The English countryside is glorious in springtime. Colorful gardens, adorable lambs, and fresh greenery fill the landscapes in a beautiful effort to make up for the bleakness of winter. Given how much I enjoy the early spring in London, I can’t help spending a spring weekend in the Cotswolds to see the season in an even more magical environment.

Spring Weekend in the Cotswolds

Spring Weekend in the Cotswolds

My boyfriend and I make a very last-minute decision to head out to Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, jumping in the car on Friday after dinner and arriving in Chipping Campden just in time for last call at the local pub. We’re happy to be here, and excited for a weekend break in the countryside.

Cotswolds Cottage

Towns and Villages

Chipping Campden
Basing ourselves in Chipping Campden, we make a point of exploring the town throughout the weekend. It’s one of those picture-pretty places full of Cotswold stone houses that glow golden in the afternoon sun. The high street is full of pretty shops and lovely facades, and it all feels perfectly charming.

Chipping Campden

Over on Sheep Street, we duck into the historic home of the Guild of Handicrafts, where 3rd-generation silversmith David Hart shows us around his workshop and lets us sign a guestbook dating back to 1903. Our signatures join those of famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, and it all feels like a delicious step back in time.

Hart Silversmiths, Chipping Campden

Down the high street, we explore the quiet surroundings of St. James’ Church and the adjacent Court Barn museum, which is dedicated to the designers and craftspeople of the Arts and Crafts movement. Parts of the movement—which focused on traditional craftsmanship and design around the turn of the 20th century—centered in the Cotswolds, and there’s a lot of history here.

Churchyard, Chipping Campden

Broadway
Not far from Chipping Campden is Broadway, another famous town in the Cotswolds. There too we pay homage to the Arts and Crafts movement with a trip to the Gordon Russell Design Museum. We get an impromptu tour of the famous 20th-century furniture designer’s work from one of the staff members, who shows us around the museum and reveals secret compartments and other hidden elements as we go.

Gordon Russell Design Museum

Back on the high street, the Cotswold stone is aglow in the bright spring sunshine and we can’t help sitting outside for cream tea in the courtyard of the famous Lygon Arms hotel (which, incidentally, was owned by Gordon Russell’s father and houses some of the son’s furniture among other medieval-feeling works).

Broadway, Cotswolds

When we’ve soaked up enough of Broadway’s impossibly pretty streets, we head up the hill to Broadway Tower, a romantic 18th-century folly overlooking the countryside. The second-highest point in the Cotswolds, it not only offers great views but also exhibits on residents and guests like William Morris—another famous figure from the Arts and Crafts movement.

Broadway Tower, Cotswolds

Bretforton
When we need a break, we drive to Bretforton, a rural village in Worcestershire that might just be the prettiest place I’ve ever seen. Its little streets are full of those quintessentially Cotswolds houses, and it’s home to the Fleece Inn, a historic pub with low ceilings, little rooms with timber beams, and enough open fireplaces to make me feel like I’ve just stepped into a Tudor world.

Bretforton, Cotswolds

If it wasn’t for the fact that our food takes over an hour and a half to arrive (apparently there’s a problem in the kitchen) and it’s a bit disappointing when it comes (I need a chainsaw to cut through the batter on my fish), I would love it.

Bretforton, Cotswolds

Painswick
Heading south from Bretforton, we drive down to Painswick.

Painswick, Cotswolds

This town is different from the others in that the buildings are mostly made of gray stone. But even without the traditional yellow glow, the town has a beautiful atmosphere.

Painswick, Cotswolds

The churchyard alone, with its giant walk-through hedges, is straight out of a fairytale.

Painswick, Cotswolds

Over on a side street, a secret little Arts and Crafts museum sits in a deconsecrated church with a gorgeous stained glass window by Edward Burne-Jones, a famous artist from the Pre-Raphaelite movement who also worked with William Morris. The Ashton Beer Collection is a treasure trove of furniture and other magical finds.

Ashton Beer Collection, Painswick, Cotswolds

Sapperton
Not far from Painswick is Sapperton, a village with a long Arts and Crafts history—the churchyard of St Kenelms holds the graves of Ernest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers, important figures in the movement.

Sapperton, Cotswolds

It’s also home to house-shaped hedges, pretty homes, and a lovely country pub called The Bell at Sapperton. We stop at the last of these for a pint while soaking up the warm ambiance and the big beer garden out front.

The Bell at Sapperton Pub

Spring Gardens in the Cotswolds

But the Cotswolds are more than just the pretty villages and picturesque towns. Given it’s spring, the gardens are high on our priority list.

Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Manor Garden
Just outside Chipping Campden, we visit two of the most famous gardens in the Cotswolds. The first is Hidcote Manor Garden, an expansive Arts and Crafts garden with “rooms” full of flowers, topiary trees, and other lovely surprises.

Hidcote Manor Garden

Created by American horticulturist Lawrence Johnston, the flowering plants and curling climbers were collected throughout his travels to places as far flung as South Africa and China. My boyfriend and I can’t help lingering on the sun-drenched benches, closing our eyes and listening to the sounds of the birds in the trees.

Hidcote Manor Garden

Kiftsgate Court Gardens
Just down the road are the Kiftsgate Court Gardens, a family-run place with a lovely country house surrounded by steep hills covered in flowering plants and trees.

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

There are walkways that lead to hedge-lined ponds, crescent-shaped pools overlooking dramatic expanses of Cotswolds countryside, and dainty sunken gardens centered around fountains. Kiftsgate Court Gardens are smaller and more intimate than Hidcote, but just as lovely.

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

By the time we’ve finished exploring, our weekend break in the Cotswolds has come to a close. We make the 2-hour drive back to London, our minds full of the sights and sounds of the countryside.

Cottage in the Cotswolds

And when we get home, we’re already talking about when we’ll travel there again. Spring is still in its early days, after all, and there’s a lot more loveliness to come.

Cottage in the Cotswolds

How about you? Where would you go on a spring weekend in the Cotswolds?

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Spring Weekend in the Cotswolds

36 Comments on Lady’s Guide to a Spring Weekend in the Cotswolds

  1. I was thinking about going there and after this post and these beautiful pictures, I am totally convinced. Great descriptions of the area and places to visit. It seems very relaxing to spend a weekend in that area and 2h by car from London is not too much time.

  2. The first time I went to England was with my parents and we took a tour of the Cotswolds and it was absolutely beautiful! I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, and the Cotswolds was by far the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. It was pure magic and I’d LOVE to live there one day 😀

  3. I was in the Cotswolds this past weekend (visiting from the US), and it was lovely even in somewhat rainy weather. I spent time in Lower and Upper Slaughters, Bibury and Tetbury. It’s so hard to pick a favorite as each village or town seems to have its own personality.

  4. I’d love to get out to the Cotswolds, but it seems like the kind of place that’s better to visit by car (rather than train). Do you agree?

  5. Broadway Tower is just gorgeous isn’t it?! There’s quite a few villages on this list that I didn’t make it to & didn’t know about when I went there last year but I’d have become very hangry if I’d have ended up waiting that long for my lunch!!

  6. I would love to visit the Cotswolds. You’ve taken such beautiful photos and captured the beauty of springtime. Love the thatched cottages! Angharad x

  7. Looks like a delightful area! I can’t wait to spend some more time exploring England. The little country lanes and houses are just gorgeous 🙂

  8. Wow looks beautiful! I visited the Cotswolds last year with my sisters and was blown away by how quaint it was…
    Loved reading this post.

    Holly

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