PHOTO: The Cotswolds seems to have been designed for walkers. (Photo by James Ruggia)
Protected from over visitation by their narrow roads, the English Cotswolds are an area about 800 square miles just a couple of hours by car from London and yet they preserve pre-modern English life where thatched roofs, stately manors and village squares are separated by sheep folds, soft hills and hedgerows. They’re also the setting for most of the scenes in the popular TV series, Downton Abbey. English Lakeland Ramblers is serving all of this up in two walking programs that are each limited to 15 travelers.
The walks cover five to 10 miles daily, with only slight elevation changes, switching seamlessly from sheep meadows and beech forests to steeple-topped villages built from the region’s signature honey-colored stone.
The seven-day Charming Cotswolds uses a single-base allowing participants to check in to one hotel for six nights. In this way the experience is about walking rather than packing and unpacking. The English Charingworth Manor Hotel serves as the headquarters for the program. Although it’s centuries old, the manor has an indoor pool, gym, tennis court and a garden spacious enough for pre-breakfast strolls.
Departure dates for “Charming Cotswolds” are July 20 and Sept. 14. Priced from $3,175 per person double, the package includes six guided walking tours, six nights’ lodgings (private bathrooms), all breakfasts, six lunches, six dinners in the hotel’s restaurant, all admission charges, ground transportation and local taxes.
Another program combines four nights at the Charingworth Manor Hotel and three nights in a luxury London hotel. This city/country package adds a day of guided sightseeing to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, churches designed by Christopher Wren-designed churches, St.Paul’s Cathedral and more. It ends with a boat trip on the Thames from the Tower to Parliament. The final day is leisure time.
The ‘London and the Cotswolds’ tour departs May 25 and June 1 and costs $3,475 per person for seven nights. The 100-mile trip from The Cotswolds to London includes a stop at Downton Abbey, a.k.a Highclere Castle.