I do feel that I am quite fortunate to live in Swindon, as it means that I am right by the gateway to the Cotswolds. If you’re not familiar with the Cotswolds, they are a series of quaint villages which are surrounded by ‘wolds’ (meaning hills) and are effortlessly picturesque. Here, you can take a step back in time and explore everything that is quintessentially English. Houses made of yellow stone are pocketed around forests and farmland. Famers markets, Public houses, Tea rooms, Victorian mansions, canals, rivers, parks – it’s all here.
I decided to spend the day in the Capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester. A charming market town, which has plenty to keep you occupied. You can explore their many alley ways with stylish boutiques and cafés, wander up the vintage Cecily hill, take a stroll in Cirencester park, immerse yourself in Roman history at the Corinium museum and explore the Abbey and grounds. If you’re looking for a good place to start your Cotswolds journey, it’s here.
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Although it is defined by the name Cotswolds, it spans a massive five counties and it’s almost 90 miles in length from Bath to Stratford-upon-Avon so you may need to choose your villages wisely on a short trip.
Getting to Cirencester is easy from London and will take around 2 hours by car, take the M4 Westbound and exit when you see Marlborough/Swindon at junction 15. Then, follow signs to the A419 and take the exit to Cirencester. Follow signs to the town centre.
If you’re not driving there are trains from London Paddington. Alight at Swindon, take the train to Gloucester and then change for the train to Cirencester. Or, there are National Express coaches (444) which drive directly to Cirencester and take 2 hours 30 mins.
To see and do
There is are plenty of attractions in Ciren, it all depends on what you feel like. You could have a lazy sunday brunch at Made by Bobs, sip coffee at Number #1, go for a hike in the park, shop till you drop in the highstreet or take a walk through time around their fabulous old fashioned houses. Here are some of the highlights.
This is by far my favourite place in all of Cirencester. Famous for the Barracks which are placed at the top of the hill, you can stroll up the street which is full of lush hedgerows, eau-de-nil green doors, hanging baskets full of colourful blossoms and cute cottages. It is also on the gateway to Cirencester park so from here you can carry on up the hill.
This picturesque park is perfect for an afternoon walk. The most beautiful time of year to visit is Autumn when the leaves turn an Amber colour and start falling off the branches in the wind. You can walk up the main path and then veer off left and right if you wanted to explore the woodland. The top of the hills provides an excellent view of the forest.
A hidden gem to explore as it’s tucked away, Blackjack Street is the place to be if you want to try out an independent café, pub or restaurant. There are so many places to eat or drink down this tiny little street you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here, there are also some cute little boutiques selling home decor, books, antiques and more.
Built in 1117, this Church is an impressive fixture which can be seen all over town. The outside of the abbey is stunning and compliments the town beautifully. Even more stunning is inside where you can see their exquisite stain glass windows and intricate architecture. From here, you can take a stroll around the Abbey grounds.
There is another reason why my friends flock here from Swindon and that is to visit He Say She Waffles. Tucked away in an alleyway off Blackjack street, this cute little waffle house serves up a feast for the senses. If you have a sweet tooth, this is definitely the place for you. There is a wide variety of super sugary options on the menu which come with your choice of ice-cream, chocolate, raisins, sweets and lashings of maple syrup. If you fancy something more savoury they also offer this option with smoked salmon or a brunch which comes with scrambled egg and sautéed mushrooms.
As you are now in the Cotswolds, you have access to all the little villages and towns around you. Here are some nearby options if you’d like to explore a little more;
Bibury: A picturesque village with a beautiful river running through it Bibury is most famous for it’s trout fishing and Arlington Row which is home to the historic Weaver cottages.
Lechlade on Thames: A quaint little town placed by the riverside of the Thames. Here, you can see their famous bridge where adrenaline junkies jump off in the summer months. Or, if you’re not feeling that adventurous you can enjoy a stroll on their many routes around the area and finish off with a cider in ‘the Riverside’ pub.
Is the Cotswolds on your bucket list? Comment below!
Sophie Pearce is the founder of Third Eye Traveller. Always having a restless soul seeking adventure, she has now travelled to over 30+ countries, many of them solo. Leaving her heart in India, which gifted her a "Third Eye", she felt inspired to share her travel stories in the hope of encouraging others to explore this big beautiful world of ours. Even if it's on their own!