Day 1: Arrive at the Kings Head Hotel and Spa in Cirencester
Depending on the time of arrival there will be a chance to have a walking tour around Cirencester, a famous Roman town and once the second biggest Roman city outside of London. There will be free time to visit the award winning Corinium Museum. We’ll have an introduction to the area with an informal slide show and talk on the area by a Cotswold Warden, one of the more than 300 enthusiastic, volunteer stewards of this beautiful area. Tonight we’ll enjoy our first dinner of locally sourced gourmet fare, and perhaps a toast with a local artisan brew. Note: the best airports to access this tour are London (Heathrow or Gatwick) or Birmingham. The area can also be reached by regional airports such as Bristol. Options for ground transportation to the start of the tour and transferring from the end of the tour include private car service, shuttle, trains, or bus. We will provide additional information on connecting to and from the tour in the Trip Planner sent out prior to departure. We’ll also list ideas for pre- and post-tour extensions. Meal: dinner. Overnight: Cirencester, Kings Head Hotel and Spa.
Day 2: July Circular Hike from Burford to Swinbrook
We’ll walk to the village of Swinbrook and Asthall Manor with its connections to the six locally famous (and infamous!) Mitford sisters. The history of wool is interwoven (pun intended) into every aspect of the Cotswolds, from the grand buildings built by wool “magnates” to it traditional crafts, which still remain throughout the Cotswolds. Today we’ll see a weaving demonstration at the Cotswold Woollen Weavers Centre at Filkins. After lunch, perhaps in a pub, we’ll visit Buscot Park to admire the fabulous mural painting of the Briar Rose Series by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. The house is set in magnificent grounds and time will allow for an afternoon tea. The Cotswold author Jane Bingham is the guide for the day. Hike: 6 miles/9.5 km. Meals: breakfast and dinner. Overnight: Cirencester, Kings Head Hotel and Spa.
Day 3: Malmesbury and Abbey House
We enjoy the delights of Abbey House gardens and take a hike around the hilltop village of Malmesbury called the “Queen of Hilltop Towns” and reputed to be the oldest continually inhabited village in England with a rich history over 1,000 years. Set on a hill, circled by the River Avon, the skyline is dominated by the imposing Norman Abbey. We return via Tetbury for a walking tour of this famous wool town with its market hall taking center stage. The home of Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate is close by. We’ll return to the hotel with plenty of time to enjoy its lovely spa facilities. Hike: 6 miles/9.5 km. Meals: breakfast and dinner. Overnight: Cirencester, Kings Head Hotel and Spa.
Day 4: Bibury and Kelmscott Manor
William Morris considered Bibury to be the most beautiful village in England and what better place to enjoy an idyllic stroll along the banks of the River Coln than at Arlington Row. This picturesque set of former weavers’ cottages serves as a timeless reminder of the craftsmanship that Morris was looking to preserve. After lunch we visit Kelsmcott Manor, the summer residence of Morris, which he shared with his family and Gabriel Rossetti, the poet and painter. After today’s activities, we transfer to the Broadway Hotel in the center of the village of Broadway. Hike: 6 miles / 9.5 km. Meals: breakfast and dinner. Overnight: Broadway, Broadway Hotel.
Day 5: Hidcote Garden and Chipping Campden
We set out along the majestic high street of Chipping Campden, adorned with the fine houses of former wool merchants, whose enormous wealth created the foundations of the village we see today. We make our way to Hidcote Garden which was designed and created by the American Major Lawrence Johnston in the Arts and Crafts style. The garden is made up of a series of beautiful garden rooms, each possessing its own unique character. After lunch we head back on a different route to further explore Chipping Campden, where we see the 15th-century wool church, the 17th-century Almhouses, market hall and the remains of Campden House, which was destroyed in the English Civil War. We’ll have free time to explore the many interesting stores and shop before returning to our hotel. The Costwold gardening maven Vivienne McGhee will be joining the group as a garden/walking guide for the day. Hike: 8 miles / 13 km. Meals: breakfast and dinner. Overnight: Broadway, Broadway Hotel.
Day 6: Broadway Tower, Stanton and Stanway House
Our tour begins at Broadway Tower, the folly created as a link between the two estates of the Earl of Coventry as a token of love for his homesick wife. On a clear day views extend into Wales. Our walk begins in Broadway as we make our way across open sheep pastures to the perfectly preserved village of Stanton, which appears frozen in time. The main street is often used in TV and film sets due to its unspoiled nature. Our final destination is Stanway House, where we enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn followed by a private guided tour of the house and newly renovated and fully working watermill. Jane Bingham is the guide for the day again today. Hike: 6 miles / 9.5 km. Meals: breakfast and dinner. Overnight: Broadway, Broadway Hotel.
Day 7: Transfer to the Airport or London
After breakfast, we will say farewell to the beautiful Cotswold region and transfer to the Airport or to London for continued exploration. Opportunities to extend the tour include a stay in Bath or London. Meal: breakfast.
Please bear in mind that the actual hikes may vary due to as yet unknown special events, weather or trail conditions. Your guide is an expert in the area and can easily lengthen, shorten or otherwise modify the hikes as appropriate.