The Cotswolds is a rural region of south central England, known for its charming medieval villages dotted about the rolling hills of its vast and idyllic countryside. My other half and I had decided that we would spend our New Years holiday traveling around England, seeking out romantic villages and ancient castles. First stop on our road trip would be the village of Castle Combe in the Cotswolds. Our holiday actually began at Heathrow Airport, where I’d flown in on an overnight flight from The States. Upon arriving in England early that December morning, we set off to our first destination.
The moment we arrived in Castle Combe, I felt as though I’d stepped into the pages of a fairytale. A quaint village full of whimsical stone cottages, surrounded by never-ending enchanted forests. The second thing I noticed, was the deafening silence that seemed to lay over the vale like a heavy blanket. I live in New York City—the most boisterous of all cities. Castle Combe is quite possibly the farthest place in the world from New York City, figuratively speaking. The only sound for miles, was the bubbling of the crystal clear icy stream that runs through the centre of the Combe. Our morning was spent wandering around the sleepy village and the ambient frost laden forest trails. The village dates back to the 12th century, a time when a great Norman castle once stood proudly overlooking the small village from its northern hill.
St. Andrew’s, a beautiful church that dates back to the 13th century, sits in the centre of the village. It is there, where a Norman knight (and first Baron of Castle Combe) who fought in 2 Crusades, was laid to rest in 1270. In the Middle Ages, Castle Combe flourished as it prospered in the wool and weaving industries. Much of the village that stands today was constructed during it’s prosperity in the 1400’s. The village is so quintessentially English, that it has often been the location of film sets, including that of the film Stardust (2007). That evening we spent the night at a cozy pub with an impressive history of its own, The White Hart Inn–a 16th century coaching inn. The White Hart is located in Ford, just south of Castle Combe (not to be confused with the White Hart that is located in central Castle Combe). With it’s roaring fireplace, fantastic wine selection, and friendly staff, the White Hart of Ford was the coziest of inns to stay in on a winters night.
A tiny yet impressively picturesque village, Castle Combe is a charming place to spend a couple of hours wandering about. If visiting in the winter, I’d highly suggest wearing a pair of boots, as the surrounding trails are incredibly muddy.
During the warmer months, having a picnic by the brook would make a lovely afternoon.