The picture-perfect Cotswolds is a firm favourite in our household. It’s just close enough for a day trip, or an easy weekend away, and even in bad weather it’s still utterly charming.
Although it feels like a bit of a trek, the nearest stretches of the Cotswolds are just over an hour away from Winchester (and even closer if you’re based in north Hampshire). Pootle up the A34/M4 and you’ll hit Cirencester (the “Capital” of the Cotswolds) in an hour and fifteen.
So if you fancy a beautiful day trip for some stunning scenery and sublime pub lunches, jump in your car and try these villages.
1. Castle Combe
When I think of the Cotswolds, I think of Castle Combe. The beautiful sandstone cottages, sweeping streets, and the tranquil river running by are just exquisite.
Castle Combe is proclaimed as one of England’s prettiest villages, as well as rising to fame through being a film location for some big tv/film hits, most notably Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, Downton Abbey, and Stardust.
The White Hart pub serves a great range of easy pub classics, including jacket potatoes, stews, sandwiches and pies. If you’re after something special, The Manor House Hotel has become a firm Insta-favourite for its sweeping, ivy-covered façade, or otherwise try The Castle Inn (opposite the White Hart) which is the sister Inn to The Manor House Hotel.
And for any Harry Potter fans, nip over to neighbouring village, Lacock, to visit Hogwarts, the home where Professor Slughorn pretends to be an armchair, and one of the Godric’s Hollow filming locations.
Another contender for “prettiest village in England”, much of Bibury is protected by The National Trust, and for good reason. Arlington Row, which is the most photographed row of cottages in Bibury, dates back to the 1300’s, and you can even stay in one of them.
Grab a bite to eat at The Swan Hotel, which sits on the River Coln and is another Cotswolds Insta-landmark, again for its ivy-covered façade.
3. Poulton & Meysey Hampton
Ok, so whilst these are technically juuust outside of the Cotswolds, they’re both right on the edge and so sweet that they deserve a spot on this list. I’ve grouped them together because they’re a stones throw from each other and an easy walk between. Lunch at the Masons Arms, which sits on Meysey Hampton’s beautiful green, surrounded by Cotswold cottages. The green even has the old horse mount steps from time-gone-by that you can walk up.
4. Biddestone & Slaughterford
Just a 35-minute cross-country walk between each other, Biddestone and Slaughterford sit just across the Cotswolds border, and both are equally charming in aesthetic.
Slightly larger than the previous 4 places, Burford boasts a much larger food scene and a small high street to boot. If you like antiques and homeware, Burford is the one for you.
Walk along the River Windrush towards Swinbrook on this scenic 6.5km walk before circling back to Burford for a well-earned pub lunch.