Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cotswold Villages

Cotswold villages lay tucked away in the English countryside. Government agencies singled out the surrounding area for its natural beauty. The following is a brief description of five locales within the area. The piece invites readers to explore and lose themselves in Cotswold’s unique charms.


Longborough held the award for best-kept village back in 2001, but there is so much more to uncover. Located approximately 2.5 miles North of Stow on the Wold market, visitors arrive every summer to enjoy a celebration of opera. History buffs enjoy gazing upon ancient relics and stunning old-world architecture. Local pubs offer delicious cuisine, while a lone inn provides intimate overnight accommodations.


Gardening and vegetable farms are the heart of Mickleton. Situated on the edge of Cotswold, the area is rumored inspiration for well-known literary works. Traditional architecture provides ample photo opportunities. Guests exploring sections of a popular walking path can unwind at one of two local pubs. Guests seeking overnight accommodations have their choice of a traditional hotel, or a more intimate bed and breakfast experience offered by local residents.


In addition to hosting one of the most impressive Roman villas in England, Chedworth is also home to a lush nature reserve that attracts biologists from around the world. Situated adjacent to a valley located near Fossebridge, a local 15th century church displays unique designs bound to garner the adoration of architectural enthusiasts. Traditional stone houses decorate the village, covering an area approximately one mile long.

Broad Campden

Noted as one of the most picturesque villages in Cot
swold, Broad Campden sits tucked away in a valley with the woods nearby. Campden is Saxon for valley with fields, and guests are not disappointed as they encounter sheep grazing lazily in the surrounding area. Traditional thatched roof houses and stone cottages dot the landscape. Noted historical sites include a Victorian-era chapel and 18th century Quaker meetinghouse, complete with original furnishings. An inn on the village outskirts provides convenient overnight accommodations. Self-catering cottages are available for guests looking to take a peaceful holiday.


Named after Wychwood forest, Shipton-under-Wychwood sits in the Evenlode Valley. Two manors are located within the village, along with a 12th century church featuring an octagonal spire directed towards the sky. Additional sites of interest include a memorial, dedicated to church members headed to New Zealand during the 18th century. The village is home to a noteworthy cricket club. A well-known local footpath makes for interesting daytrips through Evenlode Valley.

Recognized as one of the United Kingdom’s unspoiled regions, villages in the Cotswold area offer guests a variety of activities. Cultural pursuits, outdoor activities and historic exploration are all within reach. The following was just a sample of what the area has to offer. Travelers should experience the majestic beauty of Cotswold first-hand for a truly memorable experience.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

South West England

The South West of England is a land of mystery and magic. From the pixies of the Cornish hills to the Arthurian mysticism of Somerset, the very landscape is steeped in the stuff of legend. You can’t help but walk through history wherever you go , whether it’s in the shadows of Stonehenge or Avebury, hunting for fossils along Dorset’s Jurassic coast or following in the footsteps of Cornish smugglers.



The area is one of tremendous contrasts. Picture-postcard countryside and quaint villages roll one after another throughout Somerset and Devon , while the stunning 630-mile (1014-km) South West Coast Path , Britain’s longest way marked trail, takes in bustling ports , dramatic coves and glorious beaches even the south west’s three great moors couldn’t be more different, if you excuse the pun. The heathered slopes of Exmoor stretching across Somerset and north Devon contain evidence of the country’s most ancient farmland, some older than the Domes day Book itself. Its rolling hills and combes, rich in woodland and pasture, are populated by Exmoor ponies and red deer, while the spectacular Exmoor sea cliffs-provide a rocky resting spot for seabirds. However, it’s little wonder than Arthur Conan Doyle decided to let the demonic Hound of the Baskervilles loose on the stark, forbidding expanse of Devon’s other moor: cold, bleak but breathtakingly beautiful Dartmoor. Of course, another fabled creature is said to stalk the wilds of north Cornwall: the beast of Bodmin Moor. Tiny in comparison to its near neighbouring moors, Bodmin’s gentle sloping hills, offer a wild and windswept landscape.


