My Travel Guide to the Cotswolds

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( March 26th, 2015 )

A Cotswold Prayer
We thank thee, Lord of heaven,
For all that thou hast given to help us and delight us.
For friends who gladly greet us, For flowers of field and garden,
For bees with sweetness laden, For swift and gallant horses,
For dogs with friendly faces, For homely dwelling places,
For song and kindly voices, For food and sleep and ease-
We thank you, Lord, for these.

My husband and I spent 12 glorious days walking around the Cotswolds last May. Of the 3,000 miles of public footpaths and roads, tracks and trails, that take you through farmland and pastures, fields and crops, rolling hills and valleys, open grasslands and gardens, forests and huge flowering trees, parks, nature reserves, wildflowers, and rivers and streams, we walked 100 miles. We visited no-less-than-39 historical churches, and an equal number of timeless villages, small hamlets, and medieval market towns.

Cotswolds England Scenery

Designated as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” the Cotswolds are located in south central England, and consist of an area approximately 2,250 square miles. The word “Cotswolds” itself is a combination of two old-English words which literally translate to “sheep hills.” Historically, during the Middle Ages, the Cotswolds were “the heart of England’s vast wool trade” due to its abundance of sheep. With this great prosperity from hundreds and hundreds of years ago, because of the sheep and the wool business, manor houses, tithe barns, abbeys, and “wool churches” were built. Many of these buildings still stand today.

Cotswolds England Scenery

I present my travel guide to the Cotswolds based on our walking, and on the 19 blogs that I have written from these travels. I include links within each section to my blogs for further reading.

Navigation
The land in most of England is considered “public rights of way,” meaning that land that we might consider private and trespassing on in the United States, is free to walk through in England. There are established and well-marked footpaths and roads, and tracks and trails throughout the countryside and towns, some even literally going through someone’s property.

Cotswolds Road

Cotswolds Grass Path Big Trees

My husband and I were provided with Ordnance Survey maps, a guidebook, and pages and pages of laminated, very detailed written instructions from Footpath Holidays, who organized our travels. With these we were able to navigate our way around. Written signs along on the paths and roads that said for example, “public footpath” or “public bridleway,” or a naming a specific route or “way,” also helped our navigation. There were directional arrows, and distinctive symbols as well, such as the acorn, which is the symbol used for all National Trails in England and Wales, to point us in the right direction. Along with our written instructions, maps, and guidebook, it was these signs and symbols, acorns and arrows that helped us find our way in the Cotswolds.

Cotswolds Wardens Way

Cotswolds Path Through Crops

To connect the dots between the footpaths and roads, tracks and trails, and the signs and symbols, acorns and arrows, we passed through gates, kissing gates, and stiles which joined one landscape to another. One very important rule to follow is to very carefully please close all gates and kissing gates, and leave them as you found them.

Cotswolds Kissing Gate Green

Cotswolds Gate Grass Trees

Colorful Scenery, Cotswold Stone, and the Villages
We spent our days walking through some beautiful scenery, including all that I described above in the first paragraph. Green was the dominant hue, but flowers, trees, water, and sky added a rainbow of color. There was such a variety of scenery during our walks, including some big trees that I have never seen before, and some bright yellow fields of rapeseed in bloom.

Cotswolds Rapeseed Fields

The buildings of the Cotswolds are known for their “Cotswold Stone,” a Jurassic limestone, rich in fossils, which it gives the historic homes, hamlets, and villages their honey-colored and golden-colored look. Some of my favorite buildings were those that have flowers and plants that literally grow on and climb the walls, such as wisteria or roses. This made for a nice color combination between the Cotswold stone and splashes of purple, pink, red, and other colors.

Cotswolds Homes Villages Honey Colored Roses

We strolled from towns called Stanton to Chipping Campden. From villages called Guiting Power to Temple Guiting to Snowshill. From Coln St. Denis to Coln St. Aldwyns. Names such as Broad Campden, Batsford, Blockley, Bibury, Bisley, Burford, Buckland, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Broadway. Even the names of the towns were colorful.

Cotswolds Honey Colored Stone

Animals

I loved the sheep! I loved walking through pastures with them right at my feet. I loved hearing them “baaaaa,” and seeing the little lambs frolic.

Cotswolds Sheep

My husband loved connecting with the horses, as we walked through their fields, or near their stables and corrals.

Cotswolds Horses

And together we had some interesting experiences, needing to “take the bull by the horns,” as we walked near some cows and bulls!

