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How to make a classic Cotswolds weekend car-free

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HOne Stone Villages. Pubs with roaring fires. Sheep fields, Instagrammable farm shops and cozy tea rooms. The Cotswolds is the ultimate British country pin-up – the kind of place city dwellers dream of spending a lazy, idyllic weekend away. The only problem for a non-driver like me? You need a car to get there and explore the riches of the region.

Or so it seemed. Most people think that a motor is a must for the Cotswolds. But as it turns out, even in the heart of its lush, protected Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty – where major transport links are scarce – there’s a lot to see without driving.

The first step to a successful car-free visit is to choose your base carefully. While some of the Cotswolds’ prettiest towns and villages are served by a decent local bus network, you’ll want to stay close to a train line, at least for your first night. This is not only due to the fact that buses rarely run and you also have annoying luggage in tow, but also because the trains are sometimes late here. You don’t need the stress of suddenly being homeless for the night because you missed the last bus to your hotel due to the 5.34pm delay from Paddington.

There are only a handful of train stations within the actual AONB. Among them is sleepy Charlbury – home to a great deli and possibly the classiest mini-co-op in the world (great if you book an Airbnb). Or there’s the larger Moreton-in-Marsh if you need a wide range of facilities. But for just a car-free weekend, my very favorite village is atmospheric Kingham, just outside of Chipping Norton. Perfectly quaint, it contains only the bare essentials – by which I mean not one, but two excellent pubs.

The Kingham Plow, Kingham, Oxforshire

(The Kingham Plow)

Picture this: Emerging from the train station, you’ll enjoy a winding 20-minute stroll along the hedgerows and country lane, past golden fields, butter-colored houses and a quaint old church. front yards bloom with lavender; there is a small wooden bench in a village square. And at the heart of it all is your stay, The Kingham Plow: the quintessential Cotswolds pub, with a beamed dining room, roaring fire and an all-bangers menu of superb steaks and chips. Its handful of cozy bedrooms (doubles from £145 B&B) are outfitted with jars of biscuits and well-read books, and overlook the little main street, where horses from nearby stables rumble by on weekend mornings. In the evenings, locals gather in the back patio to sip beers and cocktails.

However, there is more to Kingham than just the plough. A few minutes walk away is fashionable The wild rabbit, perfect for a glamorous Sunday lunch or evening glass of wine. There is a small shop that sells a few snacks, magazines and other sundries. And of course, as in almost every village in the Cotswolds, there are some excellent walks.

From this successful base you can trek about five miles east towards Chipping Norton with its antique shops and market atmosphere, stopping for a cheese souffle in Churchill along the way The Churchill. You can hike south to Foxholes Nature Reserve, which is dotted with bluebells every spring. But if you want the high-end Cotswolds vibes, I’d head north on a straight, rustic, two-hour loop that includes the Cotswolds’ sacred center: Daylesford Bio.

A room at The Kingham Plow, Kingham, Oxforshire

(The Kingham Plow)

Even if you’re already familiar with Lady Bamford’s food and lifestyle brand, nothing can prepare you for the wonderland that is Daylesford’s farm headquarters, about half an hour into your walking route’s start. Garden center, hardware store, children’s boutique, restaurant, cooking school, accommodation, spa – it’s a bit like an Ikea, where you can find everything and you could literally spend a whole day spending money on things you don’t need. But unlike Ikea, ceramic bowls might cost £75, and there’s plenty of cold-pressed juice and people yelling in Range Rovers.

After you’ve had your fill (and a Daylesford coffee), head west to Oddington Ashes, through woodland, then down to Bledington – and some sheep fields. At this point your stomach may be growling, and that’s a good thing – lunch is around The King’s Head Inn, another special pub with delicious fish and chips and a flower-filled courtyard garden. After that it’s just a 45 minute stroll back to Kingham for a well deserved nap.

If you want to explore further afield, that’s doable too. Monday to Saturday the 802 Bus (unlimited day pass £7.50) from Kingham takes you 15 minutes along the road to Stow-on-the-Wold, a pretty market town that’s a honeypot for tourists. While most struggle for parking, you’ll have a breezy time visiting the cute tea rooms and raiding the shops (don’t miss it The curated storea pop-up rotation of local indie companies) and exploring the Norman church framed by yew trees.

Woodland outside of Moreton in Marsh, Cotswolds

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Put a little more effort into planning your schedule and your options will only expand. The aforementioned beautiful Charlbury is just eight minutes by train from your base, Kingham, and is home to photogenic workhouses and a large town hall. If you like to avoid local timetables, it is accessible by bus. As is Chipping Norton and Bourton-on-the-Water – perhaps the most popular town in the Cotswolds of all, with its waterway and bridges.

There are many tourists in Bourton buzzing around the museums or sampling gins at the Cotswolds Distillery. If you come to visit you will temporarily have to share some sidewalk properties in the Cotswolds. But at least we savvy pedestrians don’t have to share the streets. On Sunday evening, most of these crowds will be stuck in return traffic from holidaymakers. In the meantime, whiz home with the train and book in hand—an effortlessly low-carbon and car-free traveler.

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/sustainable-living/cotswolds-car-free-no-driving-uk-b2034043.html How to make a classic Cotswolds weekend car-free

Grace Reader

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