Escaping London: Hiking the Cotswolds

With a wedding in Oxford on the horizon and some interior walls about to be knocked down at home, we decided we had to get out of town for a week in August, but late planning and the school summer holidays left us with few options. Whilst searching online we found a kid-friendly estate, Cowley Manor, in the Cotswolds and booked our escape. 

Only a few hours from London, but a world away, Cowley was a fantastic respite and there were many other families with small kids. There was a real community parenting feel in the hang out spaces, as our kids kept wandering into people’s areas, and the raucous screams from other tables at dinner meant you could enjoy a high end meal without the guilt of ruining it for others.

The gorgeous grounds are great for a walk (Hunter wellies provided) and the indoor and outdoor heated pools cater for every British summertime eventuality. There’s a spa too if you need some pampering.

During the days we focussed on our usual two holiday pastimes: eating and walking it off. Keen to try out our new (to us; eBay) Osprey Poco baby hiking bag we picked a few quaint looking towns and built some walks into the journey. Our first stop was at Stow-on-the-Wold where we’d been recommended the excellent Daylesford, a little out of town.

After a top lunch, we parked up in town and wandered the quaint town before following a walking loop we’d found online (3 miles). 

It took us from town, down quiet lanes, past country houses, grazing fields, and back again. The newly dubbed “nap-sack” worked a treat and C slept most of the way.

The next day we started at Bourton-on-the-Water, which is a beautiful village with a wading stream running through it, but it was heaving with tourists. With cameras and ice cream shops everywhere, after a quick lunch, we set off on our walk.

We followed another route we found online which takes you to Lower Slaughter and ends at Upper Slaughter (2 miles there and back). Despite their horrific names these are two of the most idyllic little villages in the Cotswolds and are a true postcard picture. 

The walk is mostly through fields and we managed to persuade the bar at the Lords of the Manor Hotel to sell us a beer before we headed back.

On our last day in town we took on a proper hike – the Leckhampton Loop (5 miles) which features the ominously named Devil’s Chimney. Setting off from the Seven Springs pub there’s an uphill slog before you’re rewarded with panoramic sweeping views of the Cotswolds. 

After walking the ridge for a while you reach the Devil’s Chimney, which is a pretty underwhelming stone formation, but the highlight of the walk is the journey, not the destination. 

From there you descend into a forest reminiscent of Robin Hood movies and eventually find yourself back at the start.

It was a challenging walk, but very rewarding, and we really enjoyed our time exploring the Cotswolds and still being able to get out and about thanks to the nap-sack

Until next time…

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