Exploring The Cotswolds without a Car

The romantic Cotswolds are a perfect weekend getaway from London, where you can immerse yourself in all that the British countryside has to offer. By which I mean, long walks, cozy pubs and (you know me, Nomads) a local gin. It’s difficult to pick a spot but as we wanted to travel from London by train, Charlbury seemed a great option and it didn’t disappoint.

Saturday morning began with a direct train to Charlbury from London Paddington and a cheeky sweet treat from Patisserie Valerie upstairs. The train is quicker than driving – just an hour and a quarter. Our first impressions of Charlbury were entrancing; stone cottages and a train station from other age. After leaving our bags at the delightful Bell Inn, we made our way to Blenheim Palace, the grand familial home of Winston Churchill. The stately home is a 15 minute taxi ride away and also reachable by bus.


The exhibits on the house, the family through the ages and Churchill himself were fascinating. The UK really does do museums and exhibitions very well, with lovely interactive touches, and Churchill is an inherently entertaining figure with his wit and achievements. I mean, there’s a weird interlude in the middle featuring mannequins and projected storytellers but that’s amusing in it’s own right too, huh? The grand home has rolling gardens, a mini waterfall and the pagoda where Churchill proposed and the front with its mighty columns is a spectacular view to approach from the entrance.

We dragged ourselves away and back to the Bell for a pre-dinner drink in front of the roaring fire, before moving through to the dining room for an excellent meal. After dinner, we strolled through the quiet streets to The Bull pub with it’s fabulous door knocker, great pastels and mood lighting for a nightcap – Cotswolds Gin, no less.

We were wonderfully comfortable at The Bell. The manager made sure to provide us extra heaters and blankets in case it was a cold night and the room was beyond cute.

The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we pulled on our wellies and set off on a cathartic countryside amble to the local village of Finstock. We’d found a great website for walking routes and spotted a promising looking pub for a spot of lunch. Sure enough, we stopped in at The Plough Inn to eat and were delighted to find a very upmarket country pub with farmhouse décor and a cheese plate to die for.

And our weekend in the Cotswolds was at an end. We hopped back on the train to London, already nostalgic for the countryside. I heartily recommend this getaway, Nomads, and I’d love to hear more of your ideas for city escapes in the comments below.

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So what do you think?