Cotswolds for 3 nights, then what?

I just posed a question about "Legal London." My husband and I are in our 60's. We are in better shape than most people our age. We love to walk. We like history - we do not like alot of touristy "hype." We will be traveling in England from Sept. 10 through September 25. When we arrive at Heathrow, we're headed for the Cotswolds by train - we'll stay there until Friday September 13. We already have our accommodations booked for London from Sept. 18 through Sept. 25. So we have 5 days where we could travel somewhere else in England by bus or train (we are not renting a car). I have figured out that it is not easy to get across the country (from the Cotswolds to York, for instance) It costs alot, it appears to take the whole day, and it involves a dizzying array of transfers. York intrigues me and I'd like to get to see it - is there a way? Or we could just go to London, find different lodging from Sept. 13 through 18, and take day trips say to Hastings (to see where the Battle of Hastings took place), or Dover (possibly take a ferry to Calais or Dunkirk?)
Any ideas?

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

Betsy, a couple of things. First, I don't know what you expect to see in the Cotswolds without a car. You can see a couple of towns and walk. But, you will not get a feel for the area, probably miss Stratford, Blenheim, Oxford, Warwick, etc which are in the area. Also, I don't know where you are getting your rail info. There are numerous trains, directly from Cheltenham to York which take 3:18, have no changes, and cost between 62 and 82 GBP. As for other thoughts, there are many places not far from the Cotswolds, most better seen with a car. There is Bath and attractions such as Stonehenge and Salisbury. There is also Cornwall, much better seen with a car. I would not recommend Hastings as a day trip. The town is mildly interesting, particularly if you are a fan of Foyle's War. However, the battle was fought up the road in the town of Battle. It was a hugely important event, but as a day trip, it is the very partial ruins of an abbey, a short film, a bit of a museum, and a meadow with an incline at one end. Dover Castle is very interesting, but a round trip ferry ride when you were not interested in a multi hour train ride from the Cotswolds to York?

Posted by Betsy
Wyndmoor, Pennsylvan, United States
14 posts

Good points, all. We have limited goals for the Cotswolds because we know we'll be unable to get to all of the great places to see. That's OK. We would rather root ourselves in a place for 3 nights and do walks or bikes from there. I'm very glad you mentioned the train from Cheltenham to York. I did not realize that it was a direct line trip! Thanks so much for that info. It means that we will have to locate ourselves in a small village in the Cotswolds that is closer to Cheltenham, maybe Winchombe or Painswick. We could get a ride to the train in Cheltenham and be on our way to York! Great! I'm so glad. We'll have time to explore the moors around York as well.

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
331 posts

There are so many places to see in the south of England there is no reason to go to York unless you must see York Minster and the Railway Museum. You might be disapointed in the Yorkshire Dales for hikes as the scenery doesn't have much variety as some other areas and there are great distances between anything interesting such as the Great Estates. Check the National Trust UK site for interesting itineraries and walks you can download. We are your age and we have rented a car for 2 visits and and can highly reccomend the freedom of movement it creates. You can always get out and walk up to Hadrians Wall for that day hike. It may be cheaper than the train.

Posted by Steve
WI
72 posts

Betsy, my wife and I traveled in June 2012 to England and really focused on the southern part of the country. With your 5 days, you could easily fit in a trip to Bath, out through Dartmoor National Park, and on to Cornwall (St. Ives; Penzance). Bath has great history including Roman baths and wonderful Georgian architecture, as well as good restaurants and hotel options. Dartmoor has a collection of small villages with character (e.g., Chagford) and wonderful, vast moors perfect for a truly English hiking experience. Cornwall is a slightly warmer coastal area, with small fishing villages and great coastal walks with amazing cliffside views to the Atlantic. We took this trip and truly enjoyed the diversity of the areas and the geographical proximity that allow you to link this together transport wise. Of course, if you end up in London for 12 days and take some day trips (York and Bath are both able to done as day trips from London) that sounds like a great way to go too. Happy planning and enjoy the trip!

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
331 posts

Steve has made some brilliant recommendations! And it is easier to make train connections in the South.

Posted by Darren
Galt, Calif., UK
135 posts

We stayed at Windsor Cottage in Winchombe, loved it ! Cheap too.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8724 posts

Winchcombe has Sudeley Castle and is mostly grey stone rather than the honey coloured Cotswold stone you expected. That said, it is a lovely small town - I don't think you could call it a village - and I like it very much. Stow on the Wold has better connections within the Cotswolds, just one or two miles from the quintessential Cotswold small villages of Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, Upper Swell, Lower Swell, Dodington (trout fishing and a small brewery), Bourton on the Water, etc. There is regular Pulhams coach service to Cheltenham. Also to Moreton in Marsh where the rail station to Cheltenham, Evesham, Oxford (London) and Worcester is. If you don't fancy the coach to Cheltenham and then the possible taxi to the less than convenient Cheltenham station, going via Moreton in Marsh isn't really too arduous. One First Great Western train Moreton in Marsh to Oxford on the Cotswold Line, then an easy change at Oxford onto the Cross Country train all the way to York, about 4 and a half hours from Moreton in Marsh to York.

Posted by Robin Z
Troy, Oh, USA
1634 posts

Hi Betsy, while you are in the Cotswolds you will be able to take a bus to a few village, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh, but there isn't any service to the smaller villages. There are couple of places in Bourton-on-the-Water (bourtoncysles.co.uk ~~~hartwells.supanet.com) that you can rent bikes and in Chipping Campden (cotswoldcountrycycles.com). Also, there is the Cotswold Way National Trail that you and your husband could walk part of on one day. Also, there are the Cotswold Tea Shop Walks, there is a book with that title.
There are some excellent tea shops in the Cotswolds & nothing beats a good Cotswold cream tea, which usually consists of two delicious home-made scones, strawberry jam & clotted cream plus a pot of tea. A friend and I are planning our trip to walk the entire Cotswold Way trail 102 miles next year. With your other 5 days you could go south to Devon, Dorset and Cornwall which are beautiful.

Posted by Valerie
Dallas, TX, USA
3 posts

In March 2012, we did a day tour of the Cotswolds on a small, private and nice motor coach that departed from and returned to Oxford. We used Cotswold Roaming http://www.cotswold-roaming.co.uk/cotswold-tours/ and our owner/driver was very agreeable and the price very reasonable. We took the North Cotswold Tour which traveled through all of the lovely towns that Rick Steves recommends. The day trip was from 9:50am to 5:30pm.

Posted by Betsy
Wyndmoor, Pennsylvan, United States
14 posts

Thanks for your suggestions! We decided to take the train to Cheltenahm Spa Station (switch trains in Reading) where we will rent a car for the 4 days that we are in the Cotswolds. Found a lovely B&B in Alderton. We'll take a direct train to York from Cheltenham Spa (we don't want to drive there). In York, we'll visit the Yorkshire Moors (probably rent a car for the day because public transport to and fro is terrible). We'll train from York to London and spend 7 days there! Can't wait!