In June 2008 two American ladies came to the Cotswolds for a two week holiday. This is a diary of their experiences, the places that they visited and the people that they met. How do you spell Heaven?? C-O-T-S-W-O-L-D-S~!! This past June, two best friends fulfilled a dream and spent two idyllic weeks in the Cotswolds… with the blessings of their two most wonderful, very generous husbands~!

We’d originally thought we’d take a structured walking tour. Afraid that the weather might not be in our favor… we opted to choose four places in which to spend three or four days each. We chose Chipping Campden, Winchcombe, Bourton-on-the-Water and lastly, Moreton-in-Marsh… for it’s convenience to the train. We did all of this on the internet… and crossed our fingers (and toes).If we had it to do over again, we would have made the SAME choices.

We could not have ordered better weather. It was absolutely perfect~!

We could not have encountered more wonderful, congenial people…. anxious to extend a helping hand EVERY TIME we got off track on the trails. In our defense, some of our BEST experiences happened because we ended up in places we never intended to go to.

From the minute we arrived in Chipping Campden… we knew our cameras were going to get a work out~! We must have snapped a hundred pictures in about ten minutes. It was like no place we’d ever been… we felt as if we‘d stepped into a fairy tale. We felt that way for TWO WEEKS.

Our first day… we set out for HIDCOTE and KIFTSGATE GARDENS (each spectacular in its own way) on foot. We could barely contain ourselves… and that was JUST ON THE WALK to the gardens. We happened upon sheep being shorn… on our way out… and on the way back caught the final loading of the wool. It’s all about TIMING ~! The rolling hills and sheep laden fields were something to behold. A sight we never tired of… and already long to see again. Mickleton Hills Farm was just beautiful. It’s owners… made us feel most comfortable. A new experience for us… timidly walking through what felt like private property. We even squeezed in an evening service at St. James, Chipping Campden. Again, embraced by wonderful people. A truly memorable experience.

Over the course of our two weeks… we managed to take in many things, mostly on foot (100+ miles on the trails alone) with a little assistance from a couple of friendly taxi drivers.

We just so happened to be at SUDELEY CASTLE when they offered both the GARDEN and RESIDENCE tours… on the same day. A rare occurrence, we were told. BOTH wonderful. The gardens and grounds were magnificent. About 500 pictures that day.

We took the train from Moreton-in-Marsh to Oxford and bused to BLENHEIM PALACE. Beautiful gardens and grounds (we seem to have a pattern going here)… and very informative palace tour.

We happened upon SEZINCOTE on a day when they were having a summer fete. Unique experience. Again, beautiful grounds and great tour.

We found the FOOTPATH GUIDES most helpful. We walked up to Dover’s Hill and Broad Campden (from Chipping Campden), Buckland and Laverton (from Broadway), Upper and Lower Slaughter, Naunton, Lower Swell and Stow-on-the-Wold (from Bourton-on-the-Water).

An unexpected return to Chipping Campden for the last couple of days… finished us off with Stanton, Stanway and Snowshill… and the SNOWSHILL MANOR. It was certainly a GRAND finale.

We had a close encounter with ‘Brownie’ (or so we named him) on our way to the Slaughters. A very friendly large brown horse. Wish we knew that before Cindy scaled the wall and tried to climb over barbed wire. He attached himself to Mary Lynn’s left arm. Next day, when telling the postman about where we walked… he asked “How did you like the BROWN HORSE?” Obviously, we were NOT THE FIRST to encounter him. We cannot think of that experience without laughing.

Thanks to a couple we met along the way (John and Christine) we got through a pasture with large brown cows. Our hearts were beating out of our chests on that one. Especially, when the biggest of them that was lying down got up on his knees and bounded up. Phewwwwww!

We cannot imagine a more perfect trip. From the weather… to the phenomenal people… our accommodations (we’d kill for a cream tea at Badgers Hall)… the pristine towns and villages… the spectacular unspoiled walking trails… the magnificent castles and gardens… the honey colored architecture… and the obvious pride people take in their homes… it was ‘spot on’. A NEW TERM we now enjoy using.  We pray it ALWAYS stays… exactly the same~!

A special thanks to Tony and Jenny at Little Gidding, Ebrington… for their warm hospitality… and, Ina… for our whirlwind afternoon tour.

You haven’t seen the last of us… that’s a promise.

Cindy and Mary Lynn