With its honey-chocolate coloured cottages, soft undulating farmland, picturesque villages, narrow cobbled roads and crystal clear streams, Cotswolds is a place which will fiercely compete for your attention and will win without much ado. According to Wikipedia, “The Cotswolds are a range of hills in southwestern and west-central England, an area 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (145 km) long. The area has been designated as the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

“Quaint” is a word that springs in my mind every time I think of Cotswolds; there are a cluster of villages consisting of cosy, little cottages and buildings built in stone and surrounded by farms and farmland. A perfect place for wanderers, lovers, artists, dreamers and poets to get lost in the beauty of unadulterated, pristine nature.

We reached Cotswolds after an hour and half journey from Hampshire. It is quite easy to know that you have reached Cotswolds because the roads become decidedly narrow and have a rolling terrain here; where ever you turn you can spot either green, marshy farmland or tall deciduous trees forming a gentle canopy. Cotswolds, hence is a haven for drivers, cyclists and bikers.

But don’t be put off if you are an avid walker (like me); Cotswolds is definitely a place where you can walk for ages without a nary of tiredness to bring you down. It is next to impossible to explore whole of Cotswolds in one trip and here I bring to you six of the best villages we visited during our mini-break.

 

1)     Bourton on the Water:

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Known as the Venice of Cotswolds; this little village is one of the most popular destinations here and a big tourist attraction. I was actually going to give it a miss precisely for this reason but thank God I did not. Cotswolds’ main river—River Windrush—passes through this village and the crystal clear stream lined with carpet-soft lawn and shaded by tall, mature trees gives this place an understated charm.

A perfect place to enjoy a lovely picnic along the banks of the stream; Bourton on the Water has a decidedly romantic vibe to it. Enjoy the lovely walk around the stream or simply take out your mat, spread it across the lawn and take in the blossoming spring flowers, the beauty of the leafy neighbourhood and simply do nothing.

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Cotswolds attractions

Don’t miss the model village when you are here. Kids (or those who are young at heart) will definitely love the model village—this Grade II listed landmark has 1/9th scale replica of the village. Fine detailing and fascinating workmanship brings out the uninhibited charm of the village.

2)     Lower Slaughter:

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Don’t let the morbid name of the village put you off. This village is famous for having the most romantic street of UK (2011) and it is a well-deserved title. Once again the river Windrush criss crosses this village and there are several walking paths you can take; we decided to stick to one near the stream with green tall trees on one side and perfect box sized, beautiful cottages on the other.

When you are here the Old mill (now a shop) on the end of the village is a must-visit. The beauty of this village you can still see signs of ancient life and traditions as well as modernity in one stop. Definitely a place not to miss.

3)      Chipping Campden:

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Slightly further from other villages; Chipping Campden actually shares its border with Warwickshire—Shakespeare’s County. Another quintessentially pretty village; it is definitely bigger than the other two.

This small market town is notable for its elegant terraced High Street, dating from the 14th century to the 17th century. It was once a rich wool trading centre in the Middle Ages, and the place enjoyed the patronage of wealthy wool merchants. Today the high street is filled with a myriad of tea shops, pubs, ingenious shops and antique centers (not your average high street; thank God), this village is a perfect place to fill the fuel with some proper locally made cakes and sweets as well as walk properly.

Starting from the old Market Hall is a 4 mile loop trail which will take you through the village streets as well as woodlands nearby. I was quite surprised to know that the Market Hall is centuries old because it has still kept its original style and structure intact—definitely a feat in this race  for development.

I will bring you the next three beautiful villages of Cotswolds, the various attractions and where to stay in the coming days 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this post and would give Cotswolds a try. Don’t forget to Like, Comment or Follow me, I always follow back.

Today’s guest post comes from KC Owens, who is a college student.  KC loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about. His post is about backpacking and he offers some great advice to adventurous travelers . Over to you KC.
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While many people think life at college is all fun and parties, there are also many challenges like studying, bills and team sports that cause stress. One way I try to find some relief from the stress is by using my time off to travel. The great part about college life is that we get a lot of vacation time in-between semesters. Traveling can be expensive, but that’s why I do as much research as I can to find ways to save money on travel.

Funding your Vacation:
Having a job while at college can be difficult but it can save you money in the long run. I always work when I’m at school because it gives me the opportunity to save money for my overseas adventures. Sometimes, this part-time job does not fund my wallet as much as I plan so I have to get creative. After doing some research, I found that I was able to apply for a student credit card that could help me purchase tickets, overnights and meals while I’m abroad. Many credit cards are available to students at special rates, and they are not very strict at all about accepting you. Applying for a credit card may not be the right choice for you so be sure to research your options before making a decision.
Personally, it was a no brainer because my card allowed me to bounce from country to country without exchanging currencies too often. This can be a major inconvenience as well as a major expense. Each time you exchange your cash, you are charged. It also helped keep me safer because I wasn’t pulling out a wad of cash every time I bought something. This can be dangerous in foreign cities where pickpocketing is a major issue. Do your research to see if this could be a viable option for you.

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How to Carry Everything:
Aside from not packing too much, another important consideration is your actual backpack. Your best choice is a lightweight, efficient backpack. Don’t bring several bags of luggage, which will require your attention at all times. Having more than one bag makes you a target for theft, it will cost you more at airports and it will annoy you every step throughout your journey. Even luggage on wheels is of limited usefulness once you get off the plane. A solid backpack allows you to hike, explore city streets or even tour a city on a bicycle. Furthermore, having one bag allows you to lock your belongings while you’re sleeping. This peace of mind is worth anything while you’re traveling since you always have to be on guard for theft.

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How to Pack:
Packing is an art that you really need to master if you’re going to go backpacking. Traveling light is a must or you will find yourself lugging around heavy and awkward bags everywhere you go. I learned from experience that the less I take with me, the more comfortable I am.
If your luggage weighs much more than ten pounds, you are probably over-packing. This might seem extreme, but the truth is you really don’t need to take much when you backpack through another country. Focus on bringing items that are practical and light. Leave home hardcover books, heavy boots, sporting equipment and other stuff that you think might be fun to take with you but that you will never use. A good rule to follow is that if you’re not sure you will need something, you probably don’t!

The most important item I bring with me on a backpacking trip is a money belt. Now, it seems foolish but having this little pouch allows me to secure my passport, phone/camera, cash and credit cards without worrying about pickpockets. Many places, like South Africa, don’t use credit cards as often as many other countries but it’s important to protect your valuables, either way. If you’re heading to some place like South Africa, then you’ll want to keep more cash on you and safely tucked away in your belt. Beyond the money belt, I always pack a couple pairs of clothes, toiletries, a chamois to dry off with, power converters, my phone/camera and a good pair of sunglasses. Everything else will seem useless when your time is spent sightseeing.

Picture credit: KC Owens