I was vaguely aware that there is an area in south England filled with quaint towns and villages, honey-coloured stone cottages and rolling green hills, but other than that, I was none the wiser on the details. That was until our family visitors from Australia suggested a weekend away to the Cotswolds.
Five seconds into my Google search, I made the connection on what and where this magical place is and instantly knew that I would love it there. I also learnt that it’s quite a large area — almost 800 square miles and it runs through five counties (Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire). We headed to timeless Winchcombe in Gloucestershire.
It should be a 2.5 hours drive from Manchester, but due to Friday night traffic and a motorway accident, it, unfortunately, ended up taking us twice that time. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a lovely time to arrive as the sun was setting and the streetlights were twinkling, to give us a glowing Cotswolds welcome.
Through Airbnb, we stayed at Treacle Mary’s, a grade-II listed Georgian fronted cottage in the heart of Winchcombe. It was a gorgeous house, with a stone lounge and fireplace, country-style kitchen (I particularly loved the ceiling beams and dutch backdoor), cosy loft conversion and a classic English garden. An excellent base to explore from.
I’ll add here that the weather this weekend was beautiful — sunny and low 30s which was unexpected due to the previous weeks of rain. As such, it was super easy to jump up early the following morning to go for a wander and take photos around Winchcombe before the hustle and bustle began. We stopped in at Honey Bea’s Cafe for brunch — a little place, but full of character with homemade food, an inglenook fireplace and local artwork on the wall.
We also ventured to Sudeley Castle and Gardens — a 15th-century castle surrounded by medieval ruins and elaborate award-winning Victorian gardens (10 to be exact). Sudeley Castle was once a royal residence, closely associated with some of the most famous English monarchs, including, Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, and Elizabeth I. Today, you can explore both the east and west wings of the castle along with its exhibition rooms.
Everyone enjoyed strolling the gardens, even if it was 34°! Surrounded by views of the Cotswolds hills, each garden has a theme, from the Queen’s Garden (a nod to four of England’s Queens — Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I) to the Knot Garden and Ruins Garden. There’s also a Castle Kitchen Pantry on-site, as well as a restaurant and well-stocked gift shop (obviously stocked up on more postcards and clotted fudge).
By this point, we were beaten by the sun and in desperate need for a pint, so we headed to The Corner Cupboard Inn for many, many drinks and a delicious meal. This 15th-century inn caught our attention from its rusty yet oh so British appearance and it didn’t disappoint. All of the traditional characteristics and warmth have been retained inside with oak beams, cosy seating nooks and there’s even a spacious beer garden outside too.
I’ve since discovered that there are reports of the Inn being haunted by the ghost of a 12-year-old girl as visitors have heard running across the floorboards above the bar. If I had known this at the time, I definitely would not have gone to the bathroom upstairs alone.
Did I mention how lovely our garden was at the house? We spent the rest of the long summer evening there drinking wine and eating cheese — such a perfect day!
Sadly, Sunday came around way too quickly and after another morning walk around the village and a home-cooked full English breakfast, it was time to pack up and go. We tried to pop into Winchcombe Museum before we left as it looked quite interesting to learn more about the area but unfortunately, it was closed. Alas, we settled for a final coffee at Food Fanatics, a delicatessen and coffee shop, which sells all sorts of cheeses and other delicatessen fares. Shame we were leaving as it all looked really nice. I’d definitely hit there first and stock up if I was to visit again.
Three hours later, we were home sweet home back in Manchester. I am dying to return and explore another area of the Cotswolds though, so hopefully, on an upcoming road-trip to Bognor Regis, we can pop in en route.
This trip was kindly sponsored by our lovely Aussie visitors, Roz and Leon 😆