On Day 2 of our UK road trip, we left Stratford-upon-Avon and headed down into the Cotswolds that were very nearby. The Cotswolds had been a definite on our plan since the beginning and we were really looking forward to travelling through the area as neither of us had been there before. We didn’t have any set plans aside from noting down the names of a few beautiful looking and sounding villages and towns to pass through and a few National Trust properties. Our first stop was the charming town of Chipping Campden which I’m read somewhere (but can’t find now!) was voted the prettiest high street in England. We had a bit of wander round there, marvelling at the 17th century market hall and the pretty Cotswold limestone buildings then set off on our way again to our next stop.
Next stop was our first National Trust property of the trip – we joined especially for this trip! – Hidcote Gardens. We’d picked a nice weather property and a rainy weather one, and since it was only a little bit drizzly, we decided to go for the garden one. Ben generally tends to prefer gardens to looking round the houses anyway (whereas I’m usually the other way round), but this one was a bit of a compromise as all the gardens were organised into outdoor “rooms” with quite distinct features to separate them. And we had the opportunity to get our matching raincoats out 😀 (From Lidl, if anyone was at all interested!).
We wandered the gardens for a while, exploring what we could using the map (although a couple of “rooms” were closed for renovation and hedge cutting as it’s not high season) then popped into the tearoom for a mid-morning cake and tea, cream tea for me – National Trust scones are always a winner! We discovered while on this trip that visiting various places in the UK at the end of September meant we were very often the youngest people around – there were a lot of OAPs and retired people enjoying the nicer weather after the kids had gone back to school – a good idea really!
The next couple of stops on our journey don’t actually have any photographs to go with them including the Cotswolds Gin Distillery where we were just a bit too late for one tour and a couple of hours too early for the next tour, so we instead just visited the shop and bought ourselves and Ben’s sister (who was looking after the cats for us) a bottle of their gin. The Distillery was situated in a lovely area and the gin itself is really good, so I’d recommend a visit if you’re in the area.
And as we were driving, Ben’s brewery sense began to tingle! Ben makes his own home brews in our garage and he’s always looking for new craft and locally made beers to try, so he’d been hoping we’d come across somewhere on our trip. We’d stopped at a junction somewhere when he asked me, “Aren’t we going to find a brewery? Surely there’s one in the Cotswolds!” So I pulled out my phone and searched for the nearest brewery – lo and behold, there was apparently one 0.1 miles away….in the field next to where we were stopped at this junction! We couldn’t see it so drove round in a circle, trying to figure out where it must be when I came across the Cotswold Brewing Company Google reviews, one of which explained that it was difficult to find but gave directions. We turned down a tiny gravel track opposite a pub, finally spotted a teeny sign for it, through a half-closed gate that seemed to lead to an equestrian centre, a lot further down a gravel track and turned up in the pouring rain outside the brewery! They seemed quite surprised to see that someone had found them! It was a little odd as the “shop” was a small bookcase in the front of their office with a few bottles of their beer and cider with a price list. It did say that they offer tours, but we weren’t sure they were prepared for that! In the end, we bought a few bottles plus a pint glass and went on our way. But I still think it was so weird that of all the driving we did (1000+ miles), Ben somehow magically knew when we were within 0.1 miles of a brewery XD
We drove through several more beautiful Cotswold villages and towns, stopping to have a look or more of a drive through a few including Stow-on-the-Wold, Tetbury and Castle Combe. We’d planned to walk around Castle Combe, but discovered the car park we’d found was a long walk away then drove straight through it, woops! We then passed a sign for Marshfield which rang some bells for us as my godmother and her family live there, so we decided to make the (very small) detour and drop in on her unexpectedly! She was definitely surprised! We stayed for a couple of hours, waiting for the kids to come back from school and had a walk around their village seeing where they live before heading on to our Airbnb in Bath.
Our Airbnb in Bath was The Retreat, which was a private access cabin in the garden of a house just off Lansdown Road. The photo above was after we’d slept in the bed, so sorry about the state of it! We arrived there later on in the day and checked in with yet another friendly host. The cabin was small (there was only room to walk around the bed) but was nicely furnished, light and warm. It had a small ensuite bathroom too that was clean and modern. The only small issue we had there was that we think the bed was three quarter size rather than a full double, but that was only minor! It was situated really near a Park & Ride for the city too which was very useful.
We’d thought about spending the late afternoon in Bath itself then having dinner there, but we arrived a bit too late to explore the city but too early if we went in to eat yet, so instead we had a bit of a rest, got ready to go out and had dinner at the Hare & Hounds which was a very short drive away from us – if it had been summer and warm, we probably could have walked. We shared salt & pepper squid to start (and we both proclaimed it the best squid we’ve ever had), I had a pulled pork burger and Ben had slow cooked pork belly, and we were very impressed. Definitely recommend this one if you’re nearby Bath and want to eat just outside the city. It also apparently has spectacular views, but it was already dark by the time we arrived – we could see the twinkling lights of Bath below us though!
Then we were provided breakfast with hot tea by our Airbnb host the next morning which was everything we needed again before setting off on our next stage of the journey.