North Cotswolds - Stow-on-the-Wold
Stow-on-the-Wold is the center of the Cotswolds; six main roads from Stow take you in all directions to the other markets towns in under 30 minutes (except for Stroud and the southern Cotswolds). Stow is a great base for exploring the Cotswolds, both northern and southern. It is close to several of the main market towns (Chipping Campden, Broadway, Burford, Cirencester) and is surrounded by beautiful Cotswold villages. Stow has many shops, restaurants, pubs and tea rooms.
Stow-on-the-Wold, Market Square
As the name suggests, the town is situated on the top of a hill or "wold" at an altitude of 700 feet. The main part of the town is located off the main highway. There are lots of streets to explore - streets with shops and residential streets - and there are some nice walks in this area.
Walk the High Street: The High Street runs into the large Market Square which is lined with hotels, restaurants and shops. Digbeth Street goes off from the southeast corner of the square and has more shops, tea rooms and restaurants. It meets Sheep Street, another main street in Stow.
Market Hall: The large central Market Square is more of a rectangle and runs parallel to the A429 with the High Street at the top and Church St and Digbeth St at the bottom. The square is lined with 17th and 18th century buildings; shops, pubs, tea rooms.
Church: The church is just off the square and has medieval origins, but was restored in the 17th century.
Historic Buildings: In the center of the Market Square there is a Medieval Cross and St Edward's Hall (1878). Look for the 18th century St Edward's House on the south side of the square (contains a tea room).
There is a lot to choose from in Stow. Here are a few recommendations.
The Eagle and Child (pub), The Royalist Hotel, Digbeth Street. website
Treebus Tea Rooms, Digbeth Street. Very nice small tea room with very good food. Home baked cakes, cream teas, lunches.
Food & Drink in Nearby Villages
Daylesford - Daylesford Organic (restaurant), east of Stow. Large organic farm shop, restaurant, garden shop, clothes. Gets crowded on holiday weekends. See longer description in "Food Shops" below. website
Moreton-in-Marsh - Tilly's (tea room), 18-19 High Street. Very nice tea room and bakery in the center of town.
Oddington (Lower) - The Fox Inn (pub). This pub is very popular and is supposed to be very good (Michelin Red rated), so make a reservation. website
Oddington (Upper) - The Horse and Groom (pub). website
There are several good food shops in Stow. The Newsagent on the Market Square has a good selection of Cotswold guidebooks.
Hamptons Fine Foods, 1 Digbeth Street. Deli with local cheeses. website
Tesco (supermarket), on the A429 on the northern edge of town. This is a large supermarket, has many organic items and is open late. For other options see our list of supermarkets in the Cotswolds.
Food Shops Nearby
Daylesford - Daylesford Organic, Daylesford, east of Stow: Large organic farm shop, restaurant, garden shop, clothes. I love this place to shop for food (good selection of vegetables, cheeses and fresh made bread) or for afternoon tea. Even though this can feel like "posh" central, I highly recommend going here. website
Longborough - Cotswold Food Store and Cafe, west of Stow. Farm shop with locally sourced vegetables, meat, eggs and bread. Deli counter with prepared meals. Extensive selection of cheeses. website Read more Farm Shops - Cotswold Food Store and Cafe.
Stow is packed with interesting shops - clothing, books, antiques, and more. You can spend hours wandering around and looking at shops.
Adlestrop: Jane Austen used to visit her uncle who was the pastor here. You can see the church and the nearby rectory (Adlestrop House) where she stayed. Good hikes from the town to many of the nearby villages. There was a famous pre-war poem written by Edward Thomas, about taking the train to Adlestrop. The train station is gone, but they kept the station sign and a bench. website
Yes. I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
- Edward Thomas, Adlestrop -
Bledington: Village in the Evenlode Valley with a beautiful 15th century church with Perpendicular windows, some with stained glass, and an original door.
Bourton-on-the-Water: This gets my award for the most touristy town in the Cotswolds. Huge tour bus parking lot, endless trinket shops, many tea rooms. BUT this is the best town to see the River Windrush - it runs along the main street - and the tea rooms are good. Give in to the tourist impulse and stop for a visit.
Evenlode: Pretty village in the Evanlode valley with a Georgian Rectory, churchyard with 18th and 19th century tombs, church with a Norman chancel arch.
Moreton-in-Marsh: Moreton-in-Marsh is a five minute drive north of Stow-on-the-Wold. It is not as beautiful as Stow. The main part of town is along the highway, but this is not a busy road. Moreton does not get as many tour buses as Stow, but it is also busy with tourists. Lots of shops, restaurants and pubs. There is a good tea room, Tilley's, on the main road.
