1906 – The Cotswolds & Oxford
AT A GLANCE
This tour combines some of England's very best gardens, the charm and beauty of Cotswolds' villages and the comfort of a splendid country inn – all set against a backdrop of some of England's prettiest countryside.
We have been coming to the Cotswolds for most of the twenty years we have been in business and we know it well, and we know how best to show it off.
Or, more properly, the Cotswold Hills, is a range of rolling yellow oolitic limestone hills running roughly southwest to northeast, some 25 miles/40 km wide and 90 miles/145 km long, and largely to the counties of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is especially characterised by picturesque market towns and villages, each of a slightly different hue of stone, varying from a warm grey to a rich, deep honey colour.
Since Norman times the Cotswolds have been inextricably associated with sheep and wool production, and it is largely the medieval wool trade that made the Cotswolds the prosperous place it remains today. The Cotswolds are notable, too, for being the natural home of the Arts and Crafts Movement, examples of which we will see throughout the tour.
Sleeping & Eating
We will stay in the heart of the Cotswolds, at The Slaughters Country Inn, in the impossibly pretty village of Lower Slaughter and, when we dine out, we will dine at two pubs, the first one, The Chequers Inn at Ettington, we have long been wanting to dine at, and the second, a long-standing favourite, The Village Pub in Barnsley. Additionally, we are going to take you out for Sunday lunch, too, to The Green Dragon at Cowley.
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14-20 June 2019 | 7 days
DAY 1 - FRI, 14 JUNE
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 at the fabulous Burford Garden Company, a garden centre and nursery extraordinaire.
From Burford, the natural gateway to the Cotswolds, we drive to Sezincote (pictured), a 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace, set in a romantic landscape of temples, grottoes, waterfalls and canals reminiscent of the Taj Mahal, and a garden we have been meaning to return to for some years.
It is but a short drive from Sezincote to Lower Slaughter, a stunningly picturesque Cotswold village, and our hotel for the whole week, The Slaughters Country Inn, where we will arrive in good time to check-in, relax and enjoy a drink before dinner at the hotel.
Today's total driving is about 160 miles/255 km, setting off from Stansted, or about 95 miles/150 km, setting off from Heathrow
DAY 2 - SAT, 15 JUNE
Our first full day of the tour is spent in the north of the Cotswolds, starting with a visit to Chipping Campden, a busy, honey-stoned Cotswold market town, and then to Hidcote Manor (pictured) where we will have the whole of the middle part of the day at these world-famous Arts & Crafts gardens. Created by Lawrence Johnston, an Anglicised American whose mother bought the estate in 1907, it became his life's work and one of England's most influential 20th-century gardens.
Later in the afternoon we cross the road to visit neighbouring Kiftsgate Court, another Arts & Crafts-period garden with far-reaching views over the Vale of Evesham, and home to the Kiftsgate Rose. A romantic garden and, unusually, a garden that has twice passed from mother to daughter, from Heather Muir, who made the garden, to her granddaughter, Anne Chambers, who gardens it today.
Dinner will be at The Chequers Inn, Ettington, a pub with a fine reputation and one we have long wanted to dine at.
Today's driving is about 50 miles/80 km
DAY 3 - SUN, 16 JUNE
After a suitably lazy start for a Sunday, we spend the morning meandering along the Coln Valley, stopping at Bibury, to visit Arlington Row (pictured), a row of 17th-century weavers' cottages, and again, at the Saxon church of St Andrew in Coln Rogers, before Sunday lunch at The Green Dragon, Cowley.
We spend the afternoon in the idyllic village of Stanton, enjoying some 15 or so private village gardens, open to the public as a part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS). Some 1,800 private gardens opened to the public in England & Wales (Scotland has a similar, but separate scheme) during 2018.
By opening their gardens to the public, gardeners have been raising money for nursing charities since 1927 and the NGS is now the most significant charitable funder of nursing charities in the country, having donated a total of £55 million.
We return to Lower Slaughter for dinner at our hotel.
Today's driving is about 90 miles/145 km
DAY 4 - MON, 17 JUNE
We spend the whole of today in Oxford, a city most associated with its university, the oldest such establishment in the English-speaking world, where teaching has existed since at least 1096. From Harry Potter to Morse and from boutique shopping to exceptional heritage, there is much to occupy a day in Oxford and to start you off, and to orientate you to the city, we take you on a guided walking tour with a specialist guide from Footprint Tours.
Otherwise, we will assist you in planning your day, but the day is your own until we meet for tea and scones at the Old Parsonage Hotel, later in the day.
We return to Lower Slaughter for dinner at our hotel.
Today's driving is about 40 miles/65 km
DAY 5 - TUE, 18 JUNE
Our first garden of the day is Upton Wold (pictured), an exceptional garden created by Ian and Caroline Bond since 1973 and one of the very finest gardens we visit, on any of our tours throughout Britain. We enjoy a private guided tour of the garden with either one of the Bonds or their head gardener, and morning coffee in the garden, before lunch in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold, one of the principle market towns in the Cotswolds.
After lunch and a wander around Stow-on-the-Wold, we visit the gardens at Miserden, set in glorious surroundings overlooking the Golden Valley, and winners of the prestigious Historic Houses Garden of the Year Award for 2018.
We dine on our way home at The Village Pub in Barnsley, one of our favourite pubs.
Today's driving is about 80 miles/130 km
DAY 6 - WED, 19 JUNE
We start our day at Broughton Grange where, set amidst a largely Victorian domestic landscape, the leading landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith transformed a south facing field into a walled garden, now one of the most significant private contemporary gardens in Britain.
From Broughton Grange we drive south, to Burford, for lunch and a stroll around this favourite of Cotswold market towns, before the afternoon at Buscot Park (pictured). Built between 1779 and 1783 as an Italianate country house surrounded by pleasure gardens, Buscot Park is home to Lord Farringdon and his fabulous art collection.
We return to Lower Slaughter for our end-of-tour dinner.
Today's driving is about 100 miles/160 km
DAY 7 - THU, 20 JUNE
Our day starts at Daylesford Organics, where we pick up supplies for our picnic lunch, before visiting the historically important 18th-century William Kent landscape garden at Rousham House (pictured), 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, depending upon traffic, 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 driving is about 130 miles/210 km
We will endeavour to be as faithful to the published itinerary as possible, but sometimes changes do occur, either necessarily or unavoidably.