Outside the wonderful city of London there are amazing treasures to explore. Last Spring I spent a few days on the Isle of Wight at a country home with HF Holidays.
This fall, when there was an opportunity to spend a HF Holiday weekend in the Cotswolds at Burton on the Water, I signed up for my last fall weekend in the UK.
A quintessential village often called the 'Venice of the Cotswolds' can be reached by train from Oxford to Morton on Marsh and a short bus ride to the center of the village.
Harrington House, the HF property is a short walk from the bus stop in the center of town.
The river Windrush runs through the charming center of town. There are walking paths along the waterfront with benches, several cafes and overnight accommodations. During the day it can be busy with tour buses stopping for a few hours. At night the village is quiet.
On this weekend HF holidays offered several walks from basic, about 3 miles to a longer walk of nearly 10 miles.
I had been training for 6 weeks trying to walk 5 to 8 miles a day but NOTHING prepared me for the 'easy walk' I joined the first day.
Rain and mud does not cancel a walk. With a bagged lunch supplied by HF (a great assortment of sandwich or salad, fruit, nuts, snacks etc) my small group of 3 followed our experienced leader towards Upper and Lower Slaughter.
Our excellent walk guide knew a great deal about the history of the area and the two villages we visited and even the type of sheep we passed.
This story is best told in photos. Most of the weekend was cold, wet and grey but that did NOT deter the UK walkers. There were only 3 solo travelers and I was the only non British guest. And everyone seemed to be an accomplished walker.
A short walk outside the town we found the path to the Slaughters.
Beyond this point we were in the lush, green fields, sheep pastures and muddy tracks that did not discourage the locals from spirited dog walks.
Not long into our walk we came to the first movie set village with stone cottages, an old water wheel mill and a country shop. Here we stopped for a coffee and the only WC stop on the walk.
'thankful village'. There will be a separate story on what a 'thankful village is'.
The walk was very fast paced. The other walkers were not interested in taking countless photos of the amazing views so I often fell behind.
As the path crossed from one pasture to another there were gates to keep the livestock from escaping. The newer gates were a simple metal turnstile but several of the older gates were still constructed of wood.
Warning: Wet, moss covered wood is VERY slippery as I found out. Slamming into one of these gates may leave you with a terrible bruise. Just glad it did not break my leg!
Three of the delightful guests who were very welcoming and kind enough to explain the British only stories or terms that I did not understand. There were others who were part of groups that also were welcoming to a solo travelers if you are outgoing.
The second day of walking was an independent day. With a damaged leg I was limited to what I could do and on Sunday there are NO BUSES and only taxis with advanced booking. I did find a local who offered tours but she was fully booked. On my next visit I will be sure to book in advance.
So glad the tea rooms were open. The British do understand tea and cakes.
Contact HF Holidays for there many walking events in the UK and abroad. As a solo traveler I recommend enjoying a 3, 5 or 7 day event. This is a great value for room/board/walks and a good break during one of my 3 month trips. The HF booking staff was very helpful to find a booking that worked with the only weekends I was in the UK. The house staff was equal to the 4 star hotels I have stayed in and willing to answer questions and offer suggestions.
And I must include a comment on the food: Breakfast and dinner is served in the dining room and guests may sit wherever they choose. You indicate in the morning what main course and desert you prefer so that there is minimal waste in the kitchen.
The meals were wonderful. You could have a full English breakfast or just toast and cereal. Dinner was a 3 course event and gave me an opportunity to try Britsh food I would not cook at home. The only item I shall not repeat is a sticky pudding.
Monday to Friday: 9am-7pmWeekends & Bank Holidays: 9am-1pm
Find the best number to call here
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8732 1220 Fax: +44 (0) 20 8732 1240
Address: HF Holidays Limited
720 Centennial Court