48 hours in Broadway (the one in the Cotswolds)
Whilst I don’t doubt you could spend a thoroughly entertaining (pun entirely intended), 48 hours on Broadway in New York, the Broadway I’m talking about for the purposes of this blog, is the beautiful, historic village on the north western edge of the Cotswolds.
I’ve visited the Cotswolds at various times and stayed in various places over the years. This time I headed back for a couple of days r&r after my younger daughter Emily’s wedding, accompanied by her maid-of-honour, my older daughter, Tash.
We chose to base ourselves in Broadway because I’d always wanted to stay a the famous, Lygon Arms, a 14th century inn, now a luxurious hotel, so steeped in history that its guests have included Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I.
Tastefully extended in more recent years, it has retained and sensitively renovated its historic core so that guests and visitors today can well imagine how their predecessors must have felt walking into its uneven flag-stoned entrance, ducking some of its lower timber beams - whilst possibly idly noting how few of them were perfectly, or even vaguely, straight - and settling down in front of a roaring fire in one of it’s cavernous fireplaces.
Some of the 78 bedrooms date back to 1532, and half are in the original building whilst the others are in the (much) more recently built award-winning wings that sit around a delightfully landscaped courtyard. There’s a a wine bar and restaurant (more of which later), and a plethora of comfy sofas and armchairs, often arranged around the aforementioned fireplaces. Our only problem was choosing which cosy corner to settle in. For the sake of research, we tried as many as possible whilst remaining mindful of the need to actually leave the hotel.
There’s also a spa on the three acre site, with a 13 metre indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and treatment rooms, and a pretty garden where you can play croquet in the summer. Those tantalising fireplaces and the call of the countryside - and, ahem, the tastefully tempting shops - meant we didn’t get around to sampling the spa, but we did have a look round and would certainly have had a swim and a treatment given more time.
Our bedroom was one of the older ones in the main building, elegantly decorated in traditional English country-house style with plenty of modern amenities including an in-room ipad, super-comfy beds, and a gleaming en-suite bathroom.
Weary from our wedding celebrations and the drive, we plumped for dinner in the on-site Lygon Grill where we were seated at a table in front of yet another roaring fire, and served delicious dishes made with the local, seasonal produce that is at the heart of the constantly changing menu.
Restored and rested, the following morning we headed out on a 4 mile walk along a section of the Cotswold Way, recommended by the hotel receptionist (as delightful as every member of staff we encountered during our stay), to Broadway Tower, the second highest point in the Cotswolds. But not before availing ourselves of a pair each of the colourful Hunter wellies provided free for guests use.
I guess we should have paid a little more attention to that ‘second-highest-point’ detail as our route which began gently enough across fields and along historic tracks, started to rise…and rise….and rise, past farms, across footbridges, through kissing gates, onwards and ever-upwards to the tower itself.
The Tower, which was completed in 1798, was the brainchild of landscape designer, Capability Brown for George William 6th Earl of Coventry and built with the help of renowned architect James Wyatt. It stands 312 metres above sea level, and from the rooftop viewing platform you can see 62 miles and 16 counties on a clear day. Not sure my view was quite that clear - though it wasn’t far off - but I can confirm that even though on an even slightly breezy wintry day, it’s pretty darn chilly, it’s well worth the climb.
There are interesting exhibitions on the two floors of the tower, and an excellent cafe, with a more extensive shop, lovely outdoor seating areas and plenty of car parking for those visitors who prefer to access the tower on four wheels rather than two feet. Either way, it’s a site and sight not to be missed. The views are spectacular.
The benefit of having such a lengthy climb up to the tower, is that the route back to the village is downhill all the way, meaning the return leg is about half the time of the outward one.
Having started our walk in bright chilly sunshine, as we ended it with a late lunch at the snug Hunters Coffee House and Tearoom, on the High Street, the rain started to fall. So really there was no incentive to stray any further after our tasty meal than the delightful selection of shops lining the rest of the High Street. So we didn’t.
We chose to have our other evening meal at the The Swan, a delightful pub at one end of the High Street, with a welcoming restaurant serving yet more seasonally delicious dishes. I actually chose a pie from the separate vegan menu, which was as appetising on my plate as it had sounded on paper.
Reluctantly leaving the hotel after breakfast, we decided to take the rest of the day to meander back to London through as many of the other villages en route as we could squeeze in. For me that meant being able to introduce Tash to the delights of beautiful Chipping Campden with its lovely parish church, St James, the graveyard of which must surely have one of the loveliest views in England.
Woodstock was another of our attractive stop-offs, and our drive took us through Moreton as well as across beautiful swathes of Cotswold countryside.
Before we finally turned the car towards home, we couldn’t leave this lovely part of the country without a visit to Daylesford Farm, and more particularly, their sensational shop. What a treasure trove of irresistible goodies it is, from scrummy organic produce and food, to gorgeous homewares, to tastefully stylish clothes, it’s impossible to leave empty-handed. Which, of course, we didn’t!
What I specially love about the Cotswolds is that it’s such a delight to visit at any time of year and in any weather. Its combination of attractive, beautifully maintained historic villages, glorious countryside, great quality, welcoming places to eat and stylish shops, means there’s something for everyone, whenever and wherever you choose to go.
Where’s your favourite place to visit in the UK?
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