Monday, July 16, 2012

Stratford-upon-Avon & the Cotswolds

We're just back from a short break in England for a family gathering in the Cotswolds. We flew into Birmingham and stopped off enroute in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Set in the beautiful rural Warwickshore countriside, on the banks of the river Avon, Stratford is one of the most important tourist destinations in England. As well as being home to the Royal Shapespeare Company (RSC) Theatre, Stratford gives you a unique insight into the life of the famous bard when you visit  the Shakespeare Museum and the house where he was born.

"Oh noble fool, a worth fool", from As You Like It

Shakespeare's birthplace
There are five Shakespeare properties which you can visit, which include Shapespeare's birthplace (above), New place/ Nash's House, Hall's Croft, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's House. One ticket covers all the properties and is valid for a year, so you get great value for your entrance fee.

Downtown Stratford
Using Stratford-upon-Avon as a base you are in easy striking distance of the nearby surrounding counties of Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucesterhshire. You can visit Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds to the south, Worcester and the Malverns to the west, Warwick Castle and Henley in Arden to the north. All of these beautiful areas within an hour's journey of Stratford itself. Our next stop was Icomb, near Stow-on-the-Wold, where we stayed in Ash Farm Barns, a complex of well equipped holiday cottages. The Cotswolds covers an area of 790 square miles and is the England's largest officially designated "area of outstanding natural beauty".

The Old Stock Hotel, Stow On The Wold

The "Old Stock"

As well as beautiful countryside, the Cotswolds is know for its sleepy ancient limestone villages, historic market towns and for being "typically English", where time has stood still for over 300 years. When you visit some of the villages you really will feel that you have just stept onto a movie set.

The old market hall, Chipping Campden

We only had time to see a small fraction of this beautiful area of England, so we will definitely be back to see more and enjoy the wonderful tea rooms of the Cotswolds.

"Enjoy the Cotswolds"