Naunton: Beautiful village on the upper reaches of the River Windrush. Church with Perpendicular stone pulpit (one of the best in the country) and gargoyles. 17th century dovecote near the stream. We spent two weeks in this village in June 2009.
Notgrove: Norman church with a primative Saxon Crucifix carving on its outside east wall.
Oddington: Pretty village spread out along a hillside (upper and lower parts of the village). Two good pubs. Interesting Norman church, south of the village on the Bridlepath to Bledington, with a medieval wall painting ("Doom") on the north wall of the nave and a Jacobean pulpit.
The Slaughters: Upper and Lower Slaughter are two small villages (referred to as "The Slaughters"), a mile apart, on River Eye. Lower Slaughter is easier to drive to and is popular with tourists. You can get a good tea at the Washbourne Court hotel in Lower Slaughter. The river runs right through the village. The village houses are beautiful. It is a one mile walk along the river from Lower Slaughter to Upper Slaughter.
Parks & Gardens
Birdland Parks & Gardens, Bourton-on-the-Water: Park with large collections of birds (including two types of Penquins). website
Chastleton House: National Trust. One of England's finest Jacobean houses. Limited opening times. We passed by on a hike from Adlestrop on a Sunday and it was not open, so we have not visited it. You can do a nice 30 minute walk to Adlestrop from here. website
Salperton Park: 17th century manor house with a Norman church. Church has an interesting medieval wall painting. Manor is not open to the public, but the church is open. You can see the manor from the church.
Sezincote, Bourton-on-the-Hill: An historic house with a large central dome brings Indian architecture to the Cotswolds. The house was built in 1810 by Charles Cockerell and Samuel Pepys Cockerell. House and gardens not open every day - check website for details. website
Notgrove Long Barrow: Stone age burial chamber. Not as well preserved as Belas Knap near Winchcombe.
Walking in the Cotswolds: Recommended guidebooks and maps for walking in the Cotswolds. We use these guides: Cotswold Classic Walks (Goldeneye), Cotswold Short Walks (Pathfinder Guide), The Cotswolds Walks and More Cotswolds Walks (Pathfinder Guides). Using those books, I listed our favorite hikes in this area below. All are circular walks - begin and end at the same spot.
Stow-on-the-Wold, Broadwell and Donnington (Pathfinder - More Cotswolds - 3hrs): Lovely walk around Stow, with some parts on roads.
Chastleton from Adlestrop (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): Adlestrop is a beautiful village and this area is good for hiking, with many trails. The hike starts out across fields with views towards Stow sitting high on the wold. Chastleton has one of England's finest Jacobean houses. Pathfinder has two longer versions of this hike: in Cotswolds - (Adlestrop, Cornwell and Oddington - 4hrs) and in More Cotswolds (Adlestrop, Evenlode and Chastleton - 3hrs). We did the More Cotswolds version and the lane from near Chastleton to Evenload was very muddy (after heavy rains), so next time I would do the Jarrold Short Walks version of this walk.
Lower Slaughter - Upper Slaughter - Lower Harford (Goldeneye - 4hrs): Nice enough hike, but boring in parts and too much time walking along roads.
The Slaughters from Bourton-on-the-Water (Jarrold Short Walks - 2 or 2.5hrs): The hike goes along three long distance paths - Windrush Way, Macmillan Way and Wardens' Way. Some road walking and you have to cross the A429.
Bourton-on-the-Water, the Slaughters and Naunton (Pathfinder - 5hrs): We did most of this hike in June 2009, starting from Naunton where we were staying. We did it in the opposite direction and cut across on the Macmillan Way at Lower Slaughter (avoiding Bourton-on-the-Water). The hike goes along two long distance paths - Windrush Way and Wardens' Way.
Sezincote from Bourton-on-the-Hill (Jarrold Short Walks - 2hrs): Walk from Bourton-on-the-Hill in front of Sezincote (Indian mansion from the early 1800s) to Bourton-on-the-Hill. There is another version in Pathfinder - More Cotswolds (Longborough, Sezincote and Bourton-on-the-Hill - 2.5hrs). We did this one and got very lost coming back on this hike (after turning onto the Monarch's Way - trail not well marked). The Jarrold Short Walks hike looks better.
- Stow-on-the-Wold: Town Council website with tourist information.
- Stow-on-the-Wold: Stow Business Association travel information.