Bodmin Moor
Bodmin Moor

When it comes to food and drink, the South West again serves up its fair share of legends. Jamaica Inn, immortalised by the pen of Daphne du Maurier is no work of fiction but an old staging post on Bodmin, and a welcome sight for walkers.

There’s the world-famous pasty, said to originate in Cornwall (though often contested by Devonians), head-spinning Somerset scrumpy cider and irresistible clotted cream tea – believed to have originated from Benedictine monks in Tavistock over 1000 years ago. The once sleepy fishing harbour of Padstow has been transformed by its cuisine, and is now bursting with the best seafood the region has to offer, thanks mainly to the efforts of celebrity chef Rick Stein.

Padstow Harbour

Whether you feed your belly or your imagination in the South West, one thing is certain: once you’re under the region’s spell you’ll be bewitched forever.

Britain Local Treasures

Walking in the British Isles becomes so enthralling and – ultimately – addictive because as well as the dramatic changes in the landscape as you pass through one county after another, wealth of  history and culture laid out. Once you start to explore you begin to appreciate the wonderful distinctiveness of society in United Kingdom. An early clue is the accents you hear in the villages, the shifting dialects where a vowel is dropped here or added there, and each region brings its own unique words and phrases. Then come the local stories, some based on historical fact, some flights of fancy but all fascinating. These legends and tales have shaped this nation and inspired great works of art, from Arnold Bax’s symphonic ode to Arthur and Guinevere to Arthur Conan Doyle’s demonic Hound of the Baskervilles. And of course there’s the food and drink. In a world dominated by facsimile high streets and copycat chain restaurants, a walk through the countryside delivers unique delicacies and good honest food to you on a plate, and even offers a decent drop in your glass. Your taste buds will love you forever.

Britain’s are spoilt in United Kingdom. They have miles upon miles of countryside that can help improve you in body, mind and, some would even argue, soul. Why not take your first step and  walk, walk in United Kingdom.

Britain and Walking

Walking is one of the few activities that transcend age, profession, social demographic and sex. You can be a spry seven year old or a sprightly septuagenarian and enjoy walking. There is nothing more therapeutic than roaming across great expanses of wild wonderful countryside – although more and more people are regularly enjoying urban strolls, millions of people hit the hills every weekend up and down the country.

I’ll never forget striding out across the Peak district with my dad when I was a wee young thing. A keen walker and general outdoor devotee, he took me walking for the first time when I was about 6 years old; by the time I was 12 or 13 I was a fully-fledged hiker – I had my own boots and everything ! ‘Sensible footwear’ is not a term to be used excessively in my opinion, but it is pretty much all you need when it comes to perambulation. Race walking may be an Olympic discipline but luckily for all of us you don’t need to be anywhere near Olympic status to participate effectively. And the benefits? Oh the joy that it brings! Someone once said ‘A pedestrian is a man in danger of his life.  A walker is a man in possession of his soul.’

But nourishing the soul hasn’t always been easy. There is no denying we like a good fight on these fair isles; we fight for buildings to be saved , we’re fighting for air travel to be abandoned and we even fought for our right to ramble. In April 1932 four hundred or so agitated walkers set out on an expedition up Kinder Scout, the highest point in Derbyshire. It was a march with intention rather than a gentle stroll; folk from the cities had grown tired of the restricted access to the countryside. Landowners covetously guarded their property back then and the Duke of Derbyshire was no exception.

The ramblers, fighting passionately for their right to roam, clashed with the gamekeepers instructed to defend the estate. Although victorious, the leader of the pack – a mechanic called Benny Rothman – was subsequently arrested along with a number of other figureheads, and was imprisoned for civil disobedience. This caught public attention and sparked a national debate about our right to rural access. This countryside squabble arguably paved the way for National Parks and can be claimed to be foundation of our rambling freedoms.

The UK is laden with wonderfully wild, peaceful backdrops of extraordinary beauty, abundant with nature and wildlife – great arcs of stunning landscape waiting for you to explore. Take advantage.