Cotswolds Bull in Field

Historical Churches
My husband and I loved the churches. We would spend no less than an hour at each one of the 39 we visited. I was fascinated with the architecture, art, stained glass, religious relics, and the interior of each historic church. My husband was interested in reading practically each and every old legible tombstone surrounding the exterior of the churches. Together, we appreciated the religion, spirituality, and grand thousand-year-old history of these “wool churches.”

St Lawrence Church Bourton on the Hill Cotswolds England

St Marys Church Temple Guiting Cotswolds England

Even the kneeling pillows in the churches reflected the beauty of the Cotswolds. I adored the creative embroidery and needlework that included not only religious symbols, events, and holidays, but also a variety of other subjects, including flowers and nature, designs and patterns, birds and wildlife, the churches themselves…and the sheep.

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Sheep

Fun Things to Look For
Throughout England you still see remnants of the classic red telephone box and red post office box. With the advent of cell phones, the telephone boxes have other uses these days, even in the Cotswolds, such as a Public Access Defibrillator. Or my favorite, in the hamlet of Calcot, the red telephone box was a combination of the “Calcot Visitor Information” area, complete with the hamlet’s history and some photographs, as well as a miniature library/book exchange.

Red Telephone Box Calcot Information Library Cotswolds

We came across a few classic old petrol pumps as well.

Old Petrol Pumps Fina Cotswolds

Windows and Doors
My favorite subject to photograph when I travel is windows and doors. The Cotswolds was no different. I have turned my photographs of the Cotswolds into a travel photography book, with over 375 photographs in 192 unnumbered pages, including pictures of windows and doors of the homes and buildings, and pictures of interior windows and exterior windows and doors of the churches.

Cotswolds Windows and Doors

Cotswolds Windows and Doors

The photographs in my book reflect the quintessential contrasting and complementary colors of the flowers and plants that literally grow on and climb the walls of the honey- and golden-colored “Cotswold Stone” of the homes, buildings, and churches. My pictures are my representation of the beautiful and timeless Cotswolds as seen through its windows and doors.

Windows and Doors of the Cotswolds

And a few other Fun Favorites in the Cotswolds
I won first place in the International Category of the “Worldwide Adventures of Punxsutawney Phil” photography contest with one of my pictures taken in the Cotswolds of Phil sitting on a bench at Saint Michael’s Church in Buckland! The premise of this contest is that the Groundhog Club provided me with a picture of Punxsutawney Phil that my husband and I took with us on our travels, both nationally and internationally. The background as to why I wanted to take Phil with us on various adventures is because, well, my birthday is on Groundhog’s Day.

Saint Michaels Church Buckland Cotswolds Punxsutawney Phil

Three years ago, I walked 150 miles the Camino Francés pilgrimage route across northern Spain, and will soon be going back to walk the entire 500 miles of this Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. During our walk in the Cotswolds, I ended up discovering a few commonalities between the Cotswolds and the Camino de Santiago.

Cotswolds Saint James Church Cranham

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our 12 glorious days walking around 100 miles of the Cotswolds. I look forward to someday returning to explore some of the other 2,900 miles!

Sweet Travels!

The Cotswold Prayer at the beginning of this blog “is displayed in loving memory of Ted and Barbara Milvain of Ford, who worshiped in St. James, Cutsdean for over 60 years, and died in April and May 2006, within 3 weeks of each other, aged 93 and 91 years respectively, and are buried in the churchyard.”

Footpath Holidays organized our journey to the Cotswolds, and provided a small discount on our total fees. Opinions in this blog are my own.

My travel photography book, “Windows and Doors of the Cotswolds: A Collection of Photographs of the Quintessential Colorful Flowers and Honey-Colored Cotswold Stone in the Land of Market Towns, Wool Churches, and Sheep Hills in England’s Countryside” is available on Amazon.

From our partners
3 comments
 

Commonalities between the Cotswolds and the Camino de Santiago

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( March 17th, 2015 )

Camino de Santiago Yellow Arrow

Three years ago I walked 150 miles of the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, Camino Francés, across northern Spain. Last year my husband and I walked 100 miles of the 3,000 miles of public footpaths and roads throughout the Cotswolds area in England.

During our Cotswolds walks, I ended up discovering a few commonalities between the Cotswolds and the Camino de Santiago.

Yellow Arrows

Yellow arrows are the way to navigate and find your way across the Camino Francés route as you cross Spain from the border with France to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. In fact, you most likely can find your way without the use of a guidebook or map just by following the yellow arrows.

Camino de Santiago Yellow Arrow

Camino de Santiago Yellow Arrow

Camino de Santiago Yellow Arrow

During our walks in the Cotswolds, I noticed a few yellow arrows as well. Since there are many types and colors of arrows directing you in the Cotswolds though, and because there are 3,000 miles total, guidebooks and maps would probably be very useful here.

Cotswolds Yellow Arrows

Cotswolds Yellow Arrows

Cotswolds Yellow Arrows

Cotswolds Yellow Arrows

Cotswolds Yellow Arrows

Scallop Shell

The symbol of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is the scallop shell. There are various reasons for this, including that the contours and features of the scallop shell represent the converging of people from all over the world, bound for a common destination, the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. This cathedral contains the tomb of Saint James the Great, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and the patron saint of Spain.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

In the Cotswolds, I came across the scallop shell at a few churches, namely those churches dedicated to this same Apostle, Saint James the Great.

Cotswolds Cutsdean Scallop Shell

The Churches and Cathedrals of Saint James the Great

As just mentioned, Saint James the Great is one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and the patron saint of Spain, as well as of pilgrims, merchants, and pharmacists. The destination of all Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes is the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela because it contains the tomb of Saint James. You see his image throughout the cathedral and along the pilgrimage routes.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago Saint James

In the Cotswolds, we came across a few churches also dedicated to Saint James the Great. One in Cutsdean:

Cotswolds Saint James Church Cutsdean

One in Cranham:

Cotswolds Saint James Church Cranham

Cotswolds Saint James Cranham

Cotswolds Cranham Kneeling Pillow Saint James

Boots and Walking

Another one of the commonalities between the Cotswolds and the Camino de Santiago is walking. While one can bike around both these areas, walking is a more common mode of transportation. Thus the need for good walking shoes and boots.

Camino de Santiago Boots

Cotswolds Boots
Love

Camino de Santiago Love

Cotswolds Love

Me!

While I would love to go back to the Cotswolds someday and explore the other 2,900 miles, for now I am definitely returning to Spain very soon to walk the entire 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago route of Camino Francés across northern Spain! This will include the 150 miles that I have already done, plus I would like to walk an additional 55 miles to Finisterre on the Atlantic Ocean, and 20 miles up the coast to Muxía!

I have my plane and train tickets! And I have a good pair of boots!

Sweet Travels!

For other blogs from my Cotswolds travels, please visit my Cotswolds category.

For other blogs from my Camino de Santiago travels, please visit my Spain-Camino category.

From our partners
1 comment
 

Kneeling Pillows in the Churches of the Cotswolds

by Debby Jagerman-Dungan
( March 3rd, 2015 )

“Each embroiderer chose his or her design… [from] flowers and wildlife… [to] church festivals and Christian symbols. Our aim was to create something of lasting worth for our church. We hope that those who come to worship here, or just to visit, feel that we have achieved this.” – Cranham Church Kneelers

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Sheep

I adored the creative embroidery and needlework of the kneeling pillows in the churches of the Cotswolds. The pillows included not only religious symbols, events, and holidays, but also a variety of other subjects.

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows The Last Supper

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Angels

Kneeling pillows are used for prayer, weddings, and remembrances. The back the kneeling pillows usually listed the person who created the handmade piece, when it was created, and who the pillow is dedicated to.

Other subjects included flowers and nature:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Flowers

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Flowers

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Flowers

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Flowers

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Wheat

Designs and patterns:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Designs

Birds:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Heron

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Quail

Wildlife:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Fox

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Squirrel

The churches themselves:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Church Coln St Dennis

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Painswick Church

Scenes of ships and snow and sailboats:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Sailboat

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Ships and Snow

And of course, the sheep that the Cotswolds are famous for:

Cotswolds Kneeling Pillows Sheep

Sweet Travels!

For other blogs from my Cotswolds travels, please visit my Cotswolds category.

From our partners
Add a comment
 
Contact Us · About · WanderTales · Advertise · Bhutan Tours · WanderBlogs· WanderTips · WanderGear · Newsletter · WanderGallery · Buy Solo Book · Buy India Book · Book Reviews · Book Signings · Workshops · Speaking · Media · News · Images · Copyright & Privacy · Site Map