Itinerary: Cotswolds & Shakespeare Country

Cotswolds & Shakespeare Country

Wool and stone give the Cotswold Hills their unique and distinctive character and this stunning drive explores the area in detail, taking in some of the prettiest towns, the idyllic riverside villages and the great manor houses built for the wealthy wool merchants. Expect glorious views, gentle river valleys, rolling hills, limestone uplands, and time in Tudor Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare.

The Itinerary

Day 1

A day exploring Oxford - dreaming spires; college tours; Bodleian Library; the Oxford Story; Thames-side strolls. Use Pear Tree Park & Ride (off A44) as handy for A40 and the short drive west towards Burford. STAY - Swan Inn, Swinbrook, Oxfordshire (from £125).

Day 2

Walk from the Swan to charming Burford or drive to Burford. South to Kelmscott Manor (William Morris's home) or Buscot Park (NT); then scenic lanes from Fairford to Bibury (picture-book village; Arlington row) or Chedworth Roman Villa; and back roads to Northeach. STAY – Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach, Gloucestershire (from £140).

Day 3

Cirencester (amphitheatre remains; Corinium Museum; Cirencester Park); then to Tetbury (antiques & independent shops) and Chavenage House (Poldark; tour by owner). Lanes meander north to Minchinampton, Sapperton (canal walk), the glorious Duntisbourne Valley to Birdlip Viewpoint. STAY – The Frogmill, Shipton Oliffe, Gloucestershire (from £100).

Day 4

Back lanes to Winchcombe (Cotswold Way walk to Sudeley Castle & Belas Knap) followed by lunch at The Lion. Hailes Abbey (NT) and Snowshill Manor (NT - village is special too), then Chipping Campden (classic Cotswold village) and stunning Hidcote Manor Garden (NT) & Kiftsgate Garden. STAY - The Townhouse, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire (from £90).

Day 5

Explore the Birthplace of the Bard, visiting Anne Hathaway’s Cottage; Mary Arden’s House; The Shakespeare Centre; RSC Theatre Royal (take in a Shakespeare play); and strolls beside the River Avon. Head south back into the Cotswolds. STAY – Horse & Groom, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire (from £85).

Day 6

Explore Batsford Arboretum; visit the Falconry Centre; tour the Cotswold Distillery at Shipston-on-Stour; stroll around Moreton-in-Marsh or visit Chastleton House. South to Stow-on-the-Wold (Capital of the Cotswolds – galleries, independent shops & cafes) and enjoy lunch/drink at The Sheep. STAY – Feathered Nest Inn, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire (from £160).

Day 7 & 8

Stroll around picture-book villages of Lower & Upper Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water; visit Daylesford Organics (impressive farm shop, spa & lifestyle shop) at Kingham; spend time exploring Blenheim Palace & Woodstock. STAY – The Lion, Wendlebury, Oxfordshire (from £90 - retail therapy at Bicester Village before heading home).

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