Travel Letter Index

Visit to Westonbirt


We left Derby at about 8.30 on Wednesday 19th and had decided to use the motorway system as far as Gloucester. We had a really good journey including a refreshing coffee stop and arrived at Westonbirt at 11.00. The car parks looked very busy but the rain which had been falling during much of the journey stopped just as we got out of the car.

We have been to Westonbirt before and at a similar time of year but were disappointed with the colours and thought that we stood a better chance of seeing what Westonbirt is famous for this year. Although there were many people there it was interesting to see how they disappeared into the trees so that the place did still have a magical air of peace about it. I must admit that I have doctored some of the photographs to remove people. Having said that, people were very good about not stepping in front of a pointed lens. Lots of people were taking photographs and there was an amazing range of camera equipment on show!

Some of the views really make you gasp as you come round corners. We spent two hours strolling round the old part of the plantation but by that time I had filled the storage card of my camera and we needed some lunch. We did think of walking around the other part of the plantation later but changed our minds.

We decided to go back and look around Tetbury. We did our usual trick of checking estate agents’ windows but also looked at several antique shops and decided that neither of us have any fascination for what they contain although we were taken by a couple of pottery urns at just over a thousand pounds each. We had a good look around the church which bizarrely had almost no other seating but enclosed pews. They looked a bit like animal pens at market.

From there we went on to Cirencester where we stopped for a coffee and a nose around the bookshops. We recalled that we had been here in April and so did not spend long. We set off for Northleach, the village where we were to stay the night. The road we had chosen to take was officially closed but the van in front and the car behind decided to ignore the signs and so did we. We spent some time dodging holes, cones, and changing levels and driving on any part of the road that still had a surface on it and after a journey a bit like a dodgem ride ended up exactly where we wanted to be – the edge of the village of Northleach.

We had booked the hotel on line for an amazingly cheap price. It was called The Wheatsheaf Inn and I think we were the first to book for that night because we had their best room, a huge space with a six foot bed and a large bathroom. We settled in and then went for a walk all over the village. The Inn’s website boasted that the food was good and so we booked in for an early dinner and yes the food was good. We had an excellent night’s sleep in a quiet unspoilt village inn.

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The next morning started with a superb breakfast. After that we walked to the local butchers and bought a selection of their award winning sausages, took some photographs and had a look around the local church. We were urged by a worthy parishioner to buy books from a stall at the back of the church to support the restoration fund and we picked up some gems which we made sure we paid them handsomely for.

From the village we set off in a direction along the quietest lanes we could find with only our ultimate destination in mind. However, we stopped when we came to Bibury because it was such a surprise and so photogenic with the river running beside the road. We spent quite some time wandering around. Beryl bought a local guidebook and we discovered that this row of weaver’s cottages is one of the most photographed views in the Cotswolds.

After Bibury we continued along the quiet lanes until we came to the Cotswold Water Park which claims the following:

Britain's largest water park. Over 133 lakes created by gravel extraction, covering over 40 square miles - and still growing.

We stopped for coffee in a really beautiful purpose built oak visitor’s centre and spent a long time looking at the exhibitions there.

After that we could not resist the outdoor equipment shop next door. We drove around the lakes and had a look at the holiday homes that are being built there and searched out a place where you can rent holiday homes by the week. We were not particularly impressed though.

After this we had a change of plan and decided that a slow drive home along the Fosse Way was what we most wanted.

So a little over a day away from home but we had managed to fit a lot in and felt (like we often do) that we had been away for longer.

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