Replete with chocolate-box villages, cosy countryside pubs, and natural beauty hotspots, the Cotswolds have long been a sought-after destination for weekend escapes.
British knitwear designer, Alex Gore Browne, moved to the Cotswolds 12 years ago to be closer to her husband Jo’s family: the esteemed Bamfords, who’s empire includes the Daylesford estate (an institution as popular amongst the West London set as Chipping Norton locals). The family (including donkeys, shetlands, and three dogs) are situated in the idyllic village of Shipston-On-Stour.
When Gore Browne isn’t turning out whimsical hand-embroidered knitwear from her home studio, and home-schooling her two children too, she is busy making use of the great outdoors right on her doorstep.Who better then to give the inside scoop on the cosiest nooks of this quintessentially British county? Scroll down for Alex Gore Browne’s Insider Guide to the Cotswolds.
We have 48 hours in the Cotswolds; where should we eat, stay and play?
Definitely rent a cottage next to the Daylesford farm shop. You’ll be able to roll out of bed in the morning and pick up a sausage bap and coffee at the shepherds hut just next door.
Essential items to pack?
Wellies and all-weather options.
The best time to visit the Cotswolds is…
Any time of year is wonderful, you just need to pack the right clothing. I like it when the weather’s bad and you wrap up and head out and then come home to sit by the fire.
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Favourite towns to explore…
Shipston-On-Stour is so unspoilt and like the old-fashioned Cotswolds. Pop in to Taste of the Country for delicious cakes and meringues, and anything you’d need for a picnic.
Our first pitstop should be…
The Bamford Wellness Spa for probably the best massage in England.
Your favourite hotel to check-in at is…
Soho Farmhouse. I’d go got a family cabin with bunk beds for the children.
For an early morning workout head to…
I’m not one for classes but I do love to jog. The options are endless but make sure your trainers are waterproof!
Where should we go for breakfast?
The Bower House in Shipston-On-Stour does a delicious full English breakfast.
How about for a long, lazy lunch?
The Wild Rabbit. Ask for the table in the bar next to the roaring fire and curl up in the big antique leather armchairs.
And for dinner with friends?
The Bull Inn in Charlbury is so warm and cosy, and the food is delicious.
Your favourite restaurant in town?
We’re often in Oxford and love going to Gee’s. The main restaurant is in a glass house and has a Petersham Nurseries feel. We also love The Anchor which does really good pub food. It is always busy, especially in the summer when you can sit outside.
Where should we head post-dinner?
Actually there is no place better than home.
The drink to order at the bar…
For the best views head to…
The Broadway Tower. On a clear day you can see up to 16 counties.
The best place for people watching…
You’ll often find David Beckham at the deli counter at Daylesford on a Saturday morning.
The cultural spot to rave about…
The Rollright Stones are pretty mind-blowing: a collection of Neolithic and Bronze-Age stones. If you count the stones three times and get the same answer each time, you can have any wish you like!
For great shopping head to…
Cutter Brooks in Stow-on-the-Wold for beautiful homewares gifts and clothing curated by Amanda Brooks.
The one place only locals know about…
At the back of the Whichford Pottery is a little café called The Straw Kitchen which serves the best brunch in the Cotswolds.
For a change of pace try…
Stratford-upon-Avon, you can take a lovely boat trip and feed the ducks.
Great day trips include…
Chipping Camden is a chocolate box Cotswolds town. Every corner looks like a film set. Bourton-on-the-Water is equally pretty, and has a fabulous model village.
A book to read before we go (or while we’re there)?
Guide to the Cotswolds Pub Walks by Nigel Vile.
How should we spend the final day of our trip?
I would go on a long walk that ended up at a really good pub.
What’s your Cotswolds secret?
I promise I have shared them all!
In a word, the Cotswolds is…