The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. With picturesque villages and chocolate box cottages it is no wonder that it has come to represent quintessential English life. So with this in mind some of the A-Z team decided to follow a small route on our Cotswolds and Chilterns A-Z Visitors’ Map. We joined the Cotswold railway line at Long Hanborough and from there departed on our journey, stopping off at Charlbury and Moreton-in-Marsh before reluctantly returning back to our starting point.
Charlbury is the perfect postcard Cotswold village with its rolling hills and traditional Cotswold honey coloured stone cottages, one could mistake it for the set of a period drama. With dainty and charming shops lining the streets and tucked away along the side streets, Charlbury very much lives up to its reputation of providing a deliciously satisfying taste of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds.
Evenlode Books was one of our favourite finds, comprising of a shop floor only 9ft wide and 11ft deep, making it one of the smallest bookshops in the country. What it lacks in space it makes up for with bags of character enticing you in to peruse a huge variety of books. It is therefore not a surprise that many who visit the Cotswolds have this on their list of things to do and see. From the bookshelves of Evenlode, we decided to head to St. Mary’s Church making our way down the aptly named Church Street. It was a very welcoming and peaceful place, dating back as far as the 12th Century; we enjoyed trying to decipher the names and dates on the weather worn gravestones. As we followed the winding road round, we came to the outskirts of the village and admired the idyllic Cotswold countryside in all its glory – it was clear to see why so many people visit the Cotswolds each year. We then took the opportunity to take in the scenery and relax on a bench to plan where our next stop would be.
Returning to the train, 2 stops later, we arrived at Moreton-in-Marsh, a principal Northern Cotswolds market town which just sneaks into the boundary of Gloucestershire. Once off the train we were almost immediately greeted with the sight of the High Street lined with tea rooms, florists, grocers, antique shops and souvenir shops.
Allium Florist was one of our favourite places, with a delightful display outside and the scent of flowers being carried out of the door. Moving on when the heavens opened, we took refuge at Tilly’s Tea House and tucked into our cream teas whilst studying our map (although most of our time was spent devouring the cakes). With its cosy atmosphere and irresistible cakes, it is no wonder we spent longer than planned in the adorable tea house; we definitely recommend it if you visit the Cotswolds.
Once the rain had stopped, we decided to leave the tea house behind and pop into the Tourist Information centre to see if they had any recommendations. The Cotswold Cheese Company was suggested as our next stop, with its mouth watering display and tasty treats on offer the temptation was obvious. We ventured inside and we were not disappointed! After stocking up on more cheese than we could possibly eat, we decided it would be safer to explore the souvenir and antique shops. With so many lining the streets, it is difficult to pinpoint one particular shop. However, one thing is for sure there is no shortage of choice in products, anything and everything you would ever want is on offer when you visit the Cotswolds.
The most captivating part of Moreton-in-Marsh is almost certainly the unique and mesmerising window displays and items outside shops to draw you in. From the huge antique display to the life-size Lego figure outside the toy shop, this is very different from a typical high street.
It was definitely a shame to hop back on the train, and leave the gorgeous Cotswolds behind! However, we are already planning our next visit with the Cotswolds & Chilterns A-Z Visitors’ Map, there is definitely so much more left to explore.