The Cotswolds or Somewhere Else?

A recent trip across the centre of England gave us an interesting comparison of two regions of the country, one very well-known and one less so.

As we travelled through the Cotswolds we saw pretty towns and villages built of honey-coloured stone and tree-covered hills. In Cambridgeshire, sandwiched between the Midlands and East Anglia, we saw more pretty towns and villages built of honey-coloured stone, but of course the terrain was flatter and instead we found rivers meandering slowly amongst the fields.

Old Stocks InnOur first stop was in Stow-on-the-Wold where we had a coffee in The Old Stocks Inn, right on the Market Square. All around the square are wonderful old houses, each one different, displaying the historic prosperity of the former wool town.

On reaching the Cambridgeshire area, we meandered through several pretty villages filled with lovely stone houses and cottages where even the modern properties reflected the character of the area. Our favourite was Fotheringay, a blink-and-you-missed-it village with so much history yet we didn't see even one other visitor while we were there.

River NeneFotheringay is most famous for the castle where Richard III was born and where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and executed. The structure is all gone and only the earthworks remain but it was a lovely spot right beside the River Nene and the 18th century stone bridge, and there are expansive views from the top of the castle mound. Right next door to the castle is Castle Farm Guest House, a farmhouse B&B with a garden that runs right down to the river.

A quiet amble up the village street took us to the parish church which is far too big and impressive for such a small village,Fotheringay yet is immaculately kept. The parishioners are obviously very proud of their church. Another short stroll and we arrived at the Falcon Inn serving lunch and a good selection of drinks.

For travellers looking for something slightly more urban, the area includes Cambridge (no introduction needed), the cathedrals at Peterborough and Ely, and Oundle which we found quite reminiscent of Stow.

Our return journey took us back across the Cotswolds via the Fosse Way. We passed through Moreton-in-the-Marsh but it was market day and very busy. Bourton-on-the-WaterWe skirted Stow-on-the-Wold as we had already visited and went on the Bourton-on-the-Water. This small town has a pretty-as-a-picture stream flowing right through the middle, which makes it a beautiful spot for a picnic.

On our return home we reflected on the comparison of the two areas we had visited. The Cotswolds is justifiably famous for lovely scenery and chocolate-box villages (and we haven't even mentioned such places as Broadway, Bibury or Tetbury), but the East Midlands surprised us. The villages were just as pretty, the scenery substituted rivers for hills and there was absolutely no crowding.

15 Oct 2021, 16:45