Paull Tickner | May 18, 2015 9:57 AM ET
Lift Off into the Heart of England
Sleepy honey-colored limestone villages, sheep-clad hillsides, privately owned and internationally renowned gardens, 16th century gastro pubs, quintessential English tea rooms, the arts and crafts Movement, jaw-dropping history, treasure-filled castles and a close encounter with Tudor England… Welcome to the iconic Cotswolds, a corner of England that has just become more accessible thanks to the new American Airlines daily non-stop service from JFK to Birmingham in the heart of England.
Business and leisure travelers using the Birmingham Airport gateway start their UK visit with a smile on the faces as they discover they can speed through immigration and customs and reach the curbside in just over 30 minutes. It also means that by 8:30 a.m. they can be tucking into a traditional English breakfast in a country house hotel in Broadway, Chipping Campden or Stow on the Wold.
Fortified, they can then take a leisurely stroll around the fragrant and internationally renowned Arts and Crafts garden at nearby Hidcote Manor Garden or award winning Kiftsgate Court. With a brief rest in the afternoon, they can take a leisurely wander through the picturesque market town before sinking their first pint of Old Speckled Hen in a "pinch me is this for real?" traditional coaching inn which I can personally vouch for!
Putting the T in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is home to a wide variety of interesting places for English Afternoon Tea and with the 4 p.m. slot booked at an award winning tearoom or in beautiful, privately owned gardens we can then build each day around this focal point. We can add a pub lunch or two, a talk on how a traditional English Afternoon Tea should be correctly served and finish with an entertaining evening at the Pudding Club. The itinerary can then head for Blenheim Palace and the university city of Oxford before finishing with a few days in London. I’m sure you can find a few good friends who’d love to do something like this in October.
Cotswolds Pub Tour
Not many people know this, but there are more than 20 breweries and microbreweries in Gloucestershire, aka the Cotswolds. There are also 38 highly rated Gloucestershire pubs in the Main Entries part of the Good Pub Guide with another 134 in the "Also Worth a Visit" section. This means that there’s enough here for an outstanding London and the Cotswolds tour for clients who are into Real Ales in a big way.
For other itineraries you can blend together value-added visits to stately homes and gardens with lunches each day in traditional coaching inns, with dinners in different award-winning gastro pubs famous for their food, wine lists and real ales.
The Land of Wye – Want to know a secret?
The Birmingham gateway also gives you direct access to areas of the country that are still largely undiscovered. Let me introduce you to Herefordshire a county of black and white villages, meadows dotted with sheep and cattle, communities with names straight out of the Domesday Book and which remains "forever England."
One particularly special area is the Golden Valley. Legend has it that when the Normans arrived 900 years ago, they misinterpreted the Welsh word dwr (water) for the French d’or (golden). Other historical features include the Pandy Inn, the oldest pub in Herefordshire. It’s alleged that Sir Richard de Brito built a church here as a penance for his part in the murder of that "turbulent priest," St Thomas à Becket and to house the laborers, the Pandy Inn was built in 1185.
But local history goes back even further. High on a hill above Dorstone is 5,000-year-old Arthur’s Stone –a mini-Stonehenge of nine upright stones, capped with massive granite slabs, possibly the great Stone Table in The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.
This is only a glimpse of the secrets that Herefordshire has to offer including Hampton Court Castle. Why not come and discover them for yourself! Fly through the Birmingham gateway — it’s never been easier.
More by Paull Tickner
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Hotel & Resort
Destination & Tourism
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Features & Advice
Airlines & Airports
Destination & Tourism