With the roadmap out of lockdown in place, setting out a staged return to normality, it’s time to contemplate your summer holidays. While you might not be ready to book foreign travel just yet, staycations could be an option from as early as 12 April.
For many, the pandemic has meant a chance to re-evaluate and focus on what matters most. If you are emerging from lockdown with a new appreciation of the beauty on your doorstep, you might be planning a summer staycation close to home.
The Cotswold Way is a 102-mile walking route inaugurated as a National Trail in 2007. Taking in historical points of interest like the Somerset Monument, Sudeley Castle, and Broadway Tower, the route stretches from Bath in the south to Chipping Campden in the north.
Whether you tackle the walk in one go, break it up into stages, or create your own circular route incorporating a place of interest along the way, there is plenty to see and some great spaces to stay.
Here are seven of our picks.
1. Hotel Indigo, Bath
Famous worldwide for its Roman Baths, the city that marks the starting point of the Cotswold Way dates from the 1st Century AD. It became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987.
Mixing ancient history with 18th century Palladian architecture and neoclassicism, Bath is a vibrant city and a spectacular starting point for a trek into the rolling hills and valleys of the Cotswolds.
For your first night away, consider the 166-room Grade I-listed Hotel Indigo sat within its Georgian terrace. You’ll join an impressive list of past guests; the building, constructed in the 18th century, has welcomed historical figures including Sir Walter Scott and the Duke of York.
It is ideally situated to enjoy the city and you might even indulge in the best of modern British cuisine at The Elder restaurant, setting yourself up for the exertion to come.
2. Roundhill Farmhouse, Kelson, on the outskirts of Bath
Just three miles from the centre of Bath and on the edge of the Cotswold Way, you might opt for a more rural start to your staycation. Roundhill Farmhouse is a beautiful, Grade II-listed, Bath-stone building in Kelson.
The centre of Bath, and the start of the National Trail, is close by and yet you’ll feel far away from the city, as the Farmhouse is tucked away in an idyllic corner of this area of outstanding natural beauty.
3. Forthay Bed & Breakfast, Dursley
Situated in the peaceful hamlet of Forthay, Forthay Bed & Breakfast is a Grade II-listed Cotswold-stone farmhouse dating from the 17th century.
Sitting beside the National Trail, just a couple miles from Dursley, this is a countryside retreat that also makes a great starting-off point for further adventures, including to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.
4. The Painswick, Painswick
Painswick marks a rough middle point along the Cotswold Way. It is, therefore, an ideal place to rest your weary legs, whichever end of the trail you started at.
It was during the rise of the wool trade in the 18th century that the Cotswolds accrued a large portion of its wealth, still much in evidence. It was also around this time that The Painswick was built, a luxurious midway stop-off in which to slow down and indulge.
5. The Falcon, Painswick
For a more affordable stay, consider The Falcon in Painswick, dating back to 1554. If you want to explore the area beyond the Cotswold Way, just a ten-minute drive and less than an hour’s walk from The Falcon, is the village of Slad, in the Slad Valley.
As well as beautiful scenery and a Grade II-listed church, you’ll find a stained-glass window commemorating Slad’s most famous son, author Laurie Lee. Many locations from his novel, Cider with Rosie, are still visible, as is his usual seat in the village pub, the Woolpack Inn.
6. Lygon Arms, Broadway
The ancient settlement of Broadway is sometimes known as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds”. It is also home to the 18th century Broadway Tower, built between 1798 and 1799, and the brainchild of one of England’s best-known landscape architects, Capability Brown.
To cap off a staycation steeped in history, there are worse places to choose than the Lygon Arms and its star-studded guest book.
Dating from the 1300s, the then-coaching inn is said to have welcomed Oliver Cromwell on the night before the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It also played a part in the English Civil War, welcoming both sides in 1649, including King Charles I.
More recent guests include Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in 1963, as well as politicians, prime ministers, and Prince Philip.
7. The Bantam Tea Rooms, Chipping Campden
With a terraced high street dating from the 14th to the 17th century, the historic market town of Chipping Campden makes a fitting final stop on the Cotswold Way. Its Cotswold-stone buildings – many of which are listed – help to preserve the town’s history and untouched charm.
The building that now houses the Bantam Tea Rooms was originally built in 1693 and is the perfect place to debrief, relax, and unwind.