were great hosts and Hill House B&B was lovely, just not our preferred location in Bath.

Gorgeous view from our attic room

Picture perfect Bath
For this section of the trip, we relied on the Rough Guide to the Cotswolds and the plan today was to stop at Castle Combe, Kelmscott Manor, and Bibury before checking in to the Lamb Inn in Burford where we would stay 3 nights.

With the help of the map and the GPS, we routed ourselves to Castle Combe.  The drive was picturesque but did not prepare us for the cuteness overload that is Castle Combe.  Because it was still early, there were few other tourists around.  The weather was glorious.  We walked to every nook and cranny that seemed open to tourists and took tons of pictures.  This was a great way to start our Costwolds days!

Back in the car, we routed ourselves to Kelmscott Manor.  It's only open on Wednesdays and Sundays so today was our only opportunity to see this home of William Morris, whose legacy is the Arts and Crafts Movement.  The house is located in Kelmscott village which is kinda out in the middle of nowhere and we felt quite lost at times.  But as we got closer, there were signs for the village and then directions to the parking lot.  We walked the few minutes from the parking lot to the Plough, the village pub/inn, and enjoyed a lovely alfresco lunch (tm Hyacinth Bucket, "Keeping up Appearances").  Then a few more minutes walk to the Manor. We bought our tickets, which included a room by room guide, and were admitted to the manor shortly after.   It was not overly crowded.

The Manor was everything we'd expected, and more.  It was filled with the tapestries, art, furniture, etc. of William Morris and his family and friends.  It was homey and beautiful.  We enjoyed talking to the docents in each room and learning more about the man, the house, his friends, and family.   One tourist from Boston was somehow connected to a donor of a replica rug in the main bedroom.  The docents explained that the house was maintained with help of generous donors from all over the world.

After touring the house, we walked around the gardens--which I loved.

Then a short stroll down to the Thames river.  Me:  "Is this really the same Thames that's in London?" Husband: "Yes (duh)." It was peaceful by the river; a perfect picnic spot.

We made our way back to the car, passing by one of my favorite features of Kelmscott Manor, the slate fence.  We stopped at the village church and paid homage at Morris's grave before leaving.

Next up was the cute town of Bibury.  We parked by the Trout Farm and walked down the main street to Arlington Row.  These houses started in the 1380's as a wool store and were converted in the 1800's to adorable, incredibly picturesque cottages.  Too many pictures later, we headed back to the car via Rack Isle.  The grounds of the Bibury Court hotel were as gorgeous as the trout smell was hideous.

Next up was Burford.  I'd chosen Burford as our base after much research and advice from the forums.  It was a great:  Cute, central to all that we wanted to see, with decent restaurants and accommodations.  The Lamb Inn was a bit pricey but we loved our room--it had its own private entrance from the street and its own cute garden.  We unpacked, grabbed a couple of beers in the bar, then went walking about Burford.

Burford was much larger and busier than the other towns we'd visited but very pretty, nonetheless. The golden stone buildings were enhanced by the rays of the setting sun.  The weather was spectacular so we sat outside on the patio at a random pub.  It was empty, save us, until a large group of coworkers showed up and started smoking, so we departed. 

For dinner we chose Spice Lounge Indian restaurant on the main drag and really enjoyed our meal. We don't have great Indian food at home so almost any Indian food in the UK is better than what we can get!

Back to the hotel for the night.

1.  Castle Combe was our first Cotswolds village and it ranked #2 of all we visited.  We saw it early and uncrowded.
2.  Kelmscott Manor was outstanding in every way.  And it's really the same Thames as in London!
3.  Bibury was lovely; Arlington Row was prettier than the pictures.
4.  Way finding using the GPS and reading road signs was very easy.

Next:  Husband's big birthday!  Bourton-on-theWater, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Wyck Rissington, Sezincote Manor, the Rollright Stones, fancy dining.

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