Not long ago, I took a little jaunt around the Cotswolds for a couple of days with a friend of mine who is writing a photography book about the area. We went to scout out a few suitable views that could be included, both the classic spots, and the less visited ones. Which of course gave me ample opportunity to snaffle a few pics of my own, and I took my full English pleasure at such an occasion.
The first stop was the picturesque village of Guiting Power. This charming little place does have its fair share of visitors, as it lies on the path of the Warden’s Way, a popular walking route, but it’s certainly not on the tourist trail, and is never very busy. But with its quiet lanes and quintessential Cotswold stone houses, it is one of my favourite places to visit in this part of the Cotswolds. Plus it has a very decent cafe right next to the village green which doesn’t hurt.
|Looking down the High Street towards The Farmers Arms, one of two pubs that bookend the village.|
Situated in the heart of north cotswold country, in the upper reaches of the Windrush Valley, the village lies on the slopes above a small valley (formed by a tributary of the River Windrush), and there is evidence of a late Anglo-Saxon settlement on the site, when it was called Gyting Broc.
|The village war memorial, with the cafe on the right hand side of the image.|
After getting a few shots of the village itself, resplendent in the morning sunshine, and festooned with spring green foliage and colourful flowers, we stopped for a cup of coffee, while sat across from the village green and its border of appealing, russet coloured houses.
|Looking towards one of the churches, which has been converted to a house, from under a lush horse chestnut.|
The parish church of St Michael and All Angels is situated on the south edge of the village. It is of Norman origin, with a later Victorian transept. The south door is one of the finest examples of Norman style in a parish church, and was kept intact when the church was renovated in the 19th century.
|St. Michael's church and its tree lined entrance path.|
The Grade II listed building formerly stood in the centre of the village, but the demolition of buildings since 1900 has left it standing at the village's southern end. The church was owned by the Knights Templar in their day, along with St Mary’s in the nearby village of Temple Guiting, the name of which of course gives a clue to the proprietors.
|A view of St. Michael's from outside the village and the sun dappled hillside.|
We then headed up onto higher ground to get some images of the village from afar, to see it nestled among the trees, some of which were still to reveal their verdant seasonal coats, and the patchwork landscape of the Gloucestershire countryside.
|Another view of the church but from even further away, you can see how it seems to 'settle' into the landscape.|
Next up was Winchcombe, a small town that is made up of classic Cotswold stone houses, along with black and white half-timbered buildings. Lots of the major Cotswold walking routes run past the town so it has become quite a popular spot, add to that the magnificent Sudeley Castle, which is right on it's doorstep, and it makes for a rather bustling place.
We drove in for a spot of lunch, but didn’t stop for too long, as it was quite busy, with plenty of traffic rumbling down its main street. Instead we took a little lane from the town’s southern end towards Belas Knap, a Neolithic long barrow which dates from around 3000BC, and up onto much loftier ground.
|The 15th century Sudeley Castle under the harsh midday light.|
Stopping at the pull in for Belas Knap, which can be reached via a steep woodland ascent, we got some pictures of Sudeley Castle and grounds from above, with Salter’s Hill in the background. Following the small winding lane, with its glorious views, we stopped at a dazzling rape field just above Tewkesbury for a wander around its perimeter, and then carried on for a view of the town itself.
|A gently sloping field of sunshine.|
Tewkesbury, a place with many notable Medieval and Tudor buildings, but its major claim to fame is Tewkesbury Abbey, a fine Norman abbey church, originally part of a monastery, which was saved from the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII after being bought by the townspeople for the price of the lead on the roof. to use as their parish church.
|Looking over the town of Tewkesbury, with the abbey to the bottom left of the frame.|
Then it was on to Lower Slaughter, situated near the stiflingly popular Bourton-on-the-Water, it gets nowhere near the number of visitors that Bourton does, thankfully, as it could never cope, but it is still a very well attended spot.
|A fine looking tree with Lower Slaughter in the mid distance.|
As we had both already got our fair share of pictures over the years in the village itself, we opted to try and get a different perspective from outside its comely confines. After trying a few different lanes, in an effort to discover a suitable view, we finally found a nice composition, with the village framed by a couple of trees.
Records exist showing that Lower Slaughter has been inhabited for over 1000 years. The Domesday Book entry has the village name as ‘Sclostre’. Which is where the modern day ‘Slaughter’ part of the name comes from.
|You can clearly see the 19th century mill tower, with the spire of St. Mary's church behind it.|
While the day was drawing to an end, we made our final stop, finding a viewpoint below Stow-on-the-Wold, to get a shot of the village in the distance, perched on top of the 800 foot escarpment on which it sits. With the warm, early evening sunshine lighting up the trees and hillside, along with a touch of colour beginning to appear in the clouds above, it was a pleasant way to end the day.
|Stow in the distance.|