A Spring Stroll in the Cotswolds

We’re almost at the end of week 3 of lockdown here in the UK and we’re more or less settled into a routine. Even though most things have shut down, signs of Spring are still showing all around.

We were sorting through our photos and the ones we took on a walk around the Slaughters and Bourton-on-the-Water that we did more or less a month ago really cheered us up – we hope you enjoy looking through them too! We’ve also included the route of our walk if you’d like to go exploring after all this is over. We’re sure it will look just as lovely in the summer or autumn months.

We started our walk in Upper Slaughter, one of the picture-perfect twin villages which feature in so many guidebooks. The name of the village is said to come from the Anglo-Saxon ‘slough’, which means ‘wet land’. The village was the site of an adulterine castle (built during the twelfth century by supporters of the Empress Matilda, who contested the crown of England against her cousin, Stephen). The Lords of the Manor hotel, originally built in 1649 dominates the village, while the picturesque cottages which surround the village square were built in 1906.

From the village square, follow the road down the hill and take the path on your right which leads down past the gardens of the Lords of the Manor hotel. Cross the footbridge and continue through three fields until the path runs parallel to the River Eye. Follow the path, with the river on the right until you enter Lower Slaughter. Turn right and follow the path round past the Old Mill Museum and cross the stream.

Together with Castle Combe, Lower Slaughter is perhaps one of the most photographed villages in the Cotswolds. It was recorded in Domesday as Sclostre, meaning ‘muddy place’. The Eye bubbles through the village and can be crossed by two picturesque footbridges. The Old Mill Museum is still home to a working waterwheel and has a café and shop which sells artisanal handmade items. The main street through the village was voted Most Romantic Street in Britain in 2011 and we can certainly see why! The pretty stone cottages are stunning, especially at this time of year when the daffodils are starting to line the pavements.

Follow the road with the Church on your left and turn right along the Wardens Way, which runs alongside the gardens of the Slaughters Country Inn. Continue straight along the Wardens Way. Follow the path through open fields and through an equestrian centre until you reach the A429, which follows the ancient route of the Fosse Way. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing and follow the road signs to Bourton-on-the-Water down Station Road. At the car park, follow the signs to the village centre.

Bourton-on-the-Water has been called the Venice of the Cotswolds. The River Windrush flows through the centre of the village and is crossed by several pretty footbridges. There was one cherry tree which was in full blossom when we visited and which lined up picturesquely with one of the bridges across the river. It added a lovely splash of colour to the views. We arrived in the village just in time for brunch and we each had a Full English at the Croft Restaurant. It was super tasty and there were big panoramic windows with a view of the river. The village is home to the Cotswold Motor Museum (home of Brum) and a model village (which even has a model of the model village). We didn’t have a chance to look round the museums or the Cotswolds Distillery either so we are looking forward to going back one day to visit them all as they are rather brilliant by all accounts!

Once you’ve explored the village, head back along to Upper Slaughter along the same route. We always find that when we look behind us we discover something new so back in Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter have a look and see if you can spot something you didn’t notice before! One summer we are also hoping to visit the gardens of Upper Slaughter Manor House on an open day. We have read that it is home to a rather lovely rose garden!

Let us know if you’ve visited any of these villages and what you thought of them! Have a lovely Easter Bank Holiday weekend!