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Published: August 26th 2011
Close your eyes and open your imagination as to what old world rural England would look like.
Now open your eyes and if the image you are looking at is what you imagined, then you are probably in The Cotswolds.
An incredible area of natural beauty, encompassing around 2000 square.km, there remains some debate as to the meaning or origins of the name “Cotswolds”. Mind you one generally agrees that the term “wolds” relates to the term “rolling hills” – and there are plenty of them.
We have opted to use the expertise of a long established tour company – “Mad Max Tours”. Established twenty years ago by Maddy and supported by her faithful dog, Max (now departed) we will enjoy a day full of visual delights and jovial, yet informative narratives on the current and historical facts of the Cotswolds.
The day will start early as we board our small tour bus, there are about 16 of us of varying nationalities.
We are whisked out of Bath and quickly begin our assent into this agriculturally and culturally rich land.
The route we take follows roughly along the ancient roads of the Romans and we
conjure up images of the Fosse Way, as it was and what it must have been like to live here.
The Cotswolds produced some of the finest wool in Europe and many of the counties prospered until being stuck down by severe droughts. Today out of 150 wool mills, only two still operate as such. The famous Arlington Row houses once operated as wool mills but now serve as private accommodation and attract a multitude of tourists.
We visit towns such as Bibury, Castle- Combe,
Badminton - (which is owned by the Duke of Beaufort, some interest facts arise about Badminton House in that Queen Mary stayed here for much of the Second World War. Queen Elizabeth was a frequent visitor until, it is believed, she took exception to the Dukes divorce. It is here that the game of badminton was given credit to its origins. As one travels through the coutry side you will notice buildings in the design of castles littered in paddocks. And as it would be when British rail constructed the rail system many of the lines ran underground and as you would expect extraction fans and air intact towers were needed to
be built along the way. The Duke, having a fetish for castles and with the lines running under his property insisted that the towers be built replecating castles, go figure, the idea was a popular one and took off),
Tetbury (the nearest town to Highgrove – home to Prince Charles), The Coln valley, The Slaughters and stopping at Stow on the Wold for lunch at a traditional English pub.
The weather was perfect and we enjoyed the outing.
Back to Bath and our preparation for the next stop, Ireland.
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