seeing the Cotswolds

We wanted to do the one-day Cotswolds tour described in Rick Steves Great Britain 2013 page 362, which uses Moreton-in-Marsh as a hub to take a bus to Chipping Campden in the morning and then down to Stow-in-the-Wold in the afternoon. However, his warnings about the un-dependable bus system made us nervous. Has anyone tried this? Were the busses mostly on time? Would it be better to rent bikes in Moreton-in-Marsh and do the same route on our own?

Posted by Kathleen
Camano Island, WA, usa
387 posts

If you are up for biking it sounds like it could be fun...I don't know how safe...some of the back roads are hilly and curvy with blindspots from hedgerows...but if you're game I believe that some of the buses have bike that you can bike down and ride the bus back up. Footpaths for hiking through the estates is another option. I am old so I really enjoyed having a car; especially with unpredictable weather. I like driving to somewhere and if it looks interesting getting out and walking around. Unless it is market day I found Chipping Campden very pretty and golden but boring...So we drove on. But it could be a nice place to bike thru too!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3096 posts

If you are not opposed to renting a car that is what I would suggest. You will be able to see so much more of the area. While a lot of the towns are somewhat similar each one has its unique characteristics.

Posted by Robin Z
Troy, Oh, USA
1674 posts

The buses in the Cotswolds are limited, some run once every hour, some only run a few times a week, etc. And really a day isn't enough time for the Cotswolds. Having a car is the best way to see the Cotswolds.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
1120 posts

Julie,I'm in complete agreement with the previous posts , let me add ; I'm with Terry Kathryn and Kathleen ,for my money , a car is best . You have far more freedom and as Robin and Kathleen say , buses are limited , and while bucolic , I would hesitate to use a bike on those VERY narrow back lanes and roads with obstructed views which are physically impeded with hedgerows ( and high Cotswold stone walls in many places ) One pronounced obstacle to the bike as well is a stretch of the A429 Fosse Way , which , if I remember ,is a steep uphill climb from Bourton on the Water back up to Stow on the Wold . Without a car and only one day , you will be rather restricted . One possibility which would give you a taste of this Would be to bus ( or taxi ) from Moreton to Bourton via Stow . From Bourton you can take a lovely walk to Lower and then Upper Slaughter along the River Eye and return to Moreton from Bourton . Still , consider a car , Seeing the Cotswolds is best that way .

Posted by Gina
Yakima, Washington, Usa
12 posts

Glad you posted this question, because I'm struggling with this decision as well. Because we arrive in Chipping Campden on a Sunday (oops) I was planning to rent bikes that day then take buses to Stow-on-the-Wold and Gloucester on Monday. But that's 2 buses for each leg! Then there's that unreliability of service Rick Steves talks about that makes me really nervous about making the connections, so I might end up renting a car :-( If you haven't found them, there are maps and timetables here: and you can enter your trip details here to see when and where to catch buses: But more info from folks on whether buses tend to be on time would be great!!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3096 posts

@Gina... you really should consider the car as I think once you get there and see how easy it is to drive you will be sorry if you don't have the freedom of the car. I stayed in Chipping Camden as well and it was a great place to hang out, as well as a good base to see lots of towns. (If I were going to be there I would drive all of you around who don't want to:))) I love driving there!

Posted by Stephanie
Trussville, Al
185 posts

@Terry kathryn, if I ever make it back to the Cotswolds or for that matter anywhere in the UK I'll take you along & let you drive me. Nerve racking for me!

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
982 posts

Driving in the Cotswold is a doddle, as they say in England. Few roundabouts means that the road is pretty straight-forward. Now, parking, that's another matter. Villages like Stow on the Wold or Bourton on the Water are often overrun in the summer. Consider some of the less popular villages like Naunton, Painswick and Bibury, too.

Posted by Chris
Eugene, OR, USA
26 posts

This is a great question for us since we're spending ten days in England. We're arriving on August 30 and going on to Paris on the 10th of September. This is our first trip abroad and I've been doing a lot of research but I'm getting fuzzy-headed with so many choices for getting around. But we're planning on following Rick's first day arrival in GB recommendation by traveling directly to Bath on the National Express Coach for three nights to acclimate and then on to the Cotswolds, staying in Maugersbury near Stow-On-The-Wold for another three nights. I had been wondering if renting a car one-way in Bath and driving on to Stow and using it to visit The Cotswold area, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Liverpool, and back into London for our last two nights and leaving the car there would be a good or bad idea. Is this just crazy? Outrageously expensive? Would it be better to leave the car in Liverpool and taking the train into London? Any advice would be really helpful. Thanks!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11392 posts

@Chris, because you "pinched" somebody else's thread I can't see your question and the answers go back to Julie.... nevertheless, it sounds like perhaps this is your first trip to England, and yor first time to drive here? If so, I really wonder about the idea of driving 150 miles on the infamous M5 and even worse M6 all the way up to Liverpool. That really is an outlier, and after the unalloyed beauty and serenity of the gorgeous Cotswold countryside you will be driving through the most industry filled, and failed industry filled, corridor of the country on exceptionally difficult motorways to a particularly gritty city. Try and listen to a little scouse before you go so you can understand, to a degree, the natives. The M6 has construction, millions of heavy goods lorries, really bad traffic for much of the day, and frequent accidents with resultant tailbacks. Believe me, I have had the thrill more times than I care to remember. I have to go for work. I don't have a choice. The M5 can be OK from Cheltenham to Birmingham but it can just as easily come to a complete halt, usually because a caravan has flipped over on the winding and windy hills after going out of control. Just don't count on hopping on the motorway and setting the cruise control to 70 and sitting back. BTW - its not the simple train trip either - you would need to go to Moreton-in-Marsh and get a train for Worcester, then a train to Birmingham, then the half hourly train (usually from platform 4C) to Liverpool. Quite a journey. I'm sure that Liverpool must be very important to you to go so far out of your way - so do you prefer to drive or take the train?

Posted by david
837 posts

Chris, if this is your first trip to the UK and France, I cannot imagine why you would make the choices you have. On our first trip, we also went to England and France. We have returned multiple times and I would recommend the choices we made for a first trip. Ours was three weeks. In England, we stayed about a week in London, then a couple of days in the Cotswolds and a couple in York. With your 10 days, I would definitely stay the majority of the time in London. I would either train to Cheltenham and rent a car there or tube to Heathrow and rent a car there. I'd spend about four nights in the Cotswolds driving around the area and including other potential locales, such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Coventry, Warwick, Kenilworth, etc. Return to London and take the Eurostar to Paris. You haven't given a France itinerary or time allocation. If it is similar, I would concentrate on Paris and Provence, utilizing the TGV to Avignon and using a rental car from there. Also, hopefully you are flying open jaw into London and out of Paris.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3096 posts

@Stephanie :)) Maybe that will be my next career...driving RS people around Europe and I could give photography lessons as well!