I'm looking at going to the Cotswolds in July for several days. I would like to walk a small part, but not all of it. I've seen several postings about using Oxford instead of Bath as a base for day trips. Why? Also, are there any particular towns to see or festivals to visit? I love off the tourist route and local culture type activities.
You will have great difficulty getting off the tourist route in the Cotswolds in July - is peak tourist season. Ditto Oxford and Bath.
I have read that some Cotswolds towns are very very busy during the day with tourist buses and quieter in the evening - hopefully someone can suggest which ones may suit.
It is easy to take a train to Moreton-in-Marsh and stay in a B&B there. I've stayed at Acacia B&B and Warwick B&B in Moreton. There is a good TI there. From Moreton there is frequent and inexpensive public bus service to some of the other Cotswald towns. If you are concerned about crowding, book your stay for Sunday thru Thursday nights. Weekends are busiest. There are trails between towns, sometimes across fields. Trail maps are available at the TI. It is only a one-hour bus ride to Stratford-upon-Avon. Warwick, with its castle, is another short bus trip from Stratford--definitely do-able on a daytrip by bus from Moreton. Another way to do the Cotswalds would be to stay in either Stratford or Warwick and travel into the Cotswalds from there. From Bath, public bus transit isn't so easy (seemed non-existent recently). There is at least one tour bus company that takes a small tour group on day trips into the Cotswalds from Bath.
I stayed in Stow-in-the-Wold on 2 trips about 25 years apart. The first time I was back packing and stayed at the youth hostel there. The 2nd time - 25 years later I was married and we stayed at a BB. There are many lovely walks. My husband walked to Upper and Lower Slaughter following the old walking trails. We had dinner one night at the beautiful hotel in the town. My first trip we used the bus system, the 2nd trip we rented a car from the airport. I still think the Costwolds are one on the more beautilful areas to visit.
Stow is a short 10-minute bus ride from Moreton-in-Marsh, for those using public transportation. Bourton-on-the-Water is another 10-15 minutes beyond Stow on the same bus line. Other Cotswald towns can be reached by bus. Driving in the area can be confusing. There are trails (paths) between the towns. Walking Moreton to Stow would take less than an hour. Ask a local about hiking or get a map at the TI.
Bath is simply too far. My wife and I used Oxford
as a base in July, 2006. She traveled to the
Cotswolds each day while I was in class at Christ
Church. Worked out quite well for us.
If in the area I would spend one day at Bleheim
Palace which is next to village of Woodstock,
easily accessible by bus.
From a web site....
Cotswolds Villages Trail
The Cotswold Villages Trail passes through no fewer than twenty seven of the beautiful towns, villages and hamlets that make the Cotswolds so special. It visits the delightful wool towns of Stow-on-the-Wold, with its mellow stone houses, shops and inns overlooking the medieval cross and stocks in the large market square; Northleach, with its magnificent church, House of Correction, workhouse, almshouses and immaculate late-medieval cottages clustered around the central square; Winchcombe and Chipping Campden, the loveliest of all the Cotswold market towns.
As well as visiting some of the regions best-loved villages like the Slaughters, Bourton-on-the-Water, Guiting Power, Broadway, Stanway and Stanton, it also seeks out little-known villages like Clapton-on-the-Hill with its tiny, but historic church some six spaces wide and eight from door to alter; Naunton, with its splendid 15th century gabled dovecote and Hampnet with its intriguing chu