ES­CAPE TO THE COUN­TRY

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - WHEN TO BOOK THE COTSWOLDS - CELESTE MITCHELL

The tops have been dropped on the clas­sic cars wend­ing through the rolling green hills and the Cotswolds is at its dap­per sum­mer best right now.

The area is known as the Hamp­tons of the UK and with good rea­son – VisitBri­tain re­gional direc­tor Su­mathi Ra­manathan says that like the fa­mous Amer­i­can East Coast hol­i­day spot, it’s a mag­net for celebri­ties.

“Jude Law has a prop­erty there, Kate Moss has a prop­erty there, and the lat­est ru­mours are David Beck­ham is look­ing into buy­ing in the Cotswolds as well, so it’s got that gold-dust of celebrity,” she says.

Eng­land’s bu­colic beauty runs through sev­eral coun­ties – Wilt­shire, Glouces­ter­shire, Ox­ford­shire, War­wick­shire Worces­ter­shire – all honey sand­stone, his­toric cas­tles and im­pec­ca­ble gar­dens but Ra­manathan says it’s more than just a pretty week­ender.

“I think peo­ple of­ten think of the Cotswolds as a ro­man­tic des­ti­na­tion. It looks re­ally beau­ti­ful, and they might think it’s for a slightly older gen­er­a­tion but it is equally bril­liant for younger peo­ple, es­pe­cially be­cause it’s two hours away from Lon­don,” she says.

“It’s a great day trip, too, for peo­ple stay­ing in Lon­don who want to ex­pe­ri­ence the English coun­try­side … you can go in the morn­ing and come back in the evening, but most peo­ple de­cide to stay in the Cotswolds.”

WHY VISIT

The Cotswolds of­fer ev­ery­thing you could want in a self-drive coun­try es­cape – charm­ing pubs, sea­sonal lo­cal pro­duce, pic­turesque vil­lages, plenty of his­tory and even moun­tain bik­ing. Bri­tain’s big­gest pri­vately owned moun­tain bike fa­cil­ity, the Flyup 417 Project, opened last year in the heart of the Cotswolds coun­try­side.

If much of it looks fa­mil­iar, it’s be­cause the re­gion has been the set of ev­ery­thing from Harry Pot­ter to Down­ton Abbey and Brid­get Jones’s Di­ary. Movie buffs can stalk fa­mous film­ing lo­ca­tions along the new Blen­heim Palace film trail in Ox­ford­shire while Harry Pot­ter fans can ex­plore J.K. Rowl­ing’s home county of Glouces­ter­shire.

If you pre­fer slow food to movie-scene self­ies, you’ll find a thriv­ing or­ganic and sea­sonal pro­duce scene in the cafes, pubs and Miche­lin-starred res­tau­rants, and ar­ti­san mak­ers like The Cotswolds Cheese Com­pany and The Cotswolds Dis­tillery.

“Peo­ple talk about France and the cheese but if you ac­tu­ally go to the Cotswolds, the cheese com­pany has about 80 dif­fer­ent types of ar­ti­san and farm­house cheeses, so that’s very pop­u­lar,” Ra­manathan says.

WHEN TO VISIT

Like its New York equiv­a­lent, sum­mer is the most pop­u­lar sea­son in the Cotswolds but spring and au­tumn are also beau­ti­ful times to visit.

“Th­ese three sea­sons brings out the best in the Cotswolds,” Ra­manathan says. “Of­ten we get the au­tumn colours which re­ally does turn it into a spec­tac­u­lar place … creep­ers go­ing over the honey stone turn bright red or bur­gundy and it re­ally brings out the beauty of the vil­lages.”

“Be­cause sea­sonal food is so im­por­tant, all the lit­tle or­ganic cafes and res­tau­rants and pubs that you go to come up with dif­fer­ent sea­sonal menus so you can ac­tu­ally have very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences.”

WHEN TO BOOK

Since the Cotswolds is beloved by the Brits dur­ing sum­mer and on any given week­end, as well as in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors cast­ing the net from Lon­don, Ra­manathan says it’s al­ways good to book in ad­vance.

“If you’re go­ing dur­ing half-term (school hol­i­days) in the UK, we’d highly rec­om­mend book­ing at least three to six months in ad­vance,” she says.

There is a wide range of ac­com­mo­da­tion, with ev­ery­thing from coun­try-house ho­tels to B&Bs, coun­try clubs and quin­tes­sen­tial Cotswold cot­tages for hire, but if you’re keen to travel by camper­van, or­gan­ise your bed-on­wheels well in ad­vance. VISITBRI­TAIN.COM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.