1711 | Cotswolds Gardens-with-Walking

A few of England's finest gardens set amidst outstandingly beautiful countryside

Our September gardens-with-gentle-walking tour of the Cotswolds combines a selection of England's finest gardens, with gentle walking across one of England's most outstanding landscapes. We are based for the week in a lovely hotel, itself set in one of the Cotswold's prettiest villages.

The Cotswolds
When we say 'the Cotswolds' we really mean the Cotswold Hills, a range of low-lying limestone hills mainly in Gloucestershire, but spilling out into its neighbouring counties. It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a rolling landscape dominated by farming for over a thousand years. Its history - and its historic wealth - is inextricably linked to the story of medieval English wool production, which I won't bore you with here, save to say the riches from the wool industry are still visible today. But pretty though the landscape is, its chief beauty is its villages and market towns, all largely built in late medieval times from local honey-coloured stone; it is this which the visitor seems to remember most. 

The Gardens
We visit some of England's finest gardens, most notably Lawrence Johnson's garden at Hidcote Manor, Anne Chamber's garden at Kiftsgate Court, William Kent's landscape garden at Rousham House and Harold Peto's water garden at Buscot Park; and we also visit William Morris's home at Kelmscott Manor. It is as fine a group of gardens as anywhere in Britain.

The Walking
In September we alternate our gardens-with-gentle-walking tours between Devon, where we walk on Dartmoor, and the Cotswolds, and the Cotswolds is the more gentle environment. We have planned two half-day walks and one whole-day walk. The whole-day walk will be about 9 miles/14 kms, with plenty of breaks and a long lunch; suitable for any reasonably fit person.

Sleeping & Eating
We are returning to The Slaughters Country Inn, a wonderful hotel, superbly located in the charming village of Lower Slaughter, where we enjoyed a hugely successful Cotswolds tour in June 2016. When we dine out, we will dine at two of our favourite pubs, The Horse & Groom in Upper Oddington and The Kingham Plough in Kingham.

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At a glance
Gardens-with-walking tour
Gardens & attractions:
2 half-day's walking
Max group size 12
Hidcote Manor
One whole-day walking
Kiftsgate Court
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Superb village setting
Waterperry Garden
Private garden visit
Excellent food
Kelmscott Manor
Fully escorted
Day 1 | Friday, 15 September

From the airports to the Cotswolds, via Waterperry Gardens

Tim will collect you from either Stansted Airport or from the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel, immediately north of Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport and, once we are all together, we drive west for lunch and the afternoon at Waterperry Gardens, the gardens of the famous, former School of Horticulture for Ladies, founded in 1932 by Miss Beatrix Havergal. Among many other things, the gardens include one of the finest herbaceous borders in the country.

From Waterperry it is about an hour's drive to the picturesque Cotswold village of Lower Slaughter and to The Slaughters County Inn, our hotel and home-from-home for the week, where we will arrive in good time to relax and enjoy drinks and dinner, at the hotel.

Today's total driving is about 150 miles/240 km, setting off from Stansted, or 85 miles/135 km, setting off from Heathrow

Friday, 15 September
Summer borders at Waterperry
Day 2 | Saturday, 16 September

The historic Sudeley Castle and a half-day's circular walk

We start the day with a visit to visit Sudeley Castle and its award-winning gardens. Set against the western edge of the Cotswold Hills, the castle enjoys a a tranquil setting, conveying little of its royal connections and often turbulent history. Sudely was home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII, and a refuge for King Charles I during the Civil War, when Cromwell ordered the castle to be 'slighted' - rendered ineffective.

We will have lunch at Sudeley, before embarking on a gentle afternoon's circular walk on the hills surrounding Sudely and returning to Lower Slaughter for dinner at our hotel.

Today's total driving is about 60 miles/100 km

Saturday, 16 September
Ruined parts of Sudeley Castle
Day 3 | Sunday, 17 September

Two neighbouring Cotswold gardens, world's apart!

Our day is spent in the north of the Cotswold Hills, firstly with visits to Stow-on-the-Wold, one of the Cotswold's many picturesque market towns, and to Broadway Tower, for the views over the Vale of Evesham. We then have the whole of the middle part of the day at Hidcote Manor, a world-famous Arts & Crafts garden created, very largely, by Lawrence Johnston, an Anglicised American who began gardening at Hidcote shortly after his mother bought the estate in 1907. It became his life's work and one of England's most influential 20th-century gardens.

We lunch at Hidcote and, later in the afternoon, cross the road to visit neighbouring Kiftsgate Court, a romantic garden, again, of the Arts & Crafts period with far-reaching views over the Vale of Evesham, and home to the Kiftsgate Rose. Unusually, the garden has twice passed from mother to daughter, from Heather Muir, who made the garden, to her granddaughter, Anne Chambers, who gardens it today.

We have dinner at the excellent Horse & Groom, Upper Oddington, a pub we have known for a dozen years or more.

Today's total driving is about 50 miles/80 km

Sunday, 17 September
Group enjoying the gardens at Hidcote Manor
Day 4 | Monday, 18 September

A private visit to Upton Wold and our second half-day walk

Our first visit is a private guided tour of Upton Wold, one of our favourite gardens on any of our tours. The garden, created by Ian and Caroline Bond since 1973, has just about everything one could wish for in a garden, and a setting to die for! We have coffee at Upton Wold before lunch in nearby Moreton-in-Marsh, another of the many charming market towns in the Cotswolds.

After lunch, in Moreton-in-Marsh, we embark on our second afternoon circular walk, around the village of Blockley and returning to Lower Slaughter for dinner at our hotel. 

Today's total driving is about 60 miles/100 km

Monday, 18 September
Beech avenue at Upton Wold
Day 5 | Tuesday, 19 September

A whole day's walk from Lower Slaughter

Today's circular walk starts and finishes from our hotel in Lower Slaughter and follows the two local rivers, the River Eye - which runs through the hotel grounds - and the slightly larger River Windrush. It is beautiful countryside and incorporates plenty of stops, including for lunch at a local pub!

The walk will be about 9 miles/14 km in total, and we will return to our hotel for dinner.

Today is a 'no driving day'

Tuesday, 19 September
Sign post marking the Cotswold Way footpath
Day 6 | Wednesday, 20 September

A journey through the heart of the Cotswolds

We start our final full day with a wonderfully touristy drive along the Coln Valley, stopping at the Saxon church of St Andrew in Coln Rogers and again, in Bibury, to visit Arlington Row, a medieval row of former weavers' cottages.

Our lunchtime destination is Kelmscott Manor, the Cotswold retreat of William Morris and his family, and of his friend and colleague Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelite artist. We will have lunch at Kelmscott and spend the early-afternoon exploring this centre of the Arts & Crafts movement, before the second half of the afternoon at nearby Buscot Park. Home of the Lords Farringdon, Buscot Park was built between 1779 and 1783 as an Italianate country house with extensive pleasure gardens that surround the house. On one side of the house, the walled kitchen garden now shelters the Four Seasons garden and, on the other side, woodland walks lead to one of Britain's finest water gardens, an unusual marriage of Italianate formality with an English parkland landscape. Overall, a beautiful house in a stunning setting.

We dine splendidly at The Plough, Kingham, on our way home.

Today's total driving is about 50 miles/80 km

Wednesday, 20 September
Harold Peto's water garden, Buscot Park
Day 7 | Thursday, 21 September

From the Cotswolds to the airports, via glorious Rousham

After a decent breakfast and loading the minibus, our last day starts at Daylesford Organics, possibly the world's most perfect farm shop, where we can purchase a few goodies for a picnic lunch at Rousham House, our final garden. Rousham is, in fact, a garden of two halves, the historically important eighteenth-century William Kent landscape, one of the few gardens of this date to have escaped alteration, and a charming walled garden with herbaceous borders, parterres and a pigeon house.

The Sheraton Heathrow Hotel is just over an hour away, and a little more than that again, to Stansted Airport, where the tour ends and where we will be in good time for your evening flight home. For those of you staying on, in Britain, and not wanting to return to either Heathrow Airport or Stansted Airport, we will assist you in getting to your next destination.

Today's total driving is about 130 miles/210 km

Thursday, 21 September
Statuary in the Wiliam Kent garden, Rousham
General Notes

During our tours, we endeavour to be as faithful to our itineraries as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.

Need some help?
We have prepared some helpful information - under 'Essential Information', and this information is designed to enhance your holiday. The pages are, 'An Introduction', 'Additional Information', 'Booking and Paying' and 'Travel Information'.

The tour area map
Click on the Google map of the tour area, and it will open in a new window. The various tour locations are marked GREEN (for gardens), ORANGE (for other attractions), RED (for pubs, hotels and restaurants) and BLUE (for transport) - and click on these markers for more information.

Tour Information
15 - 21 Sep
7 days
21 480,00
Single person suplement:
3 360,00

Please contact us if you wish to upgrade your room from a standard room, to a superior room or suite.

Available - Cotswolds Gardens-with-Walking
The joining points for this tour are Stansted Airport, including its on-airport hotels, and the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel.

Additionally, you may join the tour at Waterperry Gardens, our first destination, or in Lower Slaughter, at our hotel. But do let us know if any of these locations are difficult for you.

Confirmation of our precise meeting arrangements and introductions to your fellow travellers will be sent to everyone two weeks before the tour starts.
This tour includes two half-day's and one whole day of gentle walking, mainly on footpaths across rolling countryside. The whole day's walk is approximately 9 miles/14 kms - taken over about 8 hours, with plenty of stops, and a long break for lunch.

We strongly recommend that you wear walking boots or, at the very least, stout comfortable shoes and that you have with you a good waterproof and windproof jacket, hat, gloves and a day bag (for picnic lunch, water etc).

It is our experience that any reasonably fit person will cope easily with these walks